That last post and poll sparked another question for me: how much of a role does experience play in combat sports or fighting in general? Former champ Lyoto Machida earned his title after a lifetime of training in karate and other martial arts. The precocious Jon Jones earned his belt after fewer than four years of total MMA training.
There is no doubting the skills of either of these fighters; however, the difference in their longevity and commitment to martial arts go me thinking. If you can focus on training, and if you have the natural athleticism of Jon Jones, does it matter if you specialize in a style for years or even decades? Or is it better to learn to fight at an MMA gym and to compete as early and often as possible? What do you think?
If you are simply judging a rank by fighting skill, then the skill level itself should determine the rank regardless of time. However, if you are focusing on other aspects of martial arts training like developing discipline, tenacity, and other good character attributes, time should be a consideration. Some schools only give a senior rank after 10 years!
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