Martial arts – below the silk

Did you see the picture and like it?

I’m glad I brought an iota of pleasure into your life.

Now I’m curious whether you saw this. Click the article, read it if you are interested in martial arts, if you consider yourself a martial artist.31f58f7088a9489126a9f2e7f28d6a50

Then show that you read it with a like.

Why? A few reasons.

This is the second article by Anna that I have posted. The first was an elegant résumé of self defence principles taught through the actions of a photographer going for a walk and approached by a mentally disturbed person.It got very few likes too.

Perhaps Facebook and its algorithms decided not to show it to you. Facebook does that, it doesn’t like to upset it’s users with opinions that might disturb them.

But it could also be a reflection of what I faced in Taiwan as an English teacher.

English teachers were sought after in this order

  1. Blonde female from USA (blue eyes assumed)
  2. Blonde male from USA (blue eyes assumed)
  3. Other female from USA
  4. Other male from USA
  5. Canadian ideally female blonde with blue eyes
  6. English (same gender and appearance preferences)
  7. Everyone else

As a dark haired green eyed English male I wasn’t so high up the list. I did learn to say pants instead of trousers to please the US English fans.

You may have noticed that the preferences have almost zero correlation with either English speaking or teaching ability. Not to mention the lies it led to. I had German friends who spoke great English who passed themselves off as from the USA. Think too of the poor Taiwanese students who now speak English with Quebecoise accents (ok it’s cute).

Now in Chinese martial arts we have a similar scale of irrelevance if not quite as clear cut. So I’ll make a bullet point list instead.

  • Ethnic Chinese teacher
  • Uniform - archaic fancy dress
  • Temple/mountain/waterfall backdrop
  • Flowiness (bullshit word I just made up - you understand though)
  • Displays of flexibility
  • Spectacular techniques
  • Clear winners and losers (where the losers do not fight back and the winner is the ‘good guy’)
  • Explanations involving the words qi, shen, jin, jing, dao, fa....

We can shift this to other genres of martial arts. Just change the fancy dress, the ethnicity of the teacher, the soundtrack, for example put some graffiti in the background to demonstrate that the art is ready for da street.

And Anna’s articles do not match any of this.

What they do match is the daily experience of much of our population. There are no clear winners and losers because the conflicts are nuanced, camouflaged, ambiguous and often denied.

Yes, there is a place for stand up knock down kungfu skill. I also understand that you may just like your martial arts as sport, skillful exercise, class camaraderie, physical chess and possibly cosmic chill time.

Still if you have any claim that you think of your martial practise as a ‘way of life’ or to be relevant to conflict outside of class then you need to pay attention to people like Anna.

If you do martial arts to protect yourself then you need to prepare for what the risks actually are. If you do martial arts to protect others then pay some attention to the dangers others face in our society everyday.

The number of men who have no idea of the daily harassment and implied threat that women navigate daily maddens me. Their reaction to an article like Anna is usually denial.

It’s not easy, if you are a man at some point you have probably crossed the line for some women at one time or another - and you may have done it with no bad intention. Absent mindedly leering at a pair of breasts that click an evolutionary switch in your brain (but actually belong to a complex human being). Or your attempts to show respectful interest may have lead to a woman feeling cornered and pressured. I know this applies to me.

If this bothers you, and it bothers me then it won’t be hard to imagine what else happens. The men who deliberately cross the line, who use pressure and cornering to get sex, or just to feel powerful because they can get reactions.

If you do martial arts to make the world better, a safer place and you can’t see this then you are seriously deluded.

If what you ‘like’ on FB are just the usual martial memes then respectfully I think your martial arts are about as deep as the skidmarks on a toilet bowl.

Get out of your Shaolin theme park.

Perhaps even read this book by Anna. I'll review it soon.