Friday, March 13, 2009


I've participated in martial arts for a long while now. I feel confident that I'm an expert, even though I've never been in a real fight. The reason why I'm an expert in martial arts is because really the only guaranteed way to win a fight is to not engage in fighting. The martial arts are meant to keep people safe; I've led a very safe life. I can stand up for what I believe in and confront people without being confrontational. I can destroy my enemies by making them friends. It's a much more long term approach to violence I feel.

As for the actual dirty work of failing to get along with people, failing to see ahead, failing to find common ground and finally having to resort to hitting people, well I appreciate that what knowledge I have in that is more theoretical than practical. But to get actual practical experience in actually being in danger and actually getting out of danger I would have to actually put myself in danger. Which runs contrary to the martial arts. See the dilemma for anyone who actually thinks about these things...

There is a message board. I know what you're thinking: message board, place where the nameless and faceless meet on matters so important that you never think to see who it is you're actually talking to. But this board is special. Bullshido exists to try and combat all the assumptions in the martial arts that cause reasonable people to be even worse off in a fight: by giving the wrong impression that they know what they're getting into. This was a noble endeavour. But like so many things on the Web, the site went viral. And now a cause started out of love for something slowly transformed into something more or less driven by hate. Someone cared enough about the martial arts to say "Hey that guys teaching shit, listen to your heart and head first!" and that's where it started. Now it basically amounts to "That guys doing something different than what I think works ergo he's full of shit!" It's become a game, a game to see who can discredit something without any experience in it first.

And for what really? The momentary self-gratification that comes with the insignificant, biased self-assurance that what you're learning is the truth and what everyone else is learning is "bullshido"? Is that supposed to make you more dangerous, more safe? The martial arts are a physical undertaking. All the talk and all the reading in the world isn't going to make you an authority on it. No one's punch or ground game ever got better by spending 3 minutes to write a post about how this style or teacher is full of crap. And even if you fought the guy and beat him, does that mean that your style is better? Or does it just mean you were better than him today? If you lose, should you call the dude "master"?

Bullshido used to be a place by which those with no experience who wanted to start into the combat arts could get some sage warnings about what to look out for, where to start. Now its little more than a clique: like the 'plastics' in Tina Fey's 'Mean Girls', trying to validate themselves by invalidating as much around them as possible.

Which brings me back to my original point. The only certainty in the martial arts. Don't have to fight! People who don't have to fight never lose. People who only fight when its the last resort don't get sued! We like to think that there are more certainties than that: fights going to the ground, knives coming out of boots, tasers putting someone down - but that's all theoretical. Fighting is like water running down a hill. It never takes the same path but the result is always the same. Water runs downhill. People who fight get hurt. To assume anything else is to be full of as much "bullshido" as anyone else. They see a vidclip of some new martial art or some fool claiming to be a master, and it isn't enough just to be skeptical - they have to be outright hostile, certain that there's nothing of any value in it. Which sounds to me the way most older martial arts reject out of hand anything different that comes along. The new martial tradition has come full circle, and become the thing it despised...

Lindsay Lohan (of all people) said it best in Mean Girls: calling something stupid doesn't make you smarter, calling someone ugly doesn't make you prettier. All the posts on Bullshido claiming something is fake doesn't make the posters more legit. All the posts saying someone is weak doesn't make them stronger. I just hope they spend as much time thinking about which techniques will work 100% of the time as they spend writing about which techniques of other people will fail 100% of the time. Because at the end of the day, after we've put down every fighting style and teacher in the world, there will still be just that one technique that will definitely guarantee victory. And you can't practise it on a punching bag...


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