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  1. MastaFighta is offline

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    Posted On:
    11/17/2007 12:40am


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    --
    Hell yeah! Hell no!

    Are Martial Arts Dead? - FightingArts Article

    In Chinatown last summer at Tony Cheung's restaurant, Willy Lin passed along his tien shan pei grand mastery to sifu Dennis Brown. Maybe you read my Inside Kung-Fu story.

    On that bright, hot afternoon upstairs in the third-floor banquet room, about fifty of us, including grand master Jhoon Rhee, witnessed History being made. Dennis Brown is the first black man to inherit the robe and bowl of a traditional Chinese art.

    This great honor was well-earned. Among so many "firsts," Dennis Brown is the first African-American ever to have trained in China. Dennis has always been a pioneer, always stood for tien shan pei. His is the power of one life/one style.

    Dennis and I go way back. I did his "Hall of Fame" write-up for Black Belt; and he rode shotgun as my color man back in the late 90s when we were broadcasting ESPN-TV's weekly Black Belts half-hour.

    After the traditional tea ceremony, during the banquet that followed, I found myself sitting next to another old-schooler I call Joe Dojo. Old Joe is the opposite of Dennis Brown. I've lost track of what-all ranks Joe holds in how many different arts.

    Joe and I played "Whatever happened to...?" But while we chatted and ate Tony Cheung's famous food, I could see Joe was not his usual, smiling self.

    "What's eating you?"

    "I feel like I'm at a funeral." Joe shook his shaved-bald head.

    "The martial arts in this country are kaput."

    I laughed. That's a German expression for "over and done with."

    Joe was serious.

    "America's fastest-growing sport is mixed martial arts. That's what's driving the last nail into our coffin."

    "Then what drove the first?"

    "Jhoon Rhee " Joe pointed to the Korean legend seated at the head table "and Educational Funding Company figuring out how to include kids in classes."

    This is generally considered to be one of the triumphs of our industry.

    "Yeah? Then what was the second nail?"

    "Lil' Dragons."

    "Kimber Hill figuring out how to train three- to five-year- olds... that's a bad thing?"

    Joe nodded his lean, gray, wolf's face.

    "Joe, you got it backwards. Because of all the kids, there are more schools out there doing better than ever before. Millionaire owners are becoming almost commonplace."

    Joe leaned forward, showing the sudden intensity that makes him, even today, a tricky sparing partner.

    "In these big-money schools, what they're teaching Lil' Dragons is their last name, how to count to ten, basic shapes and colors, and how to call home on a cell phone."

    "They're also exposed to basic kicks and punches and holds."

    Joe's eyes sparkled with bitter amusement.

    "Okay, and what are the older kids and the 'tweenies learning? Nonviolent conflict resolution, Stranger Danger, good study habits, clean up their rooms at home, respect for their parents..."

    "Joe, today's kids train hard up through colored belts, just like we did, and nowadays they're much better athletes."

    Even as I said "athletes," I felt a twinge of conscience. The guy who introduced teenaged Bruce Lee to Yip Man, Duncan Leung, wing chun's dark genius once laughed when I asked if he jogged or what.

    "I don't run. I don't lift weights. I smoke cigarettes. I am not an athlete. I am a kung-fu fighter."

    Joe dropped his fist on the table and rattled everybody's tea cup.

    "And if these kids do get first dans at the age of ten, what is their belt in? A martial sport. Now tell me again, what's the name of the most popular new martial sport?"

    I sighed. "Mixed martial arts."

    "You mean Ground & Pound, don't you? Any second-rate Golden Gloves boxer laughs at MMA punching skills. 90% of MMA guys' kicks are the same front-round-house Uzbekistani judo guys use. And MMA wrestling chops come down to shoot and mount. Then it's left-right face-smashing."

    A Net-video producer seated on Joe's right looked ready to cloud up and rain all over him. Suddenly, he spoke up.

    "That's just... ignorant."

    Joe raised his voice.

    "The worst of it is the pro wrestling mouth on these MMA guys. There's no respect, no dignity, no honor. It's all masochists buffing up to show off their tattoos, auditioning for some damn reality show "

    The producer snarled, "Masochists?!"

    Joe glanced over his shoulder.

    "If these guys don't like to get hurt, what are they doing there? Martial artists train to get stronger and healthier our whole life. And the entire point of traditional training is to not have to fight at all."

    "Now wait just a "

    "The truth hurts, huh?" Joe turned back to me.

