Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Bad Schools

I received an email yesterday that's a doozy. Here's part of it:

My school's the f*&%ing sh!+. We don't play tag like a bunch of (expletive) when we fight. We're (popular style) and everyone knows our rep. If you want respect here you have to pay for it in blood.

The above is actually in response to an article I wrote in 2007 about sparring injuries. This person went on to rant about how protective gear was ruining the arts and, frankly, the rest of what he wrote was so incoherent I'm not even going to bother reproducing it here. However, what he did say about his style in particular is true: It's known for its emphasis on heavy, knockdown fighting.

I like keeping the training experience "real" as long as things don't get out of control. On the other hand we all know about McDojos that have 8-year-old black belts, binding contracts, and sparring sessions that resemble pillow fights. Still, other schools are so "traditional" they don't even spar! Yet another "sensei" from my area has to close and reopen his school periodically due to some very bad press because, well, he's a cult leader.

This is why when people ask me to critique styles, I'll decline. A style is not a living and breathing thing; it's a theoretical construct. I always advise those really interested in studying the martial arts to go visit schools in progress and observe the behavior of the instructor and students. Many schools do indeed have some kind of a "rep" — for good or bad. And you don't need to be an expert in anything to tell the difference.

Labels: , , , ,