Religion is regarded by
the common people as true,
by the wise as false, and
by the rulers as useful.
Seneca the Younger
Martial Arts Culture
On this page:
Best MA for SD* |
Business Practices of MA |
Commercialized Schools* |
Cults in the Martial Arts |
Disrespecting the MA |
Evaluating a Martial Art |
Fantasy Self-Defense |
Fighting Facts |
Fighting vs. MA |
Four Focuses of Martial Arts* |
Is (Fill in MA Style Good for Self-Defense? * |
Is It REALLY About Self-Defense? |
Know Your Tools |
Lethal Force and MA |
Martial Arts Lies |
Martial Arts Pirates |
Message to School Owners/Instructors* |
Short Cuts, Ultimate Fighting Systems and Cheats* |
Sports Fighting |
Strike Enhancers* |
Threat Display* |
Tough Enough? |
"Traditional" Martial Arts vs. "Real" Fighting |
Violence Geeks Blog |
Walking The Talk |
Weapon Disarms* |
What do you want out of this training? |
What If Monkeys |
Why Do We Say This?
In a career filled with controversy, nothing I
have ever done has created such extreme responses as
this section of the NNSD Web site. I regularly receive
e-mails expressing kudos, grateful acknowledgements,
encouragement and sincere thanks for what I present
I also receive e-mails
expressing hatred, condemnation, personal
attacks, insults, accusations about my motives, all
levels of threats -- including death threats --
and, in one case, even told "burn in hell."
These radically different responses are especially
interesting in light of the intention of this section,
namely: Consumer awareness.
That's right. It's not about you learning some
mystic and deadly martial art. It's not about me selling
you my ultimate fighting system (namely because I don't
have one). It's not about me telling you why the martial
arts are either useless or the greatest thing since
These pages are about you being a satisfied
customer (whether you or your child are enrolled).
Although oriental martial arts may have their
roots in the East, the business of the martial arts is strongly influenced
by western capitalism. Do not ever forget:
1) That, as a business, a martial arts school is about making a profit.
2) A profit that comes from your pocketbook.
3) Quality often suffers under mass production.
As such, we strongly feel that martial arts
instruction is a service industry. If you are paying
for it, you ought to get your money's worth. If that
isn't happening, something is wrong.
This section takes a long, hard look at
the questionable behaviors, attitudes, myths, fantasies,
fads, organization and business practices rampant within
the martial arts culture. A lot of those behaviors take
on entirely different connotations when you look at them
from other points of view; points of view -- like
consumer satisfaction, business, marketing, psychology
and social conduct.
There is a lot going on under
the name of "martial arts." Some good, some not so good.
It is because of these issues that your experience with
the martial arts will be either richly rewarding or a
devastating failure. Simply stated there ARE
good martial arts programs out there, but there are a
lot more bad ones.
Also, as a parent whose child is enrolled in a
program this hub will help you put into perspective
issues that have probably been bothering you. If you
can't say what exactly but wrong, you know something
isn't right ... then you've come to the right place.
Profiteering is often disguised as ancient traditions
and 'for the good of the child.' And then of
course, there's all those unexpected costs that keep on
cropping up in these programs.
It is a buyer beware market. The
only way not to 'get taken; is to be an informed
Note to martial artists about what I say here...
Best Martial Art for Self-Defense?
Sounds like a reasonable question doesn't it? If it
weren't for the fact that it is based on misconceptions
based on advertising and marketing, it might be. Find
out why this isn't a
Attracting bullies' attention
Since so much of what attracts people to the martial
arts is 'self-defense,' we thought we'd give you an
outside perspective on the problem. Have you ever
wondered why bullies pick on some people but ignore
others? There is an entire complex set of behaviors and
signals that are going back and forth. Unfortunately,
many people who think that they are showing the bully
why the bully should leave them alone are sending an
entirely different message. A message that instead of
warning him away, attracts the bully over to
get in your face.
The Business of Martial Arts
As we say in the beginning of the MA Business page, a
lot of the information we talk about in this hub
probably doesn't jell with the student's experience.
On this page we explain why we say the
martial arts is a business. And why you have the
right to demand much more.
Commercialized Martial Art Schools
Start with the fact that a commercial school (one where
the instructor is making his living from the school) is
a business. In order to stay in business, you have to
follow the rules and standards of business, not the
martial arts. That and many other factors are going to
affect what you are being taught. Before you pay, know
the issues that WILL affect what you will be
taught in such a school. (See next section)
Disrespecting the Martial Arts
We are often charged with 'disrespecting' the martial
arts for what we say in this hub. On the
MA Biz page we show you some of the sleazy business
practices, behind the scenes programs, money making
schemes and fakery that we base our statements on.
Note: These aren't our words, they are the words,
advertising and programs common within the business
of martial arts. A business that we're supposedly
'disrespecting.' In fact, we show you stuff, your
instructor really doesn't want you to see. While
it may or may not be happening in your school,
these kinds of practices rule the majority of
commercialized martial arts programs.