    "One more question: What's the millionaires' schools biggest student retention problem?"

    But again it was the producer who growled, "Keeping teenage students."

    This time, Joe didn't even look around, although the whole table, by now, sat, heads low, studying their fried rice.

    "So at exactly the point when young martial artists are finally mature enough to be taught and to understand and appreciate their art's fine points, suddenly wham! they're gone from the school."

    In truth, hanging on to teens is a huge concern, and some high-ranking masters are openly wondering where the next generation of instructors is going to come from if you can't hold onto the teens?

    "And how many of the drop-outs go off to study MMA?"

    Funny that Joe should ask. My 24-year-old nephew, a good kung-fu disciple who grew up in Bakari Alexander's Rockville, Maryland Academy, quit a couple years ago to train in MMA, and he had a few fights on the local circuit. After a lifetime of body conditioning and Chinese fighting smarts, he lasted less than six months.

    "Do you personally know any MMA fighters?"

    Now my nephew has permanently crimped lower spinal vertebrae which will never get better and can only get worse and also complains of "floaters" in both eyes. That sounds to me like at least one ring concussion. Not good.

    Even so, by now I was angrier with Joe than with the MMA guys, who, at least, have hearts like lions and, in today's Chick America, are proud to act like men.

    "Listen, Joe, I hear you. You think old-school training is drying up because of children in the schools and the sportsification of our arts. But you don't get it. From coast to coast, the traditional ways are still going strong, and it's the littlest kids making it possible."

    "?"

    "Whose tuitions do you think subsidize the masters' adult classes? And these classes are for hard-core grown-ups, just like us back in the day, only there are too few of 'em by themselves to keep a purely traditional school alive. In the States, there never have been enough Dennis Browns."

    The other people around the table put down their chop sticks and nodded. Joe met their eyes with a shrug and finally broke out that game smile he always flashes when the going gets tough. I looked closer, and it occurred to me Joe is starting to show his age.

    "Don't any of you get it? MMA proves to this generation that none of the martial arts is worth a damn in a real fight. And a few traditionalist students out training in somebody's garage is exactly where we started forty years ago. What did Dylan say? 'He who isn't busy being born is busy dying.'"

    Joe got up, bowed to our table and threw Willy Lin and Dennis Brown the hand-over-fist shaolin salute. He left the restaurant, walking tall but looking somehow frailer.

    The producer gave me a look. "Who is that dude?"

    "Ever read Macbeth? He's the ghost at the banquet."
    Source: http://www.fightingarts.com/reading/article.php?id=563

    By the way, this wasn't written by me (for those who were wondering).
    Last edited by MastaFighta; 11/17/2007 12:47am at .
  2. EternalRage is offline
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    WARNING: BJJ may cause airway obstruction.

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    Posted On:
    11/17/2007 1:04am

    Join us... or die
     Style: Bajillion Joo Jizzu

    --
    Hell yeah! Hell no!
    Although Joe hangs on to some preconceived notions about MMA, it's good that he recognizes this:

    "Don't any of you get it? MMA proves to this generation that none of the martial arts is worth a damn in a real fight."

    Men 18-30 years of age (interestingly enough, also the SpikeTV demographic) are hard to find in "traditional MA" schools. But walk into any school that offers MMA training, and it's like fucking boot camp.
  3. Jadonblade is offline
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    Hoo Ha!

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    Posted On:
    11/17/2007 1:06am

    supporting member
     Style: San Da, Judo, BJJ

    --
    Hell yeah! Hell no!
    He is right, the nails are being hammered in. It is a new age for MA, the industrial age. His realised it, doesnt have to like it though. What he fails to see is how "mma" is born from the old traditions.
  4. stridercrowe is offline

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    Posted On:
    11/17/2007 1:24am

    Bullshido Newbie
     Style: former Kempo(Villari's)

    --
    Hell yeah! Hell no!
    Thanks for sharing!

    I can relate a bit to the part of teens leaving traditional MA schools, I did myself when I suddenly realized I was attending a virtual day-care. I was only 14 and I was serving as an assistant instructor to younger kids and they got rid of point sparring (yeah yeah, I know, still I liked it) for no-contact sparring (which I absolutely despised).

