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An analogy compares two things, which are similar in several respects, to explain how one of the things is much like the other more familiar one. Analogies may help explain a technique or concept in a way that is easier for students to understand.

I use analogies all the time. I think they are beneficial in helping get my point across to students.

What I have found about analogies is that:
  • Most fit the point I am trying to make and help explain the point. 
  • Some fit the point but a better one could have been used. 
  • A few miss the point entirely and confuse the issue.
  • When debating a point with people, sometimes they focus on my analogy and want to debate it, rather than debating my original point. Usually, this is because they have weak arguments to support their side of the debate, so they are trying to change the subject.
Here are a few of the analogies I use.

Punching vs. Firehose

When a fireman opens the valve of a fire hydrant, the water surges into the fire hose, and causes the hose to suddenly jerk straight and become rigid, allowing the water to flow with little resistance until it leaves the nozzle and strikes the fire. When the water is no longer needed, the valve is closed again, the hose goes slack.

When punching an opponent, imagine that your shoulder is a hydrant. When the hydrant is turned on and your muscular forces are suddenly applied down the arm, your arm should suddenly straighten powerfully toward the target and become rigid until the forces are released into the target; then it goes slack and returns.

Punching vs. Bullwhip

When punching, think of the arm as a bullwhip. When snapping a bullwhip, the handle of a whip moves relatively slowly but the tip moves very quickly. If the snapping motion is done properly, the length of the whip stays relaxed until the end of the motion when the handle is jerked backward. At this moment, the tip of the whip will exceed the speed of sound (break the sound barrier) and make a popping noise.

A punch should be performed in the same manner. The arm stays loose and relaxed as it moves toward the target and, as the fist first contacts the target, the arm is jerked backward, which increases the speed of the fist, and thus the force of the punch.

Punching vs. Hammering 

When you use a hammer to drive a nail, the head of the hammer moves in a large arc; however, the other end of the handle where your hand is gripping only moves in a small arc.

When sparring, a punch should use the same motion. In your guard, the lead hand (head of the hammer) may move randomly to keep it in motion to confuse the opponent, but the elbow (end of the hammer) should stay relatively stationary in front of the body, protecting the lower ribs. When ready to punch, you "drop the hammer" by suddenly moving the fist toward the target. In this motion, the fist makes a large movement while the elbow moves relatively little.

Punching vs. Line drive

Catching a baseball that is moving in an arc is relatively easy since you can see its direction of movement and adjust your location accordingly. However, when the ball is moving directly at you, as in a line drive, the ball appears to be getting larger in your field of view but it difficult to gauge its direction of movement and you have very little time to move.

An arcing punch is highly visible, it is easy to detect its movement, and you have time to react. A straight punch is difficult to detect since about the only detectable motion is that the fist appears to be getting larger in your view, and, you have very little time in which to react.

Punching vs. Do not enter

When you try to enter a club without permission, the bouncer, instead of blocking your way, will usually intercept your attempt by simply placing his hand out and pushing you backward.

When sparring, rather than blocking a punching attack, it is easier to use your jab to intercept the attack, slip inside it, and then continue to its target. This way, you not only prevent the attack, you are initiating your own counterattack.

Punching vs. Tracking a duck

When firing a shotgun at a flying duck, you track the duck with the gun, aim at the location you think the duck will be when the pellets arrive, and then, at the right moment, you pull the trigger.

When sparring, you should track your target, anticipate where the target will be when your attack arrives (accounting for any defensive action by the opponent), and then fire the technique.

Punching vs. Pinball

Competition sparring is like playing a pinball machine. You must be quick, your timing must be precise, and you must make split-second decisions on how and when to react so as to get the highest score. In pinball, if you want the highest score, you must play close to the edge of fairness. You must jiggle, nudge, and shake the machine to get the ball to go where you want it to go, but, if you go too far, you will "tilt" and lose the game.

