Testing Your Martial Art Skills

January 14, 20130 Comments

Do you ever “test” your martial art?

The Gracie family is famous for their open challenges (do you recall those ads in Black Belt magazine in the 80s and the early 90s?). They even put out videos with their challenge matches called “Gracie in Action”.

Here’s a student of the Gracie Academy, who has taken it upon himself to have 40 challenge matches at his gym (in the UK).


In these videos you will see a references to four levels of opponents:

  • LEVEL 1 – Same weight (or below) – UNSKILLED.
  • LEVEL 2 – Bigger and stronger – UNSKILLED.
  • LEVEL 3 – Same weight (or below) – SKILLED.
  • LEVEL 4 – Bigger and stronger – SKILLED

While we don’t recommend you go out and openly challenge people to fight you (and sparring against that sort of resistance is obviously not for everyone), testing your martial arts against resistance is a good way to gauge your own skill level under a pressure situation.

Some arts lend itself pretty well to this type of an environment. While others argue that their techniques are “too dangerous” to use, and that a “spar” is nothing like a fight. Particularly since sparring is a mutually agreed engagement with rules.

There may be some truth to this, but testing against progressive resistance at some level is important for the development of the individual.

Even if you are in a “self defense” system where you don’t typically engage in sparring, one ought to consider “reasonable force training” to see how techniques work against people who actually resist during training.

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