I was wondering of your post was flamebait
I think one of the big factors in the de-emphasis of reality-based styles is the entertainment industry. Movies are obviously a big factor--actually, if you look at the older examples of martial arts fighting in Hollywood movies, you'll find much more realistic fight scenes (relatively speaking, since the more real the technique, the less photogenic it tends to be). All the high kicks, spinning techniques, etc, came later, especially after the kung fu craze of the seventies.
Which leads me to my second point. As part of the entertainment industry I include wu shu. The modern wu shu is as much gymnastics as martial arts, (this includes the " shao lin monks" who tour so regularly, I reckon), so the emphasis changes to aesthetics rathers than efficacy.
The third (and fourth) factors are professional boxing and wrestling. Boxing because, despite the fact that I have great respect for boxers, it is inherently unrealistic. For example--head hunting tactics with closed fists (with 10 oz, gloves), leads to essentially unrealistic tactics. Even Jeet Kune Do relies on boxing punches (read Bruce Lee's books).
Watch carefully the defensive tactics of boxing. The don't block the way karateka do, but rather put their fists up and let the gloves absorb the blows. Boxers often say that karate is unrealistic because all those blocks with your arms will tire you out. But take away the gloves and what do you have? You have your fists clenched an inch or two from your face. Try this: take a defensive boxing stance with your hands in front of your face, then let someone hit at you with a palm heel strike. What happens? (Here's a hint how do you get someone to knock themselves out?)
The other flaw with boxing is that defensive tactics don't really extend below the waist. Not that I'm putting boxing down, but it is a sport, and sport has rules, and tactics for that sport are based on the rules . The medium is the message, after all.
The best martial artists I've known base their arts on reality. Tak Kubota, for example developed his art from experience on the streets of post-war Japan. I can think of five or six people off hand who have actually incorporated empirical study into their arts. Mr. Canna is one.
I have to leave, my time on this computer is over. I'll try and continue later.
maurice richard libby
toronto/moose jawRonin at large