View Full Version : Tear me a new one.

4/03/2007 9:49pm,
Hey all. I'm not asking for any help here, I'm not hoping Bullshido will do my homework. I jus thought you guys might be interested in a paper I am writing for class.
It's a pretty piddly assignment, like 1500 words. But it's the first the professor it allowed on anything we want, so I decided to write about the Reality versus Perception of Martial arts.

There was a lot I wanted to cram in here but honestly just couldn't and keep the word count down. This is a first draft, written in one sitting. Irregardless however, feel free to rip me a new one... or tell me to take my ass elsewhere. But I just thought you guys might like to read my little 1500 word dissertation.

“Are you telling me I can dodge bullets?” The classic line that we all remember readily from the movie The Matrix, to which the reply was “I’m telling you, when you are ready, you won’t have to.” This exchange epitomizes most modern perception of the martial arts, and how ready the American public is to distort things to make their life more fantastic. The current perception of martial arts in America is that of a mystical practice that can replicate and produce effects bordering on fictional magic, while in actuality it is little more than ( rather ingloriously) learning how to improve your chance of survival in melee combat. Much the same as popular media distorts various aspects of reality, that of martial arts is subject to the same distortion, in addition to many con-artists that would have you believe that they can train you to be a fantastical warrior. However the reality of what goes on amongst martial artists and in the community is vastly different than movies, hearsay, and most popular media would have you believe.

There are many who would claim to be a member of the worlds martial arts community, however that itself is a subjective term for some, which makes it tricky to point fingers and oust fraudulence from fact. The martial arts world as defined by some is the community that exists between all martial artists who are in the pursuit of improving themselves and developing new skills for the benefit of everyone, and if you are not contributing (even if just by being honest and dedicated), then you are not really part of the community. In other words, if you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem. This is a well used definition amongst many martial artists, and as such is the one that shall be implied by the term “martial arts world” or “the community.”

Moving on to the real issue at hand, perception, or the lack there of. Popular media loves to produce movies overly muscular and poorly clad men overcoming great odds with skilled use of hand to hand combat. The idea of one man and his fists defeating dozens of armed assailants is a romantic one in the heart of the American man; the envisioning of a tough and lonely hero standing against the odds with nothing but himself to rely upon, is an attractive fantasy. It is however, just a fantasy, while in reality the chances of one man overcoming, more than say, four people, are astronomical at best, add weapons into the mix and suddenly you will have a corpse on your hands. Despite this harsh and grim reality though, the idea that martial arts is some empowering study of mystical energies and raw physical power, has pervaded over many.

The question of course arises in that, where can you trace this misunderstanding back to, and how did it get started. That is a tricky question to answer, while some might say it began back in the early nineteen hundreds with the rise of the pulp-action novel in which Oriental villains began to make their big debut. In which we saw horrible stereotyping, one of which being the rise of the ancient guru who through dozens of years of hard work and dedication has become a martial force to be reckoned with. Such characters made appearances in classic pulp novels such as Doc Savage, Doctor Sin, and the more famous James Bond novels. This is hardly a definitive starting point, however though, as the misconception that shrouds martial arts, has a heavy stereotypical overtone (bordering on racism), this is as good a place to pin point it as anything. Then years later Bruce Lee and others would make film debuts in Hollywood, creating movies that enthrall the viewer with great feats of martial prowess; everything started going down hill from there. While it would be impossible (and irresponsible) to blame Hollywood solely, it is responsible for a large part of the damage; however one can hardly hold them responsible for impressionable audiences. The American theater-goer somehow forgot, that what they see in movies, is not always the truth, and in some cases is just plain fiction; such as martial arts themed movies, that are with choreographed fight scenes.

Damaging again to the perception versus reality problem, are the con artists; those who would seek to take advantage of the gullible and ill-informed. This began back in the days of comic-book ads, started originally by the infamous “Count Dante: Deadliest Man Alive,” to whom you could send away money and receive a martial arts training booklet. This booklet allegedly contained techniques so deadly, that just by reading it you became a qualified black belt, and a member of the Black Dragon Fighting Society whose leader was coincidentally enough, Count Dante himself (born John Timothy Keehan). This then later still the more famous Ashida Kim (born Radford Davis) arrived on the scene, to profit off of the gullible yet again. He rode the back of the Black Dragon Fighting Society and published books which claimed that by reading them, you could become a qualified ninja. A ninja of such awesome prowess that you could bend cosmic energies to cloud mens minds, turn invisible, heal wounds, kill with a single touch, and other things of a phenomenal nature. All of these things contribute to the modern perception of martial arts, as being a discipline practiced in secret by trained killers, and other such nonsense.

Despite all of this (and let it be known that are hundreds of such con-men), there are those that are fighting the good, fight, trying to preserve the credibility and reality of the martial arts community. In recent years numerous online communities have sprung up in an attempt to denounce imposter's and create a fair and balanced way to analyze and judge a teachers credentials as well as fraudulent martial disciplines (the presence of such communities further indicates the warped perception that exists). In addition to the recent rise in popularity of the various Mixed Martial Arts fighting leagues and reality shows that have become very popular with the general public. Before these leagues, imposter's and fraudulent practitioners could always fall back on their laurels and repeat the party line “I would compete in boxing, but all of my devastating techniques would be illegal,” or similar tripe to excuse themselves from being tested (and exposed). Now however with mixed discipline fights, anyone can fight, and use any style they please, which gives frauds no excuses, and makes it yet harder to explain why if someone is so skilled: why don't they fight professionally?

