Every single fighting system (as you know, I despise the term martial art so I use fighting system instead) loses a great deal of its combat value when it becomes a sport. When something becomes a sport its adherents focus on winning the contest within the context of the rules, and that is far different than combat application. Usually right about now someone will point out how this UFC fighter won a fight against someone on the street, etc. But there have been just as many that have been shot or stabbed because their frame of reference did not include stabbing or shooting.
Sport focused systems, whether hand to hand focused or gun related, are not good choices for combat focused goals.
The next point is that a system will tend to stay to its roots and its culture. Until Karate and Jujitsu began its transformation to sport and made it to the west, they were combat focused systems and its leaders were extremely hard men who had done their share of beating and killing other men. You did not see the tubby underachieving McDojo instructors of today, their flashy training suits festooned with patches wearing their pre-aged and multi colored belts demanding to be called master this and master that.
The same can be said about American Gunfighting.
The originals...the Fairbairns, Applegates, Bryces, Askins and others were killers. They killed other men for a living and were quite good at it. And while they did compete in sports these were a far cry from the sausage casing multi color spacegun games you see the overfed John Wick wannabes doing today. They were pure marksmanship events akin to what we do in the red dot training more than anything else.
As the gun systems became influenced by sport...and yes Cooper had a hand in this, they began to lose everything that was not designed for that sport. As well the generation of gun leaders post WW2 (with few exceptions) did not have a culture of hand to hand skills or physicality like we do today.
The martial focused fighting student of today pursues a martial art of some sort (oh there is that term). The current popular one is some sort of MMA (which really is simply Karate without traditions), or JuJitsu. In a past age Krav-Maga was seen as a shortcut to martial prowess for those who wanted something quick. Before that you had the kick boxing thing, then the Kung Fu thing, and on and on. I have been in this since 1983 and have seen the popularity of things for both the armed and unarmed worlds wax and wane.
At the end of the day here are some points
- Being fit and strong is preferable to being fat and weak
- You get that by exercising and self discipline.
- An instructor should embody self discipline and strength and fitness...even if he focuses on guns rather than fists
- Hand to hand skills are essential and the presence of a firearm does not excuse the need.
- Gun fighting and your chosen martial system should complement each other
- Martial systems are for beating an adversary into submission or unconsciousness, standing or seated or on the ground
- Martial systems are not for any esoteric spiritual self improvement or trophy accumulation
- Sport is not combat and you cannot attain excellence in both simultaneously...choose which dog you will chase.