What Do You Think About X?
I get this question a lot, where "X" is some other martial arts style or training method.
The honest answer is, "I don't."
No, really. There's a lot of martial arts styles in this world. And a lot of ways of physical training. Even if I wanted to, there is simply no way I could possibly experience all of them in the depth necessary to form even a halfway decent opinion of them.
And really, half the time, I just don't care.
I feel like that sounds weird. Maybe it's just weird to admit. I'm big on being open-minded; as I said, there are a lot of different martial arts (to focus on that example) out there. A lot. Too many for even the most dedicated human being to experience in one lifetime. But something I realized a few years ago was that I really wouldn't want to, even if I could.
I have a short list of martial arts I'd actually like to try training in. It's down to about a half dozen, give or take.
The rest? It's not that I think they're bad. They just don't interest me. And so I don't pay attention to them. I just can't.
Part of it is out of a sense of fairness. I've seen people try to tear apart the PDR system, or talk about what Muay Thai fighters do or do not know without ever training with an experienced PDR coach or setting foot in a Muay Thai gym. It bugs me, because these people look at a video, or a picture, and make an evaluation of an entire system based on a single snapshot. I promise you, whatever style you do...I can find a snapshot of someone from it doing something stupid.
Some of it is my "Coaches, not Styles" thing. Coach Blauer said something I really liked at a recent CrossFit Defense course (more on that in a future blog post). He said "if you train with a great coach, you'll have a great experience, regardless of the system. And if you train with a shit coach, you'll have a shit experience."
Part of it, as I said, is simply volume. Volume and weariness. I've been doing martial arts for over twenty years. I cannot count the number of latest and greatest self-defense systems that have been popular in that time. The fads, the hot new ideas, the resurgences. Some are flashes in the pan, and some last.
If I tried to keep up with every new self-defense system out there, I'd never get anything done. Like eating, or showering. There's that much.
I just don't have the energy to go look at what Krav Maga, Systema, WWII Combatives, blah, blah, blah are all doing and teaching. Maybe I should, but I just don't. If someone points me to a specific idea or drill they want my input on, I'll offer it, but even then, I find myself frequently just saying "I don't know...I have no idea WHY that system uses that drill. "
I like learning about the history and culture behind these arts, but the actual technical details--I really don't have the energy to look into it.
I'm not sure if that makes me close-minded, or just focused.