The Death Of The Martial Artist (How To Tell If You Still Are One)

It’s 2015. Martial arts is dead.

It has become common and mainstream for kids and adults alike these days to train in combat sports such as MMA and modernized martial arts like Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, rather than the more traditional forms of martial arts such as Kung Fu, Taekwondo, Karate, Judo, and so on and so forth.

While there is certainly nothing wrong in training MMA and BJJ (in fact we highly recommend them for their effectiveness in real fighting), the high degree of focus on sports competition and winning at all costs in MMA and BJJ – often come at a price when it comes to developing and cultivating individual morals, values, and ethics – perhaps more so than others.

Is anybody a true martial artist anymore?
Is anybody a true martial artist anymore?

This is true for some coaches, and especially true when it comes to aggressive competitors. Nowadays, trash talking, disrespect, picking fights, and wild use of profanity seems to be tolerated, and even awarded.

Renzo Gracie, one of the most popular BJJ instructors in the sport, has actually spit on his opponents in past MMA bouts, stomped on other people's heads in brawls, and picked street fights with club bouncers in NYC. That is clearly not a positive role model for his students.
Renzo Gracie, one of the most popular BJJ instructors in the sport, has actually spit on his opponents in past MMA bouts, stomped on other people’s heads in brawls, and picked street fights with club bouncers in NYC. That is clearly not a positive role model for his students, or society for that matter.

Simple martial arts values like being respectful and courteous of others, minding our language, greeting each other, shaking hands and thanking each other after a match seem to have disappeared.

High school bullies who used to pick on other kids, have now become Jiu Jitsu bullies who smash on hobbyists and non-competitors, get special preferential treatment and protection from their coaches, carry themselves with their noses in the air, and only care about chasing the next gold medal or the next big win. Getting more fans, followers, sponsors, and free gear seem to be the only thing that concerns them. Their coaches are only concerned about promoting their schools, selling memberships, and making more money.

Lloyd Irvin, a BJJ instructor and master internet marketer, has largely been exposed by the BJJ community as a cult-like leader who brainwashes his students and promotes rape culture within his schools.
Lloyd Irvin, a BJJ instructor and master internet marketer, has largely been exposed by the BJJ community as a cult-like leader who brainwashes his students and promotes rape culture within his schools.

On the professional levels, drug abuse (Jon Jones) and outright cheating is even acceptable, as long as you have money and popularity (Vitor Belfort), and / or can spin it somehow with WWE promo cutting skills (Chael Sonnen).

Jon Jones has convicted multiple felonies including DUI and hit and run, and has been busted for cocaine. He has avoided jail time as a result of his status as a celebrity and fighter.
Jon Jones, while widely considered as the greatest UFC Light Heavyweight Champion of all time and a pound for pound great, has convicted multiple felonies including a DUI and a hit and run, and has been busted for cocaine use. The irony is not lost – as he has admitted in the past to have snitched on his friends for smoking marijuana. He has avoided jail time as a result of his status as a celebrity and fighter.
Vitor Belfort is a known cheater, having been busted multiple times for performance enhancing drugs.
Vitor Belfort is a known cheater, having been busted multiple times for performance enhancing drugs. He is still allowed to fight and compete despite popular belief that he continues to cheat.
Chael Sonnen, one of the most notorious cheaters in the sport, abused performance enhancing drugs so much that he had to retire from competition after the athletic commissions no longer allowed exemptions. Thanks to his mouth, he's been able to talk his way out of suspensions and even gifted title shots.
Thanks to his mouth, Chael Sonnen has been able to talk his way out of suspensions and was even gifted title shots. One of the most notorious cheaters in the sport, he abused performance enhancing drugs so much that he had to retire from competition after the athletic commissions no longer allowed “therapeutic use exemptions”.

Admirable, respectful martial artists like Fedor Emelianenko, Georges St-Pierre, and Lyoto Machida have already exited or are on their way out of the limelight, no longer the idols or role models of the general public, and only to a few hardcore fans.

