I get asked this question a lot. And the question is OK when it is coming from a layperson, but it is the ultimate of a stupid question if a martial artist asks it. Last week I had a guy come in to the school for information. I knew immediately he was not serious, and perhaps a "spy" from another dojo because of how he presented himself.
He proceeded to tell me of ALL HIS EXPERIENCE in the arts. Yeah OK, sorry dude but 10 years is nothing. I have 31 and know some people with 50. I feel like a kid, so this guy is cradle material. But he then proceeded to tell me know he would never use what he knows in a fight.
My first question to him was "why would you be in a fight?" Especially since that is an ego based event and us in the arts should be above this. He had no clue the difference between a testosterone based "fight" and having someone wanting you dead. Ok, that is fine. He then asked would I use what I know in a fight or real defense situation.
How could I not? That is like asking me to write with my left hand rather then my right. There are so "special" techniques, no hidden secrets, martial arts study is a study of movement of the human body, YOUR body. It is self mastery. Anyone tells you different they are selling something. This knowledge will then help you to defend against an attacker, because they do not understand these things. All they understand is their ego, that they are angry or desperate to have something.
With study of any real martial art it becomes what you become. You cannot separate it from yourself anymore then you can your lungs. The more you study and train the more you understand, the better you become. The only competition is with yourself. The journey has no end.