My Prediction for the Next Martial Arts Craze

It’s funny how martial artists today seem to have no faith in their training. I attribute this to the lack of dedication teachers are demanding of their students, the low standards they ask their students to meet, and the fear many teachers  today have of losing students–which causes them to promote prematurely and train students with less intensity and fire.  When the NHB style of fighting started to gain popularity, the way traditional martial artists jumped ship did not display a new approach to the way martial arts are treated. Rather, it just showed a very common one.

This is what I mean.

Every 5 – 7 years, another “new” art would come out, and every martial artist who was studying an art would leave his present system and take up the next system. It is rare–including me–to find a teacher who only did one art from beginner all the way to today. While it is common to find teachers representing many systems, it is still rare to find a teacher who commits equal time to each art he is qualified to teach. Let’s not get into my definition of “qualified”; but most teachers are adding arts to their resume, rather than their class schedules. A student under most of these teachers would likely only have two or three systems to study, and will only get a small sample of those other arts. I believe that most teachers carry certifications in arts he is really not qualified to teach. These notches are nothing more than quick certifications and bragging bullets for websites and school brochures. Think of all the guys you’ve seen go from Karate in the 70s, to Ninjitsu in the 80s, to JKD/Kali in the 90s, to BJJ/MMA in the early parts of the 21st century, to Krav Maga/Israeli combat garbage in the last few years…. and where they’ll go next.

So, here is my prediction:

The next new art is not a “new” art at all!  I believe TRADITIONAL KARATE will make a comeback!

Here’s why:

  1. Many of these MMA fighters are grapplers who are mediocre stand up fighters. We all know that. They have been sucking up the belief that stand up fighting is basically a side dish to “real” fighting, and that if you could do away with one and still be a beast, you could just get rid of kicking and punching. After all, don’t all fights go to the ground? Not really. But we do know that they all start standing up
  2. The truth is that people really have not seen good stand up fighting in the Octagon. They’ve gotten a chance to peek a few good fighters;  aging kickboxing champion Maurice Smith, aging San Shou champion Cung Le. But as far as traditional hard style martial artists who come straight from the dojo, they haven’t seen much. Loyota Michida is one of the few who dared step into the Octagon, and he is whipping people who were bred to believe that Karate is only for kids. And like most martial artists, soon as they see one person do something they walk away with “Good Lord, I need to learn that stuff!”  No one believes in what they are doing these days, and martial artists today are still looking for the “bulletproof art” that will enable them to beat anyone just by taking a few classes. Tell you what?  Many of these sappy martial artists just never grew up.
  3. Hard-core Karate and Tae Kwon Do are valid martial arts. They also happen to produce some of the toughest son-of-a-guns on this planet. The commercial dojos at your local shopping centers have fooled most of you into discounting real Tae Kwon Do and real Karate. I feel sorry for the mediocre MMA guy from your local MMA franchise (yes, as disgusting as it sounds… they have them!) who encounters a hard-core Kyukoshin fighter, thinking he’ll make easy work of him. As the world begins to see the vulnerability of even lofty ideas like “taking the best of all arts” (which is really a false idea), students and fighters alike will search for experienced, traditional Karate teachers. But look out for ex-MMA/JKD/FMA guys with Karate backgrounds to flock to the scene and once again, don Gis while announcing to the world that, “Yes! I teach that too!”

Martial artists kill me. They are like the men in poet TS Eliot’s “Hollow Men” (which is really talking about politicians, but it’s applicable here)–men who stand for nothing but fall for everything. Only the ones who stay true to themselves will ever have any true respect in the martial arts, and the only ones who will enjoy longevity by being known for their skill and knowledge… not by their political affiliations or marketing efforts.

Thank you for reading my blog. Here, for your enjoyment, are the first few stanzas of T.S. Eliot’s “Hollow Men”:

We are the hollow men
We are the stuffed men
Leaning together
Headpiece filled with straw. Alas!
Our dried voices, when
We whisper together
Are quiet and meaningless
As wind in dry grass
Or rats’ feet over broken glass
In our dry cellar

Shape without form, shade without colour,
Paralysed force, gesture without motion;

Those who have crossed
With direct eyes, to death’s other Kingdom
Remember us—if at all—not as lost
Violent souls, but only
As the hollow men
The stuffed men.

"Hollow Men"