With the phenomenal growth of Black Belt's social media footprint has come an increasing number of people who propagate martial arts memes, and those memes may be holding back the progress of those who believe them.
In case you haven’t been keeping up with the news, the popularity of Black Belt’s Facebook page has exploded. Less than a year ago, we were at 56,000 fans. Several days ago, we topped 380,000. Part of the reason behind that growth — and the success of Facebook in general — is the public’s ability to comment on posts. It’s not uncommon for a martial arts photo or quotation we post to yield 500 or even 1,000 comments from our followers. The majority of those comments are a joy for the staff to read; in fact, it would be hard to think of a better way to start the day. Some of them are nothing but attempts by trolls to instigate arguments or tear down the accomplishments of others, but that’s the case in all aspects of life, not just the martial arts. Interestingly, there’s a third category of comments: those that come from martial artists who are propagating martial arts memes. Some make a certain amount of sense on the surface but start to show holes when you analyze them. Others are difficult to regard as appropriate for any situation. Here are a few that crop up on a regular basis: • “I don’t need that; I carry a Glock.” This statement, or a variation mentioning a 1911 or a .357, is made by someone whenever we post anything about traditional martial arts weapons or modern self-defense tools. We get it; you plan to rely on a gun for self-defense. So do we under certain circumstances. But we don’t wave it in people’s faces when the subject of the conversation is Japanese swords. • “The best defense is to run.” We’re not going to argue with this one; we’re just going to remind you that running isn’t always an option. What if you’re with your kids? What if you’re in a room and the bad guy is blocking the exit? • “I don’t practice grappling because going to the ground is the stupidest thing you can do on the street.” No argument about choosing to go to the ground, but didn’t the Gracies demonstrate decades ago that you can’t always avoid being taken down? Seems wise to have a backup plan. • “If you know martial arts, size doesn’t matter.” Good luck with that one. Size and the muscle mass that almost always accompanies it can render many punches and kicks ineffective, and throws and grappling techniques can become impossible to pull off. Unless you’re purely a headhunter with your straight blast, you might not want to keep telling yourself this. • “A true martial artist doesn’t put himself in places where fights happen.” This one gets added to most of the self-defense posts we make on Facebook, and it’s troubling. It probably originated with instructors telling students that the best way to win a bar fight is to not go to bars, and that’s fair enough. But what happens when a fight breaks out in a restaurant? When a guy follows you out of the store and into the parking lot? When a nut starts stabbing people in a classroom? We wish we had time to reply to the people who post these messages on our page, but we don’t. The next best option: Print the comments on our website to open a discussion for the benefit of all our followers. Feel free to post your opinions below in the comment section.