We live in a truely wonderous time for martial arts. No matter what anyone says, martial arts has never been healther or stronger then today. Hopefully that will continue for a long time. Strict traditional martial artists lament claiming its the death of martial art, citing the evils that are Combat Sports. The Reality based self defense martial artists don’t care much one way or another, they just point a finger at the passing teenager and say “Don’t you try non of that UFC crappling on me! I’ll put a hurting on you!”
In the past you trained in the style that was near to you. So if you lived in a small town, and decided to learn how to fight, you had no choice but to train at Tom’s Karate school. If you lived in a bigger city, you might have had more choices, but you took your pick from the three choices you had near you, depending on what you could afford. You might have watched a Bruce Lee movie and thought to your self, “Hey I want to do that!” But when the only Kung fu place in driving distance was Hung Gar school, you might not have even known the difference. When the instructor introduced himself as “Grand master of the everlasting flame of divine enlightenment” and told you that he had personally defeated Bruce Lee in a secret underground blood war, you just said “Oh wow!” I am sure he even had a scroll on the wall of the school written in what you guess was…martial art language! Don’t buy the line that things were better or purer or anything in the “good old days” I’d like to take a moment and map out some of the funny trends in martial arts. After the break
Martial arts in the US were spelled “JUDO” why? Because we were in the Cold War and had thousands of soldiers who were part of Strategic Air Command. Their job was to be johnny on the spot incase them darn Commie Russians tried to nuke our beloved US of A. The Government realized that this was a stressful mission and didn’t want stressed out unbalanced people guarding our country. They realized that physical fitness helps contribute to balanced and happy fighting men (and women!), so they imported Judo and heavily encouraged its soldiers to train and compete. It is from these roots that the USJA and the USJF (which are two of the three legitimate National Judo Organizations in the US. The third was created as a joint project by the first two to handle things pertaining to the Olympics, FYI) grew, first as military personal only, then later as governing bodies for Judo everywhere in the US.
People started becoming interested in all things Asian. A few hippy types, and alot of soldiers returning from duty in Japan came back with something no one had ever seen before: Karate. Well they came back with a lot of other martial arts, but since the only one that got press was Karate, alot of different styles just called themselves Karate. This included martial arts from China and Korea. This is what we call pride in your martial art. No McDojoing at all.
Some people had heard of “Martial arts” but now everyone had heard of Bruce Lee. His movies had plots! The fighting looked like someone might be able to pull some of it off in real life! People went nuts. No matter what martial arts school you studied at, you would be assured that you would learn to do that Bruce Lee stuff. Since there still weren’t alot of martial artists with true cerdental, so you had alot places opening and adapting titles and style names that really sounded more like they had been stolen from one of Bruce Lee’s movies then anything else.
The Ninja Turtles. Basically the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Everyone watched those movies and decided they wanted to learn to be ninjas. And really who can blame them? Suddenly every martial art school was teaching weapons. Sometimes it was the weapons based in their respective martial art, but other times you had karate schools teaching sword, and everyone else teaching nunchucks.
Well the Ninja thing stuck around for a while, but then things started to re-gear into MMA, or as I like call it, learning to fight UFC. Where do you train UFC? The awesome thing about it was once again, most of the schools jumping on the band wagon had never fought anything like this before. Its pretty easy, teach what you normally teach and tag the word MMA onto it. My favorite is MMA Fitness! No cage, no bags, no contact, but heck why not.
Now we have the Internet. Even if there is no school in your town, you are aware that there is an art called Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. A quick google search will tell you the difference between Shotokan Karate and Shaolin Kung Fu. You can check to see if the World Champion down the street ever fought anyone, and if he did, you can most likely find a video on the subject. You can easily email the martial art organization that your instructor to be claims to be registred under and ask them if they have ever heard of the guy. There are really no secret techniques, you can find step by step instruction to nearly anything online as martial arts instructors rush to put their knowledge on youtube for free. Don’t want to do a combat sport? Check their website and watch videos of their classes so you can compare and make sure you get what you want.
Things always change, but in this case they have changed to have more choices and better services. Heck people like you are reading nonsense written by people like me! Ok, not everthing ends up being better…