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Come Together…

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The Martial Arts are a broad church and should be based in respect.  You’d think that martial artists would always want to show how their training  had taught them patience, kindness, tolerance, compassion, respect, courtesy, resolve, determination and courage and many good practitioners do show those qualities, unfortunately those that make the most noise on social media don’t.

40 years ago we were a cult. There was a good and bad side to that. On the good side many were taught and showed those good qualities and on the bad side there were bullies and blind worship, we travelled the World to learn and suffered horrendous injuries in our training and were loyal to our Instructors and fellow students to a fault.  There was no internet or social media, children weren’t taught and martial arts were just practiced by a few nutty adults in dark corners.

With the advent of Bruce Lee in ‘Enter The Dragon’ and David Carradine in the ‘Kung Fu’ television series in 1973 the general population learned about Kung Fu and Karate and the arts started to change.

Business and politics moved in and constantly restructured the arts into what we see today. Now 75% of the students are children and many of the adults are parents of the children that train and the prospective students priorities tend to be how local the Dojo is, what days and times are the training, how much does it cost, how friendly are the instructors and students and can they lose weight, get fit and maybe learn a bit of self defence. It’s now congruent with modern gym culture with children’s classes.

A different world indeed.

The standard in martial arts has gone up – not down.  There are simply far more people training than ever. The MMA fighters are tougher and better trained than any of us were. With the knowledge from books, videos, DVD’s, online media, constant translations of the classics, ease of travel and everyone becoming more cosmopolitan, high end traditional training is far better than it’s ever been. The contentious world of self defence means that there is a far wider range of training and more information than ever.  The ‘high end’ of this training probably accounts for around 5% of the people training, the rest only want ease of access, good rates, friendly faces and to get fit and lose a bit of weight and the kids want active fun.

So the ‘McDonalds’ of the martial arts world, usually called ‘McDojo’s’ thankfully accommodate the bulk of leisure martial artists and children. I don’t see ‘McDojo’ as a derogatory term, most people want to start off with a version of ‘martial arts lite’ and if they like their training and need to move up there is plenty of high end instructors that can take them on.

We have no political structure to speak of in the Martial Arts because our politicians were incapable of working for the benefit of the Arts and all the structures collapsed leaving most martial arts clubs to structure themselves. Sport England and the Government’s interference only ever made matters worse.

But the law structures us. We can’t cheat, lie or bully anymore without repercussion. Some of the biggest franchises are highly successful and have made millionaires out of their founders, I don’t begrudge them a penny because I know how difficult it is just to run a few clubs and make a living let alone deal with 600 clubs, their Instructors and thousands of students!

The noise on social media comes from the few who either don’t think it through or begrudge them their success, mostly they are people trying hard to emulate them or are just generally unsuccessful in the way they are structured and want someone to blame. I think what makes it worse for them is the fact that one of the biggest secrets of success is ‘don’t wrestle with a pig, because you’ll get covered in muck and the pig will like it’ – and ‘don’t feed the trolls’. Successful people are too nice to rise to the bait and too busy to become embroiled in the mosh pit of internet trolling.

We see a lot of video clips on social media of people doing martial arts at what is purported to be a low standard by people ridiculing them, but why post them? Surely it would be better to post good martial arts? Social media is a good recruiting tool so we would do far better if we weren’t bitching, arguing, posting clips of people and ridiculing them but instead showed the best side of what we do and how martial arts has developed our character and emotional intelligence for the better.

Those clips are also inevitably old – and I’m sure we’ve all done demo’s etc that haven’t gone particularly well and we wouldn’t want people to keep pulling them up and drawing attention to them. Also, what’s ‘bad’ to one person, isn’t to another, like I said, the Martial Arts is a broad church ranging from meditating monk, to top athlete and street fighter.

If you run a successful franchise where you are constantly visiting your clubs and teaching famous TV and movie stars, you can’t be THAT bad, and any media exposure can only be good for us all.  The wider the net is cast and the bigger the pool of beginners the more people will rise up to us teaching at the high end.

It makes sense for us all to work together.  We may not like each other or even the martial arts we do, but what do we tell our students?

“In our club and in the Martial Arts we work with each other whatever our personal likes and dislikes so that we all develop together.  We NEVER bully or ridicule each other.”

Maybe we should all take a big spoonful our own medicine?

 

 

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