I have yet to see anyone identify or address where the real problems are in the Martial Arts.
Most Martial Artists are too close to the problems and view them subjectively, forcing their ideas of standards, what should be taught and how they should be administered, but this has only added to the confusion because Martial Arts truly are a broad church.
We need to take a good few steps back and take a much broader view and see how they can fit safely and effectively into the structure of society.
I will lay this out as simply as I can.
The problems martial arts have are in structure, safety and honesty.
There is nothing wrong with most clubs catering for the masses with low level basic Martial Arts. Let me explain, if you wanted to learn to swim, you would go to your local pool and it’s likely that you will get a little old lady with whistle who is a basic level Coach who will teach swimming skills to that standard, this is the same with most sports. If you want to become a county swimmer you move up to a County level coach, if you then wanted to compete at a National level you would move up to a National Coach and an International competitor you would be coached by an International Coach. What is different in most sports and pastimes is that they have a National and International set of standards including qualifying coaches and officials and a Governing Body that can administer them and lay down and identify pathways to excellence.
The Martial Arts are not just a sport and are a broad church from Buddhist Priest to street fighter to athlete, but we do incude a sporting aspect and therefore need the above structure for them to function effectively and for our aspiring sports people to be identified and encouraged.
A Governing Body is also there for more than just sport. It also regulates and qualifies safety and administration so that the community can be assured that the Club and Coach are fit for purpose and best qualified to teach to their level of expertise to the relevant community groups.
The problems are currently that far too many Coaches:
Teach unsafe and inappropriate exercises and techniques for the age and ability of the students.
Have insufficient knowledge of Health and Safety procedures and how to safeguard children from abuse.
Don’t understand what insurance cover they need or how to keep proper records and accounts.
Are dishonest as to what they teach, what their standard really is and how much they will be charging for their services in the long term.
It would only take a few simple steps to put these matters right, Associations like Shi Kon have already done it and the facilities are already there for anyone to do the same, what Martial Art anyone does is of no consequence as safe and efficient coaching and administration is the same anyway.
It’s time to brush away the incestuous and defensive politics of our past, to stop ranting with our own narrow, subjective views and move on to a more unified and structured future where it really counts.