written by Marc “Crafty Dog” Denny
Recently there has been a push in the State of New Jersey to regulate martial arts. Originally it was pushed as protection from child molesters, but when it was pointed out that if that were the case then those regulated should be all who dealt with children, not martial arts. So now they’re baaack, seeking to set up 5 bureaucrats to study things and make rules. This of course shows that “the children” had nothing to do with the original impulse to regulate. These 5 bureaucrats are the proverbial camel’s nose and we must stop hit this initiation of yet another attack on our lives as a free people. So I will be writing yet again and ask you to do so as well. I know that many people are not sure of what to say and this hinders them from getting started. So, if you want to use any passages from this for “write-your-congressman” efforts, then DBIMA and Marc Denny waive copyright. The price of freedom is eternal vigilance. Do your part.
PS: Thanks to Jeff Finder for getting me going on this.
Concerning the proposal to regulate martial arts:
People who are not involved with the martial arts usually have no idea of the extraordinary breadth and depth of martial art world, both in its offerings and in the people who come to the arts and the reasons for which they come. My particular martial art comes from the Philippines, which has nearly 1,000 islands and 90 major dialects. The result is that not even the name of our art is agreed upon! In can be Kali, or Arnis, or Eskrima, or simply FMA (short for “the Filipino Martial Arts”). There are hundreds of styles within the FMA.
Similar diversity can be found in the Chinese Arts, even though it is all lumped together in the general public’s mind as “kung fu”. To a person in the martial art world, the statement “I practice kung fu.” can properly be answered with the question “Which style?” Is it Wing Chun- a close quarter trapping system with mostly linear strikes? or Hung Gar a deep stance system with more emphasis on slashing strikes? or is it one of the northern Chinese systems with an emphasis on kicking? Or acrobatic Wu Shu? Or meditational Tai Chi? Similar variety can be found amongst the Malay cultures (Indonesian, Malaysian, southern Filipino) or the Japanese/Owkinowan systems. And what about the Indian systems? Or the European, e.g. France’s Savate, or English quarterstaff? Martial arts is much more than a matter of the few names with which the American movie going public is familiar. Martial Arts is about the study of what to do about human aggression and the solutions are as various as the human condition.
Look at the array of reasons that people come to martial arts: Some come for fun, some come for fitness, some come for functionality as they percieve it, some come for moving meditation, some come to socialize. Some are young males looking to compete. Some are women looking for anti-rape skills, Some are big and strong, many are not. Some want to grapple, some want to strike. Some practice forms, some do not. Some are children looking to join the Ninja Mutant Turtles, some are prison guards and law enforcement officers with real and immediate practical needs.
The interaction of all these styles and the people who come to them also leads to a variety of organizational structures. Some of the very best teach in their back yards for pocket money, others have an independent school and may even support themnselves. Others have large organizations that are financially successful. Some offer belts, others do not. Some require the student to sign up for a period of time, others do not. Some require a testing of the skills (fighting/sparring) others do not. Of those who have impressive looking certifications, some are good and some are not. And ditto for those lacking certifications.
In my humble opinion, THERE IS NO WAY THIS INCREDIBLE VARIETY OF PEOPLE OR STYLES CAN BE FAIRLY OR COMPETENTLY REGULATED. The People’s search of what is right for them, the “pursuit of happiness” of our Declaration of Independence and our Constitution if you will, is most eminently something for the American way, the free market and its protection by the State in the area of defending against theft and fraud in their many forms. Giving the State the power to determine who may teach martial arts and how they may and may not be taught only lessens both the freedom of choice and of responsibility, but also as a practical matter is quite likely to lead well-known big organization styles to use this regulatory process to squeeze out competition and so deprive individuals who need or desire approaches outside of theirs.
Ultimately, the study of martial arts is, regardless of approach, is a study of aggression, how it is done and how to deal with it. The State is those areas of life which we as a people determine must be dealt with by force. The goal for us is to learn to deal with each other through voluntary interactions- free minds and free markets. When we or the State defend ourselves or the weak from attack, whether by foreign armies or by criminals, we lessen violence. When we make others do what we think is “a good idea” we increase it. Rather, We the People must say to the State, and to the Politicians, the IRS, the factions, the special interests, the computer generated governmental actions so seemingly beyond human control, DON’T EVEN GET STARTED, JUST LEAVE US ALONE.
Co-founder: The Dog Brothers
Dog Brothers Inc. Martial Arts.