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Anf's picture
Is this normal?

My life long enthusiasm for martial arts has been severely compromised lately.

I trained years ago as a kid and then as a teenager, but left it alone for years, returning in my late 30s.

I've tried a number (not a large number) of different styles at different clubs over the years.

Apart from the martial art itself, the main attraction was and is the sense of continual self improvement, the sense of extended family etc.

But lately (last couple of years) I've started to notice some things. Perhaps it's because as I get older and get fatigued and injured more than I used to, I take a step back more than I used to. But I've noticed a lot of politics. This could be at club level, with people gossiping about each other, at association level, with strong undertones of contempt for people outside of our association, or at style level, with advocates of one style possibly unintentionally mocking all styles except their own.

Does anyone experience any of this?

As an aside, I note that senior dan holders often proudly state that ego is the biggest destroyer of black belts, immediately before boasting about all their achievements and how lower grades won't understand.

This isn't any one club by the way. I've spent time with several and seen the same thing. I have friends in other clubs and other styles, and hear the same kind of vibe from them. I just wonder if this has always been the case and I've only just noticed it, or if it's a new thing.

Paul_L's picture

I think it sounds normal for most environments where you have a group of individuals and where you have groups of groups interacting and not just with Karate. Sad but unfortunately true, but that is not to say that it exists everywhere. 

Tau's picture

Martial arts is full of politics. It's bollocks. It's the worst thing about martial arts. I've managed to get myself mired in it by virtue of having trained around a bit. Every bugger knows every bugger and somewhere down the line there's been a fall-out. I do my utmost to distance myself from it. It'll never go away.

Dennis Krawec
Dennis Krawec's picture

Unfortunately it must be. Otherwise how else would you end up with 10+ Shotokan karate organisations.

Iain Abernethy
Iain Abernethy's picture

Tau wrote:
Martial arts is full of politics. It's the worst thing about martial arts.

It can be, but not always. Politics can be great too.

Politics are bad when the martial arts are put second and money, power and control are the primary goals.

Politics is good when it contributes towards the effective organisation of likeminded individuals. That is undoubtedly very useful. We band together to help on another. I belong to the groups I belong to because they help me do what I do.

Dennis Krawec wrote:
Otherwise how else would you end up with 10+ Shotokan karate organisations.

What would be worse, in my view, is one single organisation. That could very easily lead to a “dictatorship” because you have no option but the one group.  If you wanted to do karate, then you would have no choice but to do so via that group; even if other aspects of that group were distasteful or inappropriate. It’s good to have choices. The groups that treat their members badly will see their numbers fall. The groups that treat their members well will see their numbers rise.

If the group anyone belongs to is not to their tastes, then join another group. In short, use the good politics to avoid the bad kind.

All the best,