Spending time in the martial arts space is kind of like being in a school playground. Imagine you’re at the swings, and everyone brags about their own way of pushing the swings to make it swing higher. But who really gives a shit about that playground stuff? Nothing about it matters in the grand scheme of things. However, it’s this perplexing seriousness and tendency to care about what doesn’t really matter that I’d like to talk about here.
It’s not limited to the testosterone-driven martial arts world. The same phenomenon can be seen in many other niches and aspects of life, civilized or otherwise. I’d like to touch upon this black hole, which has gotten a million times wider with the advent of the Internet and social media. Just like how flat earthers and anti-vaxxers now have an outlet for their lunacy, these fanatics are able to stretch their crazy out as far as they can possibly go through a multimedia approach.
Discussions with other martial artists tend to descend into either one of two possibilities—a circlejerk or a shitstorm. If you’re talking to a student of a school of martial arts different from yours, the chances are you’ll soon get into a verbal sparring match with that person regarding what approach is more effective and more “martial artsy.”
Since martial artists who train in respective systems have those particular applications drilled into them, most aren’t able to move past their programming. There are more than a few ways to skin a cat, but a lot of fanatics of their own systems tend to see their own approach as superior to everything else.
It’s like how fans of Dark Souls games get epileptic seizures when they see someone “playing the game wrong.”
Unfortunately, most of the mandatory education system doesn’t teach critical thinking that well, so there are a lot of people out there who don’t have the requisite open-mindedness and ability to connect dots and parse subtleties and nuances to facilitate civil discussion.
Also, it’s because most practitioners get into it and/or stick around to be part of a tribe. Mind you, tribalism is both a good thing and a bad thing, but most people get it mixed up. It’s just a microcosm of everything else that’s problematic in this world.
It does keep things interesting, though.
I remember commenting on a thread in a martial arts Facebook group last year on what’s the best starting point for most people who want to get into martial arts for self-defense. I presented my hypothesis.
In my opinion, the framework of sprawl-and-brawl with good defensive grappling may be a good starting point for most able-bodied people. You get a base of solid striking and some grappling experience to learn how to stand back up when you ever get taken down. You can then build from there, hopefully learning good habits along the way for surviving violent encounters.
My reasoning for this isn’t simply efficacy, but also accessibility of training establishments. Since boxing and MMA gyms are becoming more plentiful, they’re the most available options for the majority (given that you can afford it). I thought it seemed reasonable.
A few minutes later, some dude professing to be a practitioner of Filipino martial arts replied about how mixed martial arts is not the best foundation as it doesn’t address every possible scenario (the usual schtick on multiple attackers and weapons) and how FMA is better for learning fundamentals for self-defense.
I then asked him where can most people learn FMA. He answered with the people he knows. I thought it sounded like a marketing answer, so I reiterated my question on whether most people can learn from that. He resigned with a “No.”
The question was about “most people.” Accessibility to learning is a significant factor when it comes to these things. That’s why I came up with my hypothesis as it factors in availability of basic martial instruction. Also, there’s that thing about how many traditionalists (from striking-based arts) are still allergic to grappling.
That pretty much takes you out of the discussion, in my opinion.
gRaPpLiNg DoEsN’t HaPpEn In StReEt FiGhTs WaHwAhWaH
They wish not for beginners to learn bad habits, which is understandable. But you can only learn to defend against something effectively by learning the damn thing.
This shit never ends. It’s a bottomless pit of mental gymnastics that descends into dick-waggling and trading provocations to challenge matches that never take place.
From a Marxist perspective, sports fandom is one of the finest examples of continuously providing support for something that isn’t really necessary for survival. Being a sports fan is as banal as you can get as far as things go. (I’m not saying being a sports fan is automatically a bad thing, mind you.)
Football hooliganism is an often-cited example of how far sports fandom can go when it comes to sports fandom gone mad. Never mind that it’s just watching other people play sports, but the need to be a part of a team and cheer on their city’s team, which is usually owned by rich businessmen and take in players from wherever they can and however they can fit in salary caps. Never mind that most of those players are not from that city anyway.
