The Nerds of Violence
As I've said before, I believe the martial arts world is fundamentally just another nerd culture.
Wait, what's that you say? You don't think you're a nerd?
You are under some impression that we are cool in some way? Or that because you do physical fitness stuff you can't be a nerd?
You are as nerdy as that guy who obsesses over computers, or collects action figures, or dresses up as a sci-fi character at a convention.
Most people don't think we are as cool as we think we are, folks.
Running around in costumes (isn't that what a martial arts uniform is?), learning esoteric weapons, and acquiring bruises for funsies is an inexplicable thing to do for most folks. Why we spend the hundreds and thousands of dollars on it is a complete mystery to most people.
What you're nerding ON is the only difference between you and Poindexter playing Dungeons and Dragons every chance he gets.
One of the biggest bloggers in the martial arts blogosphere, Jesse Enkamp, calls himself the Karate Nerd, for a very good reason. Think about what we talk about when we get together and how quickly we start talking about our hobby in every day conversation.
Oh, we're nerds, all right.
What we nerd on is violence, and things surrounding the subject of violence.
✔ We think about the "rules" of violence - what is acceptable, and what is not.
✔ We ask ourselves when does violence happen, how can it be avoided, when is it acceptable to use violence?
✔ We wonder what is the best way to apply violence in various situations.
✔ We train to be violent and repel violence with tools, even if it's highly unlikely that we'll actually need to know those things.
✔ We consider how to we use violence to our advantage in a conflict.
✔ We contemplate how the study of violence improves us in other ways.
All of these things are stuff we have in our brains all the time, in our free time, and often without financial compensation (or very little). Very few of us do martial arts or have jobs that require this kind of understanding of violence full-time, so it's a hobby.
We will spend hours arguing about esoteric points about some obscure aspect of what we train.
The neat thing about our hobby is that it does have real-world impact and implications - it's used to help people cope with dangerous situations. Our training helps many of us improve in other ways, such as gaining self-confidence. And our training helps us find a tribe of like-minded people to belong to, a benefit that is sometime over looked but I think is really important, given how many of us come from difficult backgrounds or had trouble "fitting in" elsewhere.
Our nerdiness has a higher purpose in the real world.
Celebrate your nerdiness. Be proud of being a nerd of violence, and keep doing what you do.
The world is better off for it.