There’s a lot of negativity in martial arts. Something new is being tried, it gets a torrent of abuse as it goes against the grain as someone tries to change the way of traditional thinking. Evolution is natural to human instinct, we want the latest thing. iPhone 5 is fine, but as soon as the iPhone 6 is out, the old one becomes useless. Martial Arts are different, we cling to tradition and shun a new way of thinking. Tradition is good and should be kept in the martial arts to preserve lineage, culture and respect, but equally things need to change with the times occasionally with a new way of thinking. This is often met with harsh criticism by the martial arts world however.
In fairness, I’ve been guilty of this myself in the past, posting videos of techniques labelled as effective self defence, yet lacking a realistic framework to off of or highlighting the fact an individual has a 12th degree black belt in every martial art in the planet yet is 25 years old with no traceable lineage. Is this criticizing unjustly or simply drawing attention to the fact that in many cases these people are teaching potentially dangerous techniques or principles to their unknowing students? It’s a fine line between being an armchair warrior and genuinely wanting to show the sometimes awful martial arts out there.
The past few weeks have only emphasized the fantastic martial arts out there on display at the moment though. We have the Martial Artists Supporting Children with Cancer seminars that have now raised over £4000 in under a year, with top level instructors giving up their time to travel and teach for free. We have the UK Martial Arts show, where genuinely passionate people came to experience the best of martial arts under one roof. People laughing, training, teaching and showcasing their styles in a friendly environment. We have the Warriors Assemble Awards put on by the awesome Mr Anthony Pillage, showcasing those in the martial arts world who have persevered through things in their life when many of us would totally give up on everything, let alone keep training.
Honestly, these are the things that should be focused on. Posting a video of a shite technique or a knife demo where the assailant slowly and respectfully tickles the “victim” with the knife always raises great discussion points, but a post showing something someone has done that has been really positive rarely generates the same amount of interest, which is understandable, yet wrong?
The charlatans and the guys who never train, or promote themselves to Soke Master, Grandmaster Shihan Dogs Bollocks 15th Dan will do their thing, but they will never amount to anything. Never be part of a great network of great martial artists and self defence instructors who are passionate about what they do and committed to genuinely empowering people to live better lives. Got loads of students but the stuff will never work in the street? Does it matter? Are they having fun? Getting fitter? Gaining confidence? Do they stand a little taller and shake that hand a little firmer in the job interview as a result of going to a martial arts class? Yes? Awesome! Who cares if it’s practical. As long as you don’t label it as something that will 100% work in the streets as the deadliest martial art on the planet. This isn’t empowering people, its indoctrinating them into a cult of martial arts where people simply follow the norm.
Focus on the good people. The bad will just sink into nothingness and people will wise up to it (I hope)! So thanks for being part of the group, discussing, sharing ideas, asking questions and connecting with people who you otherwise wouldn’t have connected with. If I hadn’t have started the blog nearly two years ago, I doubt I would be involved in such things as Martial Artists Supporting Children with Cancer, met so many wonderful people, and learnt so much from so many! So I’m grateful! The haters will hate about martial arts and the blog, let them. Keep your blinkers on and do what you do safe in the knowledge you’re learning and progressing!
Martial Arts, no matter which one you do be it Jiu-Jitsu, Aikido, Karate or MMA should be a lifelong pursuit, simple as that. The day you think you’ve learnt everything is the day you should hang up your belt/gi/boxing gloves. It never stops and never stops being interesting. Having said this, it’s usual to have down periods, periods where you dont want to train, have things going on in your life that make it hard, or simply can’t be arsed! So I present to you 10 tips to reignite your passion and get you back to your usual ass-kicking self!
10 – Watch your favorite Martial Arts film!
This may sound like a bit of a dumb one, but if you look at any of the interviews I’ve done on here, in nearly every single one they quote a film that initially kick-started their interest. Normally a Bruce Lee film, going back and watching your favorite flick can help you remember why exactly you’re doing your chosen martial art. Is it for the culture, discipline, respect, fitness? Is it just that you want to look damn cool flipping people round and smashing tiles? Whatever your reason for choosing martial arts, going back to the source could easily reignite that passion within and make you realize that training feels good!
