Tuesday, September 24, 2019

In response to a comment on post questioning when teaching martial arts became not enough

My previous post was regarding the focus, marketing driven, on fitness when teaching martial arts: 'When did teaching martial arts become not enough?' That focus is exemplified for me with the rebranding of my old school by its new principals from Jan de Jong Self Defence School to Jan de Jong Martial Arts Fitness.

I am pleased to say that my post attracted a comment from a knowledgeable and thoughtful student of the martial arts. They referred to Kano's Kodokan Judo, a text that needs to be studied rather than just read. Kano was a man and martial artists far ahead of his times, as I demonstrate in my The Science Behind All Fighting Techniques.

The second chapter of Kodokan Judo is titled: 'Principles and Aims of Kodokan Judo.' The first section is titled: 'Judo as Physical Education.'

What has to be understood is that Kano was on a rescue mission when he developed Kodokan Judo. He studied traditional forms of jujutsu and despaired at the decreasing number of students studying jujutsu. Jujutsu was a Japanese cultural institution that was in danger of being lost to the Japanese people so Kano developed Kodokan Judo to appeal to the Japanese people in order to be a vehicle for them to then become interested in studying the traditional jujutsu.

One of the main marketing strategies that Kano adopted was to turn the traditional fighting art of jujutsu into a sport, and, a form of physical education. These were marketing strategies to generate interest by the current generation of Japanese so that they would then go on to study traditional jujutsu, the traditional cultural icon of the Japanese.

Those martial arts schools today who rebadge, rebrand, or focus on physical education, physical fitness, do not have such noble motives. It is purely a cynical marketing exercise to attract new students who are not necessarily interested in studying martial arts per se.

I will leave you with a comment that I received from a grand child of de Jong regarding this matter: 'I recall someone speaking of a conversation they had with my grand father who had come from another martial arts school and asked “why don’t you condition your fighters” and his response was something to the effect of “why would I condition my students when the intention is for the fight to go for the shortest time possible.”' De Jong to a T.

Monday, September 23, 2019

When did teaching martial arts become not enough?

When did teaching/learning martial arts become not enough? Is teaching/learning martial arts relevant anymore?

I am continually seeing fitness appended to martial arts when advertising or promoting one's teachings. My old school, or at least the school that emerged from my old school, rebranded itself from Jan de Jong Self Defence School to Jan de Jong Martial Arts Fitness. The WA Institute of Martial Arts advertises 'Martial Arts Fitness is here.' I just saw another advert/promotion directly coupling martial arts with fitness.

Is a dojo now also a gym? What is the focus of the teaching, martial arts or fitness? Do you ever see cricket, football, basketball etc directly coupled with fitness? 'Football fitness is here.' 'Netball fitness is here.' You don't see other physically activities desperately trying to establish relevance by appending their activity to fitness.

If the focus is on fitness, what impact does that have on martial arts teaching?

Efficiency is a feature of Jigoro Kano's teachings. Efficiency means less effort. The more efficient your tactics and techniques the less effort required to execute them. Does that mean that teachings which teach efficient tactics and techniques are less because they don't focus on fitness which requires more effort?

I understand the marketing impulse to try and extend the brand from martial arts to the fitness industry given the interest in martial arts appears to be waning. But does extending the brand mean that the brand loses meaning? Or that the product is over extended? Is aikido a means to get fit rather than to learn aikido?

When I teach, I am only interested in fitness insofar as it contributes to martial arts effectiveness. I am not interested in teaching fitness for the sake of fitness. If you are unfit and effective, it's all good to me. If you want to get fit, for whatever reason, join a gym. Go for a run. Stop driving your car and walk to work or school.

The two best instructors in the Jan de Jong Self Defence School were Shihan Jan de Jong and Sensei Greg Palmer. Nobody would ever accuse them of being fit, however, they were extremely effective as practitioners and most definitely as teachers. When I wanted to learn martial arts, I'd go to them before any of the other 'fit' instructors.