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Finlay's picture
the Martial Map


In Iain's podcast 'the martial map' he broke down practice into 3 groups, practice for /self defence, practice for sport, and practice for arts/tradition.

My apologies if those are not the specific terms used. however, i hope i have the terms largely corrcet.

in your experience, what would you say are the percentages of each? is it a straight 3 way split or are there bias? and does the bias change from coutnry to country?

i think from my own point of view, in years past the practices were largely either Art or Sport with sport taking the edge. In more recent years with a greater interest being taken in self protection and applied martial arts  i would think there has been a percentage shift.  from what i can see in my current situation the sport and self defence areas of the martial arts are taking a larger part of the population than the 'art' practioners.

However, maybe my view is bias in a sort of, once you buy a green Ford, then everyone else seems to be driving a green Ford sort of thing.

i wouls be intereste dot hear other people's ideas

Iain Abernethy
Iain Abernethy's picture

I think it changes from group to group and it would be hard to state general trends. Here is the link to the podcast for those who have not heard it:


All the best,


In the audio book I look at martial arts, fighting, self-protection and their relationship to one another. Many martial arts instructors see martial arts, fighting and self-protection as being one and the same with all distinctions between them being completely lost. Personally I think this lack of clarity to be highly problematic and it is arguably the biggest problem we face today.

We train most effectively when we clearly define the objective of that training. However, it is my view that most practitioners and instructors are unclear what they are training for. That uncertainty leads to ineffective and unfocused training.

In the audio book I put forward a simple model to help refocus people on the distinctions and similarities between various areas of study. It is my view that this will lead to more efficient training. As you may have guessed, I call this model “The Martial Map”.

The Martial Map is not the definitive solution to the problem of unfocused training (and there are other solutions too), but I think The Martial Map is a very useful way of framing the question. I firmly believe that those who apply this way of thinking to their training will become better fighters, better martial artists and better able to protect themselves from society’s violent minority.

The Martial Map will also be useful for instructors by helping to ensure their teaching is objective driven, their students remain clear on the purpose of all forms of training, and there is no confusion on when any given method is applicable and when it is not.

The Martial Map is around 1 hour long (10,000 words approx) and I hope you find it a thought provoking and enjoyable listen.

Les Bubka
Les Bubka's picture

Hi Finley

I do art, I love the way we can explore kata and how it works on human body. Mostly I search for things that work but from time to time I explore the unrealistic ways of working with movement purely because I enjoy it.

I don’t feel that I teach self -defence, as I don’t want to constantly get ready for fight, I had use my karate on the streets of Krakow when I was younger and it worked for me, I think that there are more important things in life to focus on, but it just me.

Kind regards



Tau's picture

I had the concept of a Venn diagram almost exactly the same as Iain's before I'd even met him. I used slightly different terms an didn't know the term "venn diagram" but it was all my own work. I'm going to claim that great minds think alike. 

Anyway, I think I was thinking in these terms even before I actually understood what a genuine pragmatic approach was. But interestingly as I've evolved in the past couple of decades I can see that where I and my students fall within that diagram (your "percentages") has radically altered. In hindsite, some ten years ago were were probably 70% art, 20% sports and just 10% pragmatic. These days the 70% is the pragmatic part. The actual figure could be argued lots. My point is that everyone is different and will probably move in percentages as their own training or the teaching of their Sensei evolves.