Fedor Emelianenko is a former PRIDE Heavyweight Champion, and widely accepted as the greatest heavyweight fighter to ever have fought MMA, and the #1 pound for pound greatest fighter of all time. He has almost always maintained a calm, stoic composure and remained a respectful martial artist.
Fedor Emelianenko is a former PRIDE Heavyweight Champion, and widely accepted as the greatest heavyweight fighter to ever have fought MMA, and the #1 pound for pound greatest fighter of all time. He has almost always maintained a calm, stoic composure and remained a respectful martial artist.
Georges_St_Pierre
Former UFC Welterweight Champion Georges St-Pierre rarely talked trash, showed true martial arts values, and was always a humble and respectful competitor. Greasing allegations aside, he is widely regarded as the greatest welterweight MMA fighter of all time, and one of the pound for pound greats.
Lyoto Machida is a former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion. He is a true martial artist in every sense of the word, and not a day goes by where he does not train. He does not talk trash, and prefers to let his actions speak for themselves.
Lyoto Machida is a former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion, known for showing the world that Karate can be used effectively in MMA. He is a true martial artist in every sense of the word, and not a day goes by where he does not train to improve himself as a martial artist. He does not talk trash, and prefers to let his actions speak for themselves.

So in 2015 – how can you tell if someone is still a true martial artist? Let’s take a look at the 5 ways we can identity a true martial artist – regardless of the discipline they practice.

1. They are humble, honest, and respectful, to everyone.

It doesn’t matter to them if you are the janitor, the receptionist, the white belt newbie, the blue belt hobbyist, or the world class BJJ black belt ADCC champion celebrity coach. They greet and treat everyone with the same amount of courtesy and respect. Not just the first time, not just the second time, but every time.

2. They remain patient and calm when dealing with problems or enemies.

They don’t lose their cool. They don’t throw a fit or a temper tantrum when they get submitted in a roll, lose a match, or get injured. They are patient when it comes to dealing with setbacks, confrontation, conflict, disagreements, or enemies.

3. They don’t use their skills to bully others.

When sparring or training with others with a significant skill gap between them, they don’t bully others by brutally knocking out their training partners, pushing smaller training partners around, or rolling excessively hard and pulling off violent and forceful submissions that can easily injure others.

4. They show sportsmanship and good degree of control.

In a match, they kick ass, and after beating their opponents, show sportsmanship and respect to the other competitor. They don’t foul their opponents, fight dirty, cheat, hit them after the bell, or crank on a submission to purposely hurt their opponents. If they are confronted on the street, they defend themselves intelligently without the use of excessive force.

Lyoto Machida showing a sign of respect to his opponent Ryan Bader, after delivering a brutal and impressive knock out.
Lyoto Machida showing a sign of respect to his opponent Ryan Bader, after delivering a brutal and impressive knock out.

5. They are role models who give back to the community and help others.

They carry themselves positively, and make positive life choices that set a good example for others. They give back to the community in some way, perhaps as a teacher or coach, and bring a positive impact on other peoples lives.

So how do you, your training partners, friends, instructors, and coaches stack up? Do you uphold the values of a true martial artist, similar to our Dynasty Family members? If you do – we’d like to hear from you, because Dynasty is a brand for martial artists – not bullies.

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– Dan Kai Wah from DynastyClothingStore.com

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24 thoughts on “The Death Of The Martial Artist (How To Tell If You Still Are One)”

  1. Martial Arts were designed for the battle fields many years ago. The battle fields have changed and some martial ways also changed with those changes. Today there are still martial arts that are no longer for the battle fields but adapted to martial sports.. just because one may be a martial sports champion that don’t make him a fighter. He/She are Sportspersons and not fighting persons. MMA is no exception because inside that cage, although its hard and tough, there is still control and regulations. I have experienced street wise friends who have never been involved in any form of Martial ways and I have Martial art/sort friends who have never had a street fight in their lives but both have manners and good attitude. If it came to choosing who I would want standing at my side in a real street situation I know which friend I would rather have because in that street, there are no rules, its just you or them. However, I have experience in all three, arts, sport and the street jungle and coupled together they all come into play so lets not get caught up thinking MMA fighters are the best fighters, when they may only be the best MMA sports champions. Mike Tyson and Ali were the best heavyweight boxer but being the best boxer don’t mean the best fighters? Martial ways, IF TAUGHT CORRECTLY contributes toward breeding a positive role within peoples lives and putting another human being on the deck, jumping on him to beat him up, may be a WANT to some but not a NEED for others. Saying that, we can and do witness sportsmanship between two humans who enjoy that way but it would be wrong for them to expect others not to find their own way to obtain the same goal. Never knock what you may have never done? Every man is the architect of his own future and every tub must stand on its own bottom. I rest my simple case recognising simplicity will be difficult for a complicated mind`

