Racism in Martial Arts

Discussion in 'General Martial Arts Talk' started by wingchun100, Jan 27, 2017.

  1. wingchun100

    wingchun100 Senior Master

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    On this board, we have discussed transgendered people and LGBT people in martial arts. Now I would like to see what people think about THIS particular issue.

    Last Sunday I was at my Wing Chun class. There were four people there total: the Sifu, two other gentlemen, and myself. For those of you who have not seen my previous profile picture, I am a white boy. However, I have daughters who are part black. You will see why I needed to preface the story with that in a moment.

    I was doing Chi Sao with the Sifu when I overheard a conversation that the other two gentlemen were having. One man started talking about how he hated the whole "Black Lives Matter" thing, and the other said, "Yeah, I'm sick of those N-words complaining."

    I stopped doing Chi Sao immediately and told them I did not appreciate that kind of talk, and it was very offensive to me. They just looked at me funny, then continued doing their practice. Then it dawned on me: "Wow...only 4 people here, and 50% of them said offensive things!"

    Personally, I don't feel like training with these gentlemen anymore. My love of my daughters exceeds my love of Wing Chun training, and it is my belief that by hanging out with them, they will probably think I am okay with it after all.

    At any rate, I do have other ways in which I could pursue Wing Chun training without having to feel like I sold out any other beliefs that I have.

    I'm not asking anyone what they think I should have done. I posted this because the question is, "What would YOU do?"
     
  2. Bill Mattocks

    Bill Mattocks Sr. Grandmaster

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    I do not like racists. I do not associate with racists. I do not silently permit racists to think that their public statements are OK just because no one contradicts them. I would immediately speak up as you did. I would leave any training facility that permitted such discussion without putting an immediate stop to it.

    The dojo where I train, thankfully, is not like that. We have many students from every walk of life. All are welcome. Every race, sex, sexual orientation, physical disability, skin color, religion, etc. We train karate, we do not judge. We don't offer personal opinions in the dojo.

    While I am sure that some students entertain their own personal opinions about a wide variety of things, none of that is anyone's business as long as it is not discussed in the dojo. We are there to train. We are a family and we behave as one, but we respect each other as fellow karate students first and foremost.
     
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  3. Headhunter

    Headhunter Master of Arts

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    Well what did the instructor have to say about it
     
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  4. wingchun100

    wingchun100 Senior Master

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    I wonder what they would have said if we had any black students in the class. I bet they would have kept their mouths shut.

    I have made it clear to the Sifu since then that I do not wish to train with those two. (See, I should have made it clear: the statements were made after he had to leave class.) He said he did not tolerate that kind of stuff, and he was glad I had spoken up.

    Then again, he is going to train with them again this Sunday...so I don't know. Looks like my time spent training with him is over, which is sad because I love Wing Chun with all my heart. It kills me to not be able to go, but I cannot compromise on this. Fortunately I do have a few other options: there is a Wing Chun school in Glens Falls (although I heard they hardly do Chi Sao, which is the primary thing I am interested in doing if I go to a class). Then there are two JKD schools in the area. While JKD is obviously not the same, it DID have its roots in Wing Chun, so maybe that would fill the gap nicely.

    In times like this, I fall back on these three words: "Accept what comes." Sometimes it does no good to resist, because you can't change things. In this situation, I can't change how other people feel. All I can do is have faith that if I do the right thing, eventually the other things I want will fall into place.
     
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  5. wingchun100

    wingchun100 Senior Master

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    I was just covering that as you asked, actually. :)
     
  6. Touch Of Death

    Touch Of Death Sr. Grandmaster

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    While I think you are gonna see a lot of this, in life, you are doing exactly what a student is free to do if the teacher fails to make a rule about potentially offensive banter, in his class. :cool:
     
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  7. wingchun100

    wingchun100 Senior Master

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    I agree. Light banter about personal things can be okay, but not stuff like this. They probably thought they were safe to say it because we are all white...when, in actuality, we WEREN'T all white because the Sifu himself said he is part Native American!
     
  8. Steve

    Steve Mostly Harmless

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    Over 20'years ago, while in the Air Force, a staff sargeant would often go in racist tirades about his sister who was dating a black guy. I told him to knock that **** off. He said something about how I'd feel if it was my sister, and I said something about how I would only worry about whether he's a good guy and treats her well. And asked if his Filipina wife knew he was such a racist *******.

