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Martial arts politics and you

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    Martial arts politics and you

    What counts as martial arts politics? Is it simply a style vs style thing, or do beliefs come into it? Hypothetical example, two people not getting along because despite being both very skilled (let's say for the sake of argument the same rank) one is somewhat religious and the other is an atheist.

    What if the atheist is the instructor, and chooses each lesson during stretching to talk about how stupid/hypocritical all religions are, choosing the religion of the religious person as an example. Is this appropriate? On the one hand, it's the instructor's club, but on the other hand discussing whether or not you believe in God at a place where people just want to train seems a sure way of making people feel uneasy, especially religious ones, even if they don't talk about their faith or whatever.

    Does the same rule apply to conspiracy theories too? If your instructor started talking about how the world was probably going to end in 2012, and how the 9/11 attacks were orchestrated by the evil bankers who run the world and only profit from war, how would that make you feel and is that appropriate during a lesson? Would you speak out or just stay quiet (I would be interested in what Jewish people thought about the last part as from what I can tell a lot of the 9/11 conspiracy/banker stuff has it's roots in 1920-40s German politics [GODWIN]).

    I think this is an excellent discussion topic. +rep!

    Firstly, I will state that during any kind of training, I think that there is appropriate behaviour and inappropriate behaviour.

    To address your first example, I really think that Martial arts and Spiritual paradigms do not mix well. No matter what your paradigm is, I don't think it is going to affect your training other than in very general ways (treat others as you would have them treat you, translates into respect for your training partners), (what you reap is what you sow, excellent combat practice creates excellent combat practices, etc.) but it's not like you are going to get any advice on locking someone's arm down from guard to attempt an omoplata by reading scripture, therefore there is no need for scripture on the mat, whether you are praising or condemning it, it's simply not related to the jujutsu in a cohesive enough way to add anything to your training.

    If you are using time to add nothing useful, all you are doing is wasting time, therefore you are detracting from your training experience.

    I would consider an instructor (or anyone else on the mat) who is spending too much valuable training time lollygagging about anything not related to the training, behaving entirely inappropriately for the class.

    Two points to sum up:

    1. While it's true that controversial subjects can be stimulating, and sometimes a welcome distraction from drilling your mount escape, Such conversation has little value in the dojo.

    2. If your instructor prefers to talk instead of train, maybe discuss your concerns with them privately. If you would rather not confront them for whatever reason, just jump schools. I hear Walmart is looking for students ^_^;


      I was always told that conversation should be about technique. Anything else can be discussed afterwards so as not to waste people's time. I think, in a professional session in the UK, you would fall under the Equalities Act.

      Singling out an individual based on their faith or lack of faith is not acceptable in this setting. Also conspiracy theories are for the internet not the gym.

      So basically for theological discussion go to church , synagogue or wherever you choose. For conspiracy theories the internet. NOT the gym/dojo.


        Regarding time wasting, what about when these conversations take place at the same time as stretching? Technically, that's not a waste of time although you seem to agree it's inappropriate.

        What if nobody in particular is being singled out - for example, say if I was religious, and people knew I was religious (for example they knew I went to church), but the instructor says "All religions are terrible and a waste of time" - I've not been singled out but it's not a particularly nice thing to say, correct? Likewise, if your instructor believes in 9/11 conspiracies and you don't and your instructor says "People who don't believe are sheeple, the evidence is right there if you look at it" are you being singled out? Would you feel comfortable with this?

        Regarding the conspiracy stuff, a couple of months ago I basically lost a friend as I was applying for a job in government and he believed I was becoming a part of the "Military Industrial Complex" and was no doubt aiding the aims of the evil world order. If you had a job in the government, or if you were in law enforcement or military, and your instructor goes on about stuff like this, would you feel safe knowing that someone you trust strongly believes you're part of the system, the enemy?


          It is a waste of your time regardless of when it occurs if you go just to train. If it puts you out of your training mindset and it becomes a bad day you wasted your time. Even if it is during stretching.

          You are slowly edging into semantics and perception. It is about being made to feel uncomfortable. Not all people believe in God so, by disparaging all religions you can still be singling people out.


