Martial Arts Values ...

A few days ago I had a nice discussion with Mr Chuck Norris about the importance of 'values and ethics' in the martial arts training environment. It was my contention that as forward thinking martial artists, we want to embrace new developments emerging from the MMA trend but without the 'attitude' and 'lack of values' that seem to come with them. Chuck agreed wholeheartedly, as did several hundred black belts who were present - it seems that I am not alone in looking ahead to a time where we see a martial arts landscape that embraces a healthy marriage of MMA training and traditional martial arts values (respect, loyalty, integrity, etc).
In fact, I feel strongly that the most succesfull martial arts schools of the next decade will be those that embrace this very concept.
Today's public is a highly informed public. They know what MMA and BJJ are - and they are walking into their local martial arts schools expecting these things to be on offer. MMA has permeated our culture - and here I am talking about our non-martial arts public. You can walk into a fashion clothing store in an upscale American mall and buy Tapout shirts and other MMA branded clothing. It's everywhere. The world is changing rapidly - how martial arts school-owners respond to these changes will impact strongly on how well they survive in the future.
Interesting times.


Anonymous said…
These things concern me also John.

A lot of times in the UFC I do see a lot of respectful and humble fighters, especially in the past.

But of late, cocky and arrogant fighters (Tito Ortiz anyone?) have made their way to the forefront, and these guys have a huge influence on the watching public.

With popularity comes poison.
I am fearful that the way things are going, every fight in a nightclub is going to end in a half-arsed armbar or a rear choke...
Anonymous said…
Ah yes.

Just last week at the pub I saw a young man showing his friends how to apply a rear choke, which he just learnt that week from some dojo.

I know its a little off topic, but I think the popularity and the bad attitudes relate.

Just not long ago there was a teen movie Never Back Down, about BJJ and MMA. Talk about bad attitudes, it was all there mate.

Rich O.C. kids with lethal hands - that's all we need!
JBW said…
In my view - serious martial artists cannot afford to ignore the technical evolution that has arisen out of MMA - the trick for the professional school though, is to embrace these technical advancements but to do so while maintaining the values and ethics that are (supposed) to be integral to martial arts training.
As a friend of mine is fond of saying "better to be a warrior in the garden than a gardener at war"
Anonymous said…
I think in many ways popular martial arts has sabotaged itself.

Sometimes people say to me they don't want to hear that 'Mr Miagi philosophical crap' and be 'pushed into a religion' like many traditional martial art forms do.

The current lack of respect is a very bad trend, but I think it is partly because tradition was pushed so hard on people in the past that they have a bad association-trigger when they hear things like 'martial arts' and 'respect' together.

Its like when a parent gives their child no leeway, and eventually when they get the chance they rebel to the utmost.
Anonymous said…
Very true jarrah.

Asian martial arts have a bad stigma these days.

Now with MMA you can go along, no gi, no meditation, no counting in Japanese and you can be in the ring by the end of the first lesson!

Instructors have to start taking more responsibility.
Unknown said…
In one way, this is a dilemna that seems to be faced by any sport that goes significantly professional and attracts a following of fans who primarily want to be entertained. Fans go crazy for the trash talking, the epic drinking sessions and damage of the house on The Ultimate Fighter, and, as jarrah said, cockiness and arrogance of the MMA fighters who are either like that or choose to put on the act. Many of them seem to expect the same show as pro wrestling, but with real violence. Promotors and sponsors want to keep the money rolling in, so while they explicitly discourage bad behaviour, the fan favourites keep getting on to the main cards of big shows, and The Ultimate Fighter house keeps getting more alcohol trucked in. The money men need to hear clearly what we want.

More locally, we can all help build a strong positive culture wherever it is we train. The potential pitfall seems to be (based on what I read around the traps) that many schools talk about values and culture but find a financial disincentive to actually practice them because it means losing the membership fees of some who won't toe the line. It seems like many schools have gone down that path and it really damages the reputation of their affiliations and the styles they represent. As a student, I find being led by example (by instructors and peers) is infinitely more powerful than anything else that can be done or said about values.
Mike said…
ok coming in a bit late on this. But I disagree that actually promoting values is a financial disincentive for club owners. When we talk about promoting values what we're really talking about is club culture. Get the culture right and the values just show up.

So if you have a professional culture of true respect, yes you mat get the odd "hard ass" you've got to show the door and lose their fees. But for every one of those guys that leaves, there's probably 5 more that stay, who maybe wouldn't have if the culture didn't protect them from the hard ass.

Problem is I think, just like in the corporate world, too often the "values" are things that are stuck on a wall, and maybe talked about as opposed to being things that are simply embedded in the behaviours the culture does and does not tolerate.
Terease said…
whats the saying.
"be the change you want to see"

As teachers, mentors and role models, you demonstrate the values and ethics in your own behaviour and choices.

By providing the "alternative" ethical or traditional you show that the traditional way is a viable option to those that surround you. And maybe circumvent the 'UFC model'...

A similar non-Asian example is the Fianna, an ancient Irish warrior band, that had to constantly demonstrate such high values and ethics, or risked expulsion from the group. (which was the highest strata apart from high king.) They provided an ideal for the rest of society to live up to.

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