RE­MEM­BER OUR ROOTS

Black Belt - - CONTENTS - — Robert W. Young Edi­tor-in-Chief

Like many of you, I love rid­ing bikes. I started on a road bike 40 years ago and switched to a moun­tain bike nearly 20 years ago. Back in my early days in the sport, it was us against them, with us be­ing any­one who ped­als around on two wheels and them be­ing any­one who drives around on four. When moun­tain bik­ing split off from reg­u­lar bik­ing and got big, it was us (moun­tain bik­ers) against them (road bik­ers). On the trails, it be­came moun­tain bik­ers vs. dirt-bike rid­ers, quad rid­ers and four wheel­ers. Here in Cal­i­for­nia, things splin­tered even more, with eques­tri­ans tak­ing sides against wheel users and trail run­ners hat­ing on all who are big­ger, faster and nois­ier. Now, with the grow­ing pop­u­lar­ity of bat­tery-pow­ered moun­tain bikes, tra­di­tional moun­tain bik­ers have a new op­po­nent.

It’s in­ter­est­ing how sim­i­lar the bike com­mu­nity is to the mar­tial arts com­mu­nity. In the early days of the arts in Amer­ica, ev­ery­one stuck to­gether. It was us (mar­tial artists) against them (non-mar­tial artists). Then tour­na­ments popped up around the coun­try, and it was mar­tial artists who com­peted vs. those who didn’t. And we got a dose of coun­try-of-ori­gin-based fac­tion­al­ism: “I prac­tice taek­wondo, and you prac­tice hap­kido. They’re both Korean, so we’re on the same side. Can’t say the same about those folks who do kung fu.”

To some ex­tent, all that was pushed aside when MMA came on the scene. At first, strik­ers bat­tled grap­plers in the ver­bal wars. Soon it be­came all tra­di­tion­al­ists vs. mixed mar­tial artists. The whole time, the com­bat­ives guys have tended to look down on tra­di­tion­al­ists and com­peti­tors but not on MMA guys. And there’s a por­tion of the self-de­fense world that thinks any train­ing you do with­out a gun in your hand is just danc­ing.

Why am I grip­ing about this now? Be­cause it seems to be get­ting worse. We can’t run a story or post an ar­ti­cle with­out some­one be­ing out­raged. It’s a sign of the times, I guess. On his pod­cast, Joe Ro­gan — I’m a fan, even though I dis­agree with much of what he says — has com­mented that peo­ple seem to be look­ing for things to get out­raged about. Case in point: The cover of our pre­vi­ous is­sue fea­tured a small photo of Conor McGre­gor along with five other mar­tial artists. In­side was a piece about him be­ing named MMA Fighter of the Year. A few peo­ple quipped that this was a sure sign Black Belt had gone MMA and no longer had any­thing to of­fer tra­di­tion­al­ists. They’re ev­i­dently un­aware that we’ve pub­lished just one MMA-re­lated cover in the past four years.

How can we end this di­vi­sive­ness? On a na­tional level, we can’t, what with the net­work news do­ing its best to fos­ter a state of gen­eral dis­con­tent. All we can do is think lo­cal, and I say we be­gin by re­mem­ber­ing our roots. In the old days, we were all just mar­tial artists. It didn’t mat­ter if we did this art or that, if we fo­cused on kata or ku­mite, if we wore a white uni­form or a black one. When one of us spoke, we all lis­tened be­cause we fig­ured we could learn some­thing from that per­son’s ex­pe­ri­ence.

The best thing about this pre­scrip­tion is it’s easy to swal­low. For starters, keep read­ing Black Belt. It’s our mis­sion to pick the brains of the best peo­ple from ev­ery cor­ner of the mar­tial arts world and present their best lessons to you. For ev­i­dence of how that works, turn to Page 46 and read Dr. Jerry Beasley’s story on the lessons tra­di­tion­al­ists can glean from MMA. You’ll be off to a fine start.

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