Admit it or not, many martial arts practitioners think/believe that their own art is the most effective and the most deadly and other martial arts sucks... and many practitioners follow it like a religion or a cult. Some like traditional arts and some hates them. Others believe that it is a "The Way of Ninja"... sorry but I still haven't met a real living Ninja practitioner inside Japan during my 20+ years of living here. Some of my MA mates live in Shigaken (where the Ninjas originated) but Vsad that none of them are Ninjas... Hmmm, here in Japan, if you claim that you are a Ninja, I'm sure that you'll get a cold shoulder shrug plus a smile from the Japanese, lol. I'm not saying that there are no real Ninja practitioner here in Japan now but if you ever see a real one, could you please introduce him to my son... I'll kindly ask him to teach my son so that he can learn how to use smoke bombs and disappear in thin air, lol!
For me I cannot say which is which because like many, I also have trained different arts. I got my first training from my dad who is an Okinawan Karate practitioner when I was 6 or 7 (sorry can't remember). Most of it was stretching and exercise then forms/katas. Then I moved to real Karate (Shotokan), then to Modern Arnis, then to Tae Kwon Do. Then I moved to FMA/Traditional Philippine Martial Arts (read my first post) where I didn't really know that I was being trained by grandpops until it was too late, lol. Then moved to military CQC but also had the privilege to learn some Chinese MA. I am jack of all trade but a master of none though I was also awarded with several dark belts (with stripes), my main love is FMA and CQC because of it's simplicity and practicality. Then went to Japan and joined with retired MA practitioners and is now peacefully training with my son.
I stopped practicing martial arts for many years (riding Trials, off-road bikes, joining road races was more fun for me during those days...) until my son showed interest learning martial arts. Since my son is Japanese, I wanted him to learn Japanese martial arts. On the side, I slowly introduced him to Traditional FMA and CQC which I think became a big hurdle for him because he got mixed-up. He is still practicing FMA-CQC but will also study different martial arts.
First I will talk about the differences in the arts based on my training and experiences. Arts that are taught inside dojos are often for self defence, lots of pre-determined strikes and movements, lots of tradition, lots of morals, lots of pride. Some like MMA, boxing, etc. are more on free-style with lots of training, endurance, skills and also lots of pride. Going to McDojos, I haven't heard of this word since last month! Living in Japan for more than half of my life didn't give me the opportunity to see or visit a McDojo because I haven't seen one in my area... I was surprised that McDojos are becoming very popular overseas. I don't have anything against them because they are still passing or teaching the art using their system and I guess that they are more "user friendly" than the ones I've seen and joined.
Going back to me... I learned Traditional FMA without spending any money because I was trained by grandpops who worked for my dad and the training was a freebie. If you have read my 1st post, you will have an idea on how I got my training. These guys saw WW2 and their way of thinking was very different. In the Philippines, FMA shares similar techniques but have different names and are practiced in many different ways since there are so many FMA practitioners all over the country. Sad to say that I practiced an art that has no name... One grandpop told me that it was the art of "Itak fighting" (bolo/knife fighting) while the other one said that it was "baston" (stick fighting) though we rarely use sticks and they often argue on who has the better technique though their styles are very identical, lol. Since I often use my itak/bolo for work, this was my main tool for learning. They taught me basic strikes and styles but half of my training was more on learning other stuffs like wilderness survival and the art of war based on their experiences...
This is getting long but please read on unless you are getting bored, probably you'll pick-up something... Unlike most modern martial arts, grandpop's FMA is a very aggressive art, they prefer striking when least expected. They got me to learn how to clear hectares of land and chop hundreds of huge trees using several bolos and a double edged ax. Study the terrain, wind, weather, find water, track animals, build shelter, control irrigation, use herbs for medicine, get rid of insects like bees and fire ants and hunt for food. Though we also have guns, I was only limited to medieval ways to hunt... The land that we were working on had several "special dangers", from time to time we get to meet fruit and coconut robbers and some of them are vicious. Few times we were stopped and checked by passing insurgent groups so to complete the training, I was also trained to stay out of sight leaving no traces, be very silent and to stay down for hours until the the passing heavily armed group was finished with taking their rest and moved or how to talk politely and how to answer "trick" questions asked by the insurgents.
So why do they think this way? They told me stories back during the war and most of them are unpleasant. They said that during the war, to stay alive is to go with the flow and to take advantage of what you have and when you strike, you don't fuss around, finish the job, clean yourself and walk away asap. Strike only when you have the advantage. Escape route is vital. If you get caught, you will be tortured, killed, as well as your family and friends, and even your dog, chickens and pigs will be eliminated.
Then when I was a teen, I got trained by military guys then by dodgy people that I met along the way. The military used FMA-CQC, the dodgy excon guys use similar tactics though CQC was a lot polished but both are very effective. Traditional FMA, CQC and dodgy self learned techniques by excons share something very common and this is to do it direct, no fuss, no fancy moves, very simple... During these times, I was joining private kumites, getting in to fights, and being knocked down cold for from sucker punches at a local bar... and yes I have been to one vs several and real knife fights during my younger years and you can ask my family about it... I was also young and stupid once (still is stupid but not young...).
I respect Chinese and Japanese martial arts a lot and for me, I see them as a "way of living" since they polish their skills to the fullest. McDojos, though I haven't seen one yet, I think that they too pass their skills efficiently (plus with their additional "original mumbo-jumbo technique" plus lots of colorful belts). Modern Arnis/Kali/Eskrima is very good because they have systematic ways of teaching and the techniques are forever leveling-up and are always dynamic to keep-up with the changes of time. But for us really traditional FMA practitioners, we just want to stay silent and live our lives the normal way without attracting too much attention.
Going back to traditional "nameless traditional FMA", I think it is also a never ending way to study martial arts but a little bit crude or very direct especially for practitioners who don't do full contact. Though there are no belts to prove our accomplishments, we can still join and enjoy training with other martial arts because the basics are very similar. I always tell my son that people are all the same. We all (majority) have two hands, two legs and a head. There may be hundreds of ways to deliver a punch or kick but the main point is to hit your enemy or opponent where it hurts, gain points for some arts, knock them down or just finish the job. My son have a black belt in Judo and we enjoy practicing together though I never have studied Judo. In Trad-FMA and CQC, we also use grappling, throwing, punching, kicking, biting, pulling hair, poking eyes, plus the itak/sticks/stones/guns/dirt/spit/fry pan, etc. that we use. FMA, Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Brazilian, African, Indian, Middle East (I heard that the art is very effective), Russian, Israeli Krav Maga (w/c is very similar to CQC), etc. have very effective arts but in the end, it is all about who is the best practitioner, the last man standing, the lucky guy who was able to dodge a sucker punch wins the day. Other arts also use these stuffs so when we are training, we just try to use or adapt with what our "main dish" for that day will be and have fun. I believe that it really doesn't matter what art you are using as long as you think that your BS is effective and you are having a blast :) If you are lucky enough to have joined a McDojo, don't be angry and quit. It is always best to try to learn something than doing nothing. BUT please don't forget to have FUN!!!