9 – Speak to others you train with
Ask anyone anything that they are passionate about and you’ll realize that passion is infectious. Anyone who makes a success in life is due to the fact they are passionate about something. You can be the most learned and accomplished individual in a particular field, but without passion it’s impossible to impart that knowledge and infectious enthusiasm that makes charismatic people a success. People you usually train with are there for a reason; they love what they do. They feel that enthusiasm, that passion, that drive to learn more and just being around this kind of energy can lift you up and shoot you back in to your training before you know it. Just as some find inspiration through watching their favorite martial arts movie, others find inspiration from the people they train with.
8 – Speak to your instructor
Part of an instructor’s job is to maintain your interest. This is a bit of a give and take as it’s not entirely an instructor’s job to make you come to classes, but they should ensure you are progressing, learning and having fun. Explaining what the problem is to your instructor may be able to help them reignite your passion and get you back to your fighting fit self. Little theme emerging here….speak to people…. instructors, other students. Lacking the motivation? Chances are the instructor did at some point too, maybe other students did. What did they do to get out of it?
7 – Write down an achievable goal for your training
Lack of passion can sometimes be the result of having no goal or development in your training. Small, achievable goals help us to push harder, increase our interest and make us feel damn good when we achieve these goals. Struggling with the warm up during class? Next month you won’t be, you’ll be at the front of the pack leading the way! Struggling with a certain technique? Get advice, research, practice practice practice! This time next month, you’ll have nailed it. Small achievable goals help us to reach the main goal, progression in the martial arts, so set yourself little ones and chip away!
6 – Improve your lifestyle/fitness
Martial arts should be physical and improve your lifestyle and health. This comes as a result of training. If you train once a week for an hour however, you won’t be seeing improvements fast. Combining training with day to day changes in your life like diet, exercise, lifestyle etc can all add little differences that in the long run will improve your overall training. You’ll be faster, more flexible, have more stamina and be able to understand more and more of the techniques and principles you are learning about. Little consistent changes eventually equal a bit change.
5 – Look for similarities in things, not differences
Lots of people cross-train and this is awesome. However, when it gets tricky is when you take on too much and feel that what you cross-train works against each other. Last week I was speaking to someone who does Aikido and Parkour and feels that sometimes these work against each other for his training. I advised don’t look for the differences, look for the similarities. What do both have in common? Both work to develop the body in a number of ways such as strength, stamina and flexibility. Both require patience, technique and self control. Both require being in the moment when you do it, not thinking about other things, but being immersed in that moment. Even if you don’t cross train, this can also be the case in your day to day life. Find the similarities in your training and your day to day routine. How many are there? What translates across? Do this and your art and your life start merging in to one.
4 – Write down what’s going on!
Physically writing something down lets us see it clearly and puts it clearly on paper, sometimes bringing clarity to an uncertain situation. So go ahead write down whatever is pissing you off and then try and find some clarity in it! All eventually leading to getting you back doing what you love!
3 – Get a private lesson
Group lessons are great, they’re sociable and you get the group feel with everyone working together! Private lessons are also great however! You get some individual feedback, some one on one training, a great workout and a great little boost that you can then take to future lessons. A private lesson with the instructor can be exactly what is needed to give you that kick up the arse and get you back to having fun and progressing!
2 – Do some research
This links to what I’ve said above. Knowledge is power. Finding something difficult? Can’t get a move, technique, principle? Research it! Ask people, look on the internet (a source of some great, and some truly awful knowledge), ask your instructor, go to DVDs, books… any resource to find the answer. Research and exploring martial arts outside of class is half of the fun for me but I’m a bit weird! Give it a go and see what happens!
1 – Just train!
Honestly, sometimes no-one feels like going training. Best remedy for it. Go to training. Once you get there, you’ll have a great time, be surrounding by good people, and be buzzing at the end of the class. Don’t feel like going training but you go and still feel crap after? Find a new club. Simply as that. The minute you stop enjoying martial arts training and can’t get it back through training there’s something wrong so at that point, it’s time to find a new club!
Here we interview Kenji DuBois Lee, main man responsible for bringing the Jacques Payet Project to life. Jacques Payet is a 7th degree black belt in Yoshinkan Aikido and was live-in student of Yoshinkan founder Gozo Shioda for many years. As a westerner in Japan, Payet Sensei was able to build a close relationship with Shioda Kancho and wasn’t as bound by the rules of the student-teacher relationship and so was able to form a close bond with Kancho Sensei, gaining many insights in to the man and his powerful form of Aikido. Payet Shihan now teaches around the world and is revered by many as one of the top Yoshinkan Instructors in the world. He also recently graded me to 3rd Dan and is a thoroughly nice guy! Here’s the interview!
