by George Rego, 5th dan

jukido kanji on giI study all martial arts. Intensely. Deeply. I am in love with the martial arts. I study each art. I study the unique history, practitioners, evolution, emphasis, techniques, strategies, principles, culture, organizations, marketing, curriculums, and anything else I can absorb. I take in a massive amount of information in my study of all the various martial arts. What this has developed over time is a highly refined filter for this information. As Bruce Lee once said, “Absorb what is useful, discard what is not, and add what is uniquely your own.”
I’ve studied a very great number of martial arts in a non-dogmatic way. Countless hours of study. I’m open minded in my research. I even study the charlatans. Of course, pretty much all of their material is useless and thus is “filtered out” but I seek to better understand who they attract. Why many individuals are fiercely loyal to those who are clearly paper-tigers with objectively false approaches to martial arts. What is the profile of the individual who studies from the “chi master” supposedly knocking people unconscious without touching them?
I study combat sports and enjoy many of them. There is a lot to be said for the “sport guys” who don’t train “for the street.” Incredible athletes with frequent displays of immeasurable fighting spirit. Many “reality based” teachers make it very clear that the combat sports don’t work on the street due to rules and regulations...while ignoring not only where they could be applied effectively but also the fact that they themselves are (quite frequently) grossly out of shape and clearly haven’t had a daily regimen of combat practice, physical fitness, or sensible nutrition in a very long time, if ever. They could learn something from these athletes. Many of the quasi-commando type "reality based" exponents also don’t have time for the belts, ranks, and titles of traditional martial arts because after all -- “none of that matters in the real combat.” Unquestionably, they have several VERY valid points of concern but tend to make things very black and white. A removal of nuanced thinking that seems to be a societal trend. Just feed what you already believe to be true (or have invested too much time in for it not to be true...). Despite their “combat” oriented mind, I’d often rather have the sportsman cover my back in a dark alley. The sportsman’s attributes of mental grit, physical conditioning, and ability to apply what he knows against resisting opponents seems to be more useful than the theoretical dissertations espoused by the commando “reality combat expert” who is so concerned with “survival” in the real world that he doesn’t have the physical fitness to run a mile, jump a wall, fight, or pass even the most basic of physical health assessments. The point isn’t that quasi-commando doesn’t frequently have completely valid critiques but his points are crushed under the weight of his lack of personal example, credibility, and gross overestimation of his capabilities.
Of course, read any internet forum frequented by combat sport practitioners and you’ll plainly see some of the same behaviors on the polar opposite end. Seems a lot like folks on extreme ends of political spectrums or fundamental religious ideologies unwilling to acknowledge any point from any side that isn't there own. The young super-athlete who frequently overestimates how well his abilities translate in arenas not quite so specialized to his ruleset. Such as “the street.” As respected judo and jujitsu black belt, Dave Camarillo says, “rules dictate behavior.”
I digress. The point is, I study many martial arts and many facets of martial arts.
Rego juji-gatame jukido jujitsuHowever, my PRACTICE of martial arts is much more focused. I don’t physically practice all of the many arts I study, research, and investigate. Not even close. My physical practice is highly focused and much more narrowly filtered. I’m a student (first) and teacher (second) of the Jukido method of jujitsu. A traditionally based, modernly focused, complete system of jujitsu oriented towards realistic self-defense. A comprehensive system of the art of jujitsu developed by my own sensei, the legendary master and early pioneer for authentic martial arts in the United States - Paul Arel. This unique approach to jujitsu is what best meets both my goals and my needs. Although I’m incredibly open in my “study” of martial arts, I’m quite conservative in my actual “practice” of martial arts - i.e. what I allow to be or become a part of my physical practice. What I actually infuse into my muscle memory. Understand the difference.
Understanding your goals and needs is at the core of your martial arts PRACTICE. It is not exclusively a question of what might be “cool” or interesting -- but a honest (and continuous) critical analysis of what you are in this for. I find a lot of softer styles of Aikido or Chinese Kung Fu demonstrations very “cool” and appreciate the skill involved. But I don’t PRACTICE any of those approaches. Generally speaking, these approaches, directly or indirectly, oppose my needs/goals. I find many military approaches fascinating and have studied them rather deeply but I “filter” what is useful from this study and absorb only what is useful to me as a civilian with a family who isn’t in a warzone. The advanced “filter” system I have developed is critical here. Absolutely essential. I don’t want to allow things I study that may be “cool” or interesting to invade my actual practice if it isn’t useful fit for my particular goals as a martial artist.
Which is better, a plumber or an electrician? Who is better a cardiologist, an orthopedic surgeon, or a general physician? Which is better, a police officer or a fire fighter? Obviously, it is pretty silly to suggest that any of them is “better”...it depends on what you need. Do I need to catch a bank robber or put out a fire? Do I need to fix a pipe or a wiring issue? The point is, what is needed at that time dictates which is “best.” My goals/needs have me practice for self-defense. I like that fact that when learning the techniques of breaking joints, choking people unconscious, or throwing people through the air and into the ground, I do so in a traditional environment that cultivates an overt sense of respect, discipline, and mental focus and doesn’t treat the training area as casually as a “boys club.” For me, it instills the character I’m looking to develop as a human being and the respect for the skillset being presented and practiced. For me, it is the equivalent of learning how to handle firearms. I’d rather learn how to engage with a firearm in an environment that is friendly but always mindful that a firearm is to be respected and that it’s original purpose isn’t for game or sport. It isn’t a toy or a fashion accessory. It isn’t designed to give you the “feeling” of safety. At the utilitarian core - it has one purpose. Fear isn’t needed but respect is. Lose sight of what it is designed for, lose respect for it’s intended purpose, lose respect for it and it could cost you deeply.
Someone else’s goals might be completely different. In all, but the most extreme cases, this is totally OK with me. In fact, I’m open minded and often appreciate these alternate approaches. I study many of them with admiration. Just seek and speak truth. Assess your needs and develop your fitler based on your goals. Study broadly but filter what you study to ensure that what you practice is in alignment with your goals/needs.
I study martial arts very liberally but absorb into my own practice of martial arts conservatively. Nuanced thinking. Critical analysis. Self-awareness. Perspective on dogmatic thinking. Balance equals power.