We’re Dyin’ Here – Kim Taylor, Renshi, CI Sei Do Kai Guelph ON, Nanadan Iaido and Roukudan Jodo

There are school boards that won’t allow martial arts to use their space. There are universities that won’t allow martial arts classes. Sports insurance companies seem to be amalgamating and becoming monopolies which means the fees are going up. Yet I have seen nothing to indicate that sports are any more dangerous than they were twenty years ago. I hear through my spies that our membership and dojo fees are going up next year, not unexpected with declining membership income and increasing insurance costs.

The martial arts seem to be continuing their long slow decline. I’d go look for some stats but governments seem not to like those inconvenient census things any more. Probably run contrary to the economic theories that get people elected. You know, “monopolies are no problem, it’s a free market, shareholder rights trump human rights, trickle down does”, that sort of thing.

At the same time, I see less and less work being done to promote the arts. Fewer advertisements, fewer demonstrations in public spaces. Mind you, that may be because public spaces are getting as rare as kids wanting to try out a martial art as opposed to googling it. True public space is dominated by fear of “terrorism” and folks are as likely to report the old ladies doing Tai Chi to the police as join them. The apparent public space is the local mall and if there’s no money to be had, get out of our space.

At one point I was a big fan of open information, sharing video and whatnot online. Now I’d like to see all of it taken down and things become myserious once more. I thought that video would make the kids curious, it seems to have the opposite effect entirely. “Seen that, movies are better”. “Seen that, know how to do it now”. “I do that in my game-cube”.

At least in the old days they had to peek in the door and once they were there they could be invited in.

Fees going up? Sure, with fewer students and insurance costs increasing, with the usual sniping and carping between arts and within arts “he don’t respect me!” getting even worse as us rats in a box notice the box getting smaller and smaller, where can fees go except up. Saw the same thing in a photo studio I joined. As each photographer decided it was too expensive and quit, the fees went up. Recruiting another photographer or four? What was that all about? “I can afford this month’s rent so it’s not my problem”. Right up until I quit too.

If nobody is making a living in a martial arts organization, nobody has an interest in bringing in the punters. I can afford the membership and dojo fees, even the higher ones, and I’ve got maybe one grading left in, now, six years so even that is not a factor. I’m alright Jack. Why should I put myself out recruiting new members? Don’t have dojo rent to pay, practice in my own place or at the University where, thank goodness, they have a history of martial arts and don’t freak out with assumptions and speculations of lawyers descending with opening briefcases.

I don’t have a solution to this problem, if I did I would suggest it. We used to have 80 people in the first class of Aikido each semester, that was pre-videogames, pre-internet. It was also a time when students in that class actively recruited everyone they knew to come out and give it a try. It’s been a while since I’ve seen a pack of friends show up in any of the classes. More often now they make friends in the classes after coming in alone.

It’s been “the me generation” since the ’80s, so I caught the tail end of “the us generation” I suppose. Kids holed up in their bedrooms weren’t a thing back then, I was booted out the door in the morning and allowed to come home for lunch before getting the boot again. We ran in packs, we got in trouble, bad things happened, but we were socialized after a fashion. So when we found martial arts