My Sensei can beat up your Sensei
Martial art instruction is a wonderful and enjoyable activity. For some, it is a lifestyle, for others, it is hobby. Whatever the reasons, it impacts many people, both in positive and negative ways. Yes, negative to. I know that may fly in the face of popular belief that all martial artists are saintly, moralistic creatures, only using their arts to defend the innocent.
Unfortunately, that isn't the case.
Instructors are of course human, susceptible to the ebb and flow of life, and able to make bad choices from time to time. And even some, more often than not.
I'm certainly not perfect and have made bad choices in my career. I've learnt from them and moved on.
I've always lived by the precept that there will always be someone in the world bigger, stronger, or faster than myself. Their technique may be superior, smoother or more refined than my own. I can accept that. But in the past ten years, there has been a shift in the martial arts. Ever since the first UFC, where styles were put up against styles, egos have been on the defensive ten fold. Whether you support competition or not, the UFC finally put the age old question "Is my art better than your art?" to the test.
These programs (UFC, PRIDE, XFC) started a ripple that was felt throughout the world. Now, martial art schools had to justify ‘why' their art was the ‘best' and why YOU should study BASH HIM DO. People were taking notice.
Martial art instructors were holding their breath every time one of their respected arts entered the ring for competition. Million of people would be watching after all.
Now, on a smaller scale, these competitions are happening in every city around the world. Take this experience for example.
A student of one martial art decides to visit another dojo in town. The two dojos do "similar" things, grappling for example, but of course offer different curriculum. With the blessing on his sensei, the student visits the other dojo.
The student, while visiting the other dojo, is consistently arm barred by the other sensei. However, NO instruction is given, but rather a lengthy demonstration of the sensei's skill in submitting a beginner. The student, being very bright, realizes that the sensei is ‘show boating' but doesn't understand why the sensei isn't giving any tips on how to avoid the attack.
The sensei says, "We are simply the best. Why would you want to train anywhere else?" The student looks around and notices that this school is putting out fighters. They are big, strong and aggressive. Their technique is sound, which comes from the instruction of course. There can be no doubt that the other sensei is good at what he does.
Then the student hears conversations on the mat of steroid use and what can only be labeled as "machismo". The student begins to think that this place isn't for him. The final remark from the instructor to the student " I'll fight your sensei anytime and show you why our school is better."
If one sensei beats up another sensei does that make him/her better? I am amazed how narrow-minded instructors can be. Martial art instruction is more than about winning. Some would argue that winning has nothing to do with it at all. The greatest danger is polluting the mind of the student with aggressive and unproductive behavior.
Since the inception of Aikido, students of that art have had to fend off remarks such as "Does aikido really work?" or "Aikido can't cope with a grappler." The keen observer will soon realize that aikido doesn't have to defend itself at all against these remarks. To redirect the conflict is the ultimate goal of aikido, (and any self respecting martial artist.)
My point is this: The martial arts are about more than technique. Not every instructor teaches the same way. There are only so many ways to twist and turn the body. Therefore, good martial art instruction helps develop subtleties that can't be seen without closer inspection. Loyalty, Courage, Veracity, Compassion, and Honor.
Sun Tzu said that the greatest warrior wins without fighting. As an instructor, you don't have anything to prove. Obviously getting drawn into a ‘school yard' fight is better left to the movies. What the other sensei failed to realize (or understand) was that the original student was learning how to be a better human being, not a better fighter.