I have touched in past posts on my reasons for starting this blog, but they are many and varied, and interesting enough (I feel) to warrant more detail.
The martial arts have been the main focus of all the articles I have written for this blog so far, and this is primarily due to my personal passion for the field of combat; there is no more stimulating game, I assure you. “Human Chess”, some have called it… but to call it that is to undersell the game. Chess has finite combinations of moves and outcomes- breathtakingly complex by human cognitive standards to be sure, but still limited by the 64 squares and the prescribed motions of the pieces.
Combat on the other hand is as close to infinitely complex as any game can be; Bruce Lee once stated (to paraphrase the great man) that the possibilities of human combat were limited by our physical structure, in other words “when a human being has three arms and four legs, then we will have a different form of fighting”, implying that there is in fact a limited form to fighting. Mr Lee was correct within a narrow spectrum (describing a fair unarmed contest, perhaps), but in reality every factor comes into play during combat, from terrain and setting and the psychological states of the combatants, to the numbers of combatants and their relative armamaments. The tiniest details can lead to massive advantages for one side or another, and victory is never assured.
So an exciting topic, one might agree. But also a serious topic. From time immemorial, men and women have tried to use violence to enforce their wills over others, to gain resources and to gratify petty emotional impulses. Those on the receiving end of these violences have sometimes been forced to defend themselves violently, and sometimes this has been a good idea, and sometimes a bad idea.
The consequences of violence are serious, and range from loss of social prestige to loss of life, and between those two ends of the spectrum lie all the disfigurement, disability and psychological trauma that can result from losing… and indeed from winning a fight.
An exciting, and a serious topic, then.
It’s also a very current and controversial topic. The mainstream consciousness is deluded regarding the realities of violence. On the one hand, most people repudiate combat sports as pointlessly violent, while supporting- or tacitly approving of- capital punishment for unpopular criminal offenses, and massive wars to subjugate mostly peaceful people and steal their resources.
People avoid cognitive dissonance on this front by slavishly absorbing whatever drivel the craven, greedy and ill-educated mainstream media machine wishes to pump into their brain-holes.
Journalists quite straight-facedly publish stories about self-identifying local ninja crimefighters and “human interest” stories about fraudulent kung-fu teachers (which function just as well as a full-page advertisement for their school would), while simultaneously publishing hatchet-job accounts of how mixed martial arts represent “human cockfighting”.
They publish stories about how disenfranchised young men from ethnic minorities are “thugs” for looting a corporate franchise during a period of public disorder, while simultaneously publishing fawning lionisations of ignorant soldiers who shoot destitute freedom fighters for a living, and the fat and greedy politicians who send those soldiers to war for their own petty ends; in short, the media glorifies their own convenient fantasy version of violence, while forcefully condemning the inconvenient realities.
So combat is an exciting, serious, controversial and socially pertinent topic for discussion.
What, you need more?
Okay. How about this: fighting and violence are topics that reach their tendrils into other subjects too. Learning about fighting teaches one about violence, which teaches one- if one is so inclined- about crime, law, politics, the media, critical thinking, anatomy and physiology, biology, physics and the history of war and weaponry and the history of science and technology (which has often been driven forward by the search for more lethal weapons).
Before starting this blog it struck me that- not to sound didactic- that fighting is a good teaching topic. By adding to the literature exposing martial arts frauds like Sid Sofos, one can examine human gullibility and the prevailing culture of media fabrication. By discussing mixed martial arts versus esoteric arts like Aikido, one can point out the necessity for critical analysis and a skeptical attitude. By posting insights into legal issues surrounding violence and self-defence, one can promote debate on social and legal issues, and perhaps even help someone to understand what legal knowledge- if any- is missing from their “self-defence” training. Lofty goals.
Lastly, there’s nothing that organises one’s own thoughts and opinions quite as effectively as publishing them. The criticisms and praise of others are great litmus tests as to whether one’s on the right track intellectually and technically.
It’s doubtful that any one person’s writings on niche topics- like mine- will make much impact, But writing is interesting, it’s fun and it’s a great learning experience for me.
The question isn’t why I write about fighting. The question is: Why isn’t everybody?