Cults in the Martial Arts
In some cases, the behaviors of certain martial art
groups goes beyond legitimate business practices and
blurs into cults. These cults offer the promise of
teaching the ultimate fighting system, training you in
ancient warrior traditions, learning reality-based
fighting and fulfilling countless other fantasies to
entrance the dissatisfied spirit into their grasp.
Martial arts cults have some very specific ways of doing
business. Compare a group's behavior against these
Evaluating a Martial Art
How can you tell something is "good" if you don't know
what you are looking at ... or what you are looking for?
There are key points to look for when evaluating a
martial art's effectiveness.
There is a tendency for martial arts instructors to
promote themselves as competent to teach self-defense.
Find out why that is not necessarily true and why you
are risking your life if you accept what they are saying
without carefully looking into the subject beyond their
Just a few things you should know about the realities of
fighting before you tell yourself that your
martial arts training is good for self-defense.
The Difference Between Fighting and Self-Defense
This is perhaps one of the most misunderstood concepts
in martial arts training. But it is one that will
totally affect where you end up with your training. Much
less, whether or not you end up in jail. There is a big difference between
fighting and self-defense.
"The Four Focuses of the Martial Arts"
In attempting to become all things to all people, United
States martial arts schools have perpetuated a dangerous
misconception: Martial arts equal self-defense.
Nothing could be farther from the truth, and it is the
student who will bleed while discovering this deception.
While there are many reasons to study the martial arts,
there are basically four main focuses. Each focus is
valid and worthwhile. Each is extremely specialized and
tailored to achieve a certain goal. It is by recognizing the
four different focuses that allows you to select the
school, style and focus that best suits your needs.
Is ______ Good For Self-Defense?
This is the most common question I am asked by people
seeking advice on what style to study. Putting it
bluntly any style can be used for self-defense. What
people do not understand is the important distinctions
between fighting, assault, combat and self-defense.
Distinctions that will get them in deep trouble if they
don't understand them before they start training -- much less use a
fighting system on someone.
Is It REALLY About Self-Defense?
A lot of people get into so-called self-defense training
for reasons that have nothing to do with actual
self-defense. On the
Is It REALLY about SD? page we take a hard look at
an elephant in room that people don't want to admit to.
Is Krav Maga the Ultimate Fighting Style?
I have been asked this question SO many times that I finally just wrote a single page to
address the issue. On it, I explain why most of what you
think you know about Krav Maga isn't knowledge or fact,
but advertising. I address the marketing, myths, misconceptions
and out right propaganda that goes
into selling this '
deadly commando fighting style' -- including how the military
actually uses hand to hand training.
It's not that I am against ground fighting. Through some
brutally earned experiences, I have some seriously
controversial views on the subject of grappling and
submission fighting in the streets. While it IS a
good sport system, AND it has its time and place, trying
to use it in a serious altercation can and will result in
Know Your Tools
Martial artist who use their training only face two
1) If it doesn't work and
2) If it does work.
The former puts them in the hospital, the latter in jail. The simple truth is
that you can avoid both if you've invested a little skullsweat. By this we
mean examining not only your assumptions about self-defense
training, but understanding what has influenced what you were
told was a certain type of
Let's start with the fact that if you're in a weapons system, you need
the same training on legal issues/use as if it were a gun. Flat out, no
questions asked, blades are lethal force weapons. Beyond that we have seen everything from snapping someone's neck
from behind, to attacking an unarmed attacker with a
knife, to informing students "tell him three times you
don't want to fight and it's legally self-defense." These are
all fast tracks to the prison showers.
Before you accept your MA instructor's information about
using your training in 'self-defense,' there are a few
things you ought to consider about the
legalities of using force
Martial Arts Lies
There are some serious misconceptions that are being
intentionally promoted by those in the martial arts. You
might want to take a look at some of these
Martial Arts lies
Martial Arts Pirates
There is a lot of looting, pillaging and pirating in the
commercial martial arts world. This page explains how to
tell if you are dealing with a
martial arts pirate
There are many reasons a school can turn into a McDojo.
The biggest problem is the poor training that they
provide can burn you out on the martial arts. However,
if you leave a belt factory for better training, a
different problem arises. You'll face an unexpected
problem arising from having learned a watered down
system. That is that McDojo training makes it difficult
to relearn a movement -- but, in an effective way
Your old way of moving will not only keep cropping up,
but the different ways of moving will conflict with each
other. Instead of having to relearn everything, learn
how to spot a
Message To MA School Owners/Instructors
Fads, fashions and trends affect what is taught as
martial arts. However, we suspect there is something
looming on the horizion that will not just have an
effect on your teaching, but that if you don't adapt to
it, it will crush your business. The
Open Message to MA School Owners/Instructors
is to give you a chance to prepare for what we see is
coming as the future of martial arts.
Bad news ... not everyone in the martial arts world
is playing with a full deck. In fact, there are a lot of
dysfunctional people using the martial arts as a form of
'self-medication' instead of seeking therapy.
For a business that prides itself on how good it is for
self-defense, most of the people teaching have no idea what
Self-Defense actually is -- or what is involved in the process.
