Tuesday, September 8, 2009

I am surprised how many people are convinced by false tests of a martial art.

I was told recently that a martial art "sucked" because when someone asked another person to kick very hard on a pad, the person holding the pad moved the pad and let the kick hit their head, and found the kick wanting in power. I note first that the power delivery of a kick to the head is something few arts lack, but does require training in delivering strong kicks to the head. It certainly is not a test of an art. More interesting perhaps is how the test of power was implied. The person holding the pad seemed to think that a powerful kick continues through the target, which is not always true and is a gross oversimplification. A precise kick would be powerful, but to catch it 2 inches past the target it would not have the same power. But more interesting is the concept of following through or as I like to call it: driving. This style of having power is purely external, it is how people tend to hit a heavy bag. It has a 2 main phases, contact/impact and pushing. However some styles of hitting have different phases, these are contact, and transmission. Notice that impact is absent from contact and there is no push phase, rather a wave transmission phase. The two types of energy have a sort of exclusivity and one cannot be seen easily and does not work on a pad, nor does it work at any point after the targeted area because of the very nature of the blow. If anything hearing about this pad "test" makes me think the person holding the pad was and perhaps is still; ignorant when it comes to how to test a martial art. It is no wonder they are the Carlos Castaneda of martial arts.

One of the main points here though is how people believe that a test of a martial art is a test of a single persons ability to hit something. While this is obviously flawed, many people buy into it. Worse still is the mentality found all over the internet. People perpetuate the downright ignorant view that a sporting contest between two people of different martial arts is a test of the two martial arts. This simply put is stupid, a fight is not a test of a martial system, it is a test of a person and a test of skill. Any martial art has people who are better or worse. Just because you beat one person in a given martial art does not mean you can defeat the martial art, to think so is both arrogant and rather stupid.

I am acutally shocked how common martial art dismissals take place based on ignorant anecdotes. People will say that they know someone: who knows someone in system X, and they think the person in system X sucks, so they conclude system X sucks. This is actually common, despite how ignorant it is. A lot of this is that people sell their own art and basically talk down all others, you can tell when it is pure ignorance when they dismiss all martial arts that are not their own. This is as common as it is stupid, one of the most common forms being gross oversimplifications such as "I can beat a grappler because I know anti-grappling moves" or "Anybody who can't beat a grappler does not know how to fight" All systems seem to have someone stupid enough to do this too, no one system is guilty of this while others are not. These people are ignorant of the simple fact that a test of a martial art is not the same as a contest between two people. Beware those ignorant people who insist that nothing can hold a candle to their system, especially those who dismiss other systems because they claim to know people in other systems who they think are not skilled because they don't share the same opinions. There is always someone bigger, faster stronger and better, even outside of martial artists. No person, and no system is invulnerable and those who claim that their system is superior to others are ignorant, there are no superior or inferior martial arts systems and mistakes occur in all systems. The signs of martial arts ignorance are certainty and a lack of humility. A wise martial artist never claims to know they can beat any system, because they know that is not how things work.

I know that martial artists have to sell their art, after all when you pay a man hundreds of dollars to work with him for a day or two you want him to represent the best. However it is common for this type of situation to be like a naked emperor, you are led to believe that you are wise for paying the money, not because that is true, but because your being convinced has far more to do with what is happening than your being skilled. This works best if you can be persuaded that other martial arts are inferior to the one you are paying for. This is unfortunately as common as it is ignorant and foolish.

One thing wise martial artists seem to know is that the test of a martial art is in reality a life long test, not a fight or a contest, but the actual life of the martial artists once they have undertaken that path. It is deeply personal and has nothing to do with how hard someone hits or their application theory. It is an ongoing thing as well, the true test never ends and those who boast of their skill or dismiss other martial arts are already failing it.