Should martial arts go back underground


fist of fury

I saw this posted on another board and would like to see the opinions from here. How many think martial arts should go underground as opposed to being so open to the general public. I prefer the underground scene in most things,music,movies,etc.. Since when things become popular with the general public they tend to get watered down. So what do you think? would martial arts in general benefit if it wasn't so mainstream? or is it selfish not to share so openly. What do you guys think?
It depends.

If we are looking at a fighting art, then maybe. If its a recreational art, then no. I'll qualify my definitions first:

Fighting art - heavy empasis on sparing, destructions, etc. Tourniments feature promidently, and injuries occur. BJJ, Muay Tai, Krav Magra fit promidently here.

Recreational art - minimal to no sparing. many many belts, emphasis on the 'theory' vs application, rapid promotions or none at all (no belts). Very kid friendly. Injuries are rare, as is competition fighting. Tai Bo, Some TaiChi and some TKD fit here.

The rec arts are pretty fast growing, with the TKD schools seeming to be the most dominant. Many community ed programs now feature Tai Chi aimed at the elderly as a way to enjoy nature, and stay fit. These seem to work as a good intoduction to the arts, without requiring you to be in perfect shape, or do things 'perfectly'. I've spoken to many people who have spent time in these programs, and later moved on to more intense programs.

The fighting arts aren't so glamorous. Most "karate moms' don't like the idea of little Billy being a legit ***-kicker. The fear of his becoming the school bully often outweighs the idea that he might learn discipline and proper self defence. Also, they don't like the idea that he might come home minus a few teeth, and anyway, footballs 'safer'. Politicians fear the fighting arts. The idea of "Fight Club" and UFC worries them.

So, whats the answer?

I dont know.

Take the arts back underground, and you have removed the potential for positive PR, and reinforced the negative. Leave them out in the open, and run the risk of turning out a generation of blackbelts who aren't worth the paper their certs printed on.

Maybe, the idea is to educate ourselves on what each art really has to offer, and do some cross training. Then, we can educate our customers so they can make better decisions on what arts really are right for them. This way, we avoid (as much as we can) the mcdojo syndrome or the belt-factory problems.

Just my 2 cents (in rambling format.) :)
I think Kaith has it right. But I'll add some of my own thoughts.

The Martial Arts, like music, the fine arts, and other things of value, are simulatneously underground and mainstream.

You have TKD, Karate, Whatever schools that are by-and-large babysitting outfits because the school owner has to pay the bills. Sometimes those schools also have a core of students that benefit from the facilities purchased by the "kiddie klasses" that are underground right out in the open. They use the space, equipment, and instructor's knowledge to become bona-fide asskickers because they want to and the instructor wants them to be.

Then you have the schools that are primarily babysitting for all ages. They generate blackbelts of all ages with little or no threat of injury - or of learning real skills. The so-called McDojo. From the "outside" this is often the mainstream of martial arts.

Also there are schools that are run by non-professional instructors. That is, the instructors get paid little or nothing to teach there and always have a "day job". Teaching is done as a give back to the art, or for the love of teaching. These schools have a lesser (in my opinion) tendency to McDojo, but the compromise is that the instructor is and probably never was a full time martial artist.

There are, as well, those schools who train students to be professionals themselves. Primariily you're going to find this in Boxing, Karate, Judo, MMA, and other arts that have a professional or semi-professional fight circuit that students can enter. These guys are never McDojo's; their entire existence absolutely depends on turning out quality fighters in their style.

Finally you have your bona fide "underground" schools; garage dojos, fight clubs, all kinds of informal "friends kicking friends asses" kinds of places. The quality of instruction is going to vary wildly, but the training is almost certainly going to be more "hard core" than almost anywhere else. These kinds of things are only ever found by word of mouth.

So in my opinion it all depends on where you are looking from. Soccer mom sees McDojo (billions fleeced) as "mainstream" and signs her kid up, while she sees "Joe's Boxing" as an underground establishment. While to a student at "Joe's Boxing" and others in the boxing field, "Joe's Boxing" is mainstream.

As someone new to this forum and the Martial Art world in general I would offer this answere:
I understand that most Martial Ars that are taught today are in thepublic eye because they where dieing out due to noone knowing they exsisted. If a school is hidden from the public it will have a very small group of people and in my opion that makes it hard to find it in future generations.
Just my thoughts
I know of a couple systems that came close to being nonexsistant because they were "closed" or Family only schools. Both had fewer than members actively studying when they went public. One is doing well and has a large membership, the other is still very small but growing.
By underground do you mean going back to the closed family systems or simply going uderground away from the public eye (so you can fight unrestricted) but very viewable to underground groups?
I mean out of the public eye, not the closed family systems.
I think there has always been an underground fight movement. There always peole who want to fight for oney or glory or the thrill in events just a little to violent for the general public,and the legal system. Hell there ae those that just like to cripple and kill, they get off on it.
I think in this age of information it would be almost implossible for the martial arts to go bacunderground there is too much information and too many people do the martial arts out there.
I don't want them to go underground. They haven't spent enough time 'overground'. If you think about it, karate didn't start to become popular until the mid- to late-sixties. The 'kung fu' boom was in the seventies. We had our 'ninja boom' in the eighties, followed by the 'BJJ/grappling' fad of the nineties. This decade seems to be the era of MMA (mixed martial arts). That's only 40-50 years. And during all this time, other arts were being introduced...the FMA, other Japanese martial arts, the Korean arts.

