By Errol Vasconi
Is Martial Arts history & tradition fading away to a new generation?
Why is it that today’s younger generation of martial artists seem to have strayed away from traditional values such as; history, loyalty, honesty and respect? It seems that the phenominum of MMA or cage (sport) fighting have now nearly trumped out much of the previous interest in traditional martial arts. Recently, I spent time pondering on this…
In my years as a young martial artist I was taught techniques that could be used to defend my own life or the life of others, while my teachers always made sure to teach me how to respect life. That’s what I’ve always believed martial arts are truly about...respect for yourself and others.
In my opinion most young students today seem to be easily impressed by the sport of “cage-fighting”. Don’t get me wrong, I find it very entertaining to watch the UFC on Pay-Per-View, but, lately I’ve been getting bored with two guys predictably rolling around on the ground. I’m also not convinced that it’s the way a real life street-fighting situation actually goes down.
So why has "sport-fighting” trumped out most traditional systems?
Some young martial artists like to argue the fact that Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and Muay Thai are the most effective fighting systems simply because they are the most common styles represented in modern day sport-fighting competitions. My response to that is “no”, it is actually a popular trend to fight under the auspices of these styles and most youngsters simply jump on the ‘band wagon” without any further research. I am not saying that the previously mentioned styles do not have any particular history and tradition of their own, but, the media has helped to commercialize them so much that certain values are almost unheard of within them.
The dangerous result of this can become a newer generation of blood-thirsty young fighters without any real respect for each other or the history and traditions of the arts they actually train in.
Even in my own community I have visited some new age martial arts schools and what I observed going on actually saddened me. Bowing out of respect is often no longer required neither to a Grandmaster, Sensei, or even an opponent; no history or traditional aspects of the arts are even being mentioned to the young students. It almost seems barbaric in that they are creating tough-minded overly aggressive fighters who may eventually wind up becoming a threat to the community around them.
The reason I say this is because I feel that most young students need to have a solid structure filled with discipline and respect so that they’re more likely to grow up to be productive members of society and great martial warriors as well. Traditional martial arts styles that offer values such as history, tradition, discipline, respect, philosophy, and technique may still exist, but, are currently on the “back burner” due to the current MMA phenomenon. I personally believe that many famous cage fighters may have a background in various martial arts styles, however, they fight under the limitations of the one or two most common styles previously mentioned just to appeal to what the public wants or what’s hot on television, not only because of what the rules of the sport lends best to at the moment.
I think we need fighters who have the techniques necessary to win in “stand up” fighting or on the ground, but, properly representing themselves as role models to our young fighters who’ll help reiterate the importance of having positive values in our lives, which might lead them to be the best people they can possibly be and more complete martial artists.
My hope is that some new fighters will eventually come along and better represent these traditional values, more often seen in ancient martial arts systems, in the cage.
It would deeply sadden me if the martial arts community allows such treasured philosophies and values to simply fade away.