Friday, September 2, 2016

All Over the Map? Krav Maga and Iain Abernethy's Martial Map

Iain Abernethy's Martial Map
For the last month I've been listening to the outstanding Iain Abernethy Podcast, starting with the first episode from 2006. The January 2011 edition was titled The Martial Map, and it introduced Iain's model for thinking about what he calls self-protection, martial arts, and fighting.

He argues that these are three distinct disciplines, but they do overlap. The graphic depiction of this concept appears in the figure at left, and Iain's podcast (which he describes as an "e-book" due to its length), explains what the seven areas mean for those of us doing combat-related practices.

I really enjoyed learning about this model because it helps me better understand my own journey. However, it does introduce some problems. For one, is there an overall term that captures all three elements? Naturally I would expect the term "martial art" to include self-protection, fighting, and the activities Iain labels "martial arts." I'm not sure I agree with Iain's separation of martial arts from self-protection and fighting, but I understand his explanation for doing so.

Another issue to consider is the idea of being a "complete" practitioner. The explosion of the ground game following the UFC brought this reality to light for many martial artists. Unfortunately, too often we think only in terms of tactical considerations. Being "complete," for many of us, means being able to fight at all ranges: long/leg range, medium/punching range, short/trapping or clinching range, and ground or grappling range. (Even this topic is subject to many interpretations, including "out of range," or even finer gradations of distance or interaction.)

However, being proficient at these ranges cannot equal being "complete" in my mind. How do you deal with weapons -- either blunt, edged, or projectile (firearms)? How do you handle multiple opponents? How do you protect third parties? There are many other topics that one could introduce to be considered "complete," and only within the "fighting" discipline -- never mind the self-protection or "martial arts" worlds!

The advantage of Iain's martial map is clearly stated in his podcast: use the model to determine how your system's practice fit within self-protection, martial arts, and/or fighting. We are very clear about this in Krav Maga, as I wrote in an earlier post titled Is Krav Maga a Martial Art? Using the martial map, I would align Krav Maga with the self-protection area, as supported by Mr. Eyal Yanilov's statement that "Krav Maga is not a martial art.. it is a reality based self defense system." (emphasis added)

At the higher levels of Krav Maga (emphasized in the Graduate and above ranks), there is more emphasis on fighting, but at all levels there is hardly any of what Iain would call "martial art." This is why I like to supplement my Krav Maga training with a traditional kung fu style, which is much more "martial art."

Have you heard Iain's podcast? How does your practice align? Do you think there needs to be an "uber term" for all three areas, and if yes, what is it?

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