Shortcuts, Ultimate Fighting Systems and Cheats
There are a lot of instructors out there willing to sell
you some kind of wonder system that will make a 'Master of Disaster'
or 'Master Martial Artist' in an astoundingly short time. There exists a symbiotic
relationship between these hucksters and people who are
looking for quick, simplistic, easy fantasy answers.
One's willing to pay for tripe, the other is
willing to sell it.
Evolution of Sports Fighting
What few martial artists understand is how significant
changes in boxing have affected their art. Those
changes, combined with business and insurance
requirements have greatly influenced what is being taught as
Why -- regardless of what you may have heard -- they aren't the greatest thing since
sliced bread. Starting with what you'll be charged with if you use them.
Why do we call the martial arts a subculture? Well when
you know what a subculture is the martial arts certainly
looks like one.
It's time to take a long hard look at what you think a
technique is. What does a technique do, what doesn't it
do? And what do you need to be focusing on when you teach a
Before you go all killer kung-fu commando on someone
using your deadly fighting system, you might want to
understand the difference between an attack and
Traditional Martial Arts vs. "Real" Fighting
Are the martial arts really ancient warrior traditions?
Is the current fixation on reality-based fighting
systems and extreme fighting competitions a way to
prepare for a 'real' fight? Does being a skilled sports
fighter prepare you for that mythical 'real' fight?
There are some serious misconceptions about what the
traditional martial arts are and what they prepare you
for. Traditional martial arts training does not address
modern elements necessary for complete self-defense training,
nor should they be expected to.
Tough Enough? Making You a He-Man/Tough Chick
There are many physically intensive programs that
promise to make you as much of a stud/tough chick as the
person in in the ads. What's
wrong with this idea?
Walking the Talk
Contrary to what many internet warriors, mixed martial
artists and so-called deadly martial artists will tell
you, there is a huge difference between the skill sets
you acquire during training and applying them in a
live-fire situation. We've dedicated a section to what
is involved in making the transition from
training to application. And while it may not look
like that big of a step from the safety of the training
hall ... if you haven't addressed these issues, you can
easily fall into the abyss.
I wrote a blog that defines a subculture that
is largely overlooked by the mainstream. Although you
will not find the term Violence Geeks in the DSM-IV
these people are very real. And they pose a
legitimate danger to
people who run across them.
Weapon disarms/Facing a Weapon
Unfortunately there are many people who have never faced
a weapon in their lives telling you what works to 'save
your life' when weapons are involved. The problem is
that most of these techniques will get you killed.
Or, if you're extremely lucky, merely hospitalized and
maimed for the rest of your life. We take a hard look at
the fantasies and the realities of
What Do You Want From Training?
While the martial arts can have great benefits, let's
make sure your expectations are
What If Monkeys
It seems that no matter what seminar you attend there is
always someone asking "What if it doesn't work?" This
page is, by and large, written for martial
arts/self-defense instructors, giving them advice on how to handle
Why do we do this?
Generally speaking we find that there are two kinds of
people who get upset about what we say on these pages.
One group seems more upset that we BBQ'ed their sacred
cows. They've invested a lot of time, effort and money
into what they thought was legitimate martial
arts/self-defense training. (And god bless them real
good, they have). But, instead of looking at these pages
as roadmap to continue on in their martial arts journey,
they feel threatened and get "defensive."
The second group are the ones who have not only
bought into the toxic environments we describe, but are
having the time of their lives living out their
dysfunction. What we do with this Webpage is blow their
little fantasy boats out of the water. And when that
happens, they tend to get nasty.
We liken their behavior to street hustlers who get
caught in the middle of a scam and try to bluff their
way out -- usually by blaming the person who caught
them. In light of the fact we've just revealed the
underbelly of their business practices, that usually
means they will do everything in their power to
discredit us ... and by extension the information.
Well the problem with that is that the information we
provide stands on its own. That's because it usually
comes from outside sources other than the
fighting/knife fighting markets. Face it, a trip to the
library's reference section can prove that self-defense
is a legally defined term.
That only leaves attacking the source of the information.
These people will tell anyone else who will listen
what OUR motivations are for saying the things we
do. Well, here's a chance to hear our motivations
--straight from the horse's mouth -- instead of
from people who are upset with us for revealing
the behavior they claim is MA/SD/WSD/RBSD as something else.
Return to top
I am often accused of 'hating the martial arts'
because of what I say here. Let me state, I love
the martial arts. The martial arts literally saved my
life. They did so not because of the fighting/ self-defense aspect,
but because of their teaching life skills such as
self-control, self-discipline, respect and commitment.
Those aspects were instrumental in me getting out of "
the life" -- not my ability to fight (that only got me
further into it). Those values also have
provided benefits I never dreamed of, much less
would have understood, in my youth. I am still
fascinated and awed over the breadth, width and
depth of the 'martial arts.' After 50 years of being
involved in the arts, the only thing I am absolutely
convinced of is how much more there is to learn. The
subject is that big. However, like religion, the martial arts can be twisted
and used to manipulate people for personal gain.
Pointing out the behaviors of those who have twisted the
subject for their own benefit is not the same as
attacking the martial arts themselves.
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