While fighting as a professional MMA fighter & Muay Thai Kick Boxer, I also worked as a professional bodyguard and bouncer. And it was this secondary line of work that presented me with far more high risk fights than the cage or ring ever did. In the ring and cage my reputation and health were on the line but in the streets my life was. Most if not all incidents occurred from someone who had intentions of causing serious bodily harm or death, not winning a purse or title. The execution of an improper or ineffective technique could carry the high price of ones life so there was no room for bias, arrogance, or trial and error. Only tactics that I deemed to be most reliable for the situation were selected regardless of what Martial Arts discipline they stemmed from. And they worked.
I am not ashamed to admit that the majority of techniques that I used while combating in the streets, belonged to what is known to most as the "TRADITIONAL MARTIAL ARTS". And of course my MMA sport fighting skillset blessed me with athleticism, conditioning, reflex & nerve, but rarely did I use the actual fighting techniques for these situations when I had to stop hostile individuals as fast as I could, with minimal damage to myself, and maximum damage to them. My answer to this demand was open handed Martial Arts strikes to the eyes throat & groin areas. These target areas that are normally banned in sport fighting, cause the most damage when struck. And the open handed martial arts strikes had a far less chance of injuring the hands when smashing against a human skull while not wearing handwraps or gloves, unlike punching. A hand injurie during street combat will compromise weapon drawing and use if needed because yes, weapons are allowed in street combat.
This praise of the Traditional Martial Arts is not a put down of MMA sport fighting or it's potential for self-defense. I AM a pioneer, successor, & teacher of MMA for over 25 years. MMA is my passion and life. Which is why I can never allow it's integrity of truth to be compromised or weakened by a truth that may not be hidden or even undiscovered. It is my DUTY to help keep MMA sincere just as it revitalized the sincerity of Martial Arts as a whole, with the dominating truth of MMA competition. ...And this is a truth that many of today's MMA supporters may be missing.
There is a difference between fighting an agreed upon opponent, at a prepared, known location and time, with safety rules, and an authority present to assure fairness, than it is fighting a stranger who surprises you in an unknown area, with no rules, while possibly surrounded by people who might get involved to make things unfair for you. Street combat is a different game that must be respected. And the old ways of the Martial Arts has ways to handle it.
Her are just 6 (six) factors of a self-defense situation that makes Traditional Martial Arts techniques more sensible to use than MMA Sport techniques and manner.
#1. ELEMENT OF SURPRISE.
On the streets you wouldn't announce to your foe that you are about to fight or wanting to fight. The goal would be to catch your foe off guard and to get him when he IS NOT ready. There is no start bell in the streets. This is where a KUNG FU PALM STRIKE to the nose; KARATE HAMMER FIST to the temple; TAE KWON DO SIDE KICK to the chest all would come in extremely handy before taking a fighting stance. These techniques can be executed without taking a stance unlike MMA Sport Competition techniques.
#2. MULTIPLE ATTACKERS
The BACK KICK of KARATE' and the SPINNING SIDE KICK of TAE KWON DO are excellent tools to use for the attacker who is sneaking up behind you while you are facing your initial attacker. There are no techniques or training drills in MMA Sport competition training to fight a person who is behind you. All techniques and defenses are directed at a single opponent who is directly in front of you.
#3. RESTRICTING ATTIRE.
Many, if not most Traditional Martial Arts do part of their training in their regular, everyday clothing to discover the techniques that they can use while restricted by their daily attire. This allows realistic preparation for a possible public attack. Even the Gi of Traditional Martial Arts simulates the discomfort and restrictions of everyday clothing. MMA Sport training is executed in non-restrictive shorts & shirts that don't hinder movement unlike every day attire.
#4. WEIGHT & SIZE DIFFERENCE.
Traditional Martial Arts practice techniques that were designed to use on all size opponents, especially bigger stronger ones. Sparring is even done against classmates of all sizes and sexes without weight or strength taken into consideration. MMA Sport sparring and competition restricts to weight classes that keep participants from ever having to face a bigger, stronger opponent.
Most of your Traditional Martial Arts have a protocol to defend empty handed against a stick, knife and/or gun. These items are likely to be introduced during a street confrontation. MMA Sport Training never practices defending against weapons and has no techniques or protocols for facing an armed attacker.
Traditional Martial Arts spend much of their training striking with bare fists, hands, feet, elbows, knees, and even head against hard bags, and surfaces that mimic the human body. This forces them to strike correctly as they condition their striking area. MMA Sport Training is always done with wraps, gloves and other gear that protect the trainee from injury. Focus is never placed upon precision when striking, or the conditioning of striking limbs for the purpose of contact with human bone.
Of course I have many more points than these obvious 6 that proved to me that the MMA vs Traditional Martial Arts war had yet to be accurately judged. The Traditional Martial Arts still had much to offer us all outside the competition arena, and for the well trained, even inside the arena.
Traditional Martial Arts has much to offer for different situations and even for different people. Keep your mind open to possibilities that you may have yet to consider when participating in the Martial Arts. Because the style that may be the weakest in this situation, may be the strongest for the next one.