Now more than ever before, at least as far as I remember there seems to be a growing trend assume a traditional martial art will be ineffective in a street fight. This notion is perpetuated by a lot of "fighters" out there who use the MMA ring as the gold standard upon which to measure all martial arts. If I buy into this mentality, I'd better be practicing a combination of BJJ, western and Tai boxing. Furthermore, if I'm not sparring full contact all the time, well I have no hope of survival.
At the risk of offending some of my friends in the traditional arts, this is actually true to some extent.
We tend to forget that the "martial" arts were military arts. Techniques used by combatants for maiming and killing enemies in order to survive and accomplish a given mission. Martial arts had nothing to do with belts, sports or notoriety with exception to those looking to open schools to make and income.
If we want our training to be combat effective, it is imperative that we practice our martial arts using a military mindset. This involves strategy and tactics.
Strategic planning means thinking about and acting on the various scenarios we could find ourselves in from a simple mugging attempt to an active shooter. Tactics, on the other hand, are the methods I will employ in a confrontation. Those methods are only as effective and relevant as my day-to-day training.
In order for my tactics to be effective, I need to explore various scenarios, attacks methods, angles, distance, etc. In other words, I have to learn the kata (really learn the kata) and apply it in as many ways as possible. I also need to make sure my weapon "stays sharp." For most of us, that weapon is our body. Combat effectiveness is directly related to physical fitness, so our training should be rigorous and thorough in order to have the best chance for survival.
In my view, a martial arts dojo should place students in the kinds of situations they are likely to encounter in the real world. Attackers generally don't wear gloves and pads in the real world and they probably won't square off with you. If that happens, you can simply walk away and avoid the confrontation. Harder than it sounds, but "agreeing" to fight someone for any reason other than a prearranged sport event is poor strategy.
The lesson here is simple: get into and stay in the best physical condition you can. Train hard, train often and train with the proper mindset. Take it seriously because your life may depend on it.