Due to the popularity of the UFC and MMA’s domination in the sport; many people now look at traditional arts as useless when it comes to fighting. The common statement is “if Kung Fu is good then why isn’t in the UFC”? Now, I won’t get into why I think there aren’t any kung fu fighters in the UFC (I’ll save that for another time); instead I’d rather explain the difference between fighting (as in competition) and self-defense.

First off, I am not one of those “traditional” artists, who says I will use so and so deadly technique in a real fight and it’s not allowed in the ring, blah blah. For the most part that’s nonsense. The guys that fight in the UFC and similar venues, are professional fighters. They have incredible strength, skill, endurance and most importantly a lot of fight experience. A lot of traditional martial artists can no complete with a professional MMA player… Period. But that does not mean that you are unable to defend yourself. So, what is the difference between fighting and self-defense? Everything!

In a true self-defense situation you have no choice. You either fight, or are seriously injured, or killed. You are not trying to win; you are trying to live. There are no rules. You can throw things, use a weapon, strike vital areas, and most importantly run away. Most likely your attacker, is not a professional fighter, so odds are you have more training and experience than them. You are not trying to be champion of the world, you are just trying to get out of a harmful situation. And if you really think about it, even if you are a great fighter, once someone has a knife, or especially a gun, everything changes, even for the best fighter in the world. However, if you are outnumbered, or pitted against an armed attacker, having some training in traditional weapons will go a long way when you pick up that bench, or use your belt as a whip.

Now you may be asking “ well if that’s the case what’s the point of training? Simply put, (Thanks Mr. Miyagi) you train so that you don’t have to fight. Is this silly? Not at all. Once you learn discipline and dedicate yourself to a traditional art, your behavior starts to change. You no longer put yourself in bad situations, or let your ego show how tough you are.


The main purpose of Kung Fu is self development. If you are constantly losing fights, you need to reevaluate your life, not get better at fighting.

Thank you for reading. Feel free to leave a comment below.

~ Edward Tomaine