Sunday, February 24, 2008

Are you a martial arts authority?

I realize that most of my audience probably would not consider themselves "authorities," but to your friends, co-workers, and even some fellow students or instructors, you are. The implications of this can be consequential.

Have you ever been out with friends and they've started fights for you to finish? It's nearly happened to me a number of times. In the days where I'd actually go out to clubs and bars, many a situation could go the way of the apology or the snide or insulting comment. Make sure you know who you're going out with, and make sure they cool it!

What you say about your particular martial art or school could be considered the "be-all, end-all" opinion, 'cause you're the authority. If you got hit too hard in sparring and complain to a co-worker, she may think that martial arts are too rough for her, when they're what she needs to build confidence and get in shape. Be careful what you say about your school, too, to the uninitiated, because they may think that your style or system, for good or bad, are the same as your school. At my schools in the 90s, we had tae kwon do as our core, but one branch had aerobic kickboxing, another had glorified day care (camp), and I taught Arnis, boxing, and Muay Thai at my home branch. There was also a fantastic tai chi instructor later at one branch. If you happened by, you may just think that all we did was aerobics, or just sport karate, when, if you asked a good student, she'd explain how much there was to offer.

Your opinion may count heavily to settle arguments. Which is better, grappling or striking. Will the Iceman or Cro Cop come back? You probably have NO idea. I have ideas on the first subject, and don't care about the second subject, but your opinion may be the last word to your friends. Represent your art well and admit you don't know things that you don't know. Better yet, if you like your school, bring that friend to ask your instructor!

An attitude of humility can go a long way toward keeping the peace, and keeping friends. Being self-effacing and friendly made my brother a much better self-defense practitioner than I was, though we'd both admit I was a better fighter. Who's wiser, though? Being a "big-shot" expert can make you a target.

I'll admit to thinking I knew it all "back in the day" and realize now, how much I misled by speaking out of ignorance. Don't make the same mistake if you care about your art or school. Moreover, and more importantly, keeping your mouth shut can keep you out of fights!

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1 comment:

Blackbeltmama said...

Today, I noticed a car in front of me that had a black belt magnet on the back of it. I immediately said to my husband that it was inviting trouble. Talk about "big-shot." Something tells me though that the black belt was probably in a booster seat. ;-)