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This question (among others) led me to post this.

I want to start off by saying how dangerous it is to entertain false martial arts practices. Untrained folk can see these techniques and think they work, and might think about using them in real self defense situation, which could get them hurt or killed. For example I wouldn't want false information spread about how to breathe while scuba diving because someone could get hurt or die. The exact same reasons apply here.

That being said, are we open to allowing for discussion of martial arts techniques and practices that are purely for fun, like WWE wrestling moves, magic, Chi energy strikes, Death Touch moves, or Steven Seagal Aikido flips? If so, a very clear distinction needs to be made so that untrained users don't believe these techniques would work in a real self defense situation.

Some might say, "then pose an argument and evidence to prove the answer wrong!"

To which I would reply, the burden of proof lies with the claimant. You can't go around claiming absurd things, and then responding to criticism by saying "well prove me wrong then!"

Point being, a questions that implies a false practice is real, and dives into a question about it, should not be allowed.

To help this discussion along, we may need to answer a few example questions first:

  • Is yoga a martial art?
  • Is meditation a martial art?
  • If the MA/technique implies that it works in real fighting, does it actually have to?

If the answer is yes to these, then the definition of martial art (and what can be discussed here) is so broad that we have to allow pretty much anything.

Edit: I'm going to leave this post body unedited, but after reading the answer from @Steve Weigand I believe it was so good that it makes up for the poor question.

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    What is "real fighting"? A Taikwondo Match? A judo Match? An MMA match. That scrap I had as a kid? A war zone in Syria? We don't actually have evidence for ANY of the above representing any of the others. Now what do you propose we take as the perfect example of a 'real fight' or 'real self defence' and why? – Huw Evans Aug 10 '17 at 16:58
  • @HuwEvans Great supporting example. I think we as question askers, and answerers need to specify the goals of the techniques/practices. You need to perform differently under different rule sets. Different people find different things fun. – coinbird Aug 10 '17 at 17:04
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    "Theatrical or stage combat that focus more on theater or entertainment (for role-playing, re-enactments, etc.) are considered off-topic." This is explicitly stated in the help center. – Matt Chan Aug 10 '17 at 18:05
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I think it's perfectly valid to accept questions that are trying to determine whether something is possible and/or effective. If the only place you've seen it is a movie, how are you really going to know that flynning isn't a thing, that it's extremely difficult to fight multiple opponents effectively, that strength and size really are a major factor in martial arts effectiveness even with a skill disparity, etc? And even if we feel that we know the answer, it's often worth questioning because you never know what will turn up. There was a time when everyone said BJJ would dominate UFC. There was a time when they said there was never a good situation to throw a high kick. Heck, Capoeira, one of the less combat-oriented martial arts, has been used to good effect in brawls and MMA pretty much since its founding. I wouldn't use it as the only element of a martial arts style any more than I'd only use BJJ, or only use Karate, but it has its points.

Add to that that not all of martial arts is about combat. There are philosophical, educational, aesthetic, and health benefits that people use the martial arts for. Most people studying Tai Chi are never going to use it as a combat style, but they enjoy going through the patterns. I do Capoeira not because I ever plan on using it to fight, but because I enjoy the aesthetics of it, and learning how to move my body in ways I never expected. Tons of people do boxing or kickboxing for the athletic benefits. Almost any martial art competition from Tae Kwan Do to Wu Shu to UFC throws out combat effectiveness for figuring out how to win via the rules. And even the "combat" styles like Krav Maga or Systema carry with them assumptions of what is allowed and what is not whether it's due to some notion of honor, an attempt to avoid people from getting convicted for over-zealous self-defense, or simply a stylistic inflexibility that says that a particular method or style is never effective and therefore never to be considered.

