Functional Martial Arts vs. Dead Patterns NEW and OLD

Martial Arts Benefits

Shocking Truth of Alive vs. Dead Training.

dead patern trainingBrian Coaching boxing

Martial Arts in general can offer a host of benefits-

arrow09Fostering Self-Discipline… Building and sticking to a routine leads to the development of self-discipline.

arrow09Encouraging Physical Activity… Any type of regular exercise is healthy and extremely rewarding, sadly not all dead pattern martial arts will offer this. Case and point obese self defense “experts”.

arrow09Learning to Set and Achieve Goals… Although without live training the rewards and goals will lack the same sense of achievement, chasing belts still lets you set goals and achieve them.

arrow09Instilling a Sense of Respect.. Although in many traditional martial arts this is instilled in the same way that cults or religions instill respect. Showing and acting on respect is still a benefit.  Albeit if the respect is forced via titles and ritual it will lack many of the healthy aspects of respect found in alive martial arts. “Bow to your sensei!”

arrow09Encouraging Non-Violent Conflict Resolution… If you have a good instructor in any form of self defense the first options should always be avoidance. Anyone telling you otherwise is willing to put their students in danger just for an inflated sense of ego. 

arrow09Improving Listening Skills…  I would encourage anyone to get into some kind of class room setting where the topic is of interest to you.  Being involved in a class room environment just because you’re interested will help improve your attention span. 

arrow09Developing Teamwork Skills… Despite the lack of function in dead training you still develop some team work. Much the same way dancers develop team work. Choreography is hard work after all.

These are just a few examples but in Functional Martial Arts Training

disclaimerBe aware that the point of this article is not so much one martial art vs another (although that is an issue). The real point is live vs dead training.  Just so you understand here is a video of someone training “dead” in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.

Case and point anyone that has done any live guard work KNOWS that the guard break used by the instructor here is based just on pain and can not be relied on to break the guard open. That is just one of the many things that anyone involved in live bjj training will instantly recognize as B.S. in this video. However without the live training aspect the instructor can easily teach his students simply by pretending to know something that he doesn’t actually know.


Functional martial arts brings a whole other subset of benefits to the table.  Although ALL forms of martial arts can help with things like discipline only functional martial arts can help people truly become more confident.

arrow09Boosting Socialization Skills.. Some may try and argue that you can get this in any training environment. Anyone making that argument is missing my entire point to begin with.  By actually sparring (even lightly or drilling with light resistance) you begin to understand more about how your feedback effects your training partners.  This can in turn bleed into your other social interactions. 

arrow09True Confidence From Knowing What You Can ,and CANT Do… Although pretend to be more confident no one has a full understanding of being confident until they have a complete understanding of what they CANT do.  Until you reach this point all your training is just theory.

arrow09Real Comradery…   The sense of belonging when you work in a live training environment is indescribable to someone who hasn’t training in such a manor.  This can be seen just in the reaction a SBG student will have from a belt ceremony. Tears of happiness are a common occurrence at these events not only for those being promoted.

arrow09Fun Environment… It is common to see a more militaristic approach to training in dead martial arts. This is necessary to instill respect because without the live aspect there is no reason to truly respect the instructors experience or skill set. Alive training by definition will prove or disprove the instructors material through trail. This allows coaches of live martial arts to build respect by merit rather then forced ritual. The instructors can then be more relaxed and provide a learning environment without having to force ritual.

arrow09Content Constantly Changes, Always Something NEW to Learn…   With dead pattern training once you have mastered your choreography you are done. With live martial arts there is always room for improvement. “Proper form” or “katas” can only provide so much.

arrow09Challenging AND Rewarding…  There is no comparing the rewards in live training to those in dead pattern martial arts. In live training you WILL learn what you CANT do. This provides you with a realistic bearing on the limitations you have skill wise and physically.  You can never find out where that bar actually exist without learning what you CANT do. Thus you lose the chance to overcome these limitations and feel the real reward that comes with that.

arrow09Real Sense Of Accomplishment- Everything is earned. No buying belts at SBG…  It is unfortunate but even with live martial arts you will sometimes see “belt factories” for instance a jiu jitsu school that gives out a belt based on time that you have trained rather then actual ability.  It is unfair for me to put this as a benefit of alive vs dead martial arts, but still something that anyone looking to learn martial arts should understand.

Sad Truth Is Dead Pattern Martial Arts Will Put You In Danger..

The benefits to functional martial arts are reflective of the pieces missing from more traditional training methods. It’s unfortunate but it’s true.  If someone tells me that they want to practice Thai Chi for stress relief then so be it.  Thai chi can be great for that. However if someone tells me they are learning thai chi for self defense that’s a red flag.

Exaggerated reactions, sometimes devoid of contact-

helps to feed the false sense of confidence that can in turn could cause a person to put themselves in danger.


Why should we care what other people do? What is the point of this blog? Why are we trying to attack people?

Please do not mistake the point being made in this article. ALL of these students are doing something positive.  They are going out of their way to try and develop a skill, get in shape, or try and gain any of the benefits that were listed above.

This article is written more as a Public Service Announcement.  To prove my point I will try and paint a scenario for you. Imagine a friend of yours has cancer and is looking for treatment.  A new pill comes on the market and it claims to cure cancer.  Your friend stops avoids their doctors advice of chemo (a harsher but proven treatment) and begins purchasing and taking this pill.  A medical journal releases a study that shows the pill was fake all along.  It’s not your friends fault for wanting to cure their cancer. They went out of their way to find a treatment and cure their cancer, this is good effort on their part and should be applauded.


The fault goes to the snake oil salesmen that may or may not know that they are selling sugar pills.


Aliveness is a somewhat redundant thing to talk about for those involved in any alive martial art or combat athletics. However even with mountains of evidence the idea of martial art “relativism” is still rampant and from time to time needs to be addressed.  Truth is not all martial arts are equal and recent developments in competition prove that. The excuses from dead pattern martial artist will always be there but mixed martial arts / MMA is still one of the best platforms to test the function of martial arts.  Most people forget the reason MMA was developed in the first place.  A format for martial artist to use what ever martial art they wanted against Brazilian jiu jitsu, originally coined as “The Gracie Challenge”.

Relativism is non existent in this testable environment.