Hey Kenji thanks for interview, what is your background?
I have been living in Japan for nearly 7 years, making short films for the past 4. I like to consider myself a Self University graduate seeing as I pick up tricks of the trade mainly through online tutorials and real life trial and error. I shoot, write, and edit wedding, promotional, and business videos for a living. I’m happily married to the world’s most amazing woman who brings me happiness everyday. My interests include hanging out with creative action-takers, beaches, mountains, and soccer.
How did the JP Project initially come about?
One day a good friend of mine, Izzy, told me, “Dude, I’m gonna move to Kyoto and dedicate my life to aikido: intensive training 6 hours a day 5 days a week for a year.” After that year, he did it again! Over the years I watched as Izzy transformed.
Physically, he made me feel like a slob for not having a six pack and waking up after sunrise, but he also went through a rather impressive internal transformation. His business boomed, spirituality deepened, and even with the newly acquired bulge on his knee resulting from hours on the tatami mat, he was constantly exploring the boundary of possibility.
Because I was the video man for his business I spent a lot of time filming him, listening to his ideas, discoveries, and interpretations of a purpose-driven life. Purpose – which Izzy seemed to find loads of in the dojo – was taking a stronger grip on my life as well. Inevitably we spent many conversations exploring the overlap of martial arts principles and everyday life.
As you might have guessed by now, Izzy was training at Kyoto’s Mugenjuku Aikido dojo under the instruction of 7th degree instructor Jacques Payet, who, as Izzy pointed out to me in one of these conversations, “has an amazing life story that would inspire the sh*t out of you.”
Thus the stage was set for me to enter the dojo and meet the man himself.
My first time in Kyoto Mugenjuku dojo was for a 5 day shoot where I produced a short film highlighting the dojo’s Kenshusei program. This short film was well received by Jacques Payet and the international community.
A year later, Izzy, Jacques Payet and I sat down for some coffee in a small cafe across the street from the dojo. This was when Jacques Payet told me about his journey of becoming a 7th degree master, and what his hopes are for the future.
We came to the conclusion that film is a very effective tool to reach the masses. With the unforeseen success of the Kenshusei short film, we decided to implement this tool once again, this time to deliver Jacques Payet’s life story. The desired outcome being a wave of inspired and purpose-driven youth across the globe.
What was it that made you think JP would be a great choice for the project?
From my understanding, in aikido there is a push and pull between what I control and what I don’t. Even though the extent of what I control has a limit, if I am committed and effective enough I can use these outside forces and be part of something amazing and far more powerful than anything I could do alone.
This project is the perfect example of such forces combining. The timing, the people involved, the city I moved to, all these outside forces were staring me in the face like, “C’mon man! This opportunity is right here, right now. So what are you gonna do about it?!”
So I committed.
Now as for why I think Jacques Payet would be a great subject for this documentary film project.
Yes, Jacques Payet overcame challenges, accumulated accolades, and gained the respect of the martial arts community around the world. Yet, the even more significant part of this project isn’t exactly his life.
What strikes me is how so many young adults are taking the same journey a young Jacques Payet did and how even more people are stepping into their own journey.
The important thing to note is their journey.
Jacques Payet is blazing an amazing trail but it’s not as if he wants others to follow him. Rather, he wants to see others fully commit to blazing their own trails.
He wants you to feel alive – not just to go through routine, tradition, and necessities – but to truly feel alive, by finding your own path, committing to it, and embracing the discoveries along the way.
In this sense, this documentary project came to be because of the inspirational power Jacques Payet’s journey has, as well as me choosing to step up to my own.
Just after my 3rd Dan test
What do you hope will be achieved through the project?
In a word: empowerment.
Personally, I’m finding so much happiness blazing my own trail in this part of my life right now. I’m 29, well-travelled, blessed with an amazing wife, ridiculously supportive family, and talented friends around the world. When I told them, “Hey, I’m gonna make my first feature length documentary film” I was met with mixed responses. To be completely honest, I had no clue how I’d do it, who’d help me, where I’d get the resources, and I began to hear that all-too-common voice of doubt. I had a long list of reasons to give up – worse yet – not even try.
