Reality Based: Is It A New Concept (2005)

Miyamoto Musash

For those of you who are traditionalist you may tend to discriminate against Reality Based martial arts, especially against the work of Jim Wagner who coined the term you now hear everywhere, even from traditional martial artists. But what people fail to observe is that Jim’s ideas aren’t knew, in fact, the best warriors through time have practiced realty based concepts. I will use three man from three different eras of time, race, and art. For reality based I will use Jim Wagner, since he is consider the father of the term.

Miyamoto Musashi (宮本 武蔵) the author of the Book of Five Rings was a famed swordsman born in Shinmen Takezo in Harima Province in 1584 Japan. He had killed over sixty men in fights and duels, and this book is his teaching on the art and strategy in combat which he had used. I will compare his thoughts and philosophy with Jim Wagner’s. (I will be using Book of Five Rings, interpreted by Stephen F. Kaufman ©1994)

    Miyamoto: “…to advance further the student and artist must learn and seek other knowledge. It makes sense to study other arts as well as those strategies”. (pg 5)
  2. Jim: K.I.S.S. (KEEP IT SIMPLE STUPID) …All techniques must rely on gross motor skills, and not on fancy, flowery moves that require fine motor skills. If a move is complicated, it will fail. Simple techniques that are fast and hit hard will keep you alive.
    Do not be conscious of the particular technique you will use, this causes hesitation” (pg.33)
  3.  Jim: TRAIN HARD, FIGHT EASY: The harder you train and push yourself in training the easier real combat will be.
    Miyamoto:You can only fight the way you practice” (pg.13)
  4. Jim: DRESS AS YOU FIGHT: If you’re more likely to fight in a business suit or in blue jeans than in a karate gi, then that’s what you’d better be training in.
    Miyamoto: You should practice wearing your full suit of armor in order to learn the true feeling of combat” (pg.56)
  5. Jim: POSITIVE MENTAL ATTITUDE: Law enforcement and the military in particular, are filled with quotes, mottos, and sayings which inspire their members to win and never give up.
    Miyamoto:You must go into combat with the attitude of absolutely destroying the enemy” (pg.39)
  6. Jim: ADAPTABILITY: When it comes to training or fighting they don’t just do what they want to do, they adapt to the circumstances and the fluidity of battle.
    Miyamoto:What you may think is effective may in fact be ineffective because of the way in which the enemy is feeling at that particular moment. Your attitude must be such that you can shift into any other mode of combat without having to make a conscious decision”. (pg.39)
  7. Jim: Aggressive Defense: Many people think self-defense means waiting for the attacker to throw the first punch. (in Defensive Tactics class, Jim taught if you block, block aggressively, make the attacker feel that if your blocks hurts, image what your strike would feel like).
    Miyamoto:Turn the attitude of blocking into one of attacking” (pg43)
  8. Jim Wagners Piston Concept: In Jim’s Defensive Tactics course he introduces his piston concept, when you strike with any body part or weapon, like a piston, you must bring it back to were it came and strike again.
    Miyamoto:Always return your weapon along the same path it traveled out on. In this way you can use it again without having to relocate and rethink your attitude” (pg.35)
  9. Jims definition of Reality Based: Training and survival skills based on modern conflict situations that the practitioner is likely to encounter in their environment (their “reality”).
    Miyamoto:The “Way” cannot be learned through frivolous contests in which the outcome is for the name of a school or a large trophy. It can only be realized where physical death is a reality” (pg.4)

I now would like to introduce a man who has a certain connection with both Jim Wagner and Miyamoto Musashi. This man is known around the world and also believed in reality based training. This man is the legendary Bruce Lee. It’s no secret that the father of Reality Based, Jim Wagner and the development of Reality Based was greatly influenced my Bruce Lee. Bruce had his own version of “reality based” martial arts, and Jim gives credit to Bruce for the creation of hybridization which “ultimately paved the way for reality-based martial arts”.

Jim learned not only martial arts, but the history of Jeet Kune Do from one of Bruce’s number one student’s, Dan Inosanto and also from Richard Bustillo. Jim took with him the philosophy of Bruce Lee, who advised martial artists to take from every system what was useful, and disregard what was useless. Bruce Lee practiced the art of Wing Chun but later denounce the art, “reason for my not sticking to wing chun is because I sincerely felt that my style has more to offer regarding efficiency.” (Bruce Lee Letter to Wing Chun master William Cheung 1969, Jun Fan Jeet Kune Do Magazine 12/97 pg. 25) He like, Mr. Wagner, believed that “combat is always fresh, alive, and constantly changing.”(pg.27). According to Bruce’s wife Linda Lee, one of Lee’s favorite books was the Book of Five Rings (pg.11), so we can once again see Miyamoto Musashi influenced in Reality Based Martial Arts.