What Happened to The Martial Arts Industry by KJN Richard Hackworth
As traditional martial artist we shake our heads in disgust as we watch practitioners of “Sport Ko-Ra-Tae” and “Xtreme Martial Arts” and other such nonsense perform at tournaments. With a smirk on our face and hands on our hips we tell each other, “That’s not REAL martial arts! And we ask ourselves how did this ever take over the tournaments and become so popular?
Well, it happened because the martial arts tournament industry sold out to the martial arts supply companies. When tournament promoters started getting money from the people selling those costumes (I can’t bring myself to call them uniforms) and shiny weapons we scored the competitors using that garbage higher to please the people giving promoters money. It was no longer about whom was the best martial artist but who had the most expensive costume and weapons that were made from some material weighing less than plastic so that it could spin fast and glow in the dark for the “Night of Champions” show at the end of the event. When some “martial artists” began adding gymnastics, modern dance, theatrical grimacing, and eardrum busting screams we shrugged it off as “showmanship” and said nothing. But when this stuff became what the judges scored highest and started crowing these people champions it was too late! We were stuck with spectacles like the ISKA US Open Sport Karate Championships as the biggest event in the industry because suburban soccer moms could buy all those fancy weapon toys and costumes and pull up in their BMWs knowing that with their new shiny stuff their child was sure to win a trophy!
So how do we take back our industry? Simple, don’t support those events. There are plenty of traditional events out there to attend. I know, they aren’t held at Disney World, but they will grow to larger venues if we support them! If you have students who want to compete, I recommend that you make them compete in forms or in the self-defense division as well to make sure that they focus on all of their skills. Not just the skills and techniques that score points in sparring. The techniques that work best in the street are illegal in competition. Keep that in mind.
We can rid the industry of these pseudo-martial arts and bring back the true martial arts that we have dedicated our lives to but it will take some work and we must stop putting money into the pockets of the people that are destroying our martial arts culture.
I think that it’s time to take back our industry and tell the world what real, traditional martial arts all are about.
There is a commonsense movement brewing where people realize that “Sport Karate” is not what works in the streets and want authentic martial arts training. The problem is that authentic martial arts schools are hard to find. REALLY hard to find! That is why we are putting together a non-political group to help publicize the traditional martial arts. You can help by e-mailing the link to our group to your traditional martial arts friends. Let them know that https://www.facebook.com/groups/koreanmartialarts/ is their voice in the martial arts industry. Together, we can bring the real martial arts back into the mainstream if we just have the courage to do so.
Chong KwanJangNim Richard Hackworth
C.E.O. US National Taekwondo Association
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