Self-Defense vs. Sport
Many fighting systems common today, including Tae Kwon Do, Judo, Kickboxing, and many others, as well as most MMA clubs, are geared primarily for the sports and entertainment industry. They tend to be practiced according to strict rules, and usually have a fairly limited number of motions and acceptable targets. While they can certainly be very effective in many situations, they often lack the diversity needed for real self-defense, and may have serious flaws that can be exploited by skilled opponents who are not willing to "play by the rules".
Training for the ring is vastly different than training to defend yourself on the street. In a real self-defense situation, you have to be aware of your surroundings, be prepared for multiple and possibly armed attackers, and be ready to defend yourself in your street clothing, on uneven and slippery ground, in a tight space, with obstacles in the way. There are no rules on the street, so you have to be able to deal with any form of attack to any target whatsoever, and have the right mindset not to give up, and to keep fighting no matter how many times you’re hit, knowing that no referee will end the fight to prevent you from getting killed or maimed.
Competitions always have rules, and many targets such as groin, back, throat, certain parts of the head, insides of limbs, joints, and other vital areas are understandably off-limits. Most tournament fighters rarely train to attack or protect those targets, since doing so requires extra time, and anyone hitting them is penalized or disqualified. When a real self-defense situation occurs, the body does what it has been conditioned to do, and these bad training habits automatically kick in, to the detriment of whoever has them. As a result, more than one top-notch tournament fighter has been demolished on the street by someone with far less training.
Many of the techniques and most of the primary targets making up Moh Pai are illegal under the rules of every tournament in North America (including both the more traditional, as well as the so-called "full contact" UFC and other MMA competitions). While many Moh Pai practitioners have gone on to become exceptional tournament fighters, Moh Pai Defensive Arts has chosen not to compromise the effectiveness of the art by training for the ring, preferring to maintain the primary focus on self-defense.