But as fate would have it, the subject of my very first feature length documentary is an aikido master.
And like any master will say, to master anything requires doing what’s difficult, uncertain, and often unrealistic, just out of reach.
So for me as a filmmaker, I hope to stretch my filmmaking career by learning as much as possible while I take these steps into the unknown. Even though I had been shooting and editing for years before this project started, I had never tried launching a crowdfunding campaign. I had never built a production team. I had never drafted an official request for funds. I had never made a pitch to influencers. I had never spoken with a bona fide producer about confidential private placement memorandum documents. I had never consulted with a campaigning agency. Now, even though we’re still in pre-production, I can happily say I’ve done all of these things and learned so much along the way. Image what I’ll have learned by the time we’re in post-production!
Most importantly, I know that there will always be more to learn. I know this because 7th degree aikido master Jacques Payet told me, “Of course I still learn new things everyday. It’s neverending. It’s for life.”
Even a master continues to learn.
Hence the name of Jacques Payet’s dojo ‘mugenjuku’ which can be translated as ‘never ending training.’ He instills this principle in his students and it is one of the messages I hope to share with the JP audience.
Simply put, whatever you want requires endless effort.
This process – endless effort – uncovers possibilities that are buried within ourselves which surface in the face of adversity. The more and more possibilities come to the surface, the more and more empowered we become.
Jacques Payet personifies this. Ultimately I hope to use his life story as a mirror so the JP audience can start finding possibilities within their own lives.
And if someone was making a documentary of me making this documentary I would hope that audience feel empowered as well! They would watch as an aspiring filmmaker makes his debut feature project about a martial arts master. Unexpectedly the young filmmaker begins to connect martial arts principles to his own life, in turn applying them to filmmaking, and begins blazing a new path in the world of cinema.
See, I wasn’t even able to articulate this a year ago!
How far is the project in development?
We’re in pre-production. We’ve done extensive research on what production level we can take JP to depending on how much monies we raise. We’ve spent even more time writing and editing the story of JP, again, to different degrees depending on the monies raised which will directly influence the scope of the film.
JP has taken multiple forms and been through so many changes since we committed to it back in November 2014. But I firmly believe these changes polished JP into what it is today.
Now we are in the funding phase of the project. Arguably the most important. Undeniably the most suspenseful!
When will the project be released?
I hate this question. lol
Once we finish the funding phase we’ll have a far better estimate of the release date. But I know this is important, especially when we’re receiving monetary contributions from supporters worldwide.
At this point, we are expecting to release in spring 2016.
We’d like to enter JP into film festivals in France, Japan and the United States.
What will the project focus on? Yoshinkan Aikido? Jacques Payet’s life?
The original title of this film was Aikido Is Life. The change was made to JP to put more focus on Jacques Payet and his relationship with Japan.
This film will focus on the overlap between martial arts and life within the context of aikido master Jacques Payet’s
3-decade journey to become a master.
How can people get involved with the project?
Make a contribution to our Indiegogo Campaign!
Rub elbows with big-timer producers? Contact us!
Ask 5 friends to pitch in on a group contribution!
Are you a musical genie who can whip up amazing scores for film? Contact us!
Become a sponsor by supplying our production team with transportation in Japan and/or Reunion Island!
Got access to gear in Japan and/or Reunion Island? Contact us!
Speak French, Japanese, and/or Russian and want to build up your resume as a translator? Contact us!
Got a private jet with room for a few filmmakers? Contact us!
Wanna support JP but not by contributing money? Contact us!
Know someone somewhere who should be involved in JP? Contact them!
Where can we keep up to date with the latest news regarding the project?
The best place is over at the JP Indiegogo Campaign page: igg.me/at/jp-film
You can also keep up with us on our social media outlets listed below.
Be honest with yourself, are you an expert in self defence or martial arts? In the age of digital media and knowledge at our fingertips, more and more so called experts are coming out of the woodwork, giving “expert” advice on martial arts, self defence and combat sports in general. There is a whole host of information out there on fighting styles, legality of self defence and mixed martial arts take-downs and submissions and with one google search you can find out what you can legally do to defend yourself, how to choke someone out, and how to throw a half decent left hook. The problem comes when they then think they can argue and advise people who have been out pioneering and testing this stuff in real life for decades!
