Tuesday, November 07, 2006

"Let us stop talking falsely now...

...The hour's getting late."

What is your responsibility when you see a martial arts instructor teaching his students how to get killed?

My answer is a cop-out. It's achingly true and deadly accurate, but it is a cop-out: Not one martial artist in a hundred, maybe a thousand, will ever use this stuff and the fantasy is more valuable to them than reality.

In my heart of heart I hope that the information I put out will fall on the one person who needs it. I hope that the people who come to me for lessons or seminars or lectures will be the people who think in possibilities and costs and odds and tactics.

But it's not true and never has been. Looking out over a mat full of eager martial artists, almost every damn one of them is just picking up details for a private fantasy. If you've ever been an adolescent male you know the fantasies, too: saving the beautiful woman from her abusive boyfriend or stalker ex-boyfriend in the bar and she asks you to see her safely home; or saving the beautiful scared woman from the gang with your steely eyes and efficient, deadly kung-fu.

What are they really getting from me? When they lie awake fantasizing later that night, the gang leader with the knife won't do the wild slash they practiced in martial arts class, he'll do the close range stab I say is more likely, more real. But each gang member will still attack one at a time and lose.

Instead of dispatching the ex-boyfriend with a spectacular crescent kick it will be a leverage point, elbow strike, spine drop with a little thought thrown into the legal justification and maybe an extra scene where he deals with the police cooly and professionally, winning even more admiration from the damsel in distress.

Training competitors is different. I don't have a lot to offer people training for competition- there are better coaches who understand the rules and how to use them than I do- but they know why they are training and it is real.

And I like talking to authors about violence because they know that they deal in fantasy and the best writers work hard to make the fantasy as true as possible. No illusions there.

Cops, of course. My core student base.

But the pure martial artist is the one I have the hardest time with. There is something odd about choosing "playing at violence" as a hobby. It's not real violence because you work hard not to hurt people and yet kicking people in the head or slamming them into the ground is, undeniably, violence. Play violence as a hobby. The martial artists I like working with this have felt the oddity of this concept and are moving from a hobby to a study.


  1. Anonymous8:41 PM

    And love is the laser of force energies. Put a bit of it behind a pre-emptive strike or hold, and the bad guy thanks you for helping him out. Involve your own agenda, and you've made an enemy.

  2. And I design violence for theatre, creating fight scenes and other violence for plays--so I have a unique take on the whole professional versus play perspective. My job is to keep actors from getting hurt but make the audience believe real violence is happening just a few feet away.

    It's a weird world...