Martial Arts Myths Part II
"Martial Arts - The Fact and the Fantasy"

by Troy Baker

Over the last 30 years, I have really heard some great fiction about the martial arts. Here are some of the more memorable examples of pure, unadulterated, creative fabrication I have heard. Mostly, this nonsense is spread by people that want to appear as though they know something about martial arts.

"Black Belts have to register their hands with the police department as lethal weapons."

I wish this were true. I think it would be great to have a license stating that my hands and feet were lethal weapons. I guess it would be like James Bond, having a "license to kill."

Nevertheless, highly trained martial artists should be very careful using their skills for self defense. A slick attorney might be able to convince a jury that you should be considered as being armed with a deadly weapon. This could have an effect on a trial or sentence for overuse of force against an assailant, both in criminal and civil preceding.

"If I strike you a certain way with my open palm, I could shove your nosebone up into your brain and kill you."

Not true. Here are the facts:

1) It isn't bone. It's cartilage. Ever see a skull with a "nosebone?"
2) Unless your nose it extremely long, it wouldn't make it all the way through the nasal cavity to even reach the brain.
3) The brain it protected by your skull. It isn't that easy to penetrate.
4) Even if you could shove an object into someone's brain, it most likely will not kill them.

"If a woman uses a weapon to try to defend herself, a man would just take it away and use it against them."

The typical alpha male response. Statistics, if you can believe them, say otherwise. If you were a criminal breaking into a woman's house, would you rather get caught by an armed or unarmed woman. Personally, a women protecting her kids with a knife in her hand would scare the crap out of me.

"Size makes no difference in the martial arts."

Bunk. Size does make a difference. But then again, so does strength, conditioning, speed, reach, age, flexibility, agility, determination to win, and many other factors. Size is just one component. Why do you think competitions like boxing, wrestling, and martial arts have weight classes?

"Weapons training is only for advanced martial artists."

Unarmed hand to hand combat has never in the history of man been the first line of self defense. On the contrary, the use of weapons is traditionally the first thing a combatant learns. Killing someone with bare hands and feet is harder and takes much more skill and time to learn.

"The martial art I study is the best in the world"

There is no single best martial art in the world. Everybody says that theirs is the best. Since everybody cannot be right, everybody must be wrong. I have never seen a bad martial art, and every art I have ever studied works. They all have strengths, and they all have weaknesses. Only these facts can be proven. The rest is all opinion.

1) A trained person is harder to beat than an untrained person.
2) Well rounded martial artists are better than "one trick ponies."
3) The better the instructor, the better the student.
4) The skill you acquire is directly proportional to the effort you put in.

"Only martial artists who study an established, traditional system are any good. People who make up their own martial art are self proclaimed masters and don't know anything."

This is another version of "my martial art is the best." I guess Bruce Lee (founder of Jeet Kune Do) didn't know anything. I guess Ueshiba (founder of Aikido) was stupid. I guess General Choi Hong Hi (founder of Taekwon-do) was an idiot. What about Funakoshi (founder of Karate), or Kano (founder of Judo), or Gracie (founder of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu)?

In many forms of Karate, a student who becomes proficient (after many years of learning one or more systems) is encouraged to seek out knowledge and create their own form. Ueshiba said "build upon the classic forms to create better ones."

Sure, it takes a highly trained martial artist to create a good system. But if rooted in scientific principles, if provable, if based on established methods, the system itself is unimportant.

So who do you think is stupid? The one who builds upon the knowledge of others? The one who adapts to changing needs? The one who seeks to improve? Or, would it be the one with blinders on that says "my art is the only true way?

If we applied this thinking to everything else in our lives, we would still be reading by candlelight, living in huts, and drilling holes in our heads for headaches. On second thought, candles, huts, and tools were all inventions created by someone that everyone else called stupid too.

"Certain martial arts secretly teach Buddhism, Satanism, Witchcraft..."

I hear these objections all the time from students of a certain "Christian Martial Art School" who shall remain nameless. The instructor got his minister license from an ad in the back of Rolling Stone magazine so he could claim his school as a ministry and not pay taxes.

Christian martial arts schools are the only ones I know that teach religion. Most do so not because they discovered Jesus, but because they discovered niche marketing. Target the churchgoing community and then play on their fears by calling your competitors a witch (or even worse, a Buddhist), and you lock in a market all to yourself. Tell them that your competitors are secretly converting their kids into Satanists, and otherwise intelligent, educated people become blithering idiots.