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Subject matter experts


People want to feel important and needed, so they seek ways to feel important and needed. To accomplish this, some people learn to do things that few others can do and become “subject matter experts,” hereafter referred to as SMEs. People seek the services of SMEs to:

  • Learn to perform the subject matter skills, such as going to a college to obtain a college degree going to a martial arts school to learn a martial art, earn a black belt, and become an instructor.
  • Obtain the subject matter services, such as the services of doctors, mechanics, plumbers, etc.
  • Belong to a group of like-minded believers, such as joining a fan club, a martial arts school, a religious group, or a group of conspiracy believers.

Performing any task requires both mental and physical prowess; therefore, SMEs need both physical and mental prowess. SMEs may need, and have, a lot of physical prowess, or a lot of mental prowess or, in some cases, they may need or have a lot of both. The best brain surgeon in the world may be an obese, physical wreck. Watch newscasts where a group of doctors is announcing a new medical breakthrough and look at the physical condition of the doctors standing in the background. Conversely, a sports superstar with a rock-hard body may be an illiterate idiot. For example, watch interviews with professional sports stars.

For this discussion of SMEs, let’s use the example of a trainer and a boxer. Some SMEs require mental prowess, such as a trainer who trains a professional boxer to fight, while some SMEs require physical prowess, such as a professional boxer who fights in the ring.


A trainer only needs minimal physical prowess, and a boxer only needs minimal mental prowess. They both may have a lot of physical and mental prowess, but a lot of both are not required for either to be an SME.

Although the trainer may be, or may have been, an outstanding boxer; it is not required for the task. The trainer does not need to be able to physically box; a trainer only needs to be able to develop fighting strategies and tactics and obtain the best performance from a boxer; this requires much mental prowess and little physical prowess.

A boxer needs to be able to box in the ring, but this requires little mental prowess. The trainer develops the strategies and tactics needed to win, while the boxer only needs to carry out the strategies and tactics and punch hard and hit the target, which requires much physical prowess but little mental prowess.

This is not to say that all trainers are physical wrecks and that all boxers are idiots. A trainer with increased physical prowess may be a better trainer, and a boxer with increased mental prowess may be a better boxer. A great trainer may have been an Olympic champion, and an Olympic boxer may be a genius. However, in general, trainers don’t need much physical prowess and boxers don’t need a lot of mental prowess.


The trainer/boxer comparison may also be compared to the martial art instructor and the martial art student. A great instructor needs the mental skills needed to train students but needs few physical skills. A student needs the physical skills needed perform techniques, but only needs minimal mental skills. An idiot will not make a good instructor, and a couch potato will not make a good student.

The martial arts are combat arts. They were created from a need to prevent an attacker from injuring or killing you, and from a need for you to be able to injure or kill the attacker. Other benefits that may be gained from performing martial arts may be a good reason to perform them, but if you cannot physically stop an attacker from injuring or killing you and you are not able to injure or kill the attacker, you will never be a true martial artist. To believe otherwise will mislead mentally or physically limited students into believing they may be effective martial artists. Although with training that is tailored to fit their limitations, they may be more able to defend themselves somewhat, they will probably never become true martial artists. If you give black belts to students who cannot perform techniques required of all other black belts or you lower the standards required of black belts, then you degrade the status of the black belt for everyone.

An instructor may be an obese, physical wreck that cannot defend him or herself effectively, but if he or she can produce outstanding martial artists, then he or she is a good instructor. However, if a student is an obese, physical wreck and cannot perform the required techniques in an effective manner, he or she will never become a good martial artist.

Although an idiot usually cannot become an instructor, it does not mean that all instructors are necessarily bright. Some instructors are rather dim and only exist because they have been able to find dimwits who believe them.

Although physically limited martial artists usually don’t become great fighters, it does not mean all great fighters have great physical prowess. Some great fighters make up for their physical limitations by being smart fighters.

If you are seeking an instructor in the martial arts, the instructor must have the mental prowess required, but he or she does not necessarily need much physical prowess. And, a person may have the physical prowess to be a champion in the ring, but it does not necessarily mean he or she has the mental prowess to be an instructor.

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