By Jose R. Villanueva

As originally published on the Listen & Be Heard Weekly1, June 1, 2005.

The Martial Arts has changed since the 1960's. It has gone through a metamorphosis over time. There have been some very good changes that have made the Martial Arts more popular today than during the 60's. At the same time, there have been some things that have not been good for the viability of this activity. When we examine present time Martial Arts, we need to evaluate how Bruce Lee changed the face of it. We must then look at what's wrong with it today. Which includes instructors not knowing how to teach correctly, the maintaining of some traditional things that do not have any workability, and the altering of technology and the creation of systems that have very little workability.

It cannot be understated the degree of influence and change since Bruce Lee's arrival into mainstream Martial Arts. There was not a lot of freedom of movement, fighting was stationary in competition, and practitioners did not add to their repertoire with different Martial Arts systems. All of this changed with such a wave with Bruce Lee's Jeet Kune Do. He broke free from the traditional and only used what was effective. He introduced movement during fighting matches. This made it much more difficult to hit a target because your opponent was now a moving target rather than stationary. He took what was workable from several Martial Arts systems, and created an ever-expanding system called Jeet Kune Do.

Instructors make the difference in creating good students and bad students. One can be teaching a very effective and well-rounded Martial Art system, but if an instructor cannot translate the concepts and communicate so he can derive duplication from his students it will never arrive anywhere. It also requires that the instructor expect the 100% application of techniques.

There are still many Martial Arts systems that have a tendency to keep traditional aspects despite the fact that they are there for show. There is no real application and effectiveness. There may be hand and foot movements, or exercises that do not really do anything. Self-defense systems are meant to be workable, so things that do not contribute to effectiveness must be eliminated.

I have stated in other articles the critical importance of maintaining the exactness of a system of self-defense. Alteration of an effective Martial Art technology will render it less effective or unworkable. Good alterations are only those that are added because of workability and those eliminated because of a lack of workability.

There is nothing really wrong with creating one's own system so long as one is not stealing from another persons creativity (intellectual capital), and one is not creating a system that is not based on any workable axioms. In other words, is the system created workable and effective? If it is not, then it is already adding to a long laundry list of systems that do nothing except look pretty. The unfortunate thing is that many people are involving themselves with bogus systems.

The Martial Arts has a need and a place in society. It gives practitioners an ability to protect themselves and others. It has gone through many changes over time that have contributed to the popularity and viability as an activity that will keep it here generation after generation. It will continue to grow en masse so long as the changes are good, and the bad changes are eliminated.