Thursday, January 28, 2016

Grapplers vs. Strikers

There seems to be this long running debate since the UFC became popular about which is better, striking or grappling. It's basically a style war. Like style wars, it's completely idiotic. The style doesn't win the fight, the fighter wins the fight. Despite this it doesn't seem to stop internet warriors from arguing over the primacy of each, so I'll weigh in and give my opinion.

First of all, I don't identify with either. What? You're a karateka, so aren't you a striker? No I'm not a striker, I'm a karateka. If anything I'd call myself a stand-up grappler. Wrestling is deeply rooted in Okinawan culture and it had a profound impact on the development of karate. It doesn't just have striking and grappling. It is striking and grappling combined. Locking, throwing, breaking, hitting, all at the same time.

Striking and grappling are artificial divisions and from a practical self defense standpoint absurd. One shouldn't limit themselves to just one weapon. To quote Miyamoto Musashi "A warrior shouldn't have a favorite weapon." There are times when you need striking, there are times when you need grappling and there are times when you need both.

Grapplers do tend to do better in competition against strikers. There's a very good and simple reason for this. Grapplers can play harder than strikers. This isn't to say that strategies based in striking don't train hard. They train very hard, but in a different way.

A striker for the most part can't go all out during training with a partner. The concussive impact of a good striker can penetrate armor and protective equipment and still cause damage. Just look at the NFL and their problems with concussions. The point of striking is to cause damage and that's exactly what you don't want to do to your training partner. Strikers can only go all out on inanimate objects.

Grapplers don't have this problem. Grapplers can play at full force and intensity. Every training session can be completely dedicated to an all out rolling session and the chances of injury are relatively low. They get more hands on training, because when it comes right down to it grappling is less dangerous. A grappler basically has to ignore the tap to hurt someone. A striker just has to screw up his timing and targeting, which is easy to do with two fast moving independent bodies. This is because grappling, especially the sport kind, is about submission not damage. Their opponents give up, they aren't put down.

This isn't an argument for or against grappling or striking. Like I said, I don't identify with either. I'm a karateka. Each has it's uses and it's place and neither is an answer to all conflict. You might not be able to grapple if you get attacked in a bathroom stall and you probably don't want to shatter your drunk friend's knee so you can take his keys away from him. If you want to be able to perform better in more situations you should train to strike, grapple and do both at the same time.