To get the most points in competition sparring, you also have to flirt with the rules and play close to the edge, but, if you go too far, you will be disqualified and lose the match.

Punching vs. Butterfly

One spring a young boy approached his father with something he had found; it was a chrysalis. The father told the boy that this was a great find; that if he cared for the chrysalis and gave it time, a beautiful butterfly would emerge.

The boy cared for the chrysalis but then one day, through the walls of the chrysalis, the boy saw that the butterfly was beating its wings against the walls of the chrysalis, trying to escape. Fearing the butterfly could not escape, the boy opened the chrysalis to free the butterfly. Instead of a butterfly, out came a wet, ugly thing that quickly died.

The boy ran to his father crying. The father told the boy that he should have let the butterfly struggle to escape on its own. The butterfly's beating of its wings against the wall of the chrysalis may have appeared fruitless, but it made the butterfly's wings stronger and stronger until they were strong enough for the butterfly to break out of the chrysalis. At that point, the wings would have been strong enough for the butterfly to fly, and the struggle would have given the butterfly the strength and confidence it needed to survive as a butterfly.

When you see a student struggling to achieve rank, if you feel sorry for the student and make it easier for the student to achieve the rank, you do not help the student; instead, you destroy the student. If a student makes rank without the struggle, the student will not be able to survive as a martial artist. The student will quickly lose interest in training and will soon quit training. You can show a student the path and encourage the student in the struggle, but if you make the struggle easier, you will only destroy the student.

Punching vs. Dishwasher

You get your first job as a dishwasher in a restaurant at a minimum wage. You work hard to become the best dishwasher and most dependable employee in the restaurant. After years of hard work and dedication, you are still a dishwasher working at minimum wage. Hard work and dedication will not necessarily make you successful. You must continuously strive to learn new things, reach new goals, and achieve expertise in new things. A dishwasher who does his or her job well, but also learns, seeks, and works at all the other jobs in the restaurant business may one day own a restaurant.

If you can perform a highly effective round kick and you use it all the time, you will become the best round kicker in your school. However, if you try other kicks and use them regularly, you will become the best kicker in the school. If you are only doing what you do best, you will not progress. To progress, you must constantly attempt things that you cannot do currently.

Learning vs. Potatoes, eggs, and coffee beans

A student complained to her instructor that she was finding it difficult to handle the intense training.

The instructor took her next door to a restaurant where he filled three pots with water and placed on a hot stove. Once the three pots began to boil, he placed some hard potatoes in one pot, some raw eggs in the second pot, and some coffee beans in the third pot. Then he and the student sat and waited. The student grew impatient and complained, but the instructor told her to be patient.

After a few minutes, the instructor took a potato from the first pot and placed it in a bowl, took an egg from the second pot and placed it in a bowl, and scooped some liquid from the third pot with a cup. Turning to the student, he asked. "What do you see?" "Potatoes, eggs, and coffee," the girl replied. "Look closer,” he said, "and tell me what you see." She looked and noted that the potato was soft, the egg was hard, and the liquid smelled like coffee.

“What’s the point?” asked the student. The instructor explained that the potatoes, the eggs, and coffee beans had each faced the same adversary—the boiling water. However, each reacted differently. The potato-faced the adversary strong and hard and came out weak and soft. The egg-faced the adversary weak and fragile and came out strong and hard. However, the coffee beans faced the adversary as beans and changed very little. Instead, they changed the adversary into something new and wonderful.

"Which are you?" the instructor asked the student. "When you face a challenge, how do you respond? Are you like a potato, an egg, or a coffee bean?” Do you become weaker, or stronger, or do you turn the challenge into something new and wonderful?

Learning vs. Making soup

When making soup, as the cook adds ingredients, the first ingredients put into the pot settle to the bottom. To make good soup, the cook must stir the ingredients occasionally.

