Self-Defense Vs. Competition

Fighting is ingrained in the DNA of all humans. It is one of the few things that transcends language, race, and culture. From the beginning of time Humans’ have been fighting to eat and survive. As time progressed and humans’ developed, so did the manner in which they fought. Cultures across the world were developing styles of fighting that suited them; whether it was Muay Thai in Thailand, Kung-Fu in China, or Wrestling in Greece, everybody was fighting. Primarily these arts were used in war, but when there is no war to be fought we still felt the pull of combat. This is when we see the rise of competitions. You see the creation of ways to prove your martial arts prowess. Whether it was the 100 man Kumite in Karate or the Olympics in Greece, there was a need and a curiosity to see who was the best. As an unintentional outcome of the rise of these competitions, many of these martial arts lost certain techniques since they were no longer looking to kill, but rather to just win. This is where we see the true split of competition and self-defense martial arts. Here at Gentle Art Dojo we are a primarily competition based gym. We frequently get asked if we teach self-defense at our gym. To answer this question you must delve into the true differences between competition and self-defense.

Logo Gentle Art Dojo Rede social
Logo Gentle Art Dojo Rede social


Self-Defense is very situational in nature. You are taught what to do if an attacker comes at you with a knife, a gun, from the front, from behind. This can be extremely beneficial, but also harmful at the same time. The idea is great; to be able to train to protect yourself and your loved ones in real life scenarios. The glaring issue with this is how they chose to train these techniques. No matter how hard you train a knife defense technique you can not effectively simulate if there is somebody coming at you with the intent to do harm. You are practicing these techniques in a safe and controlled space where you have no fear or adrenaline. As well as the extremely low percentage chance in your life that somebody will come at you with a knife. You may be incredibly proficient at disarming a knife in the gym, but what happens when it really happens. What self-defense classes do successfully is introducing people to the basics of martial arts. It is an alternative route to the end goal of being proficient in any martial art.


Competition is not the same as combat. Competition has rules and regulations to keep the competitors safe, combat does not. Though this does lead to the creation of certain techniques that wouldn’t be usable in a combat situation, it is a much better way to train. Though there are rules in most competitions the rules are only there to protect from serious lasting harm and death. In a Muay Thai/Kick-Boxing match you can still knock your opponent out but the fight stops there. In BJJ you can choke your opponent unconscious but the fight stops there. What better self-defense training is there than knowing how to knock somebody out or choke them unconscious. Essentially you have won that self-defense situation, and you are training the same thing. Competition is the highest form of combat training. The main difference is that you are training to fight a trained opponent. It is the only way to seriously pressure test and put yourself into true combat situations. Competition training gives you the versatility to be effective both inside and outside of the ring.