  2. I’d like to view this as the corrupting influence of Western culture, which places less emphasis in raising children with respect and humility and more on competitiveness and entitlement. Exhibit A would be the recent rise of UFC as a money-making form of entertainment.
    Whereas in Asia – the root of the martial arts highlighted – they managed to maintain it without bringing money into for hundreds of years.

    1. While I appreciate the sentiments of the article many martial artists of yesteryear, including many of the founders of the styles we practice (such as hard drinking, brothel-visiting Chotoku Kyan and street-brawling Motobu Choki), were not “real martial artists” by the standards of this article. Martial artists have drank and brawled and competed for years. They are not all angels or serene monks, some were bandits and murderers. This article is guilty of the stereotyping that martial artists aren’t real martial artists unless they’re all like Mr. Miyagi, when in fact that would mean almost no great martial artist of yesteryear, the people who gave us these systems we practice and lobe was “doing it right.”

      We can be philosophical and disciplined and all of that, because we can afford to be. We don’t have to cut people with razors for their money on the streets of Rio or kill bandits with our bare hands or any of that. It is a good age to live in.

      The idea that martial arts somehow remains pure in the East and it is the West that has corrupted it is incorrect. Pancrase and other Japanese promotions predate the UFC by years, as does the idea of having fighting competitions for pay or glory. The idea that the West has somehow “corrupted” martial arts is patently wrong, and lacks knowledge of martial history, or a broad understanding of martial arts outside of Shaolin temple serenity and budo “way of life” martial arts.

  3. This problem has been around since at least the 1500s in the japanese sword traditions. Many texts complain of the cheapening of the arts and the proliferation of shallow schools and styles. So really it’s nothing new, and martial arts have survived in spite of rampant commercialism and a generally low level of understanding from those that don’t inquire deeply.

  4. This is a very interesting article. Much of the popularity of BJJ, MMA and suchlike is down to media coverage. I have practiced and taught Tomiki Aikido since 1975 which is not the biggest martial art in the world. Our club Essex Aikido Dojo (Shoshinkan) is a very successful club in terms of numbers who attend and outcomes such as national competitions and grading.

    Over the years I have seen many instructors who moan about low attendance, and do nothing about it. Although many systems are not getting television coverage, in these days of social media, it is very easy to get yourself into the public domain. Enthusiastic instructors breed enthusiastic students, this in turn creates a club that people want to be a part of, without being a Mc Dojo.

    As pointed out in this article, traditional martial arts teach discipline and life skills. I also question would I still be rolling around a cage at my age. I guess not

  5. In order for martial arts to grow and move forward, we all need to deflate our own ego, and go back to the true art of martial arts, as it was intended. It is relatively easy to hurt some one, and a lot harder to uplift another person. As a instructor, i must teach with responsibility, and always teach courtesy, integrity, perseverance and self control. I have experienced what is mentioned here in your article first hand, and find it so disappointing that we have allowed society to destroy the beauty of our martial arts. In particular, were at a recent tournament, a young boy was losing in his sparring bout, against his opponent, and wanted to stop and not continue the fight. The young boys father jumped in from the side forcing his son to continue or else. This was an eye opener for me, The parents now a days are the real cause of concern, and the up bringing of children are really compromised.

  6. From my humble point of view:
    It takes character to stick to those five true martial arts values. Mma is money, money makes commercial, extreme behaviour sells. I would like to draw the parallel to rugby versus soccer: why is rugby abble to stick to their “fair play” values?

  7. Funny how the author makes wide generalizations that BJJ martial artists are bullies with their noses in the air and are taught to win at all costs as if they are nothing but glorified brawlers. In my experience it’s almost a standard for karate students and instructors. There are a few exceptions to that of course.