And ultimately, Stack Exchange sites are about finding answers that might help others. That includes asking questions about things that are wrong and getting well-reasoned answers that address that question and what truth and falsehood there is in it. And frankly, I don't think that we can really make a lot of assumptions about "what everyone knows" because the martial arts have always been built out of a hefty amount of brags and bullshit, usually layered on top of a lot of solid groundwork and training. Legendary martial artists trained hard and employed sharp tactical minds, but they also encouraged the legend, that they could throw lightning from their hands or that they could ward off bullets with the silk they wound around their torso, because that was just one more weapon. Today's martial artists generally invoke less magic, but I think every MMA fighter claims to have "an impenetrable guard" or "a one-shot knockout punch" or the like, and it's no less of a claim of powers beyond the ken of mortal men.

So, in short, I say we accept these questions, and we answer them well. And if we get someone who's inflexible, we smile and nod and leave them alone just like if, say, someone wanted to argue that there was no way to beat the "superman punch", or that BJJ conquers all.

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  • Well said. I'm now leaning more toward allowing the questions for the sake of the experienced answers that might follow. Do you think it's important to point out when techniques are irrelevant in self defense situations if the asker is implying they are relevant? I believe this goes beyond hurting someone's feelings, and is a serious safety issue. – coinbird Aug 10 '17 at 19:04
  • Yes. If someone is asking a particular context, it's perfectly rational to address that context. :) And be aware that people will likely disagree, of course, c.f. the head vs chest punching discussion. – Macaco Branco Aug 10 '17 at 19:08
  • Agreed. Thanks for your input. – coinbird Aug 10 '17 at 19:23
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Regarding the question about pressure points on the regular site, I don't see what the fuss is about.

I hope we all agree that:

  1. You can knock people out
  2. It matters where you strike or choke people

Why does it matter whether you call the target a pressure point?


Is yoga or meditation a martial art? No.

Is weightlifting a martial art? No. But we talk about it because in some systems it is considered an important element of training. Does everyone agree that it is important or helpful? No. Same goes for yoga and meditation.

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  • I agree with your yoga, meditation, and weightlifting examples. Auxiliary work is absolutely worth talking about. As for the "pressure point" semantics, it seemed like the OP was implying something other than the realistic head/neck knock outs. – coinbird Aug 10 '17 at 17:16
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That being said, are we open to allowing for discussion of martial arts techniques and practices that are purely for fun, like WWE wrestling moves, magic, Chi energy strikes, Death Touch moves, or Steven Seagal Aikido flips?

We allow questions when the person doesn't know that the thing isn't real, so we can explain and provide correct information. We don't allow questions that are clearly trolling (the guy who asked about using an anime fighting style from One Piece last year, for example) or not related to martial arts at all. We also don't really do well when the person asks a question but already has a specific answer in mind and argues with every response (in which case, what they want is a blog, not a Q&A site).

"Pressure Points" is actually a pretty good question for someone pretty new - it allows a lot of useful disambiguation.

Is your solar plexus a pressure point? Sure. Is the nerve in your inner thigh a pressure point? Sure. I mean, the fact that people mostly feel it when someone is driving a knee into the target's thigh while groundfighting removes some of the magic, but there you go.

Are there pressure points that are good for massage and not really so much for fighting? That, too.

And then there's pressure points that basically we have no evidence do anything at all.

All of this stuff goes under the term "pressure points" and a new person doesn't realize it. Sort of like how "Chi" can mean 1001 things and some of those are useful (muscle activation, kinetic chain action) and some are not, but if you don't know that people are talking about different things using the same word, it might all seem like it should be one thing as well.

We sometimes get historical or cultural questions as well, and the difference there is, "What did/what do people believe as part of this martial art?" which is a different question than "How do we do this thing they believed?"

There's informational value in knowing, for example, a style might believe magical possession is a thing, which might tie into the traditional clothing, weapons' shapes, imagery or greeting forms. That is not the same as, "How do I summon the tiger spirit to fight my enemies?"

Part of the nature of the Q&A site is that you get questions asked by people who don't know what they don't know.

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