Every now and then, I get asked this question. I have never had to answer such a loaded question.
Everyone who enters the martial arts arena is there for one reason or another. Some are there for self defense, some for exercise, some get into the MMA, cage fights and UFC end of the martial arts. I have also heard arguments about which art is the best, or who is the best master.
These are all moot points to me.
I have practiced multiple arts and had the honor of practicing or training under multiple Masters and Grandmasters; I would like to extend a thanks to those whom I have known and had the opportunity to learn from.
That said, there is no specific art that is the best of the best. Some arts are designed to fight against a grappling opponent, some against a street fight, some to hide in the shadows, some to fight without fighting, and some to use the aggressor’s energy against the aggressor. Each art has its pros and cons. To go even further, each art has different points of interest at different levels and at the upper levels of certain martial arts, they begin to overlap and blur. These are of course my own opinions and they will not be shared by all others.
I can say that some schools are more ridged than others, or that certain schools produce better ring fighters. But, and that is a big BUT, at the end of the day it is up to the pupil to make his or her art the “best”.
All arts are different with different philosophies and different ideals on how to address certain combative positions or situations. The key when studying the arts is that learning doesn’t stop when you leave the dojo. The dojo is where you start to understand; you must practice and make the martial arts your lifestyle to make your art the best. If you don’t work and study hard, eat right and think right, you will not do well. The alternate is true. If you want to be the best, work and study hard, eat right and think right, and never stop learning.
As part of your education in the martial arts, it is also imperative to understand that it is impossible for one person to know everything. It is here that I point out the importance of cross training. Each art has a different “personality”. To make yourself the best at your art, you must understand the other arts and therefore you must expose yourself to those other arts. Only by exposure to other arts will you learn how to counter them. You will also learn different ways to do things. For example, a Karate fighter kicks different than a Maui Tai fighter, different than a Tae Kwon Do fighter, Different than a Jeet Koon Do fighter and so on; the kick has the same purpose but the technique and geometry is different.
As a student, it is also your responsibility to search out and find Masters that will teach you properly. If you think it’s too easy, it probably is. Your teacher is supposed to push you. In some cases push you beyond the breaking point. This is part of your training. How will you know your breaking point if you’ve never been their? The skill of finding good teachers will come in time as you are exposed to the martial arts.
In conclusion, it is up to the martial arts student to make his or her art the best art with proper training, proper diet, proper mind and adequate cross training to understand the opponent and their fighting personality, and of course practice, practice, practice.