So, hi. I'm not a martial artist, but I'm interested in becoming one. (Someday, when I can afford to pay for lessons.)
I've never been much of an athlete, and I'm really out of shape, so, partially, I'm looking for advice on what the best course of exercise I'd need to at least keep up in class. I'm also looking for advice on how to determine the best martial art for me (if there's a way to do that).
I currently live in Colorado, in a rural-ish town, which kind of limits my options, although there's a school of Modern Arnis here which also offers Kung Fu, and Karate and some other styles that have slipped my mind and I think we have a Tai Chi academy, but it's either changed location or closed. However, I'll be moving to Las Vegas around June or July.
So. Any thoughts or advice would be appreciated.
First thing I studied, with any seriousness, was Judo, when I was 12. It wasn't that I was particularly attracted to Judo, just that my friend was in it and my parents thought it was good exercise for me. It was a semi-traditional dojo, the Budokan dojo in Seattle, and we'd practice while the Taiko drummers practiced upstairs. You never heard a better soundtrack to go with. The Dojo was in a slightly run down building, without any flashiness to it. And 2 and half hours later, you came out sore with scrapes.
Second thing I studied, was Muay Thai. The teacher was a Filipino guy who taught women and youth for free- with an emphasis on self defense. He'd mix in Wing Chun sensitivity and grappling and a lot of conditioning. We trained in a church basement, mostly south-east asian kids- Thai and Laotian.
I dabbled at a few places, but the third thing I seriously studied was Penjak Silat. Unlike the previous schools, the head teacher was white, with lots of appropriation issues. The art is good, and I learned a lot of great stuff, that I'm still working with, but at the same time I never felt comfortable. The school was almost all white as well.
What's exceptionally frustrating is that Indonesia, while a Muslim country for a long time, only recently (last 2 generations or so) had a massive shift in what was considered "acceptable" in their martial arts- the style I study has heavy Hindu and animistic influences which are now considered heretical, and so, the style and techniques have been disappearing from their home country.
Silat never had the full trend boom like other martial arts, so it exists exported a little here, a little there, often with many great style differences depending on the area it originated.
So here I am, with an art and little lead to the original source. Though I believe the Grandmaster to the style in America is respectful of the traditions (often traveling around Java to find origins, track down the descendants of the founder of our style to verify techniques, etc.), the schools below him, maybe not so much.
I guess the question is whether people are coming to the art with "What it can do for them" or whether it's about, "A Javanese tradition, which, I may be lucky to participate in".
Anyone else in a similar situation?
Welcome to My Fist Stays Free!
A friend of mine suggested I start a comm for POC in martial arts. I've been thinking about it for awhile, and after having some great discussions, and seeing some typically bad ones, thought it's about time.
What this community is about isn't talking about this style or that style, my teacher or your teacher, we're talking about our experiences in martial arts in a bigger context. Modern martial arts can't be seen outside the context of cultural appropriation and colonialism and we often find ourselves coming to martial arts for many reasons:
- a way to connect back to some piece of our heritage
- a replacement for heritage lost
- a traditional cultural structure
- a sense of self
- along with all kinds of other reasons
We also find ourselves having to navigate the issues of cultural appropriation- who are our teachers, who are our fellow students?
Let's talk about it all and see. It's not just your fist, it's your heart that you're protecting that matters.