Fact, Fiction & Fairy Tales: The Truth Behind Martial Arts & Tactical Training


Whoa! That one just missed me, I thought as the fist went wizzing by my head, just inches away from my nose. It was only a drill but this guy was treating it like a life or death encounter and although I appreciated his enthusiasm, I think he may have been missing the point of what we were really training. 

Some of you may agree with what I am about to share, other won't. Either way, don't just take my opinion without considering, researching and experiencing things for yourself. Then choose your own path and perspective.

Training in martial arts and defensive tactics is an endeavor made up of elaborate fairy tales and parables. Some training methods are very realistic, others not so much, but all are fake to a greater or lessor degree. None are reality. The bigger question is can you separate the lesson from the story? The function from the fiction? Do you know what the drill is really trying to get across, because it may not be obvious?

I train in both modern defensive tactics as well as ancient warrior traditions. Some training drills are very obviously probabilities, meaning they represent high percentile techniques trained force on force in real time. Other drills can be much less apparent what one may gain from practicing them.

No matter if you are deciphering an ancient densho (scroll) or practicing the most modern combatives; first off both are parables of sorts, meaning that they are stories with meanings and if you are taking them literally, word for word so to speak you may be missing the entire point of the training exercise.

I look at training exercises (including force on force sparing and scenarios) as drills and lessons, not as direct reality. Meaning, don't get overly wrapped up in them. Like fairy tales, they are not typically literal translations of life. Yes, some are more realistic than others and some are better than others, but like their fairy tale counter parts we must ask ourselves, "what is this really trying to teach me?"

Much Like mythology, most of the drill, exercises and training methods of martial arts or defensive tactics have a kernel of truth within their stories. However, if you are looking too much at the "literal translation" of that story, you may miss the benefit of the message that it is trying to transfer.

Stories like drills change over time and are modified to relate and teach more clearly, however the lessons within them often remain constant. If what you are practicing is worth its weight, it has something to teach. Although some methods are painfully obvious and have direct connection to what they are teaching, others on the warrior path can be shrouded in mystery and very counter intuitive. It can sometimes be difficult to see and apply the lesson. 

This journey is not easy and can be riddled with perils ranging from confusion, injury and ineffective tactics. It can be made easier w/the help of a quality instructor or friend who has traveled there before and may be able to help you clarify what the actual lesson is within the fairy tale. 

Good luck!

Keep going,


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