You gotta be a part of the team. But there shouldn’t be anything wrong about being a sports team, unless you actually wish (and actually inflict) bodily harm upon those who happen to admit support for the other teams. That’s pretty much what sports hooliganism is.
In the Byzantine empire, the main spectator sport was chariot racing in the hippodrome, which rose due to distaste of the mostly-Christian population of the Eastern Roman Empire for gladiatorial fights. The races were a major part of life for the citizens of Constantinople, and the fandom was split between the the demes, namely the Blues and the Greens.
Let this episode of Extra History tell the rest of that story. Suffice to say, the Nika revolt is one of the most notable examples of sports hooliganism gone mad (and even weaponized).
The world of gaming is full of turbo nerds wearing their colors on their sleeves. Whether it’s the grognards who tell casual fans to “git gud” in Dark Souls and other difficult video games, or those who are opposed to that, or whatever loyalties to franchise, platform, or whatever else there are. Just look around the Internet and you’ll see them spazzing and wasting time and brain cells being embroiled in multiple online arguments all at once.
I’ve mentioned my encounter with a turbo fan of Star Citizen briefly in this blog before, detailing how fanatical they can be when it comes to their beloved upcoming space simulation game. If you ever want to see a good example of mindless investment in a game that hasn’t even been fully released yet, Star Citizen has you covered.
It helps that it’s one of the largest crowdfunding campaigns ever for a video game. For a game that is still in alpha after 8 years since its initial announcement, how it can still raise money for its development rivals the financing prowess of Bernard Madoff. These turbo nerds have no other choice but to double down on their sunk cost.
So much has been invested in it already, and they can’t stop now.
Do I even need to harp on about this one? This is a niche that sells body pillows with anime characters on them. Waifu worship is nothing short of an interesting phenomenon.
Anime fandom can be healthy since most of it is just like with television—we have favorite shows, and we share our own experiences of having watched those shows. But things come to a head when neckbeards talk about their waifus.
Most of these debates are done in jest, but I’ve seen some really special people who are way too serious about who is best girl.
It’s a can of worms I’d rather not revisit for this crappy blog post, but I’m sure many of you are familiar with the otaku subculture should have a good idea about it.
I like to think of the current political landscape as more representative of this insanity than in any other period of time in modern history. Perhaps this is more of me being a part of this particular generation, but I do think that the unfettered craziness that the mid and late 2010s is not as batshit ridiculous as it was in Cold War era or so on.
Identity politics is the very basis of this turbo nerdery that seems to pervade in everywhere else in the civilized world. The urge to latch onto something under some pretense of it being the
I’m sure a lot of readers who got to this part would think I’m an ignorant ass for thinking this, and perhaps I’m indeed willfully ignorant. But from what I’ve learned from history, I see politics and ideologies as means to an end, first and foremost.
Whether you’re an idealist looking to make the world a better place or a realist simply doing what you can for yourself and whoever else you could be bothered to help or hurt, politics is a game you need to adapt to in order to play well.
Anyone who thinks they can instill change through sheer force of will doesn’t know enough about politics and hasn’t yet faced the disappointment of realizing that it’s actually a lot harder to change people’s minds in something that can directly and indirectly affect their lives.
I can then go on to religion, but that’s opening an even more ancient can of worms with no definite conclusion. But I think I’ve made my case well enough in that tribalism is something that happens to just about anything that can foster a community, and it can fester.
There’s loyalty and camaraderie, then there’s madness and willful ignorance. I don’t want to set myself too far apart from people who get locked into this way of thinking as I don’t think I’m any superior to them. But there’s that other-ism that’s easy to fall into when seeing fairly extreme examples of this phenomenon.
May their displays of “intellectual inflexibility” (I don’t have any better terms for this at the moment) serve as reminders to pump the brakes and think of things critically, no matter what it is or how much it seems to be a trifle.
EDIT(22FEB2019@4:33PM): I forgot to put in here the most important thing about this.
CONTEXT IS EVERYTHING
Have something to say? Do you agree or am I off-base? Did I miss a crucial detail or get something wrong? Please leave whatever reactions, questions, or suggestions you may have on the comment section below.