Anyone can say and post anything on the internet, and this is especially the case in martial arts. A YouTube search of `Martial Arts` will bring up millions of results, some great, some fricking awful but all with someone’s own interpretation of self defence, martial arts or combat sports. When this interpretation is based on experience, knowledge, blood, sweat and tears, fantastic, we need people to push the boundaries and evolve with the times. When this interpretation is based on a few books bought on eBay, and a few hours spent watching some MMA highlights, the interpretation lacks some credibility. What seems funny is that it is often the ones with the least real life experience of training or fighting, that seem most vocal in their interpretation of it, probably due to the fact they overestimate their own ability and the genuine skill and depth of knowledge from others.
Martial arts and self defence require years of study. You learn the basics, you explore the techniques, you make the techniques your own, keeping the principles from the basics. You then interpret the techniques, expand or narrow them down and then teach to others. It seems sometimes people tend to go step 1 to teaching others straight away, posting videos, advertising events and claiming expert level knowledge. Anyone can write a book on a subject. Anyone can teach a class on a subject. All it takes is a bit of research. What makes the difference is the interaction with the students and the way it is presented however. The individual knowing only the basics will be narrow in their approach, teaching a few techniques or principles and that’s it. There will be no individual feedback, no scenario training, no allowances for different sizes or strengths, no question and answer session. The knowledge will be one dimensional and lack substance. The only people who will learn from this is those who know less than you. Put up against someone with some knowledge and you’re in a proverbial creek without a paddle.
Too much information is available today especially in the case of martial arts, many of which have long traditions, cultures and principles that can’t be learnt in a matter of weeks. Looking at the source of the information is crucial. What’s their background? Do they claim to hold a 12th degree black belt in 72 different styles of killer Kung Fu and once kicked Chuck Norris in the face? If so, call bullshit. This type of filtering down of the arts dilutes the whole process and lowers the bar for all involved to the point where you get 4th degree black belts who couldn’t punch their way out of a paper bag. Loads of people know wayyyy more about martial arts and self defence than I do and when they speak, I shut up and pay attention. They are the ones who keep quiet and wait to be asked their opinion on a topic, not jump at the first opportunity to prove their knowledge and skill. They are the ones who offer a range of answers for a particular question, never black and white answers.
They are the ones worth learning from and dedicating your time and efforts to.
MAUnity will be launching soon. It will showcase these people. These people who are experts in their field and have tried and tested their methods. It will be a webshow with a different style of the week each week showcasing a style of martial art of self defence, along with background and clips. It will include reviews, expert tutorials, interviews and anything else we can think of along the way! It’s taking a lot of work to get PERFECT so bear with us but it will be here. The Martial View will become MAUnity in the hope of being a place of genuine knowledge for sport, self defence and traditional martial arts. I’ll be the host, which I apologize for as I have a face made for radio, but the content will be great with some top quality martial artists and self defence instructors already on board. It’s coming!
So I’ve just finished watching and training in some of Matt Chapman’s Mittmaster series, looking at MMA, Trapping and Kickboxing and honestly… I’m well impressed! Matt has nearly 30 years of martial arts experience in a variety of styles including Kickboxing, Ninjitsu and Keysi Fighting Method and won a British MMA Welterweight Title in 2006. All this shows in the way he de-constructs and explains some pretty complicated pad work and the reasons behind it so that both pad feeder and the one hitting the pads is getting some great technical knowledge and progression!
Matt’s idea with Mittmaster is to raise the standard of pad feeders around the world as pad feeding can be just as difficult a job as the guy hitting the pads. Good pad feeding takes coordination, memory, timing and great technique yourself and through these series of videos, Matt takes you right from beginner level pad feeding, all the way up to bad-ass pad feeding!
The MMA and Kickboxing level 1 videos are great, going in to enough detail to explain why the drills worked and how they look in a real MMA/Kickboxing scenario, without Matt just rambling on talking for the sake of talking! Fitness and instruction was also looked into such as games where the leg is caught on a leg kick, therefore drop down and give me a burpee! Matt explains a number of different ways of doing a technique and different options available such as the whizzer where a short range whizzer allows follow up strikes, a longer range one allows for the head kick and the whizzer driving the head down allows for takedowns and submissions, meaning the full range of options is outlined.
