Often, martial arts is stigmatized with negative actions or behaviors.  This is caused by media, the film industry, certain professional or amateur fighters etc.  However, in this blog article, I would like to prove that this should not be generalized and it does not have to be this way.

Originally, martial arts was developed to increase the chance of survival.  Later on, it started to be used as a sport, in competition, as an art form and more.  Mostly, the code of honor and respect was central and utterly important for the practitioners.  Of course, there are always bad apples and all human advancements are always used for good and bad causes (think about samurais who valued honor vs. ninjas who were spies and mercenaries).

Some of these traditional martial arts styles are still widely practiced but unfortunately are also very outdated.  This will be a ongoing discussion but someone practicing Tai Chi, Karate, traditional Judo etc. will learn many techniques that are simply not functional in a real life situation.  This does not mean however, they are less worthy as an art form or for personal development.  For self defense, these and many more styles are very overrated and sometimes even useless.

On the other side, martial arts has also evolved over the last decades. Think about Mixed Martial Arts.  This is the ultimate competition martial arts form and has proven itself over and over again.  For self defense reasons, it may also not be 100% effective though (Brazilian Jiu Jitsu will not work with multiple attackers, an MMA fighter will not know how to defend against a knife or gun attack…)
The issue with this progress is that the self defense aspect is often overlooked and the honor and respect are mostly forgotten.  The ratings have gotten so important that most fighters talk badly about each other and have very little respect left.  There are exceptions, think about Georges St. Pierre, who has very strong values and is also one of the best martial artists and fighters in the world.

Martial arts and fighting overlap each other, no doubt about it.  For me, it is your personal attitude that shows which one you are.  You do not have to be mean or disrespectful to be a good martial artist AND fighter.  Talking badly and insulting others only shows a bad attitude (and fear?)  Honor and respect are extremely important in our facility.  We respect our friends, instructors and teammates.  We push each other and ourselves and test each other during training to become the best we can be.  But there are no egos, disrespect, insults or anything else.

Our clients have different goals.  Some want to become a martial artist to defend themselves, other want to get in shape and others want to compete.  But we only train martial artists… that are really proficient in what they do, whether it is being prepared for protecting themselves/other or testing themselves in competition.  Many martial artists can become fighters but not every fighter can become a martial artist.  You will gain a huge amount of knowledge and skills to reach your goal and at the same time, you will gain friends and have fun.

Define Defense focusses on being the best studio in Boulder and offers a modern approach to martial arts, which consist of the most effective and realistic ways in martial arts.  But we have also not forgotten about honor and respect.  These are values that should never be forgotten.  We don't practice traditional martial arts by any means but these values are timeless.  We train individuals to better themselves and learn martial arts so they can feel safer, better about themselves or compete.  We respect everyone's goals and do everything we can for you to meet those.


Sander Vanacker is the owner and head instructor of Define Defense Martial Arts in Downtown Boulder.  www.DefineDefense.com

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