The Myth of Wasted (Martial Arts) Time
Updated: Dec 11, 2019
There's lots of debate in the martial arts world about which martial arts are, and are not, "worthy" of study. There's ample debate on any martial arts forum you care to name, and blog postings of about a jillion words at last count (and believe me, it took me oodles of time to count all those words - whew!).
There is no shortage of people out there willing to declare unless you train the way they think you should be training in their favorite martial art style(s), you're squandering your precious time and money. This goes for kids AND adults.
Some of us think that studying at anything less than "optimal" martial arts (whatever that means) is an utter waste of time. That if you aren't studying (art the person making the claim is studying) or studying an art with a ground game or alive training or (insert your preferred skill or training methodology here) you might as well be playing soccer or taking dance lessons.
I'm calling shenanigans on that one.
Look, sometimes, it's not always possible to study an "optimal" martial art or one you'd like to study. These include:
You live in a place with limited local options for study
You don't have the money
You don't have the time (weird work schedules and such)
Sometimes it just doesn't work out, guys, and that's reality.
If you can't train in an "optimal" martial art style, what should you do? Should you just forgo any martial arts training at all?
I say NOPE. Any training is better than none, especially if it's for kids or for people new to training. In almost any martial art school you'll get some basics down that apply no matter what you end up studying later down the line.
So, yes, training at the local McDojo is better than not training at all.
Training at the local community center program is better than not training at all.
Training with a couple of people in someone's back yard or garage or in the park is better than not training at all.
And yes, I think that training with ninjas is better than not training at all.
The only things to watch out for are people teaching without legitimate credentials - that'd be people with made-up secret ninja master teachers, weird unverifiable lineages, made-up martial art styles that are being taught by someone under the age of 30.
As someone who has moved three times across country since I started training, I know the struggle and how hard it is. I really do. I also sympathize with you folks living in very rural areas.
I bet, if you look, you'll find a place nearby that teaches boxing or even kickboxing - lots of fitness centers offer those and after all, those are martial arts too. Don't ignore the possibility of fencing training as well - you may find a good program at your local community center or YMCA. Also try to do a search for various martial arts on Meetup - I offer Presas Arnis training for free on Meetup.
I really should mention distance learning as an alternative. I am of the firm opinion that distance learning - training by video - is not viable for people brand new to the martial arts. It's fine for experienced martial artists as a supplement but newbies absolutely need an in-person live teacher.
I think if you're new and try to learn by video, THAT is a waste of your time and money. Training in any other martial art style that isn't optimal is NOT. Don't overthink it, don't worry too much about it.
Do you have any ideas for how to keep training when the situation is less than ideal? I'd love to know!