The Internet And Martial Arts
The ‘gang’ were sitting in the Dojo rest room watching youtube clips of martial art instruction and scanning the Martial Arts forums for information.
Rob was a 30 year veteran of karate having started training under UK Japanese instructors and subsequently under various English instructors for the past few years in karate and different MMA.
“I’m amazed at some of these older English instructors, they broke away from their Japanese instructors complaining that they were egomaniacs, and that they were claiming that their training methods were ‘the only way’ and not allowing their students to train anywhere else or being bitterly disappointed when they did. Here we are after 40 years of ‘progression’ in the Martial Arts since then and guess what?”
Rob was speaking to Jon, one of his lifelong pals, going with him from instructor to instructor over the past 30 years they had sweated together, bled and bruised together and faced all the trials and tribulations of martial arts training as good friends.
“They’re doing the same thing” said Jon. “Why am I not surprised, power and money corrupt. They’re incapable of breaking the cycle, all the time they have acolytes with their noses stuck up their ass they’ll act like tin pot dictators. They accuse everybody else of being that way and then bully students, constantly criticise them and all the other instructors in their field and become convinced that their ‘way’ is the only way.”
Rob shook his head as he read yet another internet ‘flaming’, “why don’t they grow up” he said, “people are free to train where they want, when they want, and with whom they want, these instructors will end up as sad lonely people, with limited knowledge teaching only those with a ‘victim’ mentality who think that they’ll be strong ‘by association’ because the bully is their instructor and ‘friend’.”
“The Martial Arts are a broad church” answered Harry, a new shodan with just 6 years experience, “these guys are just way past their sell by date, there’s an old saying that ‘the only time you should look down on someone is when you’re giving them a helping hand up’, the more people you trample on the way up, the more there are to kick you on the way down. Their reputations mean nothing. Nowadays it’s what you can do or teach that counts and if you can’t look after your students – they ain’t comin’ back!”
“The worst salesmen are the one’s trying to convince you that they are ‘unique’ – that they have that something ‘special’ that you can’t get anywhere else, that you can either ‘defeat an opponent with a single strike’ or ‘make your child behave and pass his exams’ or that everyone else has ‘got it wrong’ apart from them because they are the only ones that have the ‘real thing’.” Jon gave a long yawn, patting his mouth to make his point.
“Re-inventing the wheel comes to mind” ventured Rob.
“It’s all packaging” said Harry, it only becomes sad when they start believing it themselves. “If people are stupid enough to believe them, they deserve to be relieved of the money in their wallets.”
At this moment Sensei entered the room. “You look like the three witches from Macbeth huddled around a computer screen instead of the cooking pot” he said jokingly.
“I was just wondering how a ‘newbie’ could find his way around the martial arts maze”, asked Harry.
“They’ve got to decide what it is they want from the arts first” answered Sensei. “Then do the research to find who can teach it to them.”
“Looking at the internet here sensei, that wouldn’t be easy,” ventured Rob.
“Nothing in life is” replied Sensei. They need to sift through the obvious charlatans and then visit the likely instructors.”
“But even then,” said Jon how is someone with no experience going to know who is good and who is bad?”
“He’ll know what he wants, and is therefore able to choose who is best to provide it. If he looks at the instructors abilities in both teaching and doing, then looks at the senior students and the middle grades, followed by the lower grades, he will be able to work out whether that’s the path that will best suits his needs. It’s hardly rocket science” answered sensei.
“But his needs are going to change” stated Harry.
“A good sensei will be able to meet a student’s changing needs. If he’s a good sensei he will be guiding them anyway, any that he can’t meet he will either bring in someone from outside or send the student to someone else. That’s the traditional way of doing it.”
“According to t’internet here” said Rob, “these guys have it all and everyone should be going to them…”
“And are they” queried sensei?
“Mmmmmm…… I wonder why…..”
“Empty vessels make most noise?” ventured Jon.
“Well, you don’t make yourself look bigger by trying to make others look smaller”, countered Sensei. “ Everyone can be judged by their actions, everyone leaves tracks, how many people has that person trained to a high standard? If they are teaching MMA or competition, how many champions have they produced? If they are teaching more traditional arts, what are their senior students like? How many people have stayed with them for 20 or 30 years? What are they like? Whatever ‘sales speak’ a person has, they can’t disguise their record and behaviour that much. Just look behind the façade.”
“Why don’t you advertise like these people sensei” asked Rob.”
“Because I would be attracting the wrong kind of student. The way I see it, each of us gets the students we deserve…. Dunno how I ended up with you three though….”