If you trained in Gracie Jiu-jitsu you might be familiar with their steps to successfully using their techniques. It goes something like this: take the opponent to the ground, take control of the opponent, establish the dominant position and find a submission. Those are great steps to guide what one is supposed to do from their perspective. It's no wonder that if one gets skilled at guiding the opponent along with you step by step that one would have a distinct advantage over someone who was unaware of what to do on the ground.
The reason I am bringing this up is because one could train in martial arts for many years as I have and never ask nor understand what is the purpose of what we are doing. If you train in the Bujinkan, Karate or some other art, what are you trying to accomplish and how are you guiding the opponent towards that goal?
If you train in Judo, the answer is simple, you are looking for a throw that will get you points.
In boxing it's the KO, TKO or winning by points.
In Jiu-jitsu it's getting a submission or winning by points.
In traditional martial arts that are not competitive, one may never think about this or even realize that it's even a problem.
A person who is learning martial arts for self-defense purposes must take the honest look at what they are doing and ask why?
If I throw the opponent to the ground, can he just get back up and come at me again?
Old school martial arts were never for consensual fighting.
They were always for self-defense.
Since most of our martial arts developed in the US from Japan after WWII, a lot of this was never shared with Americans.
Furthermore, during the occupation of Japan, the type of martial arts practice that was allowed and the way it was practiced had changed from the pre-war eras.
Ever think about what has changed?
Training in the Bujinkan, as many early practitioners can attest to, was brutally painful.
As its popularity grew, over time it became more tame.
The purpose may be different for each person according to how they see it.
However, I believe that Soke Hatsumi has tried to give us some direction.
When we practice and study Taijutsu hasn't he mentioned many times that we need to have a just mind and heart?
Hasn't he told us in so many words to not rely on techniques but be in the present and make decisions on a case by case basis.
If we apply this, we must make decisions on what to do and how much force to use according to what arises.
This is the complexity that arises when an art is not a sport but a way of life.