            I don't have nice things to say about people who turn everything into a delivery mechanism for their particular ideology. It's irritating and I believe it would certainly detract from a positive training atmosphere. It's not just that idle chatter will impose on your time, it will also detract from everyone's focus. If someone can't just buckle down and train for an hour or two, why not find a more social activity?


              Time spent talking about religion(or any other thing) while stretching is time that could have been spent talking about something more useful to the training, discussing the goals for the session, etc. Also a great moment for quick Q and A.

              Therefore IMO: still counts as wasting time, my first argument still applies.


                Many thanks for all your responses, I hope to see more responses from other people too, just wanted to make sure I wasn't alone in how I thought about this (that it's not good for atmosphere and stuff).


                  The only discussion I've ever made or seen another instructor make that didn't directly relate to the technique is about UFC or some other martial art related thing. I've never talked about religion, politics, world events or anything else except for martial arts.

                  Basically, an instructor should never use his class time as a soapbox.

                  Although, there may be a grey area when it come to TMA such as Aikido. Philosophy/spirituality is integrated into the martial art itself. I'm can't say I know enough about that to comment. I imagine that most people in an aikido class know what they're getting into, but it's possible that an instructor could risk alienating his students by preaching too much.

                  Though whenever I've talked about martial arts politics I was always talking about the dirty tactics of schools/businesses. Ex. a school that sponsors a large amount of money to a local tournament and then their instructors get to officiate.


                    I see nothing wrong with encouraging general principles of respect, courtesy, integrity, etc. in the class, whether for adult or children. Specifics of religion, political views, or other personal beliefs should be avoided.

                    If my instructor started telling me that we should pray to God for focus and remember how Jesus respected even whores and degenerates during sparring, that would be the last class I attended there.
                    Instructors that remind the kids to keep focused and be respectful of your sparring partner, on the other hand are correct.

                    PS - even while stretching instruction can and should be given. Incorrect stretching can cause injuries just as severe as getting punched in the face.


                      Originally posted by tao.jonez View Post
                      If my instructor started telling me that we should pray to God for focus and remember how Jesus respected even whores and degenerates during sparring, that would be the last class I attended there.
                      Would you do the same thing if it was 9/11 and Zeitgeist conspiracy theories instead?


                        How would you even KNOW any of this shit about the people you train with? I know their names, their approximate height and weight, their training background, and MAYBE their relationship status if it has affected their training. I know about injures, medical conditions, and what kind of techniques they are working on right now.

                        Even the guys I'm friends with outside of class I don't know their deep religious or political views. I might have the vague idea that they do or do not go to church or something based on whether they have to skip class on sunday or something, but damn dude. WTF are you doing? Sitting around on the mat analyzing the protestant reformation during warmups? Do you come in and take a poll of the students to see who believes what?

                        I'd be pissed if anyone was taking up my class time with any of that shit.


                          I get my instructors mass emails he sends out to everyone, and the last one was about how people shouldn't use a new kind of stamp that celebrates a Muslim holiday or something. I was disappointed to hear that, but I kinda give him a break because he's in his 70s and is from the Philippines, where Muslim extremist violence is a common thing (in international news, the stuff from the PI is usually either about killing between the military and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, or it's about Manny Pacquiao).

                          I also train with two law enforcement guys and I don't always agree with their politics, but I respect what they do and I can be friends with people I don't always agree with.


                            This kind of stuff is probably more prevalent in the McDojos/Bullshido places where the instructor(s) is (or has already with a core group of followers) fostered a cult like environment to begin with.

                            Most normal people who are instructing a physical art of any kind should have the sense to tell if their “small talk” (or anyone else’s for that matter) is not welcome, or is detracting from training…and steer the conversation back to training topics….

                            I would definitely seek training elsewhere if it continued.
                            Last edited by thorthe power; 3/17/2011 11:02am, .


                              When I was at the SanDa gym heavy, we didn't get into ANY of that, either. None, whatsoever. If we couldn't shut up and train, beyond very brief assistance to a beginner in need (which was often me hehe), we could sit.

                              Come to sparring class, and don't want to spar? sit
                              Talk too much during training about ANYTHING....sit

                              I liked it.



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