When adding new techniques to a student's training regime, the first techniques the student learned tend to be forgotten. Like a good cook, a good instructor needs to stir the pot by continually having the student practice even the most basic of techniques. Soup is best if it simmers over time. Techniques get better if they are practiced often over a long period of time.

Learning vs. Plateaus, peaks, and valleys

During their journey through the martial arts, students reach plateaus, achieve peaks, and experience valleys. Students start their journey from a valley where they know nothing about the martial arts. They will reach plateaus in their training where no progress is apparent. But, if they persist, they will travel past the plateau and continue their climb until they reach a peak in their training. However, during the entire journey, reaching one peak only means they must transit more valleys, experience more plateaus, and climb more peaks. The good thing is that as they progress, the valleys don’t seem as deep and the peaks don’t seem as high. If their journey ever reaches level ground, it will be over, and so will their progress in the martial arts.

Learning vs. Learning a language (1)

Even before you learn to speak, read, or understand a language, you probably already knew something about the language. From hearing others use it or seeing it used, you probably picked up some characteristics of the language and may even be able to communicate in the language enough that others know what you mean. As you start studying the language in detail, you learn its letters, structure, and punctuation, and you discover its numerous dialects. You learn a martial art in much the same way.

Learning vs. Learning a language (2)

Just because you know some words it does not mean that you know the language. You still must learn the grammar, punctuation, and syntax. If you decide to learn a language, you must decide how you want to learn, on your own, with others, with a private teacher, or in an organized class. In evaluating these questions, you find that if you try to learn on your own from books, videos, DVDs, and such, you won’t have anyone to correct your mistakes, reinforce your efforts, or to encourage you. A self-taught language may not be understood by anyone but you.

The same things are true in learning the martial arts. Self-taught self-defense may lead to serious injuries if not properly done and may even be deadly to the user when it is actually used. Studying language with others allows you to help each other and gives you some comparison as to how well you are proceeding. The same is true with learning the martial arts.

Like a language, the martial arts have their own terminology, grammar, punctuation, and syntax. You learn the correct terminology for techniques so that you will be understood anywhere in the world your martial art is practiced. A martial art’s syntax comes from learning the way techniques are performed, the order they are performed, when they are performed, and why they are performed. A martial art’s punctuation is the speed, tempo, and rhythm of its techniques.

Learning a martial art vs. Learning the alphabet

Children in the first grade have already been exposed to the alphabet, but as they try to draw the letters, they tremble and are unsure, but the letters are still recognizable. You may think you already know how to move your body, but if you remember your first martial arts class, you remember how awkward and clumsy you were. Your front kick was sloppy, but it was still recognizable as a front kick.

After children learn to write the letters, they begin to put them together into words. As martial arts students learn the basic techniques, they learn to put them together into combinations.

Children learn that some letters are silent and not pronounced, while other letters have a special accent on them; martial arts students learn the same thing. Some parts of a technique are vital but they are downplayed so as not to be noticeable, while other parts are highly stressed and readily apparent.

After you learn one language, when you hear another language, you may notice they have some of the same characteristics, or you may notice some subtle differences in pronunciation, such as the “h” in Spanish. You may notice confusion in some languages between some letters, such as between “s” and “c,” or the difference in pronunciation in Italian when the “c” is followed by an “h” or a vowel.

As martial arts students, you may notice the way other martial art styles perform their basic techniques. They are not necessarily wrong, it’s just a different way of doing the same thing.

If you know more than one alphabet, you will see that related alphabets have letters whose shape is very similar, if not the same, like the letter “A” in the Cyrillic, Latin, and Greek alphabets. Some words have the same meaning in different languages. If you know more than one martial art, you may notice some similarities between them, even when they claim to be new or different.

Teaching vs. House building

Teaching a martial art is like building a house. The foundation (the basics) must be laid first. Then the structure (patterns, sparring, etc.) of the house is built. As the house nears completion, the final touches (strategy, tactics, theory, etc.) are completed. When constructed properly, the house will stand for many years. When taught properly, a student will be a solid martial artist for many years.

