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Discretion is the better part of responsibility

In a world where social media pages such as this one can distribute information at the speed of light, I grow increasingly concerned about what sorts of things I see posted.I remember distinctly speaking with Grand Master Leo one day and having him tell me "Be careful what you say or else someone will come along and shove that stick down your throat".  I also remember his intake interview and the feeling of being sized up, measured and judged about my character.  When you entered the basement in South Stockton to train with Uncle Leo, you not only entered for yourself, but were also "allowed" to enter.  Uncle Leo's screening process did not end that first day.  At least I never felt it did.  I was always aware that I was there because Grand Master Leo let me be there.  He judged my character and judged if I was worthy to receive his art.  As an instructor, I try to do the same.  This art we have been entrusted to pass on carries an awesome responsibility with it.  It is not casual entertainment for passing dilettantes but serious business that should only be gifted to those who prove worthy and responsible enough to own it. While posting videos of lethal techniques with live blades may seem sexy and may slake the thirst of the morbidly curious (ensuring some twisted measure of popularity), it is extremely irresponsible on the part of the instructor doing the posting.  What I think is missing is that very judgement process Grand Master Leo used during his intake and throughout the student's training.  Who knows what character the viewer of your video has.  Showing lethal, offensive cuts to the neck area to some people out there is just unthinkable to me.  And, with the rank some of these instructors hold, they are implying tacit approval of the use of such techniques.  So, what happens when that 13 year old gets into a scuffle at school, draws his neck knife hidden under his hoodie and delivers a perfectly executed #1 to the carotid artery, dispatching his opponent?  Potentially, thousands of people can view what we post on You Tube, on our websites, in forums such as MyFMA.net and throughout the web.  If we can not screen the audience, then it is incumbent on those of us who have been given the responsibility to screen the content of our posts and refrain from showing, encouraging lethal tools and techniques.  Save that for your class where you can adequately judge the character of the student who is in front of you and their ability to receive such training.  Remember that we train to preserve peace, not to glorify combat and harm to others.

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Comment by Raun Nelson on July 18, 2011 at 2:01pm
Kudos, John. Great Post !!!
Comment by Master Ron England on July 18, 2011 at 2:16pm

Guro Lawrence,

Your points are very well made. We as instructors in the lethal martial arts of the Philippines need to think about the images and information that we are presenting to the public. It seems that so many instructors/systems are trying to out do one another with how deadly their art/system is, maybe it is due to the competition to gain students or reputation. All marital arts are lethal and it does not take a trained martial artist to "take someone out", as you pointed out as your example of the 13 year that "might" make the fatal mistake of giving a lethal slash to an opponents neck. My master GGM Pedoy once told me "do not train people (students) to give "head strikes" as it is too easy to kill someone, the difference between being knocked out and dead is just a fraction of an inch. We really need to "police" ourselves as instructors to insure that we are giving the right information to the right people. Put the egos aside and focus on what is good common sense and by all means, be aware of what you are teaching to whom. I really like your last comment, "remember that we train to preserve peace, not glorify combat and harm to others" great advice. Long Live Eskrima...Master Ron England 

Comment by Guro Lawrence Motta on July 18, 2011 at 2:23pm

Master England,

Thank you for the comment.  I don't think anyone is intentionally trying to foment a violent atmosphere but I agree that we all get caught up in the competition for students and what my mother called "one-up-manship".  We can all learn something from our Masters and the ancestral practice of "closed door" training.  There was more than one reason why the old Manongs chose to keep this art secret.

Comment by Jeff "Stickman" Finder on July 18, 2011 at 2:39pm

Well said.  The competition to be "deadliest" is, IMO, a salacious form of advertising.  People have been killing each other since before history began to get recorded, and there's nothing deader than dead.  It all comes down to skill and will, and reading the news, one can readily see that most murders are committed by people who have not bothered to spend years training in esoteric arts.  We've all got the same two hands and feet, and the same vital weaknesses. That means the key element is the will.  It would be far more responsible to show how to diffuse conflict and end confrontations without resorting to violence that could well put the practitioner in prison.  But hey, as you've written, it isn't sexy to show restraint, control and good judgement.  It's all about emulating Hollywood fantasies and being a badass. 

 

Before the magazines and internet popularized martial arts, teachers taught primarily to pass along the arts to worthy students.  Now it's about the bucks, and it's much more lucrative to teach more and more methods of mayhem than taking the time to instill values.  Just recently a 16 year old Florida TKD black belt was at a tournament in California.  After his match, he shook hands with his opponent, and then kicked him in the face, knocking out teeth and sending him to the hospital.  He will likely face a lifetime ban from TKD competition ... but what is to keep him from taking up a new art where his past isn't known?  Meanwhile his actions reflect badly not just on him, but on his teacher, school, art, and parents, inflicting shame on all.  If this is the product produced through commercialization, it's no wonder many people look at martial arts with suspicion.

