“What’s the best martial art?”
This is a question most of us in the martial arts community have heard, in some form or another. And it’s one that most of us groan inwardly at hearing. There is a real problem with trying to establish a “best” martial art. Or even in trying to say that one art is “better” than another.
For me, I think Nihon Goshin Aikido is the best. For me. With my personality. With the instructors I’ve had. Of the arts and instructors I know. That’s a very narrow area of “best” for the art, but it’s the only definition I find acceptable.
Why? Look at any decent art, and you can probably find something in there that is taught, performed, or designed better than other arts you might personally prefer. I strongly suspect that Ueshiba Aikido teaches much better throwing technique than does Karate-do. I also strongly suspect that Karate-do teaches much better punches than does Ueshiba Aikido. So, which is better?
In truth, the instructor will matter more than the art, for positive impact, and the student will matter more than the instructor or the art for negative impact. In other words, a very good instructor with a good, but limited art will be a much better combination than a mediocre instructor with a well-rounded art, because the better instructor will see to it that the art is taught in a way that his students can learn well. At the same time, a student with no internal motivation will make both instructor and art useless.
So, does the art not matter? Of course it matters. But it’s only one factor, and the judgment of most factors is highly subjective. For more thoughts on selecting an art, read my article on Selecting a School and Witt Shihan’s article on Evaluating a Dojo.
Gerry Seymour is the founder of the Self-defense Academy of Western NC, in Hendersonville, NC.