To top it all off, in that short amount of time, the mass media has helped give the general public horrible misconceptions about the martial arts. Putting them back 'underground' without eliminating the ignorance seems counterproductive to me.

I want the martial arts to become popular, but with more education to the general public as to what the various martial arts are really about (not this musical kata BS). I want my teachers to be able to teach martial arts full-time. The more they can train, the better my own training could be.

So basically, I want them to become more popular because I'm a greedy bastich.

I'm one of those that likes to have my cake and eat it to, so I'm walking the middle of the road on this issue.
About a year ago I moved into my area and began looking for a place to practice. The first place I look when entering a town is the yellow pages. Not much was listed.. Three types of Karate, Two TKD schools, Tai Chi, and Judo. Judo was something that I always wanted to do so I e-mailed the instructor for information and started a conversation. He seemed like a great guy and we were both very interested in my attending class. Well, I don't want to ramble, but I found out that I wasn't welcome (at a class that was located at the YMCA) due to my religious beliefs in which bowing to anyone/anything but God was wrong. The supreme court ruled recently that bowing wasn't a religious deal, but that is between me and my God not me and the government... so no need to discuss that issue, just suffice to say that my first choice was a no go.
Since I had studied Tang Soo Do and had seen some similarities between it and TKD, I decided to go check out their schools. In the process of looking I pretty much found that every gym in the town has a TKD class and all of them were pretty much the same recreational/non-contact Paper Tiger junk that just did forms all class long. Thats not for me. I actually want to learn something new while I develop my skill. That was 10 more no-goes.
Karate was my next choice and I checked everything out and just saw the same old stuff. One was at a gym that mostly focused on bringing kids in. Another was out of business and the last one was basically a mix of Karate and TKD leaning more to the TKD <of the town>. Again, not for me.

I wasn't around when Karate first became popular so I have no recollection of the rough and tumble ways before sue-happy America... But that is what I want. Having been in actual fights I know how much of a shock it is to get clocked when you are really not expecting it and how you recover from that shock could mean the difference between victory and defeat. No contact classes claim that the lack of contact provide more control. Good, so you can hit the air where you want to hit it... what does that have to do with self defense or combat? It doesn't. It is just recreational Martial Arts. I'm not interested in recreation. I'm paranoid and think that someday someone is going to try to hurt me or those that I care about. I want to be confident that my class is going to give me the skills that I need to protect myself. Real confidence, not empty confidence. When I was in the military my class was held right after a kickboxerobics class and it was hilarious to watch them practice punches and kicks that were all wrong and then why my students would invite them to stick around for our class they say that they are learning how to punch and kick and could defend themselves from what they learned there. Empty confidence. I feel that the TKD as taught in my town provide that same empty confidence and I don't want to be sucked in. This is MY life that could be on the line. This is MY well being that I have to worry about. I want to get hit just so that I know what getting hit feels like. Then I want to keep getting hit until getting hit doesn't feel so bad. Unfortunately you can get that from only the underground/closed schools because if you get too many people in the class you are gonna get someone that is sue happy and guess what, he/she is gonna get hurt. But if the underground school is closed, how can I find it? How can I become a student when I just move into an area? I just recently started a class just so that I could train the way that I want. I don't want to teach. I am too out of shape and have been out of practice for a while so I need to learn under someone for a while until I am comfortable with my ability to teach. I would prefer to put on a white belt and scrub the mats again. Too bad I can't have my cake and eat it too. Now I have to find a way to bring in students that are willing to be seriously dedicated to learning what I have to teach but aren't sue-happy. I don't know what to do.
In this thread it appears to me that when people are speaking over mainstream clubs they are actually talking about McDojo's which are giving Martial Arts a bad name.:(

I feel if these McDojo's were non existant this question wouldn't have been asked.:eek:

That is unless the reason you are doing things including learning a martial art is that you are an anti-fashion-victim who just wants to do things because they are not popular. But in fact if this is the case, you are in fact subscribing to a fashion itself, that of simply the opposite of the norm/popular. A bit of a catch 22 situation because you are subscribing to the thing were trying to avoid. Bummer eh!:asian:

Anyway that deals with the whole fashion and popularisation thing.

I personally think that McDojos give martial arts a bad image and the media with its ignorance doesn't help. However, I am a student in a very good club which it run by a very good organisation and am confident that I am being taught correctly, a useful martial art.

Yeah mcdojo's are a big problem especialy in my city it seems like there's one on every corner. They aren't going away any time soon.
I think good schools shouldn't go underground but rather go public with very strict control over quality of teaching. For McDojos, they can go underground or wherever they want, or better yet go away :)