I practice martial arts ... I practice combat sports.
Well, which one is it?
Though not all languages make this distinction, within the ones that do, is the meaning the same?
My understanding is that, not only do these terms differ in meaning, but that such difference impacts training ... so let's dig in.
Looking back at all those murder mysteries you've watched on the big screen, what's the main element investigators always look for? Motive.
No one does anything without a purpose, and one of the main motives that characterizes mankind is problem solving. In short, we develop tools that allow us to, firstly, overcome a challenge and, secondly, do so in progressively more efficient ways.
Therefore, my (down-to-Earth) perspective has me believing that combat systems were created out of the need to overcome fighting scenarios. Later, competitive forms of combat were developed in order to serve as either a tool for martial testing or simple leisure (competition).
"Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact.
Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth."
However, when it comes to actual combat skill-set, one can start by splitting fighting settings into:
- One on one combat
- Multiple opponent combat
Of these, which one worries non-sportive combatants the most?
As a rule of thumb, multiple opponent combat. Plus, I believe this is supported by the fact that most arts have training forms that look to simulate multiple opponent combat, and arts like Aikido and Systema have live application drills.
Though other elements can be used in distinguishing between martial arts and combat sports, I will go out on a limb here and say that, if you limit your practice to one on one combat, you are a combat sports athlete.
Now, there is absolutely NOTHING WORNG with being a combat sports athlete. For those looking to enjoy the process of learning a combat centred skill-set, such experience is just what the doctor ordered.
Plus, with the line between martial arts and combat sports being a very thin one, one's competitive skill-set may very well suffice to overcome simple self-defence scenarios.
However, those wishing to experience competition while expanding their horizons beyond it, need to do something about learning good foundations for multiple opponent combat ... ideally with a weapon, since you aren't Neo but, in reality, there's a lot of truth to Macleod's:
"There can be only one"
(batons and swords)
And heck, not only is this something useful, but also quite fun as well!