• Jackie Bradbury

THAT GUY: The Fanboy


You're in a martial arts class, and the instructor is demonstrating a technique.


When she's done, she asks if there are any questions.


One guy raises his hand, and notes that what the instructor is teaching looks just like a move in a fight scene from "Enter the Dragon".


After agreeing with him that it might resemble something he's seen in a movie, the teacher asks the class to pair up and work on the technique.  As luck would have it, you're paired up with the guy who made the movie comment.  As you are training, he says, "I think I've also see this in Naruto.  That means that if I do this..." and he leaps to the side and does a move the instructor has not shown "... it can be beat. There's no point to learning this technique."


Congratulations.  You've been paired up with THAT GUY: The Fanboy.


Some variants of The Fanboy I've already talked about (such as The Philosopher), and to some extent we're all Fanboys if we do martial arts.  Most of us have, in one way or another, been inspired by martial arts entertainment to do what we do.  And yes, we can get really nerdy about it sometimes.


The Fanboy or Fangirl takes that to a whole 'nother level.


The Fangirl will take the things she sees in martial arts entertainment as seriously as she takes what she's told in martial arts class.  If she's seen somebody do the technique differently in a movie or an anime or on television, she'll prefer THAT version to what she's being taught to her in person by a real, live human being.


The Fanboy will constantly ask about things he sees in fight scenes from pop culture and try to apply them in real life. To him, "proper" fighting is what he sees in entertainment.  He doesn't realize - and doesn't really care - that those scenes are very carefully choreographed to look a certain way on film and to protect the people involved in the scene from serious injury if at all possible.  Movie fights have a storyline of their own, carefully told for the audience (and it's a pretty neat thing in its own right, regardless of real-world use).


Fanboyism is really hard to cure.  A Fangirl can't tell the difference between a real fight and what she sees on film and isn't interested in learning the difference unless it's proved on a mat, sometimes risking minor injury to learn the lesson the hard way.


One side effect of Fanboyism is that he or she will quickly get bored with the long hard work of acquiring basic skills and the "vision" that we develop over time and experience.  As we all know, we spend a lot of time on getting in lots of reps on basic skills and frankly, it's not the single most exciting thing in the world to do. We know it can't be skipped, because there's no shortcuts and that's how you get to the point of being able to do the "good stuff".


In movies and tv shows, they usually skip over that part (MONTAGE!), or they have the protagonist be a "chosen one" who has martial arts skill in their genes, or they "Matrix" the skills into the protagonist, so they don't have to do any boring hard work to become Kung Fu Masters.


When Fanboys realize how much work it takes to get good at what we do in real life... well... that isn't what they signed up for.


One of two things happen - either they are cured of the fanboyism and they continue training (not allowing their enjoyment of martial arts media to trump their actual martial arts training), or, they drop out and decide to LARP instead.


Either way, for a while, a Fanboy can be annoying, but while they're around, it's kind of fun to burst their bubble.


Tell us about your encounters with Fangirls and Fanboys.  Are YOU a Fanboy, and did you stick with training?  How were you cured (if you were)?  Let us know in the comments!


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

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