by William Durbin, Soke of Kiyojute Ryu

           I just read the story of a young man who was training in an MMA school and was killed when he went for a takedown and his instructor offered ‘resistance’, leading to him breaking his neck, paralysis, and eventual death.

           This is sad because this is not what the martial arts are about.  It must be noted that MMA is not real martial arts to begin with since it perpetuates violence.  But most of all, MMA training is not healthy or practical for a person who hopes to live a long life of well-being.



           I was reading a story of a reporter who was going to interview one of the MMA champions.  When the man arrived at the ‘champion’s’ school he saw what appeared to be an old man heading into the school.

           The champion was suppose to be a man in his thirties but when the reporter entered the school and asked to see the champion it turned out it was the ‘old man’ he’d seen walking down the street.  The reporter was shocked until he reviewed the training practices of the man and saw the punishment he’d taken in the octagon, suddenly he understood why a man in his thirties was so rundown and aged.

           Extreme everything is encouraged by our thrill seeking culture, but it is killing the people who get involved in the extreme sports and activities.  This is especially true of extreme exercise.

           Exercise is supposed to bring a person to health and well-being.  It is suppose to help a person have a lifetime of vigor and capability.  Yet I’ve seen all sorts of extreme exercise programs that do more harm than good to those foolish enough to go on them.

           One of my male students was afraid that he wasn’t muscular enough so he tried one of the extreme exercise programs.  Actually he tried several.  In each case he trained in the extreme way of the program until injuries made him stop and then after healing he’d move on to the next program.

           Finally he realized that the good healthy exercise program that he was doing in the Kempo class was all he really needed.  But he could have saved himself a lot of injury if he’d just not been swayed by the commercials and peer pressure to try the extreme programs.



           I’ve been told that for a person to be a complete martial artist they must train in a little bit of everything.  Now when I was a young man I read all the Bruce Lee stuff and saw his trend towards eclecticism and even engaged in it myself.

           My first instructor, Richard Stone, was trained by Ramon Lono Ancho who had been trained in Jujutsu and Kempo.  Stone then trained with Hiroshi Wada in Aikido and Judo.  He furthered his training with Takayuki Ebisuya in Judo.

           I thought of myself as eclectic until I realized that there was more to any one art than most people realized.  As I studied Judo in-depth I found out that ‘real’ Judo as opposed to ‘Olympic’ or ‘sport’ Judo was a complete self defense system.  It involved blocks, strikes, kicks, and the use of weapons.

           When I went to college I noted that most of the Judo people I met didn’t know the strikes or kicks of Judo.  Interestingly I researched the art of Karate and found that many of the styles of Karate had a complete grappling aspect at the higher levels.

           Today the mixed up people who train in MMA don’t realize that they are really learning nothing.  They become beginners in several different martial arts and masters of nothing.

           When people learn a little Brazilian Jujutsu, they learn maybe what it would take to hold a yellow belt, maybe as high as a brown belt, but little more.  In the competitions in which these people are involved they have never shown more than a cursory knowledge of the complete art of Jujutsu.

           They definitely didn’t know the striking skills of Jujutsu, which have been recorded to have delivered death dealing blows in real combat with one strike.

           There is the story of Masanori Minaki, a real master of Jujutsu, who fighting a street gang in Japan after the Second World War, killed eight with Tegatana, chops.  His strikes were deadly and effective.  This is not what we see in MMA bouts.

           Many of the MMA fighters study boxing for punching skills, Thai kickboxing for kicks, and a little wrestling and Jujutsu for laying around on the mat.  They aren’t good enough to actually box, they aren’t good enough for kickboxing bouts, and if they were really good in grappling they’d be capable of going for a gold metal in the Olympic in Judo.



           What are they good at?  Brutality, plain and simple.  I have been training in the martial arts for 40 years (starting in 1970) and have seen the development of full contact fighting and the proliferation of the wrong people entering the martial arts.

           I started training before the Bruce Lee boom.  I didn’t know whom Bruce Lee was until after he died.  I started training for self defense and continued the training as I saw the health benefits I was incurring.  At 56, I can still do full splits and teach six days of the week most of the year, while preaching and leading the song service of two worship services each Sunday.

           What I have seen in the development of the full contact fighting that began with Joe Lewis in the early seventies is a disregard for life, the antithesis of the true martial arts.

