A friend started an on-line discussion about why it was so hard to have a “high-level” discussion about self-defense and martial arts.
It isn’t. Part of the problem is that he was trying to do it on the internet, and we all know what kind of person writes stuff on the internet (you have to imagine me looking around at this page for the humor to sink in).
In order to have a good conversation, you just need good people. In order to have an intelligent conversation, you need intelligent people. See a pattern here?
One of the big problems for potential students of self-defense and martial arts is that almost all are naïve consumers. A naïve consumer is one who can’t tell a good product from a bad product. Most people, when it comes to anything related to violence, can’t distinguish knowledge from horseshit. They simply don’t have a frame of reference.
And here’s where it gets interesting, in martial arts: The naivety often doesn’t change. When you get someone truly naïve, they have no truth to compare with what they learn and so whatever they learn becomes, to them, the truth. And they can continue to learn and advance in rank and pass on knowledge and come to believe that they are very high-level practitioners with deep understanding… and their most basic facts are wrong. They have a deep understanding of myths and many are willing to share it (or sell it).
In other endeavors, where success or failure are visible and undeniable, it is hard to stay this naive. In other places stupidity hurts. Not so in many martial arts (and one of the many places where sports arts have the edge).
And to other naïve people, they sound good. Impressive. To people who have experience, they sound like first graders trying to explain where babies come from.
So that’s the first hurdle. I know my criteria for people I trust. Possibly more importantly I have enough experience to pick out the kuchi-waza practitioners fairly quickly. Without that experience can most people even identify a high-order discussion?