Finally, while the common perception of the martial arts community has been much discussed, the “reality” has been spoken little of. The reality within the community can best be summed up with the phrase “die less often.” This phrase wisely indicates even being a well trained master, will only get you so far, against so many. In addition to the fact that one person with a weapon, let alone multiple assailants with weapons, can easily end your life, despite how skilled you are. Hard truth lies in the realization that no matter how strong you are, you can't protect yourself from bullets, and with the wide proliferation blades, guns, and other weapons, if someone wants to kill you, knowing Kung-Fu will not save you.
This is all not to say that martial arts are pointless, and will do nothing for you in a physical confrontation however. It does in fact though take years of training and commitment to achieve a level of adequacy that can ensure your safety in a fight against an unarmed attacker. There are no secret death techniques, no guaranteed one-hit knock outs, and no way to focus your energy with which to blast your attacker; there is only hard work and diligent practice. This is not to paint some futile picture though, often times if you are a skilled, and well trained practitioner you can overcome a single or several opponents effectively with minimal harm done to your person; but again, there are no guarantees.
Bringing to a conclusion, while the modern media will produce many more martial arts themed movies that are unrealistic for entertainment value, and many will take these films to heart, it does not change the reality that still exists. Unfortunately perception of fantastical warriors and learned masters will always remain that: just a perception. However, quote Randall Munroe “...wanting something doesn't make it real,” much is the same with this situation, even if you believe that you have learned sacred death techniques perfected over thousands of years, and practice them every day; someone who has worked hard to train themselves in a realistic fashion will still beat you. The perception may be false, and unrealistic to the reality, but the reality of hard work and patience will always still exist, and anyone who wants to make a legitimate go of the martial community will find this truth sooner or later; Regardless of whether or not they choose to accept it.

4/03/2007 10:00pm,
kt sounds too pasteurized to me, meaning that you used too many fancy words and not enough actual facts, just repeating a theory you hold over and over.

My opinion is that there could be a little less fluff and a little more meat in the essay. Use some facts, hell, even from essays written on Bullshido.

4/03/2007 10:05pm,
kt sounds too pasteurized to me, meaning that you used too many fancy words and not enough actual facts, just repeating a theory you hold over and over.

My opinion is that there could be a little less fluff and a little more meat in the essay. Use some facts, hell, even from essays written on Bullshido.

Thanks for the advice I guess, I wasn't really looking for any, just sharing.
The fancy words are actually, believe it or not, just the way I talk. I get comments about that all the goddamn time actually.
And the problem is, the theory itself is really all I have time to communicate in such a short essay, That is 1541 words. We have to stay within 1600 or automatic fail. Professors words.

So I figured it would be best to communicate the general premise and idea, than get half way through explaining things only to realize that I had just written 3000 words without even covering half of the general idea.

But yeah, I will try and trim out some of the fluff. This is what first drafts are for after all.

4/03/2007 10:32pm,
i didnt mind it. not the usual bullshit you need to write to get a pass

4/03/2007 11:27pm,
What kind of class is this?
I agree its a little thin on substance, but I know whats its like to have a maximum amount of words you can use.

If this is an english paper, there are some probs that your prof will bust you on. Mostly comma placement and run on sentences.

4/03/2007 11:30pm,
What kind of class is this?
I agree its a little thin on substance, but I know whats its like to have a maximum amount of words you can use.

If this is an english paper, there are some probs that your prof will bust you on. Mostly comma placement and run on sentences.
Its a comp class(nothing huge), and as I said, first draft. As we speak I am revising the grammar.

Edit: Thanks for the advice though.

4/04/2007 2:47am,
I'd say it has potential, but as previous mentioned there's way too much fluff. We want concise, not the same thing said repeatedly in different ways

I would cover the perception aspect by showing the media' representation (as you have), and also the marketting used (which you touch on). Cite specific examples - films, slogans, claims, catchphrases.

Cite examples of the reality through such things as Pride and UFC etc.

Cross it with those trying to present the perception as reality, i.e Ashida Kim, Dante, Dillman, Frank Dux etc (which you did do), And those trying to Stop this (bullshido).

Just an important note for any literary venture, assume your reader knows nothing. Write it as such, else it won't make sense to non-MA people.

4/05/2007 3:02pm,
I'd say the problems with this essay are pretty extensive, actually: too long paragraphs, subject verb disagreement, vague usage of pronouns, awkward phrasing, leaving out apostrophe marks in usages that are obviously possessive, use of pat or cliche phrases, asking and answering your own questions, unsubstantiated claims (dante was not the first to make fake martial arts claims, he is a single example), comma usage, etc.

I could edit this for you, as could many others who post here, but you won't learn anything. Make the best revisions you can, and let your instructor's grading/evaluation help you improve your writing; that's what you're shelling out the bucks for in college.

Edit: please indulge me by allowing me to rant about a little pet peeve I have: IRREGARDLESS IS NOT A REAL ENGLISH WORD. You probably mean either "irrespective" or "regardless". Many people use "irregardless" in an attempt to appear more erudite, without realizing that the very use of that word has the opposite effect.

/rant off

4/05/2007 3:34pm,
You could have thrown in the fact that some of the simpler MA's such as boxing and wrestling are often seen as "boring" or simply dismissed by the general public as an effective means of self defense simply because of the lack of aesthetics.

4/05/2007 4:57pm,
I'd say the problems with this essay are pretty extensive,

I ain't wanna say it, but i'm glad somebody did. It's a grammar/stylistic nightmare. But it is a first draft,

I'm not gonna bug about content b/c it's clear this is supposed to be a very informal crash introduction to a general topic. But I am surprised you didn't mention McDojos. They're the critical bridge between fringe con artists and mainstream consumers. I feel like they bare at least equal culpability to Hollywood.