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As a way of differentiating, I sometimes say… “Think of the traditional martial arts as being proactive. You learn how to fight so that you don’t have to unless needed. Sports martial arts is more reactive. You train to compete. Because sports martial arts is about competition and tournaments.”


I guess, to sum it all up in a nutshell… traditional martial arts are an art form where sports martial arts are more of a sporting event. Both have their benefits. Both have their purpose. It all comes down to what a student wants from their martial arts training.

​I chose to teach the traditional arts because yes, I love their history… their discipline… and most importantly, their purpose. That's just me. I have always thought that everyone should have the tools they need to make their way in this world. And knowing a traditional martial art is a great thing to have handy in your toolbox.

​Thanks for reading. Until next time…


  • Traditional Martial Arts… Jujutsu, Kali, Daito Ryu, T'ai Chi, Kung Fu, Boxing, and more
  • Sports Martial Arts… Tae Kwon Do, Mauy Thai, Kendo, Judo, Brazilian Jiu Jutsu, and more.
  • Traditional Martial Arts… have roots that go back thousands of years. And while time passed, their techniques have not. They remain the same as those taught so long ago.
  • Sports Martial Arts… some sport styles – such as Judo -- were derived from traditional martial arts. They blend skills from one, two, or even many different styles. While others – such as Tae Kwon Do – were created to BE just what they are… a sport martial art.  

         Full-time dojo serving Chester County since 1998.
                                                 14 N. Village Ave. Exton, PA

As a dojo owner, I love it when the phone rings. Most often, it means a prospective student. So, I get to talk to someone about what I love doing the most… teaching the martial arts.

Now, during these conversations I get asked a lot of questions. But the one question that I get asked most often is… “What style do you teach.”

As I’ve been doing this for more than 40 years, I’ve come to realize that most people don’t really want to know what style you teach… unless they are looking for a specific art in which they want to train. Instead, they’re really asking me how they’ll benefit from training in the martial arts. Will they (or their kids) become more fit… be able to defend themselves (plus friends and family)… and grow as a person?

So, sure I tell them what style I teach. But I take it a bit further to explain that what I teach is a traditional martial art and not sport martial arts. Which, of course, prompts the question… what’s the difference? Well… happy to take a moment to explain.


What is the Difference between Traditional
& Sports Martial Arts?

By Sensei La France

  • Traditional Martial Arts… most dojos teaching traditional martial arts are more minimalistic. They have hardwood floors… plain walls… and Asian scrolls on the walls. Plus, students wear simple black or white traditional uniforms (Gi).
  • Sports Martial Arts… most dojos teaching sports martial arts are bit more colorful. They have matted floors… mirrored walls… and trophies in the windows. Plus, students wear V-neck or colorful uniforms (red, blue, etc.) as well as something other than a traditional Gi (like boxing shorts).
  • Traditional Martial Arts… are true “fighting” arts. They were founded on battlefields and in communities as a way for someone to protect themselves and their family. But (to quote from the awesome Spiderman movies) “with great power comes great responsibility.” So the traditional martial arts also focused on Budo, or self-development. Know when to fight and not when to fight. 
  • Sports Martial Arts… sports martial arts (descended from traditional martial arts) are more focused on competition and physical exercise. Their purpose is to spar and win at tournaments. With sports martial arts there are more rules… you can kick here but not there. And in the end it’s all about the pin or the point. 

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