Monday, September 28, 2009

Martial arts is basketball

The world of martial arts has more bullshit, con men, gurus, spiritualists, and misconception than you can shake a stick at.

When people ask me weird questions about martial arts, I often use the "basketball" response. If it doesn't make sense for basketball, it probably doesn't make sense for martial arts.

Don't get me wrong, the metaphor isn't perfect. Since basketball is a sport, it is a bit different than fighting which has hundreds of different approaches and permutations. Also, the metaphor would probably work better if it was an individual sport like tennis. But, bear with me. Here is how it applies.

Question: Can you learn to fight through forms?
My answer: Can you learn to play basketball through basketball forms?
Analysis: Sure you can learn to play better through going through the motions of free throws and jump shots, but the guys who play everyday will most probably win.

Q: Is size important in fighting? Does the bigger guy always win?
A: Is it important in basketball? Does the bigger guy always win?

Q:How does strong qi affect martial arts?
A: How does mojo affect basketball?

Q:What is the best style of martial arts?
A: What is the best style of basketball?

Ok, I think you get the idea. The idea being that if a concept doesn't make sense in something that is familiar to you, why would you believe it for something that is foreign to you? That is not to say that different cultures don't focus on different things or have different strengths and weaknesses, but every culture has fighting so why are people so willing to believe that one culture has the ultimate technique.

I like wing chun because it is a form of stand-up wrestling with punching. That is pretty cool, but the concepts are there in wrestling, or judo or cooperative dance for that matter. People often want easy answers to difficult questions or they want to find the cheat sheet for a skill. There are better strategies and training methods, but no easy way. If you happen to find an easy or superior way, someone will notice and react to it and figure out a way to beat it. That is the way of things.

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