Train to survive, not compete
Sports – and all games – are wonderful, valuable, competitive experiences with rules governing the competitors.
To win in a sport is to succeed in competition with others by being the best while still following the rules of the game.
If your martial arts training prepares you for the arena of competition, you will perform according to that training. In a self-defense situation, there can be no rules. By their attack, the aggressor(s) has already announced that they are not bound by any rules or referees. If you train in a game environment, you will perform as if in a game environment. Martial arts cannot be both “sport” and “practical.” It is an either-or statement. To perform with proficiency in a self-defense situation, your martial arts training must be practical, it must be budo. In budo, there is no time to waste competing.
To perform with skill in a self-defense situation, your martial arts training must be practical, it must be budo.
When you train for a sport, you train under rules that all participants respect or are at least aware of. These rules can be explicitly listed, or simply implied from Taekwondo sparring to cage fighting. Through games, we learn to identify when we “win,” and also, when we “lose.” We learn what we can and cannot do under the game’s rules to avoid penalties. Under pressure, we will do what we train to do. If we train to “win” with a rule-set oriented around another person, we will perform according to this rule-set under duress. Losing a game is an equal state to winning; it places victory on the same scale as defeat. It is not preferred, but ultimately, both the winner and loser of a game go home. I love training in Aikido because there is no distraction of competitions, no winning, and no losing. There's only the ongoing challenge to learn how to be in complete control your body and your space.
I hope to see you on the training mat!