Brian Kagen pick: “Religion vs. science / TMA vs. MMA” by Mr. Taps Too Early

“Since I practice both a traditional martial art (aikido) and mixed martial arts, I often get caught up with lots of arguments and discussions about the relative merits of the two. It’s a touchy subject, since experienced TMA practitioners are highly invested in their arts, and MMA practitioners often have TMA experience that they “outgrew”, so personal bias comes into play a lot.”

Brian Kagen is an avid web researcher with a particular interest in martial arts. His training background includes both judo and aikido. He has contributed hundreds of article links over the years for AJ readers.

Click here to read entire article.


  1. bruce baker says:

    Alright … think about this.

    When you went to school to learn to read and write … did you learn to apply it in the real world or did you have to relearn to apply the basic lessons of what you learned in the real world?

    As someone who has RETRAINED high school students to actually apply the sometimes ridiculous lessons they learned in vocational tech training … it takes me one to two years to turn that student into good mechanic who can not only read the service manuals, but learn to apply the lessons they learn from school and their mistakes as they actually work to make a living at what they do.

    WHY .. would it be any different for martial arts?

    WE learn the basics in our classes and must learn to apply those basic lessons in our application of real life.

    We can’t go to the lengths of killing every opponent we face in a fight, which is the ultimate goal of fighting … becaue that is the ultimate goal, the end to a technique designed to maim or kill.

    So where do we draw the line at how far we should go? RULES .. we make rules that draw lines. Rules keep us on track to have enough of the basics so we know what we can use to meet the threat level we might face.

    It is so funny when this idea of someone’s fighting skills makes them superior to another human being because … there is always a method of killing that an inferior fighter can use to kill a superior fighter. It may be the use of weapons, or poisons,or simply manipulating events, but this annoying attitude that your fighting skills will make you superior to anyone is just the Naricissistic Self-indulgence of a child. Stop being a child!

    Grow up and become part of the real world. Anyone can kill anyone and your fighting skills is just a temporary defense to a low level threat by using those fighting skills to neutralize a low level physical threat.

    This love-affair with violence grows boring and dull as one grows older and wiser. I don’t fault the young for their love affair with fighting, but I wish they were just a little more fearful of fighting because in deluding themselves that mixed-martial arts is superior to any other martial art will get them in trouble someplace somewhere down the road.

    Tactically, some people may be better versed in transition, mobility, stability, and more expert practitioners of their technics, but don’t be fooled. We are all mortal. We are all gonna die.

    He who lives the longest, and he who has the most health during those long years, is the winner. No, it is not the hero who lives the short life and is held in high regard with stories, legends, and fables. Ya know why that is? It is because those who live the longest … write the history and legends!

    All they have to do is let the temporary fad pass and then nudge history towards their point of view. It happens all the time.

    Don’t be fooled. Learn your lessons. Practice with a good heart. Do good deeds, and become a better person nudging society towards a wide-eyed open mind that sees what the promoters are doing to keep the fights going so they can get their entertainment and make some money off it too. It is either for money or some twisted self-indulgence that creates it and then keeps it going.

    Fighting is the tools of war and the animal urges of man coming back to the surface. Yeah, we need to draw on these instincts at times, but we also need to recognize when they control us and we don’t control them. That is what I want you to think about.

    Are you in control, or is that animal in you controlling you?

    We shoot mad dogs, don’t we?

    Use the tools of fighting for whatever you want to practice, but realize that hand to hand combat is a low level threat in comparison to disease, mother nature’s fury, and to the weapons of war. There is always something greater than you and your fighting skills, and that is why you need to be humble and kind to all instead of adopting any attitude you are superior.

    Let others judge you superior, but you must .. always be humble and kind.

  2. I sometimes study flying with a master pilot, Annapolis Class of ’44, Okinawa vet, boxer in his youth who still follows martial arts. He’s incredibly kind.

  3. In aikido, I’ve mostly practiced and trained Iwama style, which starts with strong, static technique. That is a bit helpful in simulating real resistance.

    Fighting isn’t training, which is true in all cases. But, as Eisenhower said about plans of battle: ‘plans are pretty useless, but planning is essential’. The Marines say, ‘train as you fight. fight as you train.’ As far as aikido is concerned that is to do the forms, and when things get rough, let the forms do you. I’ve mentioned the concept of “ballistic movement” before. At some point the form will just come out and shape itself to the situation.

    Shigemi Inagaki was a very tough customer. So, for that matter, was Saito Sensei (the elder). Inagaki said something to the effect that aikido was a pretty good style to learn for fighting and better than most for multiple person attack. That seems to conform to my experience.

    That, however, isn’t, as the previous comment pointed out, the big picture. Unless you work in a military or para-military organization, or look for trouble, you can go YEARS without a fight. So, how do you keep the rust off the sword and its edge on? …well… training. If the training is too destructive, it’s like cutting helmets with your sword everyday. After a while, it just doesn’t cut very well anymore. I must be getting the balance fairly right. I have often come out ahead in situations. I’m over 60 and can still do ukemi.

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