    As the other posters already mentioned, Joe has an unfair image of MMA fighters, many of whom found started from traditional martial arts. If anything, the MMA craze is helping the martial arts by fostering a renewed poplar interest in them.
  5. hpr is offline
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    Knock-off Cthulhu

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    Posted On:
    11/17/2007 2:47am


     Style: BJJ

    --
    Hell yeah! Hell no!
    "Martial artists train to get stronger and healthier our whole life. And the entire point of traditional training is to not have to fight at all."

    Has this really ever been true? I don't think so. Besides, I'm willing to bet that most of the guys training MMA don't ever go to tournaments, or do only a few amateur ones ever, just like most of the TMA trainees never participate in any events either (besides belt graduation shams)
    Curiosity killed the cat. But damn it had a blast.
  6. Agis Silverfish is offline

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    Posted On:
    11/17/2007 5:24am

    Bullshido Newbie
     Style: BJJ

    --
    Hell yeah! Hell no!
    'MMA proves to this generation that none of the martial arts is worth a damn in a real fight.'

    Can you spot the contradiction?
  7. Teh El Macho is offline
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    Posted On:
    11/17/2007 9:51am

    supporting member
     Style: creonte on hiatus

    --
    Hell yeah! Hell no!
    Quote Originally Posted by EternalRage
    Although Joe hangs on to some preconceived notions about MMA, it's good that he recognizes this:

    "Don't any of you get it? MMA proves to this generation that none of the martial arts is worth a damn in a real fight."

    Men 18-30 years of age (interestingly enough, also the SpikeTV demographic) are hard to find in "traditional MA" schools. But walk into any school that offers MMA training, and it's like fucking boot camp.
    Not only that, but he also points out the watering down of the Lil' Dragons programs. Don't get me wrong, they are great for little kids, and schools must make money to pay the bills, but it has caused a watering down of the arts.

    It seems Joe is an old scrapper dealing with contradictory feelings. MMA (ans combat sports in general) are proving what needs to be proved (about what it takes to fight.) This he quietly approves, even if he's bitter that they are driving the last nail in their coffins.
    Read this for flexibility and injury prevention, this, this and this for supplementation, this on grip conditioning, and this on staph. New: On strenght standards, relationships and structural balance. Shoulder problems? Read this.

    My crapuous vlog and my blog of training, stuff and crap. NEW: Me, Mrs. Macho and our newborn baby.

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    t-nation - Dissecting the deadlift. Anatomy and Muscle Balancing Videos.

    The street argument is retarded. BJJ is so much overkill for the street that its ridiculous. Unless you're the idiot that picks a fight with the high school wrestling team, barring knife or gun play, the opponent shouldn't make it past double leg + ground and pound - Osiris
  8. sempaiman is offline

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    Posted On:
    11/17/2007 11:25am


     Style: Mixed-Up Martial Arts

    --
    Hell yeah! Hell no!
    Quote Originally Posted by Teh El Macho
    Not only that, but he also points out the watering down of the Lil' Dragons programs. Don't get me wrong, they are great for little kids, and schools must make money to pay the bills, but it has caused a watering down of the arts.

    It seems Joe is an old scrapper dealing with contradictory feelings. MMA (ans combat sports in general) are proving what needs to be proved (about what it takes to fight.) This he quietly approves, even if he's bitter that they are driving the last nail in their coffins.

    Is this not the point I made in my thread about TMA and false advertising.
  9. Uri Shatil is offline
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    Posted On:
    11/17/2007 11:47am


     Style: Wrestling, BJJ n00b

    --
    Hell yeah! Hell no!
    I'm actually most impressed with that Dylan quote. That wasn't really one of his most popular songs. It's clear to me that the author knows his Dylan.

    Man, this article is the kind of thing that makes me happy that I don't do Martial Arts. I do sports.
  10. ViciousFlamingo is online now
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    Pingo

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    Posted On:
    11/17/2007 11:51am


     Style: BJJ & Judo

    --
    Hell yeah! Hell no!


    What's interesting is that the appearance of the ghost of Banquo is what signals the beginning of the end for Macbeth, the start of a delusional downward spiral that engulfs him for the rest of his life.

    "I do forget.
    Do not muse at me, my most worthy friends,
    I have a strange infirmity, which is nothing
    To those that know me."

    At first, he simply tries to deny his vision of the ghost, and struggles to hide all his doubts and fears that the ghost inspires in him.

    "More shall they speak; for I am bent to know,
    By the worst means, the worst."

    When he accepts that the witches will show him his future and that he might be long for this world, he has already set the stage for the end of his reign.

    Lay on, Macduff, indeed.
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