Questions like “Which kind of martial art is the best?”, or casual conclusion that a certain kind of martial art is superior to the others, are raised from time to time. Queries or judgments of these kinds might stem from either a sense of inferiority, or superiority, complex: People may either think the martial art they are practising is not good enough, or on the contrary, the best among others. Either view is not encouraged.
We cannot, and shall not, compare different kinds of martial arts. It is because different martial arts have different competition rules that give rise to their unique sets of judgment criteria. This can be well proved by the match between Muhammad Ali (heavyweight boxing champion), and Antonio Inoki (Brazilian-Japanese pro wrestler) held on 26 June 1975 at Budokan Hall in Japan. The match consisted mostly of Inoki lying on the mat attempting to deliver kicks to the thigh; while Ali was scratching his head, simply did not have a clue how to reach to Inoki or execute any attack. After a series of 15 rounds, the game ended in a tie.
It is suggested that no rules should be set for competitions between different martial arts. It is said that, the one who fights his/her way to be the only one standing on the stage at the end of the game should be the ultimate winner. However, this kind of competition would inevitably degrade to some “life and death” competitions; given there are no rules governing the game, would the competitors limit themselves to the use of only martial arts skills? Or would they exhaust all possible notions come by to last them till the end of the game? Competitions of this nature are after all nothing but pure primitive battles between human beings, not contests between martial arts forms.
As a matter of fact, martial arts have their unique merits in their own right. While the player who demonstrates certain martial art skills can be judged as a “good” or “bad”, the martial art in question should never be judged in the same manner. Besides, whether a player wins or loses does not only depend on his/her own ability; other environmental and objective factors also play an important role in the decision.
As a conclusion, martial arts should never be compared or ranked. Instead, we should show our appreciation and respect to different kinds of martial arts. As Point 4 of our Commandments of Karatedo notes, “Be respectful to martial arts of different forms and different schools, as we respect different races and different cultures.”