Military Martial Arts Forms in Civilian Life

There is nothing new under the sun. People and governments have been fighting since the beginning of time. There are many good styles, arts or fight instructors that teach martial art skills. It is just plain confusing if you don’t understand martial arts or the egos that are involved with who is the best. This really depends on many variables: the weather, how the person is feeling at any given moment, are they caught by surprise, did they learn skills that are based in reality or some dweeb’s warped idea that they can stop an attack with their mental telepathy. Let’s face it a six-year-old with a stick can beat up a world champion if caught off guard (ask me about the six-year-old when you call me at Everybody has an opinion as to why their way is the best. Who is right? It depends usually on what art is being sold to you or what it is specifically designed to teach. If I am going to fight in the UFC I want a UFC gym that has taught champions. If I want to learn reality based or street defense martial arts I would go to a place that teaches solid, foundational martial arts with an instructor that has experience and can answer your questions. Don’t believe everything you read on the internet or other people’s opinions get out there and try a class.


We are talking about real self-defense here not sport fighting. With this in mind let’s look at the military application. We could agree that governments spend huge money on training their Special Forces good martial art skills. All countries want to train their people in the shortest amount of time because TIME IS MONEY. There are 195 countries in the world. This would take some time so let’s focus on the popularity of the art and effectiveness. I believe the USA is the best but we will focus on three countries due to the time it would take to write on 195 military arts. The countries we will focus on are USA, China, and Israel.


There are many military martial art systems. A few of the most well known are SCARS and SAFTA from the USA, Sanshou from China and Krav Maga from Israel. These countries were chosen because we know the USA has one of the most elite fighting forces on the planet the Navy SEALS. China because the Buddhist in the in the Shaolin temple developed some of the best martial arts on the planet and most all other systems of martial arts have borrowed from their system. Lastly, we will discuss Israel because their military has created a martial art that has become one of the most popular arts in the USA today for self-defense.


To narrow this down we will combine the USA and China into the same category due to the fact that the arts they use for their elite are from the same base system; SCARS, SAFTA and Sanshou. All three of these arts are Kung Fu based and originated in the Shaolin Temple. Col. Jerry Peterson, the developer of the SCARS Program, is a Master in the Ancient Art of Kung Fu San Soo. Now, remember that Art! Col. Peterson’s student Lew Hicks took the ball and ran with it creating SAFTA. China’s Sanshou foundation is traditional Kung Fu from, you guessed it, the Shaolin Temple. The common denominator in all three arts is Kung Fu. The most intelligent and versatile art, yet lesser known by its real name is Kung Fu San Soo.


The Navy SEALS used Col. Jerry Peterson’s SCARS program to train the SEALS Teams. The new and improved version of training is SAFTA. “ Peterson modified San Soo Kung Fu into his \”Special Combat Aggressive Reactionary System (\”SCARS\”) and sold it the NSW as a complete combat fighting system. It was a pretty decent program – I participated in the 2nd 30-day intensive instructor course and I can validate that it is a very effective offensive fighting system.” Now SAFTA was a creation of Lew Hicks. Lew was Jerry’s top SEAL student. My impression of SAFTA is that it is SCARS with new terminology and marketing” (Krav Maga World Wide Forms, Mark D., 09-29-2006, 04:27 PM), (Source) Krav Maga is an Israeli Military fighting art that uses multiple Japanese fighting arts such as Aikido, Judo, and Karate along with Boxing and Wrestling to create their system. The Japanese Arts were greatly influenced by the Chinese Taoist and Buddhist Martial Arts. This leads us back to the common denominator, Chinese fighting systems. Those Chinese Monks were pretty smart.


There are differences in training method and some similarities in all three of these arts Kung Fu San Soo, Krav Maga and Sanshou. Opinions vary on what is good and bad training methods and can be argued all day long. The most popular of the three at this moment is Krav Maga. It is getting top billing due to its exposure in movies and marketing. This isn’t to say it is the best of the three just the most popular at this time.


Krav Maga appears to be a good Art, it is similar to San Soo in many ways. It is violent, quick, powerful, it finishes, has some variety, however, there are a few things that I disagree with. Just as in the 1970’s when Karate schools scratched Karate off their signs and painted Kung Fu school because it was new and trendy and made more money for the instructor. This is what I see in Krav Maga today, it is the new kid on the block.


These arts if practiced correctly all have value. All three arts have the same goal, to neutralize an opponent as quick as possible. The military likes them because you can gain a level of proficiency in a short amount of time-saving money. Each art focuses on real-life situations that could occur from a carjacking, home invasion, a conflict that arises from the escalation of tempers and many more. These same attributes are what should help determine the system/art a civilian wants to learn, starting with realistic and practical Self Defense techniques to stop or de-escalate aggression. This can be physical where you must defend yourself, verbal de-escalation where you can talk someone into calming down or my favorite – Just Walk Away.


Beyond the self-defense people learn martial arts for other benefits:


Confidence – as your skills increase your mind and body begin to work in unison, you begin to feel empowered as if you can take on the world.


Exercise – to learn a skill and enjoy getting and staying in shape. You will learn drills that increase cardio and build strength as you practice your techniques (San Soo’s freestyle workout is unrehearsed and will increase your agility and balance)


Awareness – with your new skills over time you will begin to see situations and avoid violence or react to it intelligently to avoid harm


The internet has many opinions written about each of these arts along with comparisons. We know what opinions are like…. Depending on what a person practices there will usually be bias toward their art of practice. There are great examples and many more bad examples of every martial art mentioned in this article on the internet. Internet warriors love to base their opinions of various martial art systems off poor instruction and bad videos. If you want to choose a martial art school, start by deciding what you want to learn; sport or street self-defense. Then look at what schools are around your area and start calling to set an appointment. Write some questions down before you arrive and don’t be afraid to ask, most instructors are nice people. Martial arts instructors are there to help build up their students.

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