The Death of the Casual

I have been a martial artist for over 20 years, I have studied over 13 styles and even taught. I went to the extent of learning random rare styles to be outside of the norm, but in recent years I have seen a paradigm shift back to what was probably the norm in the 1970’s. BJJ is now what Karate was to the UK in the ’70’s, everyone does it or knows about it and everyone competes somewhere. 

Don’t get me wrong I don’t mind the uniformity of a common martial art, I am always going to be the person that will learn something different to everyone else because deep down I want to be different. What I do have issue with is how the alpha mindset influences every popular martial arts school these days, everyone has to compete, everyone has to train to compete and the guys who compete are put on a pedestal.  As a father of two – do I get praise for getting the kids to do something they hate? No, but that’s because its my job. Therefore, you could argue that the guys that compete are also doing ‘their job’. 

These days there is no place for the casual martial artists, the guys that want to get in shape but also have a 9-5 and/or kids. The alternative is to study Kung fu or Karate or Tae Kwon Do. As someone who has studied those, there is the common place elements of cash-grab gradings coupled with the fact you are probably not going to be able to defend yourself. 

I have myself turned my nose up at things like boxercise in the past, but why shouldn’t you be able to train and not get hit? Fighting isn’t for everybody – just don’t be silly and put hand wraps on if you aren’t hitting anything. The same goes for the Kung Fu and Karate style schools, I think it’s ok to go but just don’t expect that any of it will work when the fight gets taken to the ground.

As I type I think my genuine gripe is with the mainstream popular styles, influenced by the UFC – BJJ, Muay Thai etc where you are made to feel like you need to spar/fight/compete – I know so many people that have been injured or had surgery that has impacted their way of life because they felt pressured to do it.

I had one Muay Thai coach that psychologically tried to turn his school into fighters and shunned anyone who wasn’t at the level he wanted. He went on to buy a farm, write a sci-fi book and become a self-help coach. I know you’re probably thinking that’s the stepping stone to starting a cult? You are probably right. There are guys that encourage this “need to be Alpha” and make you feel like you are less because you actually might not be motivated to be punched in the face or perhaps having a black eye isn’t the look your workplace is willing to accept. 

There has to be a place for the casual martial artist, someone who doesn’t want to be a UFC champion, but does want to defend themselves and their loved ones, where they can learn an effective style, without signing up for a Karate class.

I don’t mean to be disrespectful to any martial art (maybe Krav Maga – who are you guys kidding). I wish for the positive elements of popular schools stick around: the family element for example. I hope the pressure to compete falls away from the regular classes and the ‘fighters’ go to a private class before the ‘casuals’ end up going to boxercise to learn how to fight. 

This post was written by a contributor which I’ve labelled as longtermbudodude, a good mate from my Judo club. If you want to contribute, feel free to reach out! And make sure to subscribe!

Leave a Reply