Learning vs. Seasons

A lifetime sometimes seems like only a year, and a year has four seasons. The lifetime of a martial arts student may be compared to the lifespan of an annual plant as it lives through the four seasons.


The lifespan of an annual plant begins with spring when fields are tilled, fertilized, and planted with new seeds. The new seeds bud and begin to grow. Under the intense sun, some plants will wilt and die, some will thrive, and some will even begin to bear early fruit. If a fruit is picked too early, it will not fully ripen in time for market; instead, it will begin to rot.

In the spring of the lives of martial arts students, their preconceived ideas about the martial arts are tilled so they are ready for the planting of new ideas that are then fertilized through constant training in the basics. Some of the new students will wilt under the intense training and quit; others will start blooming and show potential, and a few will show great promise.

Like the fruit that was picked too early, sometimes these promising students are rushed in their training, so they may begin competing. Like the early fruit, on the outside, they appear ready, but inside, they are immature and underdeveloped. They may achieve early victories, but as they progress, they are unable to maintain their intense level of training. These students will be more prone to injury, will probably get frustrated, and some will eventually burn out and quit.


During the summer, with plenty of water and sun, the plants continue to grow and mature. They weather the wind and rain and their fruit grows larger and begins to ripen.
In the summer of the lives of martial arts students, with proper instruction and training, the students begin to mature in the martial arts. They develop flexibility, stamina, and strength, and their techniques gain speed and power. Some students get injuries, but they learn to adapt and work through them. Students suffer losses in competition, but the losses make them stronger.


Autumn is harvest time. Ripened fruit is picked and sent to market where it draws great acclaim. The air begins to turn cold, the leaves of the plants began to change colors, wilt, and fall.
At the beginning of the autumn the lives of martial arts students, the students are at their peak. All they have learned and practiced begins to come together and they win most of their competitions. More than that, they have come to understand how much the martial arts have meant in their lives and how they are better persons for the training. Toward the end of autumn, students begin to lose some of their edges; they are not as quick and not as strong.

They begin to have a sense of foreboding. Their physical powers are fading, injuries become more frequent, illnesses become a problem, and the physical expressions of age become more prevalent. However, a lifetime of martial arts training has helped slow the pace of aging and gives students the strength to accept aging as a process that must be endured if one is to achieve final victory.


As winter progresses, plants complete their lifespan and die. They prepare for their inevitable death by ensuring that new seeds are available for the next spring.

During the winter of the lives of martial arts students, the process of aging results in decreased flexibility and physical strength, and training becomes more difficult if not impossible. Students began to spend more of their time ensuring a new crop of students is available to carry on the art. As the aged students die, their legacies live on in the hearts of the younger students whose lives they touched.

Patterns vs. Stage actors

When performing on stage, actors learn they must exaggerate everything they do. Body movements, arm motions, facial expressions, voice loudness and inflection, etc. all must be exaggerated so they may be seen or heard by all audience members, even those in the last row. Small movements will not be seen or appreciated by all audience members.

When students perform a pattern at a testing or in a competition, the audience, and sometimes the judges, are far away from the performance area, so, for pattern movements to be seen and appreciated, all movements and facial expression should be exaggerated.

Fully chamber all techniques, full extend all techniques, do not move so quickly that movements may not be appreciated, exaggerate your facial expressions, when circular movements are required, make large sweeping movements, and kiai loudly. Pretend you are performing your pattern for a judge in the last row of the audience.

Teaching vs. Painting

A painter does not start by completing the painting in one area and then moving to another area. The painter starts with a faint layout of the entire painting, adds bold colors to large areas, and then works down to the subtler colors in small areas. As the painting nears completion, the painter steps back to view the painting and then makes changes where required. Sometimes highlights are added to accentuate certain areas to make the entire painting a work of art.

