Brian Kagen pick: “Martial Arts Pirates”

“Of equal importance is the fact that in oriental cultures the relationship between a student and a teacher is radically different than it is here in the West. Although this relationship can span decades, very seldom is it fundamentally economic in nature. That has a serious effect on what is taught and how it is taught in those circumstance. Recognizing the natures of these different ways of teaching is critical to understanding the problems that are discussed on this page.”

Brian Kagen is an avid web researcher with a particular interest in martial arts. His training background includes both judo and aikido. He has contributed hundreds of article links over the years for AJ readers.

Click here to read entire article.


  1. “..in the competitive world of martial arts business, unscrupulous instructors often steal concepts..”
    I copied how to walk when I was learning and I still feel guilty? Should I alter the way I put one leg in front of the other before someone finds out that I’ve been faking it all these years? Should I pay money for walking lessons?
    ANY mimicked technique, from any source, valid or otherwise won’t work and only lots of practice can make it realer. Tea=ching is lots of work as ios real training with the mouth shut and the brain turned to “on.”
    Does that mean I’m really walking now? Or am I still faking it?
    Will a certificate help me verify the “authenticity” of my walk.
    Should I stop walking before somebody related to the originator of walking sues me? Will that be Adam? If so he died a long time ago if he ever existed at all. Will it be discovered that my fig leaf is only a recent copy. Should I wear trousers?
    So many difficult and complex things to worry about. Or mere gibbering entanglements?
    Those unscrupulous student who steal techniques from their teacher.. how cheeky of them. Is there another way to learn?
    Lots of talk perhaps, or reading about ideas about taking about ideas about taking about…
    Make sure in the street when a mugger points a gun, to ask him to wait while you 1/ take off your shoes, 2/ don a gi, 3/ wave a certificate at him, 4/ make sure you are wearing the right belt colour; 5/ your dojo dues are up to date.
    That way he’ll get bored from waiting and go mug somebody else.
    Are we not perhaps missing some points here?
    I say, “steal” techniques to your heart’s content, and make them your own.
    But there is a HUGE CAVEAT: Even the very BEST techniques WILL NOT WORK.
    The error lies not in what you are copying, but in you and your lazy complacency. THERE ARE NO SHORT CUTS.
    Perhaps the real “source” of movement is movement itself! Perhaps you have to DO it to gain understanding. And this often.
    Everywhere in the world people are doing similar things and some don’t even know each other. Who’s got the patent on walking and budo techniques.
    Does it really matter who invented what? If you practice long enough, you will reinvent it all again.
    If you can’t discern con-dojos, there is little chance you will discern attackers, and you are a dead person waking.
    OK, so work on you discernment capabilities Grasshopper! That’s a good place to start. Then get off the computer and DO!
    If we let ourselves we can really get tangled up in mental garbage which is merely an avoidance mechanism for not putting in the work. TRAIN INSTEAD!
    Every source has its validity and nobody’s techniques are all perfect, or ever will be.
    That’s why we all train.
    And I for one am quite happy to learn from watching a tree, a rock, the neighbours cat, the town drunk or anyone who can move well or badly.
    But then it’s up to me to get off my fat arse and put the training in until action develops meaningful value.
    There are no, “styles.” Only efficient movement and clumsy movement.
    In the end everyone is doing a variable of the same thing.
    The difference being that some take the trouble to put in the work and train and other are making excuses.

  2. …have never been particularly effective at selling martial arts (or much of anything else when it comes to it 😉 ), so am fortunate to have few students, 2 at the moment – both Chinese, and the relationship is much more like family. they are my partners and reality check. they think i have something they’d like to learn…

  3. I have a friend who runs a Mcdojo…claims the new Karate Kid movie is been great for business,the kids are back and he had to order a bunch of new yellow belts…he promotes them once a month to keep them coming back…teaches something call Super kung fu jitsu…which he made up on his own.

    PS….used to be super Karate jitsu…but the kids wont Kung fu now.

Speak Your Mind