Saturday, October 4, 2014

Style, Strategy, and Shenanigans

The most useless waste of time and energy in the martial arts community - but admittedly very common and sort of fun to participate in - is the debate of style vs. style.

This is not to be confused with fraud or someone teaching very bad techniques.

Just pure style versus style:  Kung Fu vs. Tae Kwon Do, Brazilian Jiu Jutsu vs. Shotokan Karate, Ninjutsu vs. Kalaripayattu (I would pay to see that fight)... we love to get into these debates, and sometimes, we confuse art vs. art discussion as being fraud busting.

Bring it, Ninjas!!
Some arts seem to have a higher proportion of shenanigans than others.  Ninjutsu has this issue, because of the romanticism of what they do in popular culture and the art's sheer popularity.  It doesn't mean what they do is bad or wrong, it means they have to cope with a lot more fraudulent guys claiming they do ninjutsu, versus, say, what folks have to cope with in kajukenbo or even Modern Arnis, due to both of those arts' relative obscurity and small community.

Your belief that kung fu (for example) is the best martial art ever, and all others suck, does not constitute "fraud busting".  It's a simple difference of opinion about strategy.  Now, you might be an egocentric jerkwad, but you're not exactly wrong in what you're thinking... for you.

Oh gawd, kung fu supremacy again...
Choice of martial art style boils down to settling on a strategy for coping with violence.  This is a very individualistic choice to make, as it depends on each person's physical ability, temperament, and willingness to inflict harm or even death upon someone else.

There are more factors that go into choosing a martial art than I want to go into right now, but ultimately, that's what "style" boils down to - a collection of techniques conforming to a strategy for coping with and inflicting violence.

Every style - EVERY ONE - has strengths, and weaknesses. This is why we see so many modern hybrid arts, which are attempts to address those weaknesses.

Yes, even yours, you ridiculously handsome man.

The argument of style vs. style is really a debate about strategy vs. strategy, not style.

A person will say something that means "I like [x] martial art, because I like the [y] strategy."  Another person will say, "Yeah, but what about when [z] happens?!?!  Epic fail!!!"

That argument can be made of every single martial art that exists, because there is no way to anticipate and compensate for every situation that could ever possibly happen.

So, when the grappler makes the argument that you have to be prepared to go to and fight on the ground, he's right.  And when the striker objects and says, "What about multiple opponents? You're on the ground, you're toast." He's right too.  One is choosing a risk another person doesn't want to take on.  That's a difference in strategic choices, not fraud.

If you've read my blog, or seen photos of me, you know that I'm a dumpy middle aged woman. I also have knee damage from a misspent youth trying to be a runner, and bursitis thanks to tae kwon do, plus kidney disease.

Pretty much.
It makes zero sense, to me, to adopt a strategy more suitable to a 25 year old man in top physical condition.  I can't execute it, physically, and that's just not my mindset.  I'm playing the odds, assessing what is the most likely scenario for me to encounter violence and training accordingly.

I don't need to train like I'm going to go five rounds in a ring with a highly skilled opponent.  It doesn't suit my physical reality or my temperament.

But maybe it fits yours, and if that's what you want to do, awesome. It doesn't make the rest of us wrong, or doing fake or fraudulent things by default.

I know that this post won't end the arguments of style vs. style, but I hope, at least, you'll see these discussions for what they are, versus "fraud busting".

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go buy some more duct tape.