Tuesday, October 21, 2014

TROY-KWON-DO: Another Perspective on Martial Arts Fandom

Following up on Jackie’s post about “Fanboys” of the Martial Arts (The Curse of the Martial Arts Fandom), I thought it would be interesting to take a look internally about how Martial Artists can be fanboys themselves. In the end, every martial artist who has ever stepped into a dojo is guilty of this, so I thought it would be good to add that “fanboy-ism” can happen anywhere.


While we practice Tae Kwon Do at our school, we have introduced many different pieces from other arts when it is deemed to be more effective. For example, traditional Tae Kwon Do has almost no trace of ground game – Jiu Jitsu and Judo can be found at our school where Tae Kwon Do may have left holes. We are not claiming to be a Jiu Jitsu or Judo school, but realize the importance of these techniques as they add pieces to the “self-defense” puzzle that Tae Kwon Do may have left out. In the end, our goal is to train students to be able to defend themselves and this includes a variety a scenarios.

With that being said, there are instances where more of other styles make their way into their program than originally intended. For example, after our TKD sparring class some of the guys who practice BJJ (including myself) will continue to spar in either BJJ, or in an MMA format. When more than one person has training and an interest in multiple arts, I think it is wonderful to cross train as long as it does not interfere with our regular class requirements, or force a student to perform tasks that they may not have learned in our program. You can’t expect a TKD- only student to do well in a BJJ sparring match (rolling) if they do not spend out of class time at a BJJ school like some of our students do.

Wait, what part of Jayoo is this again?

The fanboy situation comes up when a person introduces their cross trained skills to another student in the attempt to gain advantage or undermine instruction. Sure that elbow you learned at your Muay Thai school can do some damage, just don’t go clinching and elbowing our TKD-only students that haven’t been taught to deal with it. Or even worse, refuse to do a technique because your other instructor does something you think is better.

I see it all the time, sometimes during our belt tests. If someone is testing for their next belt and you are scheduled to spar them, don’t take advantage of their tired state to pull off that sweet hip throw you learned in your Judo class. That’s like refusing to dribble in street basketball – sure you can run faster and evade better, but it’s not in the agreed set of rules that have been established prior to the match and otherwise “cheap”. Or even better, a boxer using a head butt or low blow when the ref isn't looking. Now if both parties have agreed and trained to do that, then we have a level playing field.

This isn't in the standard sparring rule set?  My bad.

Another example, in BJJ we were doing position drills in which one person attempts to go from guard, to mount or side-control. We were not supposed to attempt submissions; the purpose of the drill was to pass guard. If the top person passed guard, they won. If the bottom person defended for a minute or two, they won. The winner would stay in, while the next guy rotated in “king of the hill” style. Well, an X-choke seemed to flatten me out pretty quick. I was new and hadn't seen it before, plus I wasn't expecting to get strangled, so I lost that positioning drill match pretty quick. Did it really matter? No. Was it cheap? Yes.

Fanboys inside the martial arts can be categorized as using unexpected methods to attempt to gain advantage when the other person is adhering to guidelines established in the match. They may also “full-cup” a situation when they think their exclusive “side-art” is superior. Boxers don’t throw kicks. Jiu Jitsu artists don’t use strikes, Arnis doesn't use guns, so don’t bring that crap up if you are training at one of those schools.

In reality the gun is more effective than the stick… but why are you at the Arnis school if all you have to say is, “Well if somebody came at me with a stick like that then I’ll just pull out my gun”?  (That argument is also 100% nonsense and will get somebody killed- The Stick Chick)

Don’t fanboy other arts at your school. There is a difference between keeping an open mind and taking advantage of a situation to make you feel superior. It is disrespectful and in most cases the other party would have dealt with it just fine if it was understood that it was in play. Don’t use someone else’s ignorance of your “other style” as an opportunity to gain advantage. It’s cheap. Find someone who agrees to use those same guidelines and train with them. You and your partners will be better for it.

Troy Seeling is a 1st degree black belt and instructor in Tae Kwon Do, with 5 years experience in Boxing and a two-year white belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.  Troy also instructs a strength and fitness class, and helps to manage his families' dojo, North Texas Karate Academy  In his spare time, he enjoys trying different forms of physical fitness, including Olympic weight lifting and distance running. He also enjoys film photography with antique cameras.  You can contact Troy at troyseeling@aol.com.

Ed note: Opinions in "Troy-Kwon-Do" posts are those of Troy Seeling, and I don't always agree. In regard to Arnis and guns - 21 foot rule, 'nuff said)  -The Stick Chick