Martial arts teaching is like painting a canvas. The basics are taught, then major techniques are taught, and then the finer points are stressed. Instructors sometimes need to step back and look at the overall performance of a student and adjust as needed. Instructors also need to look at each student individually and teach the student things that will accentuate his or her individuality.

Teaching vs. Conducting an orchestra

Conducting a martial arts training class is like conducting an orchestra. An orchestra conductor must lead a group of individual musicians with different skill levels playing different types of musical instruments in a manner that allows each musician to play his or her best while still blending in with the orchestra to create beautiful music.

A martial arts instructor leads a group of individual students of different belt ranks, each with a different type of body and skill level, in a manner that allows each student train at his or her best while still blending in with the class to create a harmonious learning environment. To conduct a smooth-running martial arts class that is both challenging and enjoyable to a group of students with different skill levels requires an exceptional instructor. If all students are taught the same techniques in the same manner, the lower ranked students may feel discouraged at not being able to perform difficult techniques, and the higher ranked students may feel bored at having to perform easy techniques. An instructor must simultaneously:
  • Teach all students techniques that are applicable to their belt rank,
  • watch each student so corrections or rewards may be given when required,
  • keep the overall energy of the class at a high level,
  • challenge each student both physically and mentally, and
  • keep the entire class moving smoothly toward a successful conclusion. 

To accomplish all these things, an instructor must know each student personally. He or she must know each student's capabilities (present physical ability, potential physical ability, learning potential, emotional state, desire, and determination) and be able to use this information at the appropriate time to keep a class moving smoothly and effectively.

Just as all orchestra conductors are not great conductors, not all martial arts instructors are able to orchestrate a great training class. Some instructors, although they may be superior instructors in every other way, are not able to conduct a great class. A well-orchestrated class is a thing of beauty in which it is a pleasure to participate.

Teaching vs. Multiplication tables

If I tell you that 8 x 3 = 24, then, when you see 8 x3 again, you will know the answer is 24. However, if you see 5 x 3, you will not know the answer. If I explain to you that 8 x 3 means that you add 8 to itself 3 times, then, when you see 5 x 3 or 4 x 6, you will be able to deduct the answer.

The same principle may be applied to teaching martial arts techniques. If an instructor shows you how to perform a sequence of self-defense techniques in response to a specific attack, you will be able to perform that technique under the given circumstances. However, if the attack varies, you will not know how to respond and may freeze. Whereas, if the instructor teaches you some basic self-defense principles and how to apply them in different situations, you will be able to deduce how to respond to any type of attack effectively.

Sparring vs. Puzzles

To achieve the goal of having a completed jigsaw puzzle, you must choose the proper puzzles pieces and then place them into their proper positions. It is a waste of time to try to fit the wrong piece into an open puzzle position.

When sparring, to achieve the goal of winning, you must choose the proper weapons and then fire them into the proper targets. It is a waste of time to fire the wrong weapon at the wrong target. A wide foot may not get through a narrow opening in the opponent's defenses, while a narrow fist may penetrate the opening.

Sparring vs. Windshield wiper

When blocking, the arm may wipe away an attack by moving in a broad, sweeping movement across the line of attack, such as the way a squeegee is swept across a car windshield to clear it, or the arm may move in a rotating movement using the elbow as a pivot point, such as the way a windshield wiper moves to clear a windshield.

Sparring vs. Playing pool

Sparring is like playing the game of pool. When playing pool, you try to shoot the most balls into the table pockets. If you only concentrate on shooting at one ball at a time, you will probably lose the game. To become a proficient pool player, you must think ahead to your second, third, etc. shots. You must sink the ball you are aiming at, but, you also must consider where the cue ball, and other balls your shot put in motion, will come to rest after the shot. You want the cue ball to stop at a position that will permit you an easy shot at the next ball you want to shoot at. When considering the first shot and where the cue ball will stop for the second shot, you should also consider the availability of a third shot.

