Welcome to The Palace Guard, the tai chi chuan and martial arts blog for intelligent martial practitioners. As the blog develops, I hope to feature other writers with a fresh take on the martial arts and related subjects. For now, I hope you enjoy my posts: feel free to leave comments, or email me at the address available on the profile.

Wednesday 23 December 2009

The Critical Mass of Martial Arts

EF Schumacher hypothesized that "Small is beautiful", and this certainly applies to tai chi. Large gatherings of tai chi people are less than pleasant, and this is because everybody thinks that their own way of doing the martial arts is better than everyone else's. Even amongst similar styles, there is ferocious comparison and criticism, in fact the closer the style the worse the conflict becomes. The martial arts don't do well in the glare of public scrutiny: one only has to read the majority of martial arts-related web traffic to see that martial artists don't get along. The natural unit of the martial arts is the small mob. We could, in the Classical Greek style, use this competition and rivalry to better our fighting prowess and martial skills, but on the whole such energies are channelled into hem hem "flaming" opponents on forums: "Armbar! MMA rules!" and that kind of thing. The reason for this antagonism, one can only assume, is that people put so much effort into their training that they simply cannot bear the thought that someone else's way of training might be better. I once met a fellow in a pub, and upon describing a certain sort of roll (not the bakery kind) we used in training, he sucked his teeth like a tradesman giving a quote and said "You're doing them wrong." His companion spoke up: "Hey, how do you know the man's doing them wrong? You've never seen him train!" He shook his head sadly, "Everyone does them wrong" he replied. You literally cannot argue with that kind of logic.