    1. There are many exceptions. Without looking at what martial arts discipline they practice – we think anyone who practices martial arts should have moral decency and respect for others.

  8. I also think that anyone who practices martial arts should have moral decency, but I also think that EVERYONE should have moral decency. How is this limited to martial arts? This article is misleading in three ways: 1) This article suggests that MMA and BJJ training are good merely for their effectiveness, and that this focus on being effective directly leads martial artists away from a more traditional purpose of cultivating “morals, values, and ethics.” “Martial” is a reference to the god of war, Mars. The old Romanized Greek gods were never known for their good morals. Literature about Greek and Romanized Greek gods repeatedly shows us that they were selfish, deceiving, vulgar and unchaste. One of the least moral of all these was Mars. If you are moral and ethical, that’s awesome, but sadly it has nothing to do with being “martial.” As for values, I would like to point out that every time I go to a Jiu Jitsu practice I get choked out or manhandled by someone and thus BJJ has cultivated feelings of humility and respect in me in a way that traditional martial arts never did. 2) This article states that “bullies who used to pick on other kids, have now become Jiu Jitsu bullies who smash on hobbyists…” I am a hobbyist. I personally have trained at or visited over ten Jiu Jitsu gyms and have never once felt picked on. I have, however, had a Kung Fu, Krav Maga, and even an Aikido guy verbally bully me before, and with actual anger ridicule BJJ and prize fighting. 3) This article states that the MMA and BJJ “coaches are only concerned about… making more money.” First, no. My BJJ/MMA coaches back in Utah are the most caring coaches you have ever had the privilege of working with. They will do anything to help their students prepare for events. More often than not these are amateur events where they will make no extra money. I have received hours of private instruction from those men at no extra cost, something I can not say about Kung Fu and Judo teachers I once trained with. Second, if money should not be one of the objects of a martial artist, then this article, which ultimately is a Dynasty advertisement if you read the whole thing, is in itself not living up to its own standard, and, by it’s own fruition, is on the same level as the most base people it has described in this article.

    1. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, views, and philosophy. By no means is anyone’s point of view the end all be all of everything – there’s always going to be alternative perspectives, experiences, and exceptions. This just happens to be how we feel at this point in time. This article is written by us, an original piece that asks others to uphold the values of a martial artist (regardless of their actual discipline), because as a brand, those are the types of people we associate with and wish to represent – we don’t see how that is “on the same level as the most base people it has described in this article” as you put it – as none of us are PED abusers or cheaters.

  9. Reblogged this on CLICK. BLINK. SNAP. and commented:
    Martial arts has been a way of life for me since I was 11-years-old. It has taught me to be humble, patient, kind and fair, to improve every day and see opportunities in challenges. I am disappointed to see what Mixed “Martial Arts” on TV and other commercialized venues have become.

    1. Very well said sir! i have studied 3 styles of martial Art’s and was taught to be respectful and kind and treat everyone with respect. Why is that so hard to do? You are a better person when you are taught that way and that is the way i taught my student’s under my Master.

  10. Couldn’t agree more!! As someone who has spent over 30 years doing martial arts it’s a shame to see it slowly start to die. Most of the top fighters in the UFC have never even trained before there either X wrestlers or just great athletes turned fighters. Great article!

  11. What about Dudes like Rory McDonald, Donald Cerrone, Mighty Mouse, Benson Henderson!!! Tons of other people in the sport that are true Martial Artists just people focus on the bullshit, plus we are all human so you have to grow and learn from your past mistakes…which I also think is a huge part of being a martial artist!!

  12. All the above observations are typical of the ages. We are no different.
    The idea of a warrior comes from loyalty to something or someone. They did not care what happened to them but had only the goal to destroy the opponent.
    This changed when era of peace prevailed..then Budo became the goal.
    From those who wanted entertainment sought sport or quozi sport competition.
    Culture also begged for noble causes and upright disciplines so Bushido became a path to warrior training.
    I am involved as a proponent of peace and non violence yet also a person who will stand my ground.
    Conflict shall be resolved without violence

  13. After training for over thirty years, and wanting to pass on the knowledge as a teacher. I was sad that making money was all that seemed important. I have not trained since. There is a void in my life.

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