Something that drives me absolutely batty is when I see folks intentionally going out of their way to prove martial arts as something fake. It’s one thing if someone takes steps to expose someone they know for a fact is teaching a fake form of martial arts, but I’m referring to those who simply have a blanket belief that ALL martial arts are fake. As someone who has spent over three quarters of his life studying traditional martial arts, I can promise you that genuine fighting arts, such as they are, are anything but fake.
Unfortunately, movies and television make a pretty good attempt at portraying martial arts as something mystical and almost ethereal. But the true reality of martial arts, if it’s a genuine style, is that it requires a shit ton of hard work and dedication to hone one’s skills in this respect. I found myself falling down the YouTube rabbit hole last week, and ended up watching a bunch of videos where “fake” martial arts were being exposed.
Some of the stuff those videos showed was beyond borderline ridiculous, if I do say so myself. With this thought in mind and with all due respect to the hundreds of YouTube videos exposing fake martial arts, here is my top 6 list of things that the martial arts does NOT do:
- We’re not undefeatable: Masterhood is something that should happen organically. A student should never get into the martial arts with the thought of “I’m gonna be a master” in their heads. Although I’ve often said that no reason is inherently bad, there are some obvious exceptions. But no matter how long you trained and developed yourself, there will always be someone stronger and better skilled than you. Even though I’ve had the benefit of being the victor in the fights that mattered, there are some that I’ve lost. Martial arts does not make you invulnerable;
- We don’t keep secrets: The true goal of every traditional martial artist is to develop a student who will pass on the teaching in order to guarantee the continuation of the style. The concept of a master holding back a “secret technique” so that they can win any fight. Once we take on a pupil, we teach them everything there is to our style, albeit in due time. Advanced techniques obviously aren’t shared with someone who JUST started. The material is doled out according to experience level and skill. But we don’t hold anything back. Our systems wouldn’t survive if we did;
- We can’t move or affect people/objects without touching them: Some of my favourite videos are the ones where you see some fuckin’ idiot holding a hand out to someone charging at them, only to have the charging pupil pass out or fall over from an “unseen force” or energy that the “master”is projecting. This is, without exception, only effective against the master’s own students and never works in a real environment. Because it’s fake;
- There’s nothing “mystical” behind what we do: Martial arts isn’t some magical or mystical thing that originated from a spiritual source. Not to be mistaken with the fact that some us are “spiritual,” but martial arts is based strictly on how the human body moves, responds and functions. That’s it. Strikes, blocks and movements are all based on how the human body allows them. Even the styles that profess their origins from animal movements are still using natural movements of the body. There’s very little more natural or instinctive than a punch or a kick. We’ve been doing that for as long as we’ve existed;
- We don’t feel the need to compete: With the exception of a couple of times where I’ve demonstrated forms, I have never participated in tournaments. The need to pit myself against another person or style has never been necessary, nor do I want to. trust me, when I say that my martial skills have been proven in the line of duty on more than one occasion;
- We don’t hide our history: If the instructor or “master” you speak to can’t answer some basic questions about the style, where he was certified or who he’s trained with, he or she is likely a sham. I was trained by Guy-Sensei in New Brunswick. He was trained by Nakama-Sensei in Okinawa who was trained by Uechi-Sensei. I’m third generation, directly under the style’s Grandmaster. I obtained my black belt in 2002 in Dalhousie, New Brunswick after training in Okinawa during the previous year. I can explain the lineage and creation of my style with ease, and any true martial artists should be able to do the same (beginner’s being the exception).
There are a number of fakes out there, as with any sport or industry. Even though it can easy to watch all the uploaded videos and assume that martial arts are fake or ineffective, the important takeaway is that even someone who has spend decades training in a style can still be defeated on camera by someone else. This doesn’t mean that martial arts are fake; it simply means that you need to keep a keen eye open for some of the things I’ve pointed out.
Otherwise, recognize and acknowledge that like boxing and MMA, someone who has trained for long years in martial arts of any style and has put in the effort will undoubtedly have the skill and capability to defend themselves and others. So maybe it isn’t a fight you wanna pick. Granted, the YouTube videos are definitely good for a laugh. Some people will do anything for a buck… ☯