Poser of the Week

Which One Is the Martial Artist?

It’s hard to tell.

  1. Neither one has a real weapon, a weapon you are likely to have if you’re ever attacked.

  2. Neither one is dressed like a real person.

  1. Neither one is in a fighting stance.

Let’s face it, how many guys posing with their swords, their nunchaku, three-sectional staffs, naginata, tasseled spears, etc. and dressed in their costumes –the all-red gi’s, the satin uniforms, the jing mo with the slippers, the drapery-like sashes, really are just a martial arts version of Trekkies or Star Wars fans?

Look at the similarities. It’s really not about fighting. Nobody dresses up as Darth Maul because he thinks it will save his butt on the street. Whether you’re wearing a kimono with contrasting trim and a couple dozen patches, or are wearing plastic Imperial Storm Trooper armor, the purpose is to dress up, like kids playing house and putting on their parents’ clothes. Lest it sound like I’m belittling the people who dress up for Star Wars conventions, Renaissance fairs, or as Supreme Datu Puti, I’m sure it’s fun. But it’s really not about realistic self-defense.

Look, I love traditional Filipino weapons, the bolos, the swords, the rattan sticks. I love the intricate counter-for-counter moves. But I had to look seriously at what my reality is in modern America, considering the sorts of attacks I am likely to face and the sorts of weapons I can legally own and expect to have access to. (And yes, I also own guns, and can use them.)

While I still like to play, and I still like the historical and recreational aspects of the martial arts, I always try to focus on what is real, and continually trim away the fluff, including my own pretensions and delusions.

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