“Traditional versus Modern Martial Arts” 

"As Seen in Living Well Magazine"


Sukh S. Sandhu

Kancho The Gi Yu Dojo



Often I am asked about the “effectiveness” of the classical Japanese jujutsu we teach and study.  My answer is always the same…”any martial art is as effective as the time and effort the individual martial artist has put in to it.  Like any endeavor we delve in to in our lives…if we want to be proficient…we must first study and work hard at understanding the basics of it…whether it is painting, wood working, athletics etc.  From that effort we will be on our own path to mastery of said subject.   As of late, with the many fly by martial arts and publication of fighting systems that promise to teach you how to fight and kill an opponent in a few days (for a hefty fee) I find it interesting that the folks who teach these ideas have black belts and backgrounds in the very same traditional art forms they say are outdated.



After all, the idea of “fighting” has not changed since the beginning of mankind.  The human body has not evolved any different today than 1000 years ago.  We have one head, 2 arms, 2 legs, a torso etc.  So the very art forms from yester year are still the foundation for today’s “modern” fight systems.  Our art forms of the “KoRyu”, or old ways, of fighting were combat tested, tested in real life or death situations, they worked, because their lives depended on it.  Granted, in today’s society we do not carry swords on our hips or 6 foot bo staffs in our everyday lives.  However the ideas that these ancient weapons represent can be seen in everything we do today.  The focus and awareness it takes to concentrate on using a real Japanese sword is quite challenging.  To put our effort and mind 100% in to some thing is surely transferable to our everyday lives.  Use of the longer weapons, the 6 foot staff, can teach you distancing, strategy, and focused intent….the very things that are applicable to unarmed fighting today.  If you don’t look in to the depth of what is being taught and figure out how to apply to your life today, whether a physical confrontation, a mental challenge at work or a spiritual challenge to overcome some disease, you have fooled yourself for your own lack of understanding.


I am by no means discounting any form of martial arts, I myself have trained in quite a few of them, though I think there is a misconception of the “one finger death touch” or learn to kill anyone by attending my seminar for some high priced weekend.  If you fool yourself in to thinking there is only one way, you will ultimately be proven wrong.  One of the benefits that a “traditional” martial such as the one taught at the Gi Yu Dojo, is the character development that our society seems to be lacking in this day and age.  Along with the discipline it takes to constantly try to improve yourself and humility that comes with training in an ancient form.  Old does not mean outdated.  As my teacher use to always say to me…”study something old to learn something new”.

Learning how to “fight” is pretty easy in my opinion, learning character and being disciplined takes effort.  Effort that is put in and humbleness that is learned by good mentorship and support of the training partners that have come before you.  That is what I see as lacking for the “new” martial arts.  Martial arts is not just about fighting, it is also about community responsibility.  Create a very strong warrior and even better servant to those around him/her.


Ultimately, a person on the path of “budo”, must decide why they are pursuing the path of a warrior.  They then must challenge themselves to find which “form” of martial arts is best for them and pursue it with utmost dedication.  All fighting styles have many benefits and similar ideas, so all martial arts have the ability to help a person become better.  I always tell our new students, : you are not here to compete with anyone other than yourself….you should always strive to be better today than you were yesterday…that will equal consistent growth as warriors and as productive members of our communities.”