Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Defining Terms is Key to Debate

One of the many benefits of a forum, whether a town hall meeting, or an Internet version of the same, such as the excellent Forum or the Convocation of Combat Arts (full disclosure: I am the administrator of CoCA), is the ability to share thoughts and ideas. A major part of that interactivity is that your ideas may be challenged on their merits, and debated to your heart's content. The very act of presenting a case, and arguing it exposes your ideas to new perspectives, which may sometimes even change your mind.

One such recent debate (on what is considered a "martial art") at CoCA reinforced the importance of defining terms. The CoCA debate in question was long, and well-argued, but left much to be desired in that many of the participant were arguing the same point, just using different terms.

A better example at another forum (I can't recall where at this point) was related to the subject of "rolling." The person who posted the beginning of the thread was asking about the difference between how styles teach rolling, and some who practiced BJJ or MMA started on their philosophy of grappling in practice or competition (rolling for them), while others were, in the same thread, debating things like posting the back foot or not while rolling (for them, ukemi, or breakfalls or somersaults). You can imagine how hilarious it was when someone let this go on for a couple of days, then calmly posted brief definitions of what "rolling" mean to the respective parties, and the debate cooled considerably.

The same can happen in discussions of anything, be it politics, parenting, religion, or, most importantly, martial arts! To that end, let's try to explain exactly what we mean. Know what I mean?


Patrick Parker said...

So, can you define exactly what you mean by, "terms?"


Nathan Teodoro said...

How exact do you want that? LOL.