Blog Archive

Friday, January 18, 2013

Just Relax (A General Plea To The Martial Arts Community)

This post was inspired by a close listening to/viewing of a couple of different things. One was the latest episode of the Fitcast. The other was this video from John Romaniello, a NY-based fitness coach. 

The last was revisiting Coach Blauer's 10th Commandment from his Be Your Own Bodyguard Manual

Bruce Lee said, “Man, the living creature, the creating individual, is always more important than any established style or system.”  This commandment is important on two levels.  Firstly, on an emotional level it is so important to make peace with everyone we contact.  This attitude is contagious and if we all adopted a more loving and compassionate view of life and of our fellow human beings, we would all experience a significant increase in happiness and peace of mind.

In the martial arts world there exists so much comparison, pejorative competitiveness and politics, that our industry is simply a microcosm of the warring nations and rival gangs that pollute our cities and countries.  Please reflect on this.

We are on the same team.  We train to better our selves.  We choose different schools and styles for a variety of reasons.  But we all want the same think. Peace.  Inner peace. Confidence. Self-control.
So keep an open mind.  Maintain a “Beginner’s Mind.”  A beginner loves to learn.  He is intent and intense.  Learn to communicate, listen to the words, and listen to the voice of body language.  When someone shows you a different way or explains a different approach, listen keenly.  Savor, digest and absorb.

And secondly, as a martial artist and self-defense specialist, you cannot afford to limit your training.  The more you understand any and all strategies, approaches, attitudes and methods, the greater your confidence.
So remember, training must be holistic: Mind, Body, Spirit" -- TONY BLAUER

The martial arts community tends to attract people with very strong, confrontational personalities. That's natural. We're talking about people who decided that, for whatever reason, they needed to learn how to fight. Maybe that's not the only reason they train. Maybe they're training for spiritual reasons, or just to get in shape, or whatever. That's okay too.

The amount of negative energy that gets expended around the martial arts community is insane. I can find reams and reams (figuratively) or writing on how this art sucks, or that teacher is a jerk. If half the energy devoted to this kind of thing was aimed at making people's lives better, the martial arts as a whole would be in a much better place.

(For the record, no, I'm no saint. I've contributed to this kind of thing on occasion. I've done many things I can look back on as stupid.)

I'm throwing this out there as a plea to the martial arts community.

Just stop.

Stop shitting on other styles. Other systems. Before you spout off about why this teacher sucks, or that method is terrible, ask youself:

- Have you trained with this person or in this this method?
- Does this method even address the kind of thing that you're training for? (I'm always puzzled when I see people arguing about whether Wing Chun produces good boxers, or Aikido produces good BJJ competitors, or whatever. It's like asking if basketball produces good football players.)
- Does the fact that someone is training in this way actually affect you at all?

The last one is the big one. Because, seriously, unless someone's systema training is really screwing up your boxing, who gives a fuck if people are doing it? Keep boxing. Let people who want to do systema (or whatever), keep doing systema. Just go train.

I can hear the objection now: "But Jake," you say "some people are teaching some really bad stuff. Self-defense that won't work. Cults disguised as martial arts. Are you saying we should ignore that?"

No, no I'm not. I'm a big believer in seeking the truth (hence the blog title), BUT, let's try to learn when speaking out is actually necessary, and if it is, let's try to have a reasonable discourse. Perhaps most of all, let's all remember that, as much as we might like to think otherwise, the martial arts have very little in the way objective evidence to them, and a whole lot of anecdotal evidence. If we must argue, let's try to do it in a productive manner.


Maija said...

You remember a while back when we you were talking about using your 'adult voice' and I commented that maybe there was a need for training how to be a good training partner and how to communicate?
Well, I reckon this falls in the same - 'how to communicate' camp.

People apparently spend way too much time talking and not listening ... Do they not know how? Or how to converse? Is it insecurity? Lack of curiosity? Somehow seeking validity in your own thing by dissing others?
Seems like this behavior is an another excuse not to have to think, discuss, contemplate change, and gods forbid, entertain the fact that you don't know everything .....

lalalalalalalalalalalalala *fingers in ears* ;-)

Jake said...

I hadn't thought about that, but yes, this does probably cover similar ground.

As I think of it, I think this might be a larger cultural issue. I remember listening to a course on rhetoric years ago, and the professor made the point that arguments were actually meant to be positive things. A constructive discussion, perhaps aimed at persuading someone of your point of view, but in a thoughtful manner.

Somewhere along the line "argument" turned into "shouting match"

I suspect a lot of the behavior comes from a certain level of insecurity. (Honestly, I think that many martial artists are fairly insecure, or come into the arts because of insecurity). Everyone wants to believe that their style is awesome, and can't separate a criticism of the training method from a critique of themselves...

There's the flip side too--there seem to be people out there whose only goals is to try and tear down anyone who isn't teaching what they teach.

Thankfully, I practice the best and most ultimate style ever,so I'm above such things. ;-)

gillian welch said...

the Argument Culture
by Deborah Tannen

get it and read it.
what you are observing is what she explains in non-academic, accessible, clear language. I read her in Linguistic anthropology - ties directly into Rory Miller's Conflict Communications, etc.

Content is what gets the focus usually (MA, politics etc). Much more valuable to look at the structure, reasons for the verbal agression.

Rory etc. get people to notice and avoid. Tannen explains why and how Argument Culture flourishes - what it does for and to the people who perpetuate it.

you'll like it I think.

Jake said...

Thanks for the recommendation. I'll check it out.