Wednesday, September 12, 2018

SHENANIGANS: Banning the Martial Arts

This is not the post I was intending to write.

You see, I started updating my "Enough with Sensei Scumbag's Shenanigans" post.  I used to have a list of martial arts instructors arrested/convicted of sexual abuse and other crimes of that nature in that post, and I realized I hadn't updated it in a while.  In fact, that list became so long, I decided to create a new post with a better list that I could update in an easier way.

Welcome to your near future, Sensei Scumbag.

That's the post I was going to publish today.


In my research for that post, though, I ran across a web site that had a much more comprehensive list than I had assembled.  By my own independent research, this list is pretty correct, even if it's missing some, notably Ralph Hall.  It's a really good list.

At first, I was really excited, as I think such a list is an EXCELLENT idea, so that people searching for martial arts instruction online can make informed choices about who they - or their child - will train with.

I think we can all agree that being informed is one way to help combat the problem of sexual abuse in our community, right?  So, I thought to myself, awesome, I can just link to that list and I won't have to reinvent the wheel.

Then I started reading more of the site.

I won't be linking to that list or that site (not anywhere, including in this post). The post intended for today will stay unpublished for a while.

Here's why:

The author is one of those folks in certain Christian circles that believes that the martial arts is sinful and you can't train if you're a Christian, because the martial arts is against the Bible and they interpret things like dojo etiquette as non-Christian religious behavior.

The author contends that we need licensing and universal background checks to address abuse in the martial arts, to start, but as you read through other pages on the site, as well as his YouTube and Twitter channels, you can see his real agenda really quickly.

He wants the martial arts banned.

Used this before, I'll do it again, sorry not sorry.

If you Google it, you'll see lots of debate out there on whether or not good Christians can train in the martial arts, and they can or can't train.  There's plenty of Christians out there who would agree with the author of the site that I'm avoiding linking to.

I would point out that this does not appear to be the majority view. We have LOTS of organizations in our martial arts world that are Christian in nature.  Karate for Christthe International Fellowship of Christian Martial ArtistsThe Christian Martial Arts Council and The Christian Martial Arts Association are just a few.

If you think that the martial arts are an irreligious thing for you to participate in, I can respect your decision.  I think this is an erroneous interpretation of what is happening, I think they don't understand that the martial arts is not a monolith (my style comes from a Christian part of the Philippines after all), and I think they are misinterpreting giving respect to a teacher or a founder of a system.

If you feel like it's the right thing to do in your religious faith, by all means, don't train.

But BAN it because it's against your religion?  Not in my country, my friend. We don't do stuff that way.

Damn straight, it does!

What really burns my cookies here is that the author of the site I will not link to is actually doing something I think all of us will agree with, but I can't and I won't use his resource because literally every other thing he believes I completely and utterly disagree with.


Licensing? I wrote about the problem of that (and objective standards) here, and I think that this guy WANTS martial arts training to be way too expensive for most people so that's not a problem for him.

Background checks?  Great idea and lots of martial arts schools and organisations are implementing this. BUT I doubt it will have much effect.  When you look up these Sensei Scumbags, most of them had clean records before they were caught. I can think of one notable exception and there's more, but usually these are crime-free upstanding members of the community. That's what makes them so dangerous.

Here's the thing - there IS a grain of truth to the criticism he's offering.  He thinks that the very nature of training makes us ripe for cult-like behavior, authoritarian command-and-control leadership structures, and puts us in a position for the abuse of our trust.

I noted these very tendencies - and more - in the "Sensei Scumbag" post I linked to above.  I think that our training culture makes it very easy for Scumbags to prey on us, and I suggest some ways to make it harder.

BUT it does not automatically follow that therefore, the martial arts community as a whole is inherently dangerous and must be regulated or banned from existence.

It'd be like arguing that because a pastor uses his charisma, sales tactics, and authority over his church for personal gain, ALL churches are like that. Or arguing because of the nature of Christian church organization, it's too easy for predators to use the church as a way to easily access - and silence - sexual assault victims so we should therefore ban churches (and it's not just the Catholics, guys, read here).

I am NOT engaging in whataboutism here.  I think that any group that has any kind of leadership structure and/or money and power over people will struggle with these problems. This includes The Boy Scouts. USA Gynmastics, team sports of just about every sport you can name (here's ONE example).

If there's a group of people that includes potential victims, there are predators using that group for access to those victims.

Sensei Scumbag, Coach Scumbag, Teacher Scumbag, Pastor Scumbag, President Scumbag, Mentor Scumbag, Principal Scumbag, Father Scumbag, Boss Scumbag... they all exist.

Banning the martial arts, sports, churches, schools, workplaces, etc. won't stop him.

If you're a Christian, do you struggle with a conflict between faith and martial arts training? What would you suggest as a way to combat Sensei Scumbag?  Did I give too much attention to a crackpot in the internet? Let us know in the comments!