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Why I'm a Supporting Member
I was recently searching the archives for something, and I stumbled across some threads which through my recent extended absence I had, unfortunately, missed. One of them was about Things You Used To Believe About Martial Arts. The other was about stupid comments to be found on YouTube.
The threads were fun to read, but they were also thought provoking. I’ve been a member of Bullshido for a few years now (though sometimes inactive) and I don’t post a great deal – and despite being an on-again-off-again professional writer, I’ve contributed little to Bullshido despite the desire to do otherwise. A couple of days ago I made a small financial contribution and renewed my status as a Supporting Member. In light of the mentioned threads, I began thinking about why I am a Supporting Member, why I would like to contribute more, and what is it about Bullshido that draws me in.
This article is the best way I can think of to tackle these issues.
First, an introduction to me, the author: My name is Geoff Rogers. I have been interested in the martial arts since I was a child, though never got the opportunity to study/train formally until I was in my late teens. I did have the advantage of having a father who knew some basic Judo stuff (he reached orange belt in the 50’s or 60’s) and who taught me some basics and how to throw a punch without breaking your hand. Very fortunate, that – I’ve only broken my hand once, and I was very drunk at the time. My advice – don’t do it. It takes ages to heal, and you shake hands like a delicate flower for the next eight weeks or so.
When I was 17 years old, I moved to a city (well, Perth, Western Australia… It was a city to me – I grew up in the Wheatbelt). Wanting to learn about the martial arts, I somewhat tentatively shopped around. I was probably quite lucky in being a poor student and discovering sex at the same time, in that I had neither the money nor time to be sucked in too badly by the bullshit that is out there. I was sucked in enough, though.
I was also very fortunate in becoming friends with some of the people I did. It was through this that I found the lunatic who was to become my instructor. And, yes, to get it out in the open, he taught kungfu.
He didn’t give a **** about mystical “chi” stuff, on the whole, though if he found something that seemed to work he’d tell you about it. He introduced me to a TCM practitioner he respected (who told me not to bother studying TCM if I wasn’t also going to study “western medicine” and a whole bunch of other stuff to really get a proper understanding of the different approaches) and was openly contemptuous of bullshit in the martial arts. When his students didn’t show what he considered to be the required level of dedication to serious, hard training, he’d tell them in no uncertain terms to not bother coming back.
Which sounds like the recipe for a cult, put like that. And it could have been, I suppose, for the guy is a nutter. Except that he taught for beer-money, and was always happy to mix it up if necessary. There were no contracts, no belts, no testing fees… no McDojo. We trained in his back yard and shed, and later in a public park when he was living in less salubrious accommodation. You got respect if you trained: improved your fitness, advanced your understanding, came up with and tested new ways of doing things. It is possible that some of what he passed on to us was bullshido. It was, after all, TCMA that he was teaching, and much of it would be difficult to use in a real context. That said, he was big on live, heavy-contact sparring and drilling.
Anyway, that was my main training. Now, I’m a Keyboard Warrior. Well, not really. I don’t train these days (through an inability to get my **** together enough, mainly) but I am a writer. And one of the reasons I write is because I’m always looking to learn. I’m always willing to turn up to a Throwdown (and get my arse handed to me, of course) … if one gets organised in my part of the world.
For a couple of years, I ran About.com’s Martial Arts site. Prior to that, and partly why I got the job, I was a fairly prolific poster on various discussion boards, which lead me to publish articles online.
These days I generally write whatever the hell I feel like writing, when I feel like writing it, unless someone pays me. Not having a deadline makes me a lazy ****. I even have a blog that is supposed to be regularly updated with my pithy witticisms (I started it about two weeks ago, and there are two really shite entries… god, I’m lazy).
Enough, as the Gonzo Father said, of that guff. This article is supposed to be about why I’m a Supporting Member, and it all comes down to this: there is too much bullshit in the martial arts.
As a field of endeavour, the martial arts seems to me to be almost unique, in that it is a field where, in essence, results count for evidence… and yet, in an unholy percentage of cases, they don’t.
There is no reliable record of anyone ever pulling off a No-Touch KO. Nor of modern Ninjas… well, being Ninjas. Or someone throwing a chi fireball, or Mr. X (who teaches the Secret Service) being able to defeat all attacks all the time. Or any of the endless number of bullshit claims that get bandied about and make some guys heaps of gullible-money.
Yet people still believe.
I did. I believed any number of bullshit claims that were presented to me by people in positions of authority when I was younger. You’ll go to Hell if you have sex; if you believe hard enough you can be immortal; poking someone in the chest right here will incapacitate them; a palm strike to the nose will drive bone-splinters up into the brain and kill a man. Just to name a few.
Caused me no end of trauma, actually. Especially the sex thing. Should have been lots and lots of fun, instead of lots of fun followed by wallowing in my own crapulence. Ah, well, live and learn.
Here’s the thing: some guys a number of years ago got pissed off at all this (for good reason). They decided to put it on the line. They wanted to know. What is the bullshit, and what can we do to combat it?
So they created a website dedicated to finding the truth and fighting the bullshit. A fast-food company sued them for using the original name, but Bullshido is a better one, in my opinion, and the other name is widely recognised throughout the martial arts community as representative of something, so it’s not all bad.
This website has grown. The central tenets remain the same: investigating, reporting, commenting, and in general creating (or increasing) pressure on the martial arts to cut the bullshit, and bring the honesty.
Why am I a Supporting Member? Because I once believed the bullshit, and shouldn’t have had to listen to it. And I would like to be part of what could be a solution.
Wouldn’t you like to be?
God, that sounds like a propaganda testimonial.
**** it, I stand by what I said.