The military myth

Persona falls for an old canard:

But lets get this straight. Try that hocus pocus matial arts crap in combat against seasoned veterans and REAL warriors, and brother, your just as dead as if you never walked into a dojo and waxed left and waxed right.

Yawn. I’ve heard that nonsense from several military vets, up to and including the Commandant of the USMC. In each case, I have convinced them to retract the statement after getting thrown, locked into an arm bar or trapped into a neck lock, in less than ten seconds every time. And it’s pretty obvious, after all, even Rangers and Marines spend mere weeks practicing that which martial artists spend years on.

Persona’s attitude is merely a variant of the warrior’s notion that martial virtue would suffice to overawe German machine guns in the trenches.

What’s particularly ridiculous about his statement is that the REAL warriors are perfectly aware of this gap in their training, which is why the Marines recently incorporated MCMAP into their training and Israeli military personnel developed Krav Magda. There isn’t a single deadly military technique that isn’t incorporated into some martial art somewhere.

Now, it’s true that not all martial arts are created alike. Tae Kwon Do and other kicking-centered disciplines are relatively useless against a hand fighter or a grappler. I’d much rather take on a kung fu or karate fighter than one trained in aikido or jujitsu. But the fact that so many special forces personnel gravitate towards the traditional martial arts demonstrates that no amount of military discipline, military experience, jumping out of airplanes or learning how to shoot an M-16 can ever substitute for the constant repetition required for mastering martial arts skills.

I do think that the one area that a veteran soldier is likely to have an advantage is what Joe Lewis called commitment. A good soldier will have learned to overcome that internal hesitation that slows most people’s actions down. Lewis even states that fighters don’t have it, I certainly don’t, but commitment alone is not enough to overcome significant deficits of skill, speed or power.