To become proficient in sparring, you must consider your opponent's reaction to your attack and where your body will come to rest after the attack. You must think ahead two, three, or more movements before making your initial attack. Consider how your opponent may block or avoid your attack, and where your body position should be after your initial technique to take advantage of your opponent's reactions. Your body position after an attack should be in an advantageous position to you while either setting your opponent up for another attack or hindering your opponent from counterattacking.

Sparring vs. Spearfishing

To spear a fish, you use bait or a lure to attract a fish and then you spear it once it gets within range. When sparring, you may attract an opponent into attacking a perceived opening you present as a lure, and then spear the opponent with your weapon as the opponent presents an opening during his or her attack.

Sparring vs. Mirror image

When you shadowbox in front of a mirror, your image duplicates your every movement, except the image is flipped horizontally. This is the way most fighters react to each other while sparring; they constantly change their positions to maintain a mirror image of each other. One fighter may use this to his or her advantage since the opponent's next movement may be anticipated as he or she moves to duplicate your movement.

Sparring vs. Playing chess

Sparring is like playing chess. If a chess player only considers the current move, he or she will probably lose the game. A good chess player considers how he or she thinks the opponent will move in reaction to his or her move. An expert chess player considers all his or her available moves and all the opponent’s reciprocal moves. A master chess player considers all his or her available moves, all the opponent’s reciprocal moves, and all his or her moves in response to all the opponent’s possible moves. A grand master chess player considers all the moves and countermoves for three or more of his or her moves.

To become proficient at sparring, you must consider all your possible attacks, the opponent’s probable response to each attack, and your response to your opponent’s actions. To become a sparring master, you must be able to think ahead three or more moves and opponent counter moves.

Sparring vs. Venetian blinds

The size of openings through a Venetian blind may be changed in size without making a significant change in the length of the blind. Target zones on the body may be opened and closed without making a significant change in your perceived height. Your arms may move, the body may rotate, and the torso may scrunch to open and close target areas without bending the body or the legs, which would change your perceived height.

Sparring vs. Playing Poker

Training in taekwondo may be compared to playing poker. In poker, you use all your skills to play the best game you can, using the cards you are dealt. You may improve your hand somewhat by exchanging some of your cards, but you must play with the cards you are dealt. Your fellow players must also play with the cards they are dealt. Sometimes, no matter how well you play your cards, your fellow players win. Sometimes they win because they are players that are more skilled; sometimes they win because they were dealt better cards.

In martial arts training, you use all your skills to train the best you can, using the cards life has dealt you. Sometimes, no matter how hard you train, some of your fellow students do better than you. This may be because they are training harder than you or it may be because life has dealt them better cards, such as they are naturally taller, stronger, faster, more flexible, etc. You may improve your hand by an extra training effort, but sometimes life just deals you a bad hand, such as disability, illness, injury, etc.

Martial arts belt promotions are awarded on how well you perform the required techniques and how much you have improved since the last promotion, with consideration to the hand life has dealt you. Some martial arts promotions are not just based on how well you play the game, but also, on how well you play considering the hand life dealt you.

Technique vs. Kick like a duck

When beginners try to kick enthusiastically, they generally use every part of their body. They flap their arms, shrug their shoulders, grit their teeth, duck their head, lean backward etc. What they really need to do is kick like a duck swimming.

Picture a duck swimming along, minding its business. The part of the duck which you can see, that which is above the water, is perfectly relaxed and composed, cruising along undisturbed. The picture under the water is completely different. The duck's legs are churning away in a frenzy

This is the image a kicker should try to imitate. From the waist up, the upper body and arms should be relaxed and undisturbed by what the legs and hips are doing. The head should be upright, with the chin back and down, without ducking the head. The shoulders, arms, and hands should be relaxed.
The legs and hips should be relaxed, but working hard. Keep in mind that the feeling is that of the hips moving the legs, not the legs moving the hips. The tail does not wag the dog. The feeling of a kick should be that of popping a wet towel.