The trapping video is equally as good with Matt breaking down relatively complex moves so they are easy to understand and develop, drawing on his real life experience on why he does things the way he does. Different angles are looked at and again, the technical knowledge is great, with Matt’s instructors including the JKD legend that is Bob Breen so you know he comes from a great pedigree of martial artists.
Basically guys! I recommend this product pretty highly. Matt really knows what he is talking about from a technical point of view, but he also has a great style of teaching that I know from experience and it’s translated through these videos. If you want to improve your fighting game as well as your pad feeding and technical knowledge I would definitely recommend these videos as well as the other stuff Matt has done such as his books on how to win your first MMA fight, or how to get more students at your dojo!
We think martial arts, we think kicking, punching, snapping and cracking! We think Bruce Lee literally kicking the crap out of multiple opponents, flying kicks and massive Ki-ai’s! We look at the Olympics and Taekwondo and see all sorts of wonderful kicks where legs get wrapped around people’s heads twice round in a split second. Basically kicks are awesome, impressive and a massive feature of the martial arts. What about self defence though? Do kicks have a place or will they land you in more trouble than their worth?
Me, personally, I’m not a massive fan of kicks. I’ve never used one in a real altercation but I can see their application if done right. I don’t use them as I’m no good at them basically. But what about the guys and girls who are good at them, the Taekwondo practitioners, the Karate experts, where do you guys stand on this?
Low level kicks up to about waist height I can see the advantage of. People normally won’t be expecting it, and a well timed outside leg kick to the knee or thigh can easily put someone out of action for quite a while. Look at some of the UFC guys leg’s after a fight, black, blue and difficult to put weight on. Waist kicks and front kicks, again I can see the practicalities of. The leg is longer than the arm and so is therefore great for getting a strike in early and creating distance, which as I’ve repeatedly said, I believe to be one of the main principles to take from martial arts and into self defence. Distance is everything and leg kicks can certainly keep the opponent at a distance if done correctly (even for me who’s the height of a borrower).
Effective use of leg kick here, low risk, high result
Any higher than the waist and I think we’re in danger territory. Kicks here are easier to telegraph, leave you off balance on one leg for longer and in general are just far riskier in my opinion. Even if I had studied head kicks and kicks above waist level for many years, I would still be reluctant to use one in real life as there are just too many what ifs? What if I don’t connect? What if I do connect? What if they grab my leg? Personally for me, I want both feet to be on the ground and planted as much as possible.
There’s also the practicalities. If you aren’t wearing shorts or loose training gear, as well as being properly warmed up, high kicks can be near impossible. Imagine attempting a high kick and not only missing but also pulling you leg muscle…not cool… If you’re a Justin Bieber wannabe and wear skinny jeans, its going to be difficult simply walking, let alone throwing a leg kick regardless of where it is. If you do wear skinny jeans though you may be deserving of a kick or two… 😛
So me personally, not a fan of leg kicks for self defence, but only because I’m no good at them, am as flexible as Jeremy Clarkson’s views on the Argentinians and see too much risk involved. Have people used leg kicks in real altercations? Have they worked? Have they gone horribly wrong?
So in the sporting world we have the FIFAs, the PGAs, the NFLs, the mainstream, massively funded and massively fan based sports. The closest equivalent to this in the martial arts is arguably the UFC and I think its fair to say that MMA is getting bigger and bigger on a global scale, with more and more people becoming interested in both training and spectating mixed martial arts. Should the martial arts be more mainstream however? There are obviously plus and minuses for both sides of the argument and I think it’s an interesting debate topic.
Let’s imagine the martial arts were MASSIVE, I’m talking football, rugby etc massive. Football wouldn’t be the main option in schools for children, you wouldn’t go down to the local park to kick a football around, you’d go down to the local gym and kick a punchbag around. This sounds great yeah, the martial arts as a mainstream skill or sport? I agree it does, and I want martial arts to be a bigger thing within society for the discipline, fitness and confidence that they can instill in people, especially children, however if this were the case would it make the martial arts less special?
