There is a growing trend in the martial arts sphere that suggests that a hardcore martial arts fanbase exists, and that it consists of people who actively participate in multiple Martial Arts, and who actively construct and direct their own learning. Although such practitioners may have a ‘core’ system, they also seek exposure of other martial arts. This process means that they are actively engaged in the construction, and following, of their own course of learning.

But how and why do we select the martial arts we currently study? Is it the case that they must initially fulfill more practical constraints – be local, or within travel distance? Be available at convenient times?

Is it the case that they are selected based upon some preconception – that the outward appearance of the system complies with some innate preference within?


Traditional master-disciple relationships tend to dictate that the student should devote himself entirely to a single master – ensuring an accurate transmission of the core data-set of the System.

Nowadays, there are many reasons (as well as criteria) for choosing a martial art. There are even quizzes designed to take the pressure and anxiety out of martial art selection. WikiHow, for example, defines 14 steps, or decisions to be made, in their article How to Choose a Martial Art. Among the primary decisions are the factors of motivation to learn:

  • for self-defence,
  • for fitness,
  • for confidence,
  • for discipline,
  • to compete, or even
  • for ‘cultural interests’.

Once a ‘martial art’ has been selected, there is a further filtering of potential schools based upon convenience:

  1. proximity,
  2. affordability,
  3. personality-alignment,
  4. the social group,
  5. the expertise/compatibility of the teacher,
  6. the class-times.

Most of these methods, within common use thanks to the internet, are derived from personal preferences, resting heavily on preconceived ideas about which martial art is which. This process inevitably confronts the use of propaganda among certain schools which promote themselves as ‘the best’.  Moreover, it also suggests that selection is, in the most part, based very little upon the actual properties and characteristics of the martial art, and more about one’s initial preferences (as well as the social consideration surrounding which offers most social capital).

Of the many people I have met over the years who engage in martial arts practice, most have studied a single martial art for an extended period of time. Then over the course of curiosity and looking to explore other martial arts, they found themselves looking outside of their particular system. They essentially therefore have a ‘core’ system, with supplemental training incorporated where appropriate.

To borrow a phrase, they begin to create a third martial art, a by-product, of their Major and Minor styles. They create a Mixed Martial Art.


At some point in time, amalgamating and consolidating skill-sets derived from multiple sources became known as ‘Mixed Martial Arts‘, but at the same time, the term became irrecoverably associated with a particular kind of Combat Sport.

Indeed, the mixing of arts which occurs amounts to a patterned-mould of ‘[Brazilian] Jujutsu’, ‘Catch wrestling’ or ‘Judo’ for grappling, ‘Muay thai’, ‘Karate’, ‘Tae Kwon Do’ or ‘Kickboxing’ for percussive skills, and ‘Boxing’ in particular for upper body skills. Other skill-sets are integrated, but the parameters of the sport support this combination to be replicated the most. This type of mixing of skills seems to represent the demographic of people who wish to compete, but few who are interested in fitness via martial arts, or security and safety.

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