Both of these comments came from serious martial artists. Neither, as far as I know, has been involved in the military. Obviously, I feel different. Here's why:
If time in training matters (and sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn't- 100 hours doing bullshit does not outweigh 1 hour doing something worthwhile.) I'm not sure the argument would hold. A regular MA (not a fanatic like all of you probably are) goes to two classes a week and, from the ones I've checked out over the last two years, the classes last for 90 minutes.
ASIDE- There will be a lot of generalizations in here. For everything I bring up, from training hours to how systems develop to what is put in or left out of a system, I am aware of exceptions. So, if you feel compelled to point out how whatever I said doesn't apply to you, just be aware that you are writing it to feel special, not to enlighten me.
It used to be two hours, when I was a pup. So, assuming no missing but no extra work either, this mythical average martial artist gets 156 hours of training a year. My BCT ran eight weeks. For six days a week we would get up at 0400 and, if we were lucky, hit the racks at 2200. Was all that time training? Damn near. You could argue that PT (Physical Training) are not skills, but I think the conditioning time from a martial arts class would be a bigger percentage. Meals? You learned how to eat quickt... but for arguments sake, we'll take the 45 minutes to an hour a day that we were allowed for eating out of the equation.
So, a MA gets about 156 hours of training a year. A recruit gets damn close to 816 hours of training in eight weeks. Even if my times are generous. (Marines get more.)
But that's really not the big deal. MA instructors teach the same things, generally, that they were taught. If it's good enough for the 18th century, it's good enough for you. It is enough to validate a system if your instructor or instructor's instructor successfully used it. Simple fact is that nothing pushed to the edge is always successful. That's how you know where the edge is. There will be failures in dealing with violence and chaos. If there are no failures either someone is lying or it is not being used. Live with it.
The military specifically uses failures to re-evaluate training. Every branch of the US military has a "Lessons Learned" or equivalent program. The troops coming out of BASIC now are getting skills that were learned by and/or reserved to elite forces in Vietnam. My training dates from just before the first Persian Gulf war and it is clearly outdated. New recruit training, such as the CLS (Combat Life Saver) course is light years beyond anything we had and has (much to my sorrow as an old 91B) made the Combat Medic MOS obsolete. BCT is always changing but the changes are carefully based on necessity, not ego or fantasy or untested theory.
In martial arts, time is spent on warm-ups, basics, forms, sparring. That's not too different. It seems like it, maybe, because so much of MA time is spent on unarmed, one on one, non-lethal conflict. That makes it easy to specialize and focus. A recruit's basics, forms and sparring include communication, small unit tactics, riflery and weapon maintenance, first aid, chain of command, operational security, and the law and rules of modern warfare. Plus a bunch of things that I may be forgetting.
BCT is a global approach to violence. Too many martial artists learn how to punch, but never learn when to punch. They don't get lessons on identifying an enemy or the legal parameters of force.
More than that- there are some very old systems that put a lot of stock into what I sometimes call the 'trivia of combat'. It's important stuff and sometimes it is those little details that can tell a combat art from a fantasy. How do warriors walk in enemy territory? That's okuden in some Japanese arts. Basic marching order for soldiers. Kuatso/Kwappo the 'lost' healing arts of jujutsu... I have a jujutsu manual from the 1940's that states categorically that there was no point in including them anymore because western first aid (1940s level!) was superior. Bringing up eating- how do you eat in a war zone? Set up meals? Schedule a rotation? Probably a very esoteric aspect of koryu, but something you did and learned in BCT without even noticing it was a lesson.
'Eating Dirt'- one of the the articles I read extolled the value of "eating dirt": not learning anything useful but simply proving yourself through repetition and exhaustion. I found that insulting, frankly- the kind of bullshit that someone makes up to brainwash students before they give them whatever dribbles of real information that they actually have. But there is value in exhaustion. Because sometimes you won't win by technique or power. Sometimes you will win by outlasting. By eating dirt on a level that most of the MAs who extol the value would piddle in their little pants to actually have to endure. Six consecutive 18 hour days of training trumps any 8 hour black belt test that I've ever heard of. I notice that the guys who have been in BCT don't brag about their 'grueling' belt tests like others tend to. Other, advanced training, like Ranger School or SERE takes this to a whole other level, but we're just talking about Basic, here. Nothing but basic.
Here's where MAs tend to get full of themselves- The hours spent on UAC (unarmed combat) in MA clearly trump the hours spent on it in BCT. But this is the deal- UAC is one of the things least likely to help a soldier. Just like in civilian life, dealing with predators, awareness trumps fighting skill and weapons trump unarmed skill. Weapons are superior. They are better tools for stopping a human than a fist or a takedown. That's why we have them. For the recruit, spending the hours on UAC that a MA does would simply be a waste of time. It would be confidence building in a useless and largely ineffective venue. Confidence building and nothing more. They can get their confidence in other places.
Honestly, UAC is one of the things least likely to affect your safety as a civilian, too. If that's not self-evident let me know and I'll write about it another time.
Okay, so I'm a little bit of a cheer-leader, I'll admit that. When I was in I thought that the men and women I served with were special. They were intelligent (for the most part) dedicated, hard working... they were smarter, stronger and more honest than the whiny little rat bastards who delighted in talking them down. This new crop is better in every way than my generation. I have the opportunity to watch them interact with a native populace that in any other time or venue would be denigrated and insulted. Not here. I can count the pejoratives I have heard in six months on three fingers and none of those were from soldiers. They exhibit respect and restraint and honor that the politicians who control them don't even dream of. At the same time, they are more technically and tactically proficient than we were.
I can stand here in this dry and sandy place and look at kids half my age and feel honored to be here with them.