This is an interesting subject or debate that pops up quite often on Martial Art forums.
In our School we teach Tai Chi, Kung Fu and Kickboxing where Tai Chi and Kung Fu are classed as traditional arts whereas Kickboxing is classed as modern as its only been about since the 1970’s whereas the former have been around for 100’s of years.
I have heard traditional ma instructors moan that there clubs are quiet because nobody wants to take the time to learn the traditional arts anymore and quite often blame sports like MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) and the UFC that has become so popular.
Then to top that we have the reality based martial art instructors that dish the traditional arts as they say that there is no chance that most the stuff learnt would not work in a real street fight situation. To be honest, that argument has been going around as long as I can remember.
I Believe that we need to be honest with how we teach things. I have always said that you should not be teaching anything that you have not had good experience in beforehand. For example, teaching students to compete for competitions when you have never entered any comps yourself or teaching the reality of street self-defence just because you have watched a YouTube video on it but have never felt what it is like to have someone come at you in the street and know how you would react.
Because I teach traditional and modern martial arts and have also studied with many amazing instructors that teach realistic street self defence, I believe that I have a good arguement for the importance of keeping the traditional arts alive.
With my own classes, I have found it interesting to see the stages of populairty that they both go through and to be honest, it does depend on what it going on in the media, what films or telivision series are being shown. For example Cobrai Kai gave our Kung Fu classes a massive boost.
Another thing I have noticed is that both types of martial arts do attract a different type of clientele, some of our students do attend both styles but its normally the Kung Fu students that may try out the Kickboxing but not normally the other way around!
At this moment in time, I would say that our Kung Fu and the Kung Fu have got roughly the same amount of students training which is great. When I was training in both systems as a student before starting to teach, I used to love both classes the same, the kickboxing was a great way to let of steam after a stressful day at work and the Kung Fu was a lot more looking at the science behind the techniques and used a lot more brain cells. That is not to say that you don’t need a brain to do kickboxing but you know what I mean.
As I’m getting older, its the traditional martial arts that I am moving more into because I find that I don’t want to beast myself so much, I still enjoy having a good workout but its also the discussions and the philosophical side of things I enjoy. I also enjoy the weapons a lot now too, and I don’t ever think I will be carrying a sword in my hand when stood outside the chippy on a Saturday night!, but there again, I wont be wearing a pair of boxing gloves either!
I think there will the traditional arts will always be around because I do not think there is not another activity out there that brings so many benefits with it. I still love the kickboxing but I can’t see me practicing it in my 80’s where Kung Fu and Tai Chi I believe I will still be doing in my zimmer frame.
Enjoy your art for what is it but remember, its called an art for a reason, to learn true martial arts takes a life time of study. I have always said that you should look at the instructor and his students, not the martial art itself.