Sunday, January 27, 2008

A Few More Gripes

Now that I've "chastized," in my small way, those who seem to habitually tear down other martial arts, let me voice a few other gripes based on things I've seen. Here are some items I'd like to see a moratorium on -- if I were "Master if all things Martial Arts on the Internet."

1. Denigrating schools with kid's classes. This isn't the same as enumerating the reasons why you choose not to teach kids. There are many, many sound reasons why a school would make that choice. But I do think it is wrong to pick on a school simply for having kid's classes. Maybe a kid's class is less serious or focused than adult's class. You can't treat modern kids like little Spartans.

Is it appropriate to mix kids and adults in the same class? That's another isse -- and just to throw it out there: I would try not to do that... If I owned a school. But that's a long post for a different day; and I'm not going to say there aren't reasons to allow it.

But reaching out to kids is important for any activity. Kids are the future of martial arts. We need to interest them early, even if they don't stick with the art in which they start. And, of course, there are many physical and mental benefits for kids.

2. Posting somebody else's video in order to pick on them and say nasty things about a whole style.

I've seen this several times, and it drives me crazy. OK, admitedly, I see it a lot because too many of these videos seem to include masked ninjas stalking each other in the woods and throwing talcum powder into the air. But often the video is of students in a class learning a technique. Below the video, the trash talker will describe how poorly the students are doing, why he thinks the technique is rubbish, and that the whole system is a lot of bunk because it has such lousy students and crappy techniques.

Listen: they are students. Here's my standard line for easing the mind of a student frustrated in class; " I don't expect you to be able to do it. If you could do it, you wouldn't be training -- and you'd be teaching me." You're going to see mistakes in a video of a class, and I don't care who you record.

Is the technique inherently bad? I don't know. Sometimes you just try to isolate a movement and drill it -- even if it isn't optimum for combat. Sometimes you teach an easy version to a beginner who isn't ready for the most effective and efficient version of the same technique. (I know this is against the teaching philosophy of some instructors... but it's still a legitimate method of instruction.) Possible you teach a technique from a historical perspective, even though it doesn't have a practical application today. There are plenty of reasons the drill might not look great to you.

It might even be as simple as: the teacher sucks.

But to extrapolate five to ten minuts of video into saying an entire art is worthless? That's a huge logical leap. It covers hundreds or thousands of people. It discounts all the many ways an art can be of value. It ignores differences in history or environment. And it ignores that the art has survived decades or centuries already for some reason.

3. Closely related to the previous gripe, please don't post video of yourself beating somebody else in an inter-art match and then proclaim the other art sucks.

Congratulations, Tough Guy, you won. Nothing can take that away from you. It was the result of good instruction, hard training, tenacity and preparation. But chances are excellent you aren't undefeated. So all we can be sure is that on that day, you were good enough to beat that guy. Are you absolutely sure you can beat everyone that practices that art? Be honest. If you still think so, I direct you back to Human Weapon: Tae Kwon Do and Big Bill Duff getting clobbered by that tiny Korean guy. Still feeling like yours are big, brass, and shiny? Think hard about hpw much luck really plays into any fight and watch Jason Chambers take on that same Korean guy. He spins wrong, pops his knee and is forced to concede the fight.

You know what they say: there's always someone tougher than you.

Actually, I'm okay with you posting the fight online. I like to watch them. But as soon as you start saying, "My art is better than your art," it begins to sound very familiar to me. And you really don't want me to accuse you of LARPing the plot of about half the Kung Fu Theater features I watched as a kid... Do you?

No comments: