By Jenifer Tull-Gauger
A thoughtful friend posed this on our Facebook page: I would like someone like the Tull-Gaugers to develop an “American Martial Arts” – a generic Kung Fu or Karate that all Americans could know and practice at school or home.
My response: I agree that people need to take responsibility in learning and practicing how to defend themselves. Plus martial arts get one moving and working out while learning skills. However, we are too traditional and too morally driven to put generic American martial arts out there for a faceless public to learn and practice without the guidance of a sensei.
We teach things that can and do hurt both the practitioner and others on whom the techniques are used. Instructors have a moral obligation to get to know the heart of the student who is learning how to injure others. We must teach them how NOT to do so, or what other things can be done to prevent physical confrontation. We should also instruct students, in the event that they do need to use their physical skills, that there is still a level of respect, restraint and common sense that should always be present in one’s actions.
All Americans who are willing and able to take on those responsibilities CAN learn what we have to teach. But it needs to be in a face-to-face, heart-to-heart situation. Thank you for thinking of us! And thank you for promoting martial arts!
The friend who posted the idea of a generic martial arts system regularly thinks of the good of the whole, and wants to make the world a better place. I believe this friend came up with the idea because of seeing the needs that our society has. We need to learn self defense, to learn to also protect others, to learn confidence and learn to be proactive, along with the side effect of getting exercise while practicing practical skills. But in practicing our skills, students can get hurt, and they can hurt others.
We teach our students how to disable an attacker. What we teach has an inherent level of danger no matter how safety-minded we are. Without a trained instructor, karate can become extremely dangerous. In short, we develop destructive powers, so we also must develop the peaceful side of the human being. Martial arts training needs supervision by competent instructors (as we have at East Valley Martial Arts). All practicing martial artists should have a relationship with a higher rank mentor. You won’t get that without face-to-face learning.