There are many reasons to do martial arts. One of them is self defense. This is a bit ironic as most people not familiar with the arts will just assume all folks who do martial arts do them for the self defense aspect. This is certainly not the case.
Most martial artists stay with the martial art(s) of their choosing for a number of different reasons, self defense being only one of them. There are martial artists who practice for health benefits, fun, sport, professional competition, teach professionally, and a number of other reasons.
Within the martial arts communities, there used to exist an attitude of "my art is better than your art," or some such nonsense. The death blow for this happened in 1993 when the Ultimate Fighting Championship was created. People soon learned several things over the next few years:
1. He who controls the range, controls the fight.
2. The most effective training yields the most effective results.
3. There is no one art that is superior or inferior. There are only superior/inferior training methods.
4. A martial artist who hopes to have success should have expertise in all ranges of fighting.
5. There are really only 3 major ranges of fighting: striking; clinch, ground grappling.
6. Within each range of fighting, there are several "sub-ranges."
7. Mastery of each of these "sub-ranges" is critical to control the fight.
8. Most martial arts have useful parts to them.
9. Most martial arts have useless (or at least less useful) parts in them.
10. Fighting is not what we once thought it was. Even MMA is not an "end-all, be-all."
So this past week, I fielded a question. As a grappler first, and a karate stylist second, someone asked me why I put my son in an Olympic Tae Kwon Do studio as his first martial art. Here are the reasons I gave:
1. Training is everything. How he trains, he will fight. He is learning excellent timing, and kicking the level of which I cannot duplicate myself, much less hope to teach him.
2. Who ever said this would be his only art?
3. He is 4. He started at age 3. Not many grappling programs (none that I know of) start that young. Most start at age 7.
4. I had met the instructor. I wanted my son to have a positive and assertive male role-model other than dad. Mr. Smith is just that. He is no "wussified" metro-sexual.
5. His school & instructor HAD to be open to the fact that there are other martial arts that are just as legitimate within their realm as the one being taught. Cael's studio and instructor, Mr. Smith, are that way.
6. Nothing wrong with him having black belts in multiple disciplines. I do.
So tell me what you think. Give me some feedback. What other arts should he train?