How do You Know What Works?
Competition is a proven means to demonstrate the efficacy of combat sports and martial arts technique, or anything. You can wave your arms around while making gurgling noises, and convince fools that they are becoming excellent at swimming, but as Bruce Lee put it, "If you want to learn to swim, jump into the water." As an aside, Bruce Lee couldn't swim (not speaking metaphorically here, but actually).
Learning what works and what fails through competition reaches its peak in mixed martial arts, and has revolutionized the practice of martial arts generally. You can call that martial arts in the arena. But that's not the only way to learn what works, and what gets you hurt or worse.
The rise of cell phone video and security camera footage has opened up a second means to determine the efficacy of any particular martial art, combat sport, or technique. Call it martial arts outside the aren , or for short, Street. This can be roughly divided into several main categories:
•Style vs. Style
However, every front has a back. There is another side to knowing what works, and that's knowing what doesn't work, or as the Cat In The Hat documentary phrases it, Calculatus Eliminatus. There is a lot of video available of people doing martial arts that you want to avoid.
Most industries do not have a significant number of participants that are lunatics. There is no group in truck driving that advocates for doing it with eyes closed, for example. Unfortunately, martial arts in some quarters follows not the Samurai code of Bushido (be brave, never wear socks, etc) but instead enthusiastically practices the ever-entertaining art of Bullchit (Note, the proper pronunciation is "bull cheat").
What is Bullchit?
The first person who establishes that Chi is real in the sense that it can impart abilities not explainable by science, will easily win the Nobel Peace Prize, for so radically increasing humankind's understanding of its capabilities. As of yet, the only quality earned is ignobility.
Chi Blasting only "works" on what pathetic-at-best Chi Blast monger George Dillman referred to, on a debunking National Geographic episode, as "Non-Believers." If you think Chi Blasts work, when one is overtly beamed your way you may pass out or do the hokey pokey. In a group situation, the delusion can be magnified. The passing outs is a product of conditioning - people believe that what they are practicing is real, and when they see other people falling down it only reinforces that misbegotten belief.
Unfortunately for adherents, if you don't think they work, then they don't. Thus their use in a self-defense situation is nil, and much worse. If you are being attacked and the criminal believes in No Touch KOs, and you somehow announce mid-beating that you are about to unleash a Hadoken and then do, it might, possibly, work. But criminals are not that stupid, sadly.
Arguments are sometimes made that it is preferable to take an "I'm OK, you're OK" approach to Bullchit. However, if you think that martial arts matter, that it's important that men, women, and children know how to defend themselves, then that stance is hollow. Martial arts desperately needs consumer advocacy.
Or maybe all those fools are just one more group of people that can't beat you up! And the good side of Chi Blast adherents is that they're funny.