The following guest post may have been submitted by amateur mixed martialist Manny St. Pierre, as a response to the new International Taiji Community Cookbook, with its sales proceeds financing the International Taiji Park in Thunder Bay, Ontario.
The holiday season is upon us again, and the time has come to prepare delicious meals for friends and family. Try my powerhouse recipes, and you’re sure to win any Ultimate Feasting Competition…
The Turkey Whizzer
Step 1: Purchase a frozen turkey from your favorite MMA gear supplier. (If they are sold out, you can buy one at the grocery store, and use a magic marker to write Tapout or Affliction on the side. Trust me, everyone will be impressed.)
For your consideration, guest author Liam Boyle submits this modest proposal for the reinstatement of the duel.
“Sir, I Demand Satisfaction!”
Turning on any television show based on small claims court a person is bound to hear some variant of that title, many times in a much less polite form. Sitting in a small claims court, or any civil court for that matter, a person is bound to hear some variant of that title phrase. Yet, in many representations of historical duels, those words are commonly found. Conflict seems to underscore our society and the phrase, “I’ll see you in court,” has almost seemed to reach the status of a common greeting. This could give someone cause to wonder that wouldn’t it be simpler and possibly more effective to just have the disputing parties put on gloves and go the proverbial twelve rounds rather than tie up the court with expensive and needless litigation. This lead this writer to the posting of the question, Should dueling (non-firearm) be legalized to replace some civil lawsuits?
This I Believe is an international project engaging people in writing and sharing essays that describe their core values. More than 90,000 of these essays, written by people from all walks of life, are archived on their website.
Naturally, some essayists shared their beliefs on, and experience with martial arts. Here are a few of their stories.
Life Is A Spiritual Struggle
by Joseph Laycock (Brighton, Massachusetts)
Over the din of boxing gloves pounding against leather bags, I struggle to hear this Brazilian explain yet another way to choke someone unconscious. This is a martial arts gym. Most of the regulars are amateur fighters with dreams of going professional. When they’re not here, some of them work as firefighters or bouncers. I’m definitely the only schoolteacher in the room.
My students take interest in my training. Sometimes I’ll enter the classroom with bruises or a slight limp from the gym. In world history, I’ll discuss the cultural significance of the fighting styles I study. In Thai kickboxing, the eight striking weapons — fists, shins, elbows and knees — represent the eight-fold path of the Buddha. Brazilian jujitsu has more improvisation than Japanese martial arts, which reflects different cultural attitudes towards tradition.
Every class asks me the same questions, “Have you ever beat anyone up?” And, “Why are you a teacher instead of a professional fighter?” When I tell them the truth — that I have never been in a fight and have no aspirations to go professional — I get a range of reactions from disappointment to accusations of cowardice.
“So why do you do it,” they always ask.
I believe that life is a spiritual struggle. My battle is not against another fighter but against the unjust and apathetic system that is attacking my students… [continued]
How much do you really know about the history of martial arts? Test your knowledge with this Martial Development interactive quiz.
If you don’t know the answer to any of these questions, you are welcome to look it up first, either online or offline. That’s not cheating, folks–it’s research!
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.
Equality. Transparency. Trust. Fairness.
These are all qualities one would expect to find in a good Chinese martial arts school. Expecting the modern American cultural interpretation of these ideals, however, can lead to confusion and disappointment.
The traditional distinction between indoor and outdoor disciples tends to bother American martial artists. Following this tradition, a master selects a subset of his students for special attention and secret information.
In thousands of halls across our great nation, an archaic manuscript hangs on the wall. Written many decades ago, in a time and place quite foreign to our own, this inscrutable document anchors us to a primitive culture that we would do well to forget. I submit to you that it holds no value to us today; as rational men and women, we should put our sentiments aside and discard this anachronism immediately. Our traditions must not be allowed to stand in the way of progress.
What makes this document so odious? Simply put, it is subjective. Instead of identifying specific behaviors for its reader to follow, it describes general principles and leaves each reader to interpret them as they see fit. These statements are so vague and meaningless that they could conceivably be used to justify anything.
Who decides what this document really means?
In the past few years, mixed martial arts has enjoyed remarkable commercial success. Some fans imagine that its popularity is a result of its vast technical superiority over traditional martial arts styles. But neither MMA techniques nor training methods are particularly innovative; much of what you see in the competition ring was pioneered decades or even centuries ago.
The recent success of the MMA product is best explained with a sociological model, not a technical one; and this model predicts an inevitable fall from grace. MMA will decay, like every style before it, into a traditional martial art.
While conducting some unrelated research, I recently came across an book written by the disciple of a blind kungfu master. I was gratified to read his advice, so similar to that which I received from my own martial arts teachers. I’ll explain why in a moment; first, a few quotations:
On the primacy of coordination…
The principle of “divide and conquer” may have some validity in those branches of education concerned with knowing rather than doing, but in the education of the artist, “integrate to coordinate” should be the battle-cry.
Demonstrating the ability to make one single movement by genuinely coordinated means, is worth more to the growth of the student than showing them now to negotiate any supposed technical difficulties by the employment of “end-gaining” methods.
Clumsiness in general, and technical failures in particular, have no other origins than in the making of simultaneous contradictory gestures.
Best practices are those methods and techniques that deliver a desired outcome as quickly, cheaply and reliably as possible. Every field of human endeavor, from mundane household tasks to sophisticated technological processes, has its own set of best practices.
Best practices are the accumulated wisdom of years, decades or even centuries of human experience. Often the result of pain and suffering, these prescriptions tend to follow a simple and practical formula: do this to avoid that.
Doctors wash their hands after examining a patient, to prevent the spread of disease. Runners tie their shoelaces, to avoid tripping and falling on their face. Employers check references before extending a job offer. These best practices remind us how to approach a particular task, and why we should favor one tactic to another.
What then are traditions?