However, no matter how hard you are working on a kick, keep the upper body as upright as possible and let it just go along for the ride. Remember, kick duck style. However, do not flap your arms when you do it, you are never going to fly.

Technique vs. Chickens

Most people relate being called "chicken" to being accused of being afraid to do something, but this type of chicken relates to some types of mistakes that are made while sparring.

Ever notice how chickens walk. When they move, they poke their head forward before they take a step. It is called "sticking your neck out." Some fighters start forward movement by making a forward movement of their head. In spinning techniques, the head must turn first so it may reacquire the target as soon as possible and so the body may spin quicker. When moving forward, the target is already acquired, so the head does not need to move first. So, when you are moving forward, move the entire body as a unit. If you move the head first, it will be the first thing hit.

Chickens have wings, but they cannot fly. However, this does not keep them from trying to fly. Some fighters look like chickens trying to fly. When they kick, they wave their arms around, so they get counterpunched in the face. When they spin, they wave their arms around, so they spin into a kick to the face. Remember, the arms are for blocking and attacking, not for maintaining balance. Balance is maintained using internal adjustments to body parts.

Technique vs. Expression

Language permits the expression of thoughts, ideas, and personal differences. The martial arts also permit these expressions. Even though many people may be performing the same pattern, each has his or her unique way of expressing the pattern. As with other expressions, not everyone will agree with the way a pattern is expressed.

Technique vs. Evolution

Even though a language stays basically the same through the centuries, it evolves, so much that it may not seem to be the same language after a few centuries. The martial arts are the same. They have evolved since their creation and will continue to evolve.

Styles vs. Dialects

The way a language is spoken within a country depends on what area of the country the person was raised. All the people may speak the same language in a country, but they may have minor, or major, differences in the way they speak. Sometimes within the same country, people of one region will make fun of or criticize the way people of another region speak.

The same is true for the martial arts. There are sport, traditional, full-contact, mixed, etc. versions of the martial arts. All versions have some elements in common and are recognizable among practitioners, but some people have difficulty understanding some aspects of the different versions.

We must be careful not mistake a dialect with jargon or slang. While a dialect wants and needs everyone to be involved and participating, jargon and slang are exclusive. The members of some groups want to be separated from the masses, so they develop slang to make themselves different and so the public will not understand what they are saying.

The same is true of the martial arts. Some martial arts try to be different, just to be different. Like slang, these transient versions come and go. Only the original versions survive and flourish.

Accents vs. Instructors

Within a language, local accents may be picked up from the people in a certain town. These accents are localized and may seem odd to outsiders.

If you visit different martial arts schools, you will find small differences that may not be attributed to a difference in style, but to the personality or background of the instructor. This may cause confusion with beginners or visitors, but it is a natural occurrence.

Being a Black Belt vs. Selling auto parts

Many black belts are like auto parts salespeople. When you ask the salesperson for a part, he or she asks you some questions about your vehicle, looks in a database for the part number, and retrieves the part. The person may be the best salesperson in the store as far as total sales are concerned, but that is the limit of his or her abilities. The person does not know where the part is from, who makes it, what it does, where it is used on the vehicle, whether it will work in your case since you have made modifications to your vehicle, or whether another part would work in the same vehicle, but he or she is still the top salesperson because he or she can sell a lot of parts.

Many martial arts black belts are the same way. If you ask them what technique to use in a certain situation, they have a stock answer that will work, but if you ask what style or country the technique is from, who founded it, what it does, where and when it should be used, whether it will work in your case, or whether another technique may be substituted, they are lost and confused. They only know what the "program" has taught them. They have no desire to further their knowledge and their instructors do not care because these competent, but ignorant, black belts can move students through the system quickly and increase sales.

  • Bartolom√©, L. (2004). Martial arts seen as languages.

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