Comment by Harley Elmore on July 18, 2011 at 2:46pm

Guro Lawrence,

I think this is a great topic.  It boils down to the personal responsibility of each instructor to evaluate the students they train.  With that being said, watching some video on youtube or dvd isn't training.  If a 13 y/o cuts someone with a blade he would have done it without watching a video.  Thousands of people a year are cut and stabbed around the world and have been for thousands of years!  They didn't watch youtube videos.  My point is sharing information on youtube for those who are disciplined and dedicated enough to decipher it, study it, then spend all the time necessary to train it to a level of skill is different.  Those disciplined students and instructors don't simply go out and stab people because they got angry and undisciplined people act like that without training.  There are only a few good reasons to hold back information, one - you want to be the only one who has it (as in living in a violent place and needing an edge) two - you want to be better than everyone else around you and so you take it to the grave and three - you don't love anyone enough to share with them and hope it saves their life someday.  And four - you don't have anything to offer, so you act like you are keeping the REAL stuff secret.  Other than that, our mandate is to share with others who have the passion, discipline, desire and love of the arts in which we train.  Personally I learn a great deal from other people's videos and am glad they are willing to share their art with me.  Harley

 

Comment by Johnny Mean on July 18, 2011 at 3:08pm

I agree with Harry. Well Said!

 

I do believe that with great power comes great responsibility. Unfortunately, suppressing  this information will not prevent the countless knife attacks that will go on the increase.  For example, Winnipeg, MB, Canada has countless stabbing by female and male teen, all untrained. The crime culture changes adopts to the tools available.  There has even been speculation of how to regulate knives.  I am sure our teachings have become suspect and even shunned in some circles. There are those that would like remove our access to such training from a civilized world, but it my fundamental freedom and responsibility in my choices.

Seeing other interpretations and perspectives really help one grow and stimulate more of a community such as we have here. Control paradigms are a thing of the past. They stagnate and die.

 

This is the terrible beauty of the Information Age where access is granted to any all, not just the priveledged and the powerful.

Comment by Guro Lawrence Motta on July 18, 2011 at 3:25pm

Guro Harley,

Thanks for the other perspective.  As an Instructor for whom I have immense respect, I greatly  appreciate your input.  I also constantly look forward to your posts and videos.  And, you are quite right in saying that the perpetrator who commits a crime would likely do the crime regardless of what they see on a video.  However, there is a difference between being careful with the dissemination of lethal techniques and holding back information for selfish or ignorant reasons.  Discretion implies careful consideration and thoughtful engagement.  Having an open door policy and enthusiastically spreading our art to those we love and those who are responsible students does not mean that we do not exercise some amount of judgement.  That is a far cry from your four very thoughtful reasons for holding back information.  My concern for the content of these posts may be better seen as a cautionary tale rather than any sort of admonition.  Thanks again.

 

Comment by Harley Elmore on July 18, 2011 at 4:10pm

Guro Lawrence,

Absolutely!  You are absolutely correct, that's is very different from the reasons I stated, but the careful consideration and thoughtful engagement can really only be done in person.  As was GMT Giron's.  (btw, what an honor it must have been to train with him, one of my deepest regrets was delaying my training with him to the point of waiting too late.)   I think we all agree on the idea of careful screening students but your post was about videos on the internet.  In which case, my comments were geared toward the concept of sharing with others so we all grow vs. a fear based concept of giving out information to those who will do harm.  My belief is that violence is happening right now.  Sharing with others may help preserve the art, save someone's life, introduce someone to their Filipino heritage or I might get feedback from others that helps me grow as a teacher.  Exercise caution, yes.  But I think most people are reasonably cautious about what they put on video.  For instance we don't put the same level of material on the internet as we would teach to military or SWAT teams. Once we start to censor people's content, then when do we draw the line?  No cuts to the throat?  No blade work at all?  What about neck breaks? Choke outs? Throws that could kill if done on concrete?  How do you decide what is too violent to share? On the other hand, search youtube enough and you will find out how to pick locks, make bombs, how to cheat on tests, etc, etc, etc. 

Comment by Joel Juanitas on July 18, 2011 at 4:11pm
After reading this post I have realized that this is directed at me and my release of the "Tactical Draws with a Neck Knife". What I share here is no more or less lethal than what my contemporaries post. What's the big deal. This is a FMA forum a place to share, educate and congregate. I have extracted techniques from the foundation of the art and applied it to the weapon. I share because there is a demand for what we do. We have students across the country and around the world that grow from what we share. As for competition the master intent for my posts is not to compete with anyone because there is no one doing what I do on this website. If I pick up a student or drum up interest that's a fringe benefit. It was born from requests from my students who had an interest in the application of manong Leo's art to modern day weapons, tactics and threats. I'm sure no one would argue with that. What I share is to help not harm and if you would imply that I am catering to the "morbidly curious" you don't know me very well. If some dumb ass shanks somebody it's not my fault. No one needs my help to do that. This is a martial arts forum what we post is very much appropriate for this genre. There are no secrets only those who choose to make them.
Comment by Harley Elmore on July 18, 2011 at 4:13pm

Guro Lawrence,

Btw, thanks for your kind words.  I appreciate your perspective and articulate manner of communication.  It's exactly this kind of open dialog that makes us all more open minded and self aware.  I thank you for being willing to share you opinions and view points and hope we all grow from this discussion.  Harley

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