Identity or Pigeonhole

I have been asked by several people who read this blog about how I identify; am I a traditional martial artist, a RBSD guy (Reality Based Self-Defense), a gun nut, or what?

To be honest, I am just studying. Each phase of what I have undertaken has been, what seemed to me, to be a natural off-shoot of what I had studied in the past, and where I felt I wanted to go.

To me, the thought that a traditional martial artist cannot look at interpersonal conflict in a way that matches reality is absurd. Traditional martial arts are based in reality. Sometimes we have to dig a little because of how conflict and combat work in our day and age, but the basis is still there. The people who founded the old systems were not looking to make a quick buck, they were trying to survive.

It is far too easy to color our thought patterns with modern viewpoints and experience and say that the people of the past were ignorant. In our time, people “create” new martial arts all of the time, but they are typically people who did not have the wherewithal to cut it in a traditional school. In times now gone, people were taking what they knew and trying to survive.

The system of Chinese Martial Arts where I cut my teeth, and still train in to this day, is a short-bridging (close combat) system that, at least at its core,is designed to be taught to lethal proficiency in a very short time-span. Of course, there are later add-on’s to the core, but the facts are the facts. Hung Gar is not the only system so equipped – on the contrary, there are many others, I would even go so far as to say most other traditional martial arts could be described as systems designed to bring practitioners to lethal proficiency as quickly as possible. So do not create a false dichotomy of traditional martial arts versus reality based; no such dichotomy exists.

But by the same token, because traditional martial arts were born out of a real necessity, then reality based self-defense is traditional.

The very core of traditional martial arts is the goal of staying alive when attacked by bad people, and making them suffer for their transgressions.

So tell me; where is traditional not reality based and reality based not traditional?

So to answer in a short form, I do not pigeonhole myself by categories based on false dichotomies.

I train in and teach traditional martial arts. I study the common threats we face in our time, and use what I know to create my response to such threats. In hand-to-hand, my base is going to be from a solid, traditional southern Chinese Martial Art. But this does not mean I will close the door to other methods and other training, and please do not mistakenly assume that my training has no basis in reality.

Learning is actually fun.

And I like guns.

So, I suppose what I am getting at is this – study what motivates and inspires you, and always look toward learning. It is not necessary or even productive to accept the labels that are commonly used to divide martial arts (or people for that matter). Society is very good at dividing people these days. I think we can do better.

Thoughts? Comments?