Should Martial Artists Watch Violent Videos?

Violent Videos: Amusement or Education?

Recently on the Stick and Knife Fighters Forum, a video was posted of a real confrontation with machetes. The head of the forum posts videos of real-life incidents on the forum.

GM Latosa posted the following in response:

“What a low point in the martial arts when this draws interest. this is pure violence not something to view for the fun of it.”

If anyone is watching these videos for entertainment, I certainly agree with him. Some of the videos I can’t watch, and some I force myself to watch.

I remember knife training with Guro Ed Planas, and how I used to flinch every time he did a cutting move, because I could envision the damage such a cut would cause. The fear of a gun, and  a sensitivity to the injury of others is always a good thing. In other words, we should never become to callous about cutting, or hitting, or breaking an arm, and never too complacent with a gun or an edged weapon.We should never view humans as mere targets or their suffering as a source of amusement.

But I think most martial artists view the real life combat videos as a means of learning what really happens in actual violent confrontations. To me, I view it as homework.

One way for me to learn from fighting experience would be to get in lots of machete fights. I could get killed, and am almost certainly bound to get cut -hopefully not horrifically. And if I end up in prison, that will give me still more years of lots of real word fights, against shivs, shanks, a bar of soap in a sock, a spear made out of newspaper, etc. That doesn’t strike me as practical.

I think the crux of it all is that we as martial artists are trying to grasp what combat reality is. It’s hard, because nobody really fights in do-or-die conflicts regularly. Sparring and tournament  fighting, although useful, imposes limitations that make it less that life-like.

This is why I think it’s important to respect the old men, the guys who have seen violence go down. Thank God I don’t have to get sliced up on the street to learn from Master Carin’s brutal assault on in Mabolo. When someone like Master Carin talks, I listen, and not just to hear an entertaining story, but to help me understand what happens in real do-or-die combat.

I’ve been impressed that the Dog Brothers reference professional boxing for their techniques. This tells me they are doing their homework, not just watching for their entertainment, but studying to learn from the matches. I think that same attitude should apply to your sparring, to every fight you’ve ever won or lost, and to every real-life combat video you see.

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