Saturday, December 13, 2008
Martial Arts and Mediocrity...
Most recently, I ran across Greater Hartford Bando which is non-profit (aka no price gouging) and of higher quality in instruction than most other schools in the area. It is noble to see that the instructors aren't just doing it for the money or to even cover expenses, but that they have a higher calling. This school is most certainly worthy of consideration and is perfect for both the soccer mom crowd as well as those who truly want their kids to learn a martial art.
Ultimately, the Martial Arts center around fighting. Everything else (discipline, philosophy, culture, etc) is not only incidental, but often disingenuously inflated in importance so as to cover up a school/instructor/student's lack of fighting skill, or in many cases, to make MA instruction "palatable" to soccer moms shopping around for after-school activities.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with going after substandard schools and giving them negative publicity. These schools harm the community by instilling their students with a dangerously false sense of confidence in their ability to defend themselves, which could lead to being raped or killed in a real threat situation.
If you're not at least occasionally doing hard contact, non-stop sparring as a part of your Martial Arts training, you're simply not doing Martial Arts. You might as well be attending an Asian-themed dance class, cultural seminar, or Tae-bo. You will not have a realistic understanding of whether your skills work in a live situation, and (in my experience) are very likely to have an overinflated, unrealistic, and unfounded belief that can and will get you hurt.
This is not kindergarten; all styles and training methods are not equally precious little snowflakes. Some are superior to others, and some are wholly inferior for preparing you to defend yourself. And it's by no strange coincidence that those who fit this criteria are typically those which throw up the most smoke about self-improvement and other marginally-related nonsense.
Schools that stay true to the essence of martial arts while not just talking about cliche practices around leadership need some amplification and I encourage all who read to encourage their kids to attend one of these programs just once and the difference will be immediately apparent...
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