Who cares how tough you, or your art is!

Ever since the mass introduction to the masses of uneducated people on martial arts with UFC I, II and III it seems that all people care about is how “tough” a person or their art is. What I find absolutely hilarious is that the only ones who seem to care about this are the people that don’t actually train in a martial art or are lower rank black belts.

I have been training non-stop since 1978. That is no breaks, no time off…even in college I was running a martial arts club and teaching classes plus training with several people from other arts. In all that time I never cared about who was “bad” or “tough”. Now, some of them often referred to me as being tough but, in all honesty, I don’t think I was. I just knew my art and could apply it and make it work for me. I was often perplexed by that statement because, to me, many of the guys I worked out with with far “tougher” than I was…but it was of no concern to me at all. I just loved to train and share ideas. That is how martial artists should be as I see it.

Sure, when I was in my 20’s I competed a lot. Traveled to tournaments, fought many matches, wanted to beat the guy across from me and I often did BUT I was also concerned with making friends to share ideas with too. Quite often, when traveling for a weekend tournament, I could be found going to a guy’s dojo whom I had just fought the day before…or even after the tournament, just to workout and share ideas. Yes, there were some fighters out there who hated my guts I’m sure but I never hated anyone.

Then came the UFC and all of the sudden everyone was about who could beat whom or what art could beat another. It escalated into where people believed the “Octagon” was an actual proving grounds for who had the ultimate martial art system. While I am sure some black belts jumped on that bandwagon (which was evident in their marketing) I was never going to be one of them. I saw the UFC matches for what they were…a competition between two people…not two martial arts, regardless of how it was billed on TV.

These days I often run into people who proclaim that traditional arts don’t work. That Karate and other arts are a joke and not practical…but they DON’T KNOW. They are just repeating what someone else told them, what they heard on TV or saw in a Youtube video or they took those arts as a kid and never stuck it out long enough to actually learn what those arts are. As a school owner I get this a lot. “Why do I have to learn Kata? It doesn’t work.” and many other stupid statements. My favorite is when a combative sport person proclaims Kata doesn’t work in a fight. They have never learned Kata correctly nor do they realize that all those bag drills, glove work and shadow boxing patterns, plus the footwork drills are all a form of Kata…just like what we do in some aspects. Can’t tell them that though because they immediately refuse to believe it.

Society today is all about what they see on the internet. If it doesn’t work there then it isn’t going to work anywhere. Videos are scripted, they are tools used to sell people what someone is offering. UFC is a sport. It is a competition between two fighters with a vast amount of rules. Heck they won’t even let a person use the cage in a fight to assist in delivery of a strike or avoid a take-down. There is no cage in a real fight.  It is just media people…not martial arts.

When people come to my dojo telling me how great BJJ is or how awesome their MMA is it doesn’t bother me because I don’t care. I see every martial art, and combat sport, having attributes that are valuable but, in my dojo, I teach more than just the combat values. Martial arts at its core is about self defense. To teach that we must first learn discipline and then we gain confidence. As we grow in our training we come realize that there are so many valuable things we learn in a traditional dojo that we begin to no longer care who is the toughest or what art is the ultimate. As we spend many years training, dedicated training, we realize that there doesn’t exist anything that can promise us we will survive a real violent encounter. All we do is train, hoping never to use our skills, but to prepare and be ready if we have no choice.

Then one day we learn that our art is so much more than fighting. We begin to realize how great of shape we are in when we visit the doctor. We begin to see all the things we are confident in that we once were afraid of. We begin to realize that we have nothing to prove to anyone but our own selves. We learn, through dedicated study, that the martial arts, while military in nature and self defense oriented, are much deeper and have a stronger meaning than just being beat someone’s ass in cage match. We also begin to realize that our art has given us valuable friendships and relationships with people that we call our brothers and sisters. It begins to become life and alive for us…so we stop caring who is the toughest, baddest or which art is the ultimate…and we just train.

If you are a parent and you want to enroll your child in martial arts it is important to realize that nothing but good, authentic and traditional martial arts truly will build everything you desire for your child. We don’t make bullies in our dojos…it is against the culture of what we do. We don’t build champion fighters because anyone can win a match…we build champions in life which is much more important. We don’t care about who can beat up whom because, in all honesty, that just leads to going to jail or being a jerk who no one wants to be friends with.

If all you care about who can beat up whom or how tough a person is then you are not a martial artist. Don’t agree with me? Well that’s your right but let me state this:

I have been training 40 years. That is 40 years non-stop. I have traveled the world competing and training. I have black belts in more than five arts. I think I know what I am talking about because I have done it all…point fighting, kickboxing, bare knuckle knock down events and even cage matches in my lifetime. If you can’t listen to experience and true knowledge then I cannot help you learn anything. If you can’t get over what your concept is and listen to someone that is actually educated on the subject matter then I am not a person who will teach you. If all you want to do is be some cage fighter then my dojo is not the place for you. When you are ready to learn martial arts, not just some generic form of them, but an actual, authentic martial art then come on in, empty your cup and you will learn so much more than just fighting. Fighting is the easiest thing in martial arts…dedication, discipline, focus, drive and ability take time to develop…and those are what will truly help you in life.



One thought on “Who cares how tough you, or your art is!

  1. As someone brand new to martial arts at a midlife point my motivation was to simply give it a try as my wife and son started taking classes and asking me about doing it with them. After getting past my excuses that were not reasons for not trying it out I did. It has been a new and passion for me. It’s not about fighting or belts but more significant. Being recognized with a belt that is earned from lots of practice, attending classes and improving in abilities is cool, but for me it’s become more about spiritual and physical fitness and a bonus, bonding with my family. It’s been a great parenting tool and parenting by role modeling. I have watched a lot of YouTube videos about which discipline is better but for me I don’t care about what type of martial arts is better but how well I am doing in the one I in. Thanks for writing this. As a novice in all of this it’s good to hear that message which is the same being said by my instructors. We study Chung Do Kwan Tae Kwan Do. I think coming into this at an older age I don’t care about what martial art is better or who is the tough guy. I concentrate on getting my technique correct and doing my forms (kata) well and not losing my balance and falling over and not punching and kicking myself.


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