Saturday, September 27, 2014

Five Awful Reasons To Try the Martial Arts

My friend +Andrea Harkins  wrote "Six Awful Reasons To Not Try The Martial Arts" on her awesome blog the other day, and I really enjoyed what she had to say.  Make sure you check it out and share it with your friends who do not acquire bruises for funsies.

Her post inspired this one, although I only came up with five (maybe you can give me some more in the comments below!)

While there are many reasons to start training in the martial arts, I suggest that these five reasons to start should prevent someone from trying the martial arts.

1) To Hurt People (aka, Bully Training)

Look, it's true we do get injured in the martial arts, some more than others, depending on individual physical fitness, the level of contact and aliveness of the art.  However, that's not our purpose for training - we don't seek injury, or to injure others.

If you want to take up a martial art merely to learn how to hurt someone else - for revenge, for power, or just because you like to hurt people - do not step on the mat.  Most folks in the martial arts are actually not trying to seriously hurt their training partners! It's why we have trouble replicating the reality of an attack with intent - because in our hearts, we actually don't want to hurt people, especially our training partners!

Savages like this are a rarity in the martial arts - I'd like to keep it that way.

This, but the kid on the right is going to knock his block off.

2) To Fulfill Your Fantasies

For some of us, the lure to the martial arts is the idea of playing a role, like a ninja warrior, or a samurai, or a fantasy action character from a movie. Thus, what it takes to be really successful at the martial arts - hard work, lots of repetition, and time to master skills - tends to become rather boring to them very quickly, so they seek short cuts.

These are the people who'd rather pose with a sword than really learn how to use one effectively.  These are the people who will take pictures of themselves looking cool in a costume versus sweating and acquiring bruises.

These people are a time suck for the rest of us who want to work hard and learn.  So if you're driven primarily to look cool, and thinking that you can have what you need to know downloaded into your brain like Neo, please, just dress up like Afro Samurai or something, and go to a Con instead.  It's less work for you and we won't have to cope with you in class.

Oh, you knew you were going to see this one again.

3) Because Someone Else Makes You

Maybe you're not all that interested in learning the martial arts. I don't understand you at all, but hey, it takes all kinds.

If you're a kid being forced into class, this means you won't pay attention, sometimes even disrupting class. Because you won't really learn the material, you can become at best the person in class nobody wants to work with because you don't care, or at worst, a danger to others and yourself.

So, the parents of that kid should take them out of class and let them do something else that they can do with a passion.  The martial arts aren't for everybody, and forcing the kid in class benefits nobody, and can be a pretty miserable experience.

If you're an adult, you might be in a class because your significant other wants you there, or because someone scared you into going (insisting that if you don't, you're just a target for all the bad guys out there).  In any case, without that other person, there would have been no way you'd step on a mat.

So don't.  Don't be there if you don't like doing it, and don't let anybody else pressure you into it, as you won't get any of the real benefits of doing the martial arts.  If you like doing yoga, or playing video games, or collecting Disney plates, or whatever - have at it, it's better than wasting your time (and everybody else's) in a martial arts class.

Awwww, do I have to strap on that black belt again?!?
4) Bravado

This is probably more relevant for the guys reading this (but women do it too, for slightly different reasons), but please, do not attend a martial arts school if you're there to prove your manhood or how tough you really are.

You don't have to know the martial arts - or even be able to fight - to be a man.

You don't have to prove how tough you are, if you are a woman, to anybody else.

It's simply not necessary, and most martial arts training is not about bravado at all (for some arts, it's the exact opposite, being about modesty and restraint).  Your need to prove how tough you are can get you and others hurt pretty badly, for no good purpose.

People driven by bravado make terrible training partners, as they won't give an inch to help somebody else learn. Like most serious martial arts students, I'm there to learn.  Please, go be Butcher-Than-Thou somewhere else.

Dude, I'm telling you, this is not how Pinan Shodan goes!
5) Boredom

I've only seen this once, but when I spotted it, I found it very annoying.

There are some people out there who are in martial arts classes because they're bored with their lives. Maybe going to the gym is boring (and I think it totally is, personally) and running is boring and other activities are boring, so these people decide to study the martial arts as something to do with themselves.

For them, doing the martial arts is equally interchangeable with other activities, they just are tired of those other activities.

Speaking as a martial arts student as well as an instructor, I'm not there to keep you entertained (although I definitely try hard to keep students engaged, learning, and having fun).  We are there to learn a martial art, be it a sport, a performance based art, or self defense. It matters to us, and it isn't reciprocative with playing dodgeball or doing crossfit.  We certainly aren't going to allow the class to be organized to keep you happy and entertained.

If you're bored, martial arts class isn't going to fix it, and you're a drain on the energy of the rest of us.  Go entertain yourself a different way.

An hour of this.  Ugh!

So there you go - Five Awful Reasons to Try the Martial Arts.  Did I miss any?  I'd love to know what you think!