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Ok, so you have taken up martial arts training and you have learned to: crank on a joint until your opponent is whimpering;   devastate your opponent with a nerve strike; kick someone’s head off or generate 50 piston like punches per second so that no one can even see your strikes.   


You are hyped up about your system because, after all, your instructor has told you in subtle and not so subtle ways that the system that he is teaching/promoting/earning a living is all you ever would need to survive a “real fight”.    He can prove it to you and he tells you to check out YouTube and lookup style vs. style videos (i.e. BJJ vs. Judo, Aikido vs. karate, boxing vs. wrestling, etc., etc.).


You dutifully go home and you check out the videos and you discover that, at times, the stylists from your martial art do win the fights but hey, wait a minute; there are times that stylists from your system lose their fights.  You raise this point to your instructor and he tells you that the stylists from your martial art that lost really weren’t really representative of the instruction that you are receiving.  They were, after all, under the instruction of a different school and that school is just not very good.  Of course, the winners are very similar to your school of instruction, so don’t worry about it.


You keep moving on through the progression of ranking and then perhaps you say to yourself; “I want to test my skills”.  My instructor is considered to be a Master/”kick-ass”.  I have, therefore, learned from the best.  Right?  Look, there are photos and certificates all over the wall of his school.  He must be good.  There he is posing with a pantheon of martial arts “gods” - shaking hands with Chuck Norris, clowning with Jackie Chan, faking a kick with Jean Claude Van Damme,  grappling with Randy Couture,  etc.  Pretty cool!


 Now you check out his certificates and credentials.  There’s one that says he is a Master Instructor.  There is another one stating that he is a 6th -, no - 7th degree rank.  Next to it is another certificate stating that he is a 4th degree in another martial system.  Impressive!  Do you look a little closer?  Hmm, who signed the certificates?   Can’t make out the handwriting?  What association(s) issued the certificates?  Can’t locate any information on the internet concerning the Association(s)?   A little more digging indicates that the Association(s) are referenced on various web sites but they seem to be a collection of your instructor’s friends who show up from time to time to chat, drink and discuss how well all their students are coming along.  Sure, sometimes they get on the mat/floor but do they direct or do they “connect” with the students.



There are lots of trophies (big and small) in the school.   Who won those trophies, you wonder?  What were the competitions?  Oh – they were intra-dojo competitions with students of your instructor from his branch schools or with students of the same friends that come by to chat, drink and direct.


As you think about what you have read, seen and experienced in your martial arts experience, do a few niggling thoughts wiggle their way into the back of your brain?  Maybe you just brush away those thoughts as your own personal training has been exhaustive and thorough.  The thousands of pushups and hours of stretching have certainly made you fitter.  You know that you can crank on someone’s joint until they “scream for Mommy” or you can perform a back flip with two and a half rotations and a twist from a standing position that nobody can stop.


You then attend a formally sanctioned event for your martial art and look around.  What will you find?  What do you see?  Are you ready to compete?

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