Dojo: North Florida School of Aikido (ASU)
Location: Tallahassee, FL
Join Date: Mar 2012
Re: Politics, the Death of Martial Arts?
Nonsense, who said you can't/shouldn't challenge authority and why did you listen to them? Quite frankly, that's your problem not there's. All martial artists are human and therefore flawed. Everyone makes mistakes, even Nobel Prize winners and Aikido sensei. Besides, if you really want to be the baddest dude (dudette) on the block, be a Navy Seal. Simple as that. They're in the death dealing business everyday and the best in the world at it, so if that's what you want, that's where you need to go.
I'm a scientist personally. I don't accept a single thing anyone tells me at face value and neither should you, or anyone else. If Issac Newton himself said "2 + 2 = 5", I can and would stand up and call him out if front of god and everybody and so should you. Not because I want to be right, but because he's is plainly and demonstrably wrong, and misinformation is not only useless, it's dangerous. Oh, and if your mother says she loves you, check your sources. If she really said it then you have nothing to worry about, and if she didn't well now you have the truth and you know that your previous "source" is unreliable, and therefore to be ignored or treated with suspicion. Need further proof? What's rule number one of medicine? Get a second opinion! Why, because everyone (even really smart doctors) can be wrong, and often are.
In fact, there is really only one response to any claim or assertion anyone makes at any time; "Prove it." If you have magic ki power and can knock me off my feet from across the room, fine, prove it. If you think thus and such technique is best in a given situation, fine, prove it. So Bigfoot and the Loch Ness Minster live in your backyard, fine, prove it. If you've built a longer lasting light bulb, or better mouse trap, fine, prove it. If you think I'm wrong, please allow me to prove it. It's quite simple really. I find that these two simple words will generally separate the wheat from the chaff very quickly. If they don't have the courage to put their own ideas and suggestions to the test, then you probably shouldn't be listening to them.
It's odd too because having studied several other arts for years, I only find this sort of mindless acceptance of information, authority and orthodoxy from martial artists. Classical/Jazz musicians are constantly asking new questions and trying to approach the music from new angles, sculptors are always seeking out new materials and setting for their works, scientists stand on the shoulders of giants to give us all an ever larger and expanding vista of thought and knowledge. I suppose it's a combination of hierarchical, military mindset inherent in all "martial arts" and a lack of rational inquiry that is generally lacking in most Oriental philosophies. Not to mention the even moire misguided fallacy that the "Eastern Way" is some how superior to the "Western Way", which aside from being little more that thinly veiled racism is again plainly and demonstrably false. I mean none of you are running down the the pharmacy to get rhino horn, or tiger bones are you? And please tell me you don't go for any of the other sucker bets like "Reiki", homeopathy and/or acupuncture flim-fllam. (S.C.A.M. =Supplemental, Complimentary, Alternative Medicines) ("A fool and his money are soon parted", indeed.) Ah, no matter, when push comes to shove, you'll all come see me in the "evil" Western hospital. Never mind the fact that Japanese, whom we all seem to fetishize so very much for some inexplicable reason, are the longest lived people on Earth, I believe, and they don't bother with any of that S.C.A.M. non-sense. Nope, they have nice, shiny, Western-style medicine and it works great, thank you very much. They'll leave all the hokum to their mainland cousins, who unfortunately have no other choices.
Of course, the greatest irony of all is that O Sensei was one of the all-time great iconoclasts in martial arts history and we're all better for it. He certainly didn't sit back and just idly accept everything at face value. On the contrary, he saw that there might be better/different ways to achieve a given goal and then endeavored to find them using good 'ol trial and error (i.e. experimentation), and rightly so.
In the same vein, I suppose, also try to find additional supporting evidence for ALL claims whenever possible. If my sensei says "abc" about a given technique, and I can find others who have said the same/similar thing, then I can put some stock in it. However, if my sensei says one thing, and I've not heard anything similar from others of similar experience, then I tend to put it on the back burner. It doesn't make it wrong, but it does raise an eyebrow, or two. When I find information that directly contradicts what I've been taught I will generally ask my own teachers for their reasons and then decide for myself, allowing always for the fact that both parties could in fact be wrong (Mythbusters motto : "Failure is always an option!") Again, if your teacher (in any area of study) cannot offer you a well-reasoned, intelligent response to your question and justification for their own actions, then you probably need a new teacher. "Just because.", or "Because I said so.", or "That's how I was taught", is the oldest and lamest cop out of all time, and is a sure sign your teacher is a nincompoop. I mean if someone told you that you had to do the hokey-pokey to start your car every morning, you wouldn't believe them simply because they said so (I hope). It's one of the world's oldest logical fallacies; the argument from authority.
To help combat this, scientists offer up their reasons and explanations for observed events every day in peer-reviewed journals. They put there claims and assertions up for public ridicule and willingly ask people to find fault with their conclusions and/or methodologies. If only more Aikidoka and Sensei were so brave, but alas most are not. Instead, they simply stay in their own little echo chamber and reinforce their own world view and grow little if any as a result. I think that's why we should all be encouraged to go to seminars and actively seek out instructors who will challenge our previously held notions. If our old ideas and methodologies are sound, they'll stand up to any scrutiny you can throw at them (2 + 2 = 4; always has been, always will be no matter how much you try to make it otherwise.). On the other hand, if they can't well then it might be time to look for some new strategies.
Caveat Emptor!........especially when it comes to martial arts "experts".
"Sacred cows make the best hamburger." --Mark Twain