Saturday, November 01, 2008


The Secret Relationship between Martial Arts and Soccer Mom's

Lately I have received lots of interesting comments from martial artists in Connecticut because I mentioned that their approach to martial arts is garbage...

There is an interesting code of conduct amongst martial artists that at some level is good but also detrimental where one person should never say anything bad about another school. Of course, I have and will continue to violate this one rule by calling out the suboptimal approaches to how martial arts are taught in the United States and more specifically on my side of town.

First, when will folks start acknowledging that there is a distinction between a martial art and a sport without resorting to hybrid definitions and other ways of making things clear as mud. A sport is about trophies and awards where at some level schools encourage everyone to be a winner. A martial art is distinct from a sport and should last no more than thirty seconds and therefore would be boring to boring spectators known as soccer moms. The only credible hybrid is Brazillian Jui-Jitsu.

Second, will folks ever acknowledge that some schools who say they teach traditional martial arts may do so in terms of routines but not in approach as they are worried more about liability than authenticity.

Third, many sensei's have questionable lineages. Husband's promoting wifes, father's promoting sons and other questionable approaches. My Aikido teacher is easily and clearly traceable back to Morihei Ueshiba (two hops). My Taekowndo is clearly traceable to General Choi (two hops) and likewise my son's Jujutsu teacher is clearly traceable to Matayemon Iso (three hops). Ever notice that other martial arts schools speak of all of their trophies but never their lineage?

Forth, some schools are simply ripping off the soccer mom's. Villari's is the best example. It is good to see capitalism at work and Villari's makes for a great daycare. The head sensei of Villari's in the area is actually a pretty talented martial artist but has compromised his integrity for money and isn't teaching at the same level of quality as he has learned. It is more about fun than discipline.

Fifth, lots of folks responded with a superiority mindset that indicated they one may end up in the hospital based on an attack in their style but likely remained ignorant to the fact that others may also have better attacks and/or know how to defend against their attacks.

Sixth, we really shouldn't compare styles as they all are beneficial. For the record, Jujutsu isn't better than say Muay Thai or even Tai Chi. What folks refuse to acknowledge is that as a predictor there is less compromise and McDojo approaches in Jujutsu in America when compared to say Kempo and therefore tends to be more credible.

Seventh, a transparent conversation on what martial arts programs should cost is in order. One perspective says that market forces should decide pricing while another says that transparency is in order and unless you are using martial arts programs as a method of babysitting then you really shouldn't be paying more than $60 a month for children's lessons that last one hour and meet twice a week. Many schools shortcut the time for children and give less than one hour while others charge reasonable prices for lessons but abuse parents by charging for belt promotions and other gimmicks. For the record, Jujutsu has less belt ranks than say either Kempo or Taekwondo and therefore testing fees tend to be lower over time.

Eighth, maybe perception management says that folks read into instead of reading what I am saying. So in order to provide clarity, I put schools such as Avon Kempo & Aikido Academy in the mediocre category in that they don't suck like Villari's but they aren't also high on the foodchain. Schools I do rank higher in the area are: House of Kokondo, Yousef Taekwondo, Komushinryu Jujutsu and Underdog Brazillian Jiu-Jitsu. All of these schools are reasonable priced, don't rape parents by frivolous belt promotion fees and their instructors have credible lineages along with quality instruction.

Some schools are good, but there are some that are better than others and it is important for the public know...

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