           In the past, meaning all the way back to the Shaolin temple and throughout the real fighting of the Samurai, training was done in Kata and Embu so that people could master the skills of combat safely.  Until after actual war use of the arts, there were no forms of ‘sparring’ because it was too dangerous.

           Competitive forms of the martial arts were developed by people who were violent minded and wanted to fight when there were no real fights.  These competitive forms began by watering down the real fighting forms.

           The real martial arts, trained for combat, are too dangerous to play with.  Even the watered down versions that are used in competition are too dangerous to really play with which is why we see deaths in competition and now in competitive practice.

           Competitions of the fighting arts are just simply brutal.  Men are beaten until they are bloody and unfortunately damage is done to their bodies so that they will have a painful and debilitated old age.  Brain damage is also being done, the effects of which might not be known for ten or more years, meaning that their old age will be plagued with mental disability.  That’s if they are lucky enough to live.  A 30 year old man just died in competition from brain trauma and one has to wonder, how many more people are going to die before this insanity stops.



           I’ve read where some people are saying that the man who died in the ring ‘died doing what he loved’ so that made it all right.  People who are making money off these fighters and their deaths don’t care that people are being injured or dying, all they care about is the money they are making, so they try to lessen the reality of the brutality of this sport and say it is good competition.

           Many say, hey these guys are making a choice and should be allowed to enter into this activity, and even die, if they want.  But we acknowledge limits in all aspects of life and make laws to protect people from their own ignorance or impetuosity.

           We have speed limits, we have laws against illegal drugs, and we have rules to protect people from being harmed in our society.

           MMA fights were illegal and rightly so, until enough money was put behind it and then as so often happens in our society, it became legal.  But legal doesn’t make it right.

           In Nazi Germany it was legal to arrest and kill undesirable people, but it was still wrong, as the rest of the world showed by fighting a war to stop the insane dictator.

           While the MMA bouts are right now legal, they are still wrong morally.  I would love to see our society stand up and admit we made a mistake by making this form of brutal competition legal.

           If young men are too testosterone driven to not get into the ring or octagon themselves, then we must protect them from themselves.  How many young men are going to have to die in training or in competition before we say it’s enough?



           Until our society is wise enough to declare these kinds of fights illegal, parents and those who are guardians of young people (including teachers, martial arts instructors, ministers, scoutmasters, etc.) must help them make good decisions and stay out of this brutal sport.

           For you martial arts instructors, stay true to your style.  If it is a real style, it will have depth and completeness.  In example, I know a person who teaches one of the Shorin Ryu Karate styles and began teaching Brazilian Jujutsu along with it.  They did this just because it was popular to say you teach Brazilian Jujutsu.

           The sad point is I know his style of Shorin Ryu well and if he’d actually studied and mastered the art, he would have been taught a form of Toide that makes Jujutsu, at least what he has been doing, look basic.

           Many Ryu (real Ryu) are Sogo Bujutsu, meaning comprehensive martial arts.  If you have earned a Shodan or Nidan, you have not even touched the completeness of your system.

           I have been fortunate to study under a master who has shared with me a complete martial system.  Under Rod Sacharnoski, I learned throws, chokes, joint locks, blocks, punches, kicks, and the use of many forms of weapons.  Most of all it is also all geared towards self defense.

           If you are a Goju Ryu, Shorin Ryu, Daito Ryu, Juko Ryu, Kiyojute Ryu, or any other ‘real’ Ryu with a true lineage that goes back to the Sogo Bujutsu of Japan or Okinawa, everything you could ever want to learn is in that style.

           Just understand, you can’t become a master after a weekend of practice.  You’re not a master when you earn a Shodan, black belt.  Shodan just means that you have learned enough to really begin to learn.

           The joy of training in a traditional, ‘real’ martial art, is spending ten, twenty, thirty, or more years in mastering the complete system.  A traditional martial art will be complete and ethically based, so that you will not need to worry about the brutality of the competitive training or sport, but will learn a method of training that will help you be a healthy, robust person as you age.

           My hero of the martial arts is Seikichi Uehara who lived to be a hundred years old and practice the martial arts his whole life.  In his nineties he was incredible and I want to emulate him and teach the true martial art of Kempo my whole life.

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