There is a lot of macho bullshit in martial arts and it’s misplaced
Recently a student described himself as feeling slightly ashamed for not having ‘martial effectiveness’ at the top of his practice priorities.
My colleague Dillon Beyer replied that if martial effectiveness was to be a priority there are more expedient ways to go about it than through Bagua* (the kung-fu style we practise), so the student should just chill and enjoy the practice he has.
Dillon added that if more martial artists admitted this to themselves there would be less delusional thinking in the martial arts generally.
Struggling with questions of martial effectiveness whether they have it and what it means if they don’t is a common issue that many traditional practitioners rub up against.
One barrier to getting past it is the ‘seriousness’ of many teachers, who have been ‘honoured’ with a ‘lineage’ and have the weighty responsibility of passing the deadly skills’ to the next generation.
Whether such teachers are deeply invested in their self-image of ‘profound martial mastery’, or are addicted to it for their social media output is another question.
I believe ditching the martial effectiveness burden** can not only brighten a personal practice, it can also make you safer.
First, if you ditch it there is no I am deadly self-image to defend.
This self-image usually goes with some internal dialogue “But am I actually deadly?”. What a waste of human energy.
Secondly, that I am deadly, self-image is hard to maintain with any attention to the more expedient martial training methods out there.
A moment of reflection should be enough to know that you won’t be super deadly compared to most humans of similar age and strength not even counting the combat professionals and psychopaths.
It’s a delusion that can get you in trouble. It makes it harder to look realistically at examples of real-world violence which make most training look like a sparrow in a basket of cats.
By avoiding or denying these you cut yourself off from valuable knowledge and perspective.