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  • Writer's pictureJackie Bradbury

THAT GUY: The Dilettante

So you have this new guy who shows up to train with your group.

He's got some experience- a little bit of this martial art, a little bit of that martial art - and now he's trying yours.

He spends much of his time working on your basics, but he's always questioning everything he's shown and noting how they do things differently in another martial art.  After anywhere from three months to a year or so, he's gone, off to try another martial art style.

You've met THAT GUY: The Dilettante.

The Dilettante is the guy who never quite settles into any martial art long enough to master much beyond the basics (anywhere from three months to two years at most).  He believes, after low-to-mid level training in a martial art that he knows everything there is to know of that art.

He is often one of the people who will mis-quote Bruce Lee as a justification for what he's doing.

That's not exactly what he meant, people.

There's no rule that says that a person has to study the martial arts for anything other than his own personal amusement.  There's nothing wrong with that.  We all train with different motivations, after all.

Some of us don't have the patience or the desire to spend years mastering a martial art. That's why so many people quit when they reach intermediate level (that green/blue/purple belt range).

That's where it becomes very hard work and it's not for everybody.

It becomes problematic when, after years of skimming through the basics of a bunch of martial art styles, the Dilettante decides that he knows better than you do, after years of study in your style, how to train what you study.

I have had a Dilettante newbie in class correct me on something in some footwork in Arnis that didn't apply to what we were doing or to the strategy we have in what I had studied for the prior seven years or so.  When I pointed out that what he was saying didn't apply in the context (what he was thinking was appropriate for a longer, heavier bladed weapon, not a short light one)... he grumbled a bit and granted that maybe I might have a point.

Gee, thanks.

Some Dilettantes keep to themselves, but much of the time, you will find him making commentary to other low-level students about how such-and-such does it this way or how he thinks that this other style has the better idea.  Sometimes it's enough to disrupt class, then you have to spend a lot of time countering what he's saying. Or he might be the guy at the seminar who spends most of the time not practicing what is being shown, but comparing it to other stuff he's seen.

Or even worse, he decides he knows enough after riffling through the martial arts to start his own martial art style.

But most Dilettantes don't do that (thank goodness).  Instead, they skim over the martial arts like a stone skipping over the water of a lake, never understanding much beyond very basic information.

That's just how some people see the world.  Some folks get bored quickly and don't have the commitment or the patience to work through to deeper understanding of what we do.  Some people don't have what it takes to stick with it when it gets difficult.

That's our buddy the Dilettante.

It's a shame, because the Dilettante has an interest in the martial arts, obviously, and if he could settle down into a style, he might be good.  Unfortunately, most of them never do settle - and they'll always have a low-level skill and understanding.

Ah well.  Some people just have to be guy at the all-you-can-eat buffet that just has to take a bite of everything offered.

Have you met THAT GUY: The Dilettante?  Have you been the Dilettante? Tell us your stories!

Use the "THAT GUY" category to find all of the THAT GUY posts on TSC!

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