This is a series of thoughts that tangented off of Rory's post.
Rory does a lot with social and group dynamics. Tribal motivation stuff. I think it's important stuff to think about. The martial arts/combatives/self-defense community is certainly burdened with an overabundance of tribalism...it makes things very hard sometimes.
But we keep using the labels, because sometimes they make things easier. Sometimes, as another poster noted in Rory's blog, they can motivate us. I think that works on an internal or personal level as well.
Example: for the last year or so, I've been "playing around" or "reading about" minimalist philosophy. If you're not familiar with it, Bruce Lee actually summed it up pretty well with his line “It’s not the daily increase but daily decrease. Hack away at the unessential.” Lee was talking about martial arts, but the idea can apply to your entire life. Decrease possessions. Commitments. And so on. It's something that I found resonated with me, and yet (as you may have noticed from earlier), I very studiously avoid referring to myself as a minimalist. And found myself wondering why I do that.
I think, in part, it's fear motivated. If I say I'm a minimalist, then I put pressure on myself to act in accordance with what I believe other people thing a minimalist should be like. If I just say "I like minimalist philosophy", I don't have to worry about "doing it right." I'm not really part of the group or the tribe, I just like some of their thinking. It keeps me separate, but it also, frankly, can hamper me. It gives me an excuse to keep things because, hey, I'm not really a minimalist anyway.
I see similar things in the martial arts/self-defense community. There seems to be a segment of the population that identifies as people who don't identify. Oddly, every now and then, they try to form collaboratives of "like minded independent practitioners", which never seem to entirely work out...they either turn into organizations, or just self-destruct when it becomes clear that those involved aren't as a like-minded as they say they are.
But there too, I think that people sometimes use the lack of a label as a way of avoiding a difficult prospect or commitment. It's easy to say "Tony Blauer? I love his work...great stuff, everyone should study it." It's harder to actually show up for a PDR course. Many people have told me they'd love to train with Mark Dellagrotte and the rest of Team Sityodtong. Very few of them have walked through the doors.
Is it possible that independence can be a crutch or limiting factor, as well as an aid?