How relevant is full contact training?

Like with most things that you invest time to learn, you will fantasies/day dream of how good it will be when you reach your goal. This could be learning guitar or learning another language, and the fantasy of that could be playing with Eric Clapton or ordering in fluent Spanish to impress a girl/boy in a tapas restaurant.

We are learning an ancient fighting art as a hobby, but at Missing Link we are also trying to find relevance in the techniques for the modern world we are living in. And this is the fascinating thing for me personally, how techniques I've learned elsewhere are based in Missing Link and Karate in general.

Now I come from a full contact, no holds barred fighting background, which included Muay Thai, Systema and other full contact martial arts - plus a lot of door and security work. And though the Thai boxing helped me understand how to take a hit and keep moving forward, the cost both physically and mentally was too high in my opinion.

The fantasy was to beat your opponent instantaneously and look cool doing it, unfortunately the work involved in that was not sustainable in a part time hobby. The permanent injuries that my body sustained and the abuse that i put my body through just in the gym was no joke. You practice these types of martial combat styles, you learn to condition your body. This includes deadening nerve clusters and building calluses up on your hands, feet and shins with caustic soda and other harmful chemicals, you also build up carbon deposits in your hands and shins by repeatedly hitting them with hard objects and against hard objects. Your body becomes accustomed to the pain and you become addicted to the adrenaline rush of being hit in combat (it becomes a trigger for endorphins to be released).

As far as a real fight is concerned - "on the STREET" - it never goes how you think it will, there is lots of swearing and shouting, pushing, scratching, spitting and rolling around on the floor, and you never have enough space to do that kick you've been training 5 years to do. Its ugly, bloody, sweaty and no one ever wins an altercation in the street, your clothes are ruined and your mates, who started it, have usually run off when the dust settles.

In conclusion: Here at Missing Link we will try to prepare you the best we can, but you do not have to make it a lifestyle. By all means try a few classes of a full contact system, there are plenty to choose from out there, but watch for the warning signs of both physical and mental degradation.

But also don't think that martia arts will prepare you for the 3 guys jumping on your head as you walk out of the kebab shop when you've had 8 pints of Stella on a friday night. Or that you're going to be able to walk into a MMA gym and compete with their top tier fighters that train 3/4 hours a day, 6 days a week, just because you've studied for 4/5 years in classical martial arts 2/3 times a week.

Full contact sports is a life style choice. Fantasy versus Reality is a hard pill to swallow sometimes, but unfortunately we can't all be Chuck Norris or Cynthia Rothrock in real life - and if we wanted to, there is a huge investment to be made, and you won't be in your peak all your life.

Gary Bohm, Manchester

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