In a recent episode of their hit Showtime series, stage magicians Penn Jilette and Raymond Teller warn viewers away from the universally fraudulent field of martial arts. Now a real expert martial artist rescues us from their half-baked debunkings.
For their own convenience, Penn and Teller divide the world of martial arts into three categories: traditional, mystical, and murderous.
Our recent and spirited discussion of “McDojos” and mob justice was recently picked up at another forum. Apparently, the forum administrator is upset that I turned off comments on the original post, because he didn’t get an opportunity to express his dissenting viewpoint. In the interests of fairness and education, I will summarize his rebuttal here.
Sean Treanor’s article on the Bullshido phenomenon raises some important questions…
Martial arts practice in America is entirely unregulated. There is no central body that issues standards, no set of accepted practices, no communication between different styles. State and local governments have nothing to say about who is and isn’t a martial artist. After all, consumers are free to make their own decisions.
Unfortunately, it can be very hard to tell the difference between fantasy and reality when studying an ancient, esoteric and exotic discipline. Not many people have any idea what martial arts training should consist of. There is almost no agreement within the martial arts establishment over what is effective training and what is not.
Investigation is expensive and the market is too small to attract much media attention, aside from cinematic mythmaking. The mainstream martial arts magazines have never made investigative journalism part of their repertoire. George Dillman, the mental KO king was Black Belt Magazine’s instructor of the year in 1997. There is simply no money in exposing these martial arts entrepreneurs. Some people, however, are willing to do it for free.
BLACK BELT – That uniform accessory most coveted by students of martial arts, who, upon receiving it, pretend it never held any interest at all.
PRACTICE – To endlessly repeat the same sequence of movements, always hoping for different results. (See also: INSANITY.)
KATA – An awful form of dance, often assumed to divulge some hidden meaning after sufficient PRACTICE.
Let me tell you a dirty little secret about black belts. They have no particular meaning at all.