    I don't know any overt racists, but wouldn't put up with it, either.
     
  9. Xue Sheng

    Xue Sheng Sr. Grandmaster

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    If I am right about were you were training I am surprised and yet I think I may know what 2 you are talking about.

    I have never like racist or racism and since my wife is Chinese I am likely now more sensitive to it than I use to be
     
  10. wingchun100

    wingchun100 Senior Master

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    Yes, selective racism is...an odd thing.

    I also knew a guy who mocked me for having kids with a black woman. I said, "Wait a minute. I know for a fact that you have SLEPT with black women!"

    He said, "Yeah, well...that's okay."

    So PROCREATING with them was crossing the line.

    Gotcha.

    Needless to say, I don't talk to that guy anymore.
     
  11. Tez3

    Tez3 Sr. Grandmaster

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    We need to stand up and be counted, not to remain silent as silence only helps perpetuate the hatred. Yes, absolutely you must say something, to not remonstrate is an almost tacit agreement that what they said is fine. You may not change their way of thinking but you can certainly make them see it's not acceptable. Today, Holocaust Remembrance Day, shows us what silence and averted eyes leads to.


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  12. Bill Mattocks

    Bill Mattocks Sr. Grandmaster

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    Listen to your heart. I understand the situation you are in.
     
  13. Xue Sheng

    Xue Sheng Sr. Grandmaster

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    He does have a separate school, and I think he charges little or nothing for classes. And I think he may be closer to you than Glens Falls.
     
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  14. Bill Mattocks

    Bill Mattocks Sr. Grandmaster

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    People should never make assumptions like that.

     
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  15. Ironbear24

    Ironbear24 Master of Arts

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    I really don't think you should leave if you love it so much. You are not going for them, you are going for yourself and going for training. It is not fair to you to not do what you enjoy simply because of a couple of ignorant assholes.

    As far as what I would have done. I don't know to be honest, I luckily never had to deal with that in any place I have trained at. The only time anything like this ever came up was when we talked about what type of women we like and I said "I love strong independent black women."

    Then someone brought up that my gf is white and I said "yes, but you see she identifies as a black a woman." It was a stupid silly conversation but that was the only discussion where race was ever brought up.

    Normally when I encounter racism it is either directed to me or something a family member or a total stranger says. When it is directed at me I give them a simple up yours hand gesture or tell them to piss off. With family members they are usually saying stuff like "those damn wetbacks living off welfare and we pay their checks." I remind them that to even qualify for that you need employment history, and it only will last so long and you also need a social security number, which none of them have since they are not legal.

    I also remind them they themselves are a "wetback" considering we are 2nd and 3rd generation Hispanics who come from Mexico. It is never fun to deal with but sadly it is something very common in our society, and I only see it getting worse and worse because of recent events.

    To get back to the point though, I wouldn't quit if I were you. What would make me quit is if the sifu said those things but they are only students, they might not even be there a month or two from now if you think about it, many people quit martial arts for many reasons and rarely does anyone stick around for a long time.
     
  16. Xue Sheng

    Xue Sheng Sr. Grandmaster

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    Incredibly different dynamic than you are used to, the people he is referring to have been there for years and will not be leaving anytime soon

    I know the group
     
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  17. wingchun100

    wingchun100 Senior Master

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    Oh, these guys are in it for the long haul. They aren't really his students; all 3 of them learned Wing Chun from the same guy. As to why only one of them earned the title of Sifu...that I could not explain to you because I haven't been practicing with them for long, so I don't know the full back story yet.
     
  18. wingchun100

    wingchun100 Senior Master

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    You beat me to it!
     
  19. gpseymour

    gpseymour Grandmaster

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    I would talk to the sifu about the situation. His reaction would determine my response. If he takes some reasonable action, I would stay (always alert to make sure it's not still going on there). If he takes no action or is bothered by me asking him to take action, I'd leave.
     
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  20. wingchun100

    wingchun100 Senior Master

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    He told me he said something to them, but when I asked what was said, there was no reply...not as of yet anyway.
     

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