Thoughts on the Modern Martial Arts

By Scott Shaw

I commonly receive questions from Martial Artists asking, “What to do,” when they encountered some form of lies or negativity directed at them from another Martial Artist — which has unfortunately become very prevalent in the age of the Internet, due to its anonymous nature.

It is my belief that most people involved with the Martial Arts are very positive and kind hearted individuals. There are some insecure practitioner, however, who set about on the path of, "My style is the best!" "You are a fake!" "My teacher is the only real teacher!" Or, "I am better and know more than you!" This is all foolishness. It is very sad when people embrace this low level of human consciousness and negatively criticize others — especially due to the fact that these criticisms are commonly applied behind the back of the Martial Artist they are criticizing.

Criticism, at any level, only leads to confrontation. And, confrontation is the most animalistic level of human existence. Therefore, this style of behavior is contradictory to the true philosophic essence of the Martial Arts.

Think about it... Who is so all-knowing that they possess the right to criticize anybody? Moreover, if you find it necessary to criticize or make negative comments about another person, what does that say about you?

Ultimately, my philosophy is very simple, “If you haven't equaled someone else's level of accomplishment, then you have no right criticizing them.”

As I always tell people, “If you don't like somebody or something they have done, put away the criticism. Instead, become more — do something bigger and better. From this, you will make your own positive contribution to the world.”

And remember, just because somebody says something that does not make it true.

Ultimately, it has been proven that those Martial Artists who embrace the path of lies, criticism, and negativity eventually fall prey to their own words, deeds, and actions.

I also frequently receive questions from those students who are disappointed in the training they received from Asian Instructors.

I believe it is very important to keep in mind that we here in the West commonly place an idealized image upon the Asian Martial Arts and the practitioners who have come from Asia. You must keep in mind, however, that there has been a long standing documented history of all kinds of crazy politics, deceptions, and an untold number of corruption scandals within the Asian Martial Arts. And, this is prevalent in all Asian cultures. I believe that we must respect the finer points of the cultures from where we gained our original systems and then move forward and stop placing undo reverence upon individuals simply because they were born in Asia. In addition, we must stop attempting to poorly imitate these cultures. Ultimately, we must be who we are and raise the Martial Arts to our own level of excellence. Therefore, if you find an instructor you feel good studying with, and you are learning from him or her, (whether they be Asian or Western), then stay with them. If not, move on.

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No part of this article may be used without the expressed permission of Scott Shaw or his representatives.