We all know the virtues of the martial arts and ways. But whether you're a newcomer or a longtime devotee there are undoubtedly some aspects of martial arts culture that gets under your skin. In the tradition of the Late Show with David Letterman I've compiled a "Top Ten" list of what I've found to be most annoying in the martial arts:
10. Learn-at-home DVD martial arts courses. Can't get to the dojo? No problem. Earn your black belt in the comfort of your living room. Really.
9. Extreme or Tricking martial arts. These are strictly demonstration arts devised as crowd pleasers. Competitors perform quasi-martial art routines based on acrobatics interspersed with enough karate shouts to give you a headache that'll last a week.
8. Far-fetched breaking routines. Breaking slabs of wood with a shuto (blade-hand) or kick can be a viable way to measure striking efficiency. Sometimes it gets to be a bit much. A friend of mine used to set bricks on fire before busting them apart with a hammer fist at demos. Nice. Once, I watched a competitor on TV attempt this same trick, but somehow some of the lighter fluid ended up on the floor, igniting the mats and setting the entire venue ablaze. Also, is being able to break a fifty inch-thick chunk of ice with your forehead indicative of any combative skill? Talk about headaches. Still, playing with ice is safer than fire.
7. Training uniforms that are so patched up they resemble a billboard. Some of these jiu-jitsu guys look more like race car drivers.
6. Camouflage belts. When colored belts were introduced in judo over a century ago, there were just white, brown, and black. Much later, more incremental colors were added to appease the masses. Not a bad idea. I can tolerate yellow, orange, etc., but camouflage? Come on.
5. The "my style and only my style is the ultimate fighting system" mantra. Please shut up already.
4. Gossip in the dojo. I don't care what Jane or anyone else does with their life. It's none of my business or yours. Few things are more damaging and hurtful (and cowardly) than malicious trash talk behind someone's back. Definitely shut up.
3. People who think they can develop as martial artists without hard work. Real martial arts are both an intellectual and physical pursuit. Deal with it.
2. Cheesy martial arts flicks, especially the American-made variety from the 80s. Check out this trailer from something called Gymkata:
1. Any pseudo-mystical, esoteric or metaphysical claims attributed to the martial arts. The following is one Jack Hogan of Ryukyu kempo putting the whammy on one of his students:
And there you have it. Granted, some of these items are more amusing than annoying. Did I leave anything out? Let me know.