Imagine there was a massive governing body for the martial arts, the FIFA of the martial arts world. Again, would this lead to more problems? I’ve discussed before the prevalence of politics in the martial arts (Here’s a past article) and how ego can often get in the way of the simple formula of fantastic people, fantastic training and fantastic development and progression. Get this right and I think you’re on to a winner in the martial arts. The emergence of a massive governing body for the martial arts will bring forth its own problems and as the old saying goes, where there’s people, there’s politics. How long before standards start slipping, people start falling out, and more and more McDojos pop up offering online course black belts and guaranteed success in self protection, all due to mainstreaming? Newsflash, there is no guarantee when it comes to self protection, and black belt requires hard work, dedication and sweat, not the watching of various online videos with the promise of black belt bad-assery at the end.
Even as martial arts are at the moment, there are enough egos needing to be massaged, falling’s out over trivial matters and frankly ridiculous and awful examples of self protection, that are not only misleading but frankly dangerous! Would martial arts becoming more mainstream improve or increase this? Is there any full proof way of ensuring quality and quantity in the martial arts?
I think we can all agree that we live in a technological age. An age where videos of cats go viral and takeaway food can be ordered to your home in a few simple clicks. But what does this mean for the martial arts? Type in martial arts on YouTube, the second biggest search engine after Google, and you get roughly 1,220,000 results. Wow, that’s a lot of martial arts action. Is this a good thing or a bad thing however? YouTube can be great in a number of ways for the martial arts, but as with most things, there are also a few drawbacks to martial arts and its YouTube audience.
Let’s start with the positive. Most obviously, it’s a massively awesome resource for getting your content out there. Whether it’s through advertising your school by releasing promo videos or training clips, it can easily get seen by a wide range of people, meaning your school, your art and you get put out there into the world of cyberspace! This can lead to a great following, increased students and great networking opportunities. Secondly it can be a great resource for finding out about different styles. You decide to try a new martial art out down the road but have no idea what it is. A quick YouTube search will give you video clips on it and help you gain more of an understanding about whether it is for you. Basically YouTube is a wicked tool for getting information out there to the masses in terms of martial arts and creating a great network if done right.
Getting content out there is great, but it has to be great content and let’s face it, there’s a whole lot of crap out there too. Someone knowing nothing about the martial arts decides to type martial arts in on YouTube and the first video they decide to watch is idiots getting knocked out by someone looking at them (see the clip below at 1 minute 10 and prepare to be blown away…), or watching some weird Mortal Kombat stuff that looks great on TV and Film but will pretty rapidly get you an arse kicking in real life. It can be off putting to people who have no experience of martial arts.
Linking with this, there are the cyber keyboard warriors. Whenever you post something online, it’s pretty much fair game for people to comment both positive and negative. I’ve found this even with The Martial View. People see what you’re doing, either like it and feel threatened, or don’t like it and feel threatened, then decide to go trolling! Look on any YouTube video of any martial art or martial artist and they’ll be a fair few comments from people saying how the stuff looks fake, or it’ll never really work, or that martial arts are all white pajamas, loud shouting and smashing the contents of B&Q up with your fists and legs. Now granted these keyboard warriors are probably spotty computer nerds who have never stepped on the mats in their life but they can still a hindrance, especially in a field such as martial arts.
Finally, there is such a wealth of information out there on YouTube at the moment in respect to the martial arts, that some people may not even think it’s necessary to join a school or get an instructor. Type in `right hook` on YouTube, they’ll be thousands of tutorials showing how to throw a right hook, similarly type in `choke defence`, they’ll be the same, some good, some frankly awful. Part of the fun of martial arts training is the social aspect, you meet new people, train with a partner, make new friends and join in the martial arts community in order to develop yourself. Pretty hard to do that when you sit punching a bag in your living room thinking you’ve nailed the jab, cross and can defend against grabs, punches and chokes while your long suffering (but gone viral) cat looks on. Martial arts are physical and technical and no amount of online training or video is going to beat going to an academy, getting a decent instructor and getting training.
YouTube can be an awesome resource for the martial arts, as long as it’s used correctly and as long as we don’t become completely obsessed with the digital age. This is not The Matrix, you are NOT Neo and can’t have Jiu-Jitsu plugged into your brain so you’re a master at it in a few minutes……cool as that would be…. Getting good at any martial art requires physical ability as well as dedication and having a great instructor, and unfortunately, YouTube is not a great instructor for the martial arts!
I wrote a post a few days back on the politics that seem to surround the Martial Arts. A lot of the feedback and discussions as a result of the article seem to say that where people are involved, politics will be involved. I completely accept this, but still think that politics seems to be particularly prevalent within the martial arts. So in the immortal words of Martin Luther King “I have a dream”! I’ve been thinking about this for a while and it’s something that could become a reality in 2015 if all goes to plan, but I have a vision of a massive martial arts event, all styles welcome, all backgrounds welcome. The only condition to entry is that you are open minded, willing to learn and respectful of the martial arts on offer. These martial arts could be traditional, say Aikido, Taekwondo or Judo, could be Reality Based such as Defence Lab or Krav Maga, or sports based such as the GHOST system developed by Phil Norman (look out for an interview with him being posted in the next couple of days)! All combat arts would be on offer, instructors would become students of other instructors and learn a bit of their style before teaching their own to both students and other instructors. In short everyone, whether you’re a white belt or a black belt, would learn together.
It would be ego free, politics free and massive for the martial arts community. Sure seminars exist at the moment, you get some massive names doing tours all over the world. But how often do people from other styles go to those seminars? If there’s a Judo seminar with a massive international name, do many non-Judo guys go? I think not, even though as I’ve already theorised before, all martial arts come down to the same thing in the end so we can learn something from everyone regardless of rank, years spent doing martial arts, or style you train in!
This is my dream for the future! A politics free seminar, big names in martial arts, all styles working together to enhance learning, build networks and increase exposure for the martial arts. What do you guys think? Good idea in theory but never possible in practice? We shall see! Watch this space!!
Sifu Declan Lestat is the founder and chief instructor at The Forge in Minneapolis, specializing in Jeet Kune Do and Lau Kuin Kung Fu. He is a student of world renowned JKD instructor, Sifu Lamar M Davis II and a proud member of the prestigious Five Thunder Chinese Martial Arts Association. His website can be found here at www.theforgeacademy.com Here he speaks about children and the martial arts…..
I spend a lot of time teaching children. In fact, my time is probably split 50/50 between children and adults at the moment. As much as I love teaching adults – there’s always something new to challenge me when training a fighter of police officer – I’ve always felt that, when it comes to martial training, we have a lot to learn from children.
I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve spoken with an adult who, when they find out what I do for a living, shows great interest and enthusiasm for martial arts. More often than not, they’ve even trained in an art some years ago. Unfortunately, within minutes of their interest catching light, the flame quickly dims as real life dumps a bucket of water over their aspirations. I’ve heard it all, and you probably have as well:
I’m too old to start all that Bruce Lee stuff now.
Where would I find the time?
I’d never be able to do that, I’ve got a dodgy hip (Back, knee, shoulder, whatever)
I haven’t got a clue where to begin, I’d look stupid!
I can’t afford it right now. Maybe after Christmas (Easter, holidays, etc)
I have asthma
I’ve got two left feet!
I’m too tall/short/fat/thin/female
The list goes on, and I’m sure you could add to it with reasons you’ve heard too. It’s not much different for existing students who hit a plateau, or are about to be challenged in a new and different way as they advance in grade. It’s important to note at this point, that these reasons aren’t always excuses. They’re often genuine beliefs and fears held by the grown up in question, so I’m not passing judgment on anyone who offers a line similar to one of those above. Just making an observation.
Now, compare this to children. Children are notoriously unreasonable, in my experience. Wonderfully unreasonable. Over the years, I’ve trained children of all ages who you would never expect to see in a martial arts class. And if they were grown ups, you probably wouldn’t.
I’ve trained kids with learning difficulties and physical disabilities (From the partially sighted to the asthmatic). I’ve trained kids who were overweight, and some who were skinny. Some were tall, some were shorter. I’ve taught kids with anger management issues, dyspraxia, various degrees of Aspergers syndrome, and diabetics. I’ve had burly junior rugby players sharing the mats with dainty girls who would have loved to have frills on their uniforms (I actually had that request!)… This list, too, goes on.
But whatever the challenge, the child has seen what we do as martial artists, and said to their parents “Gimme some of that!”. They just want to have fun and train. Their personal shortcomings don’t even enter into their decision making process. Like I said, they’re wonderfully unreasonable. Not to mention unrelentingly optimistic.
But of course, they’re just children and aren’t old enough to know better.
As we continue our journey in the martial arts – or if you’re thinking of starting your journey – I suggest we do our best to not know better. We may just surprise ourselves.