The Martial Arts “Family”

In the martial arts systems and styles, you have businesses, you have organizations, and you have families. The three are not the same; and they are not equal. I would like to define each of the three briefly and then describe as best I can–the martial arts family.

The Martial Arts Business

The martial arts “business” is just that; a business. It is an entity whose job is to make money and feed mouths. To some, the martial arts business is a wealth-generating machine–and it’s mission is to make as much money as possible. To others, the business is just a method of paying the bills while doing what you love. To some martial arts business owners, the primary objective of his business is to make money while to others it is to teach the martial arts. Some business owners have the goal of building the best fighters as the number one priority. Others may see spreading the name as the top goal, and yet others will want to make money. You may have some who will sacrifice income to teach the highest quality of martial arts classes, and others will sacrifice skill in order to reach more people.

The Martial Arts Organization

The organization is a collective of efforts, people and businesses to serve a mission. For the martial arts organization, that mission is usually the propagation of a style or a Master’s name. But it can also be to control the quality of skill for its members and member’s students. Or it can be to share information, provide a forum for exchange, competition, or money. The organization may be be comprised of many masters, or it can have one master and many representatives of that masters. The members may be from the same style or many different stylists with a common goal or mission.

The Martial Arts Family

The martial arts family is essentially that–a family of practitioners who have something in common that binds them together… and that bond will transcend style, mission, personality differences, goals in the art–you name it. The family may or may not be motivated by money, popularity or a common mission. But what makes the martial arts family unique is that nothing separates them, even distance, language, personalities or time. This is an entity that cannot be destroyed or disbanded. One cannot “close” a family like you close a business. You cannot “kick” people out of a family, nor can you discredit, disbar or demote a family member. Money or ego does not determine the life of a martial arts family, and one cannot quit a martial arts family. Even when someone gets an idea and leaves to “start” his own family, he doesn’t really leave… in fact, the existing family just gets larger. Feuds and differences may seem to splinter a family, but all they really do is send the family to different parts of the world to grow more branches of the same family. And even when the family members don’t seem to function like a family, the rest of the world knows both men as members of that family

In other words, the martial arts family is the soul of the martial arts style. It is the extension of the master that never dies. It is the name that lives forever; long after the master has died, his business has closed, his organization disbanded… the family will still be around. In the words of the gangs of Los Angeles, “we don’t die, we multiply…” The only way for a martial arts style to disappear is to allow its members to go to the grave without giving birth to new members.  The family of a martial arts style is a never ending process that must be nurtured, fed, raised and set free to make room for the new members.

The martial arts master must have as a priority his sense of family, and he must create a martial arts family within his system. The Filipino Martial Arts doesn’t need more McScrima masters and million dollar celebrity McGuros. We don’t need pop-culture recognition in the media, or pay per view attention, or trading cards with our masters being sold in martial arts magazines. But we need families that will promote our systems and our masters, regardless of what your career goals, love for each other, or political/social/business leanings. Because the martial arts family is the highest expression of the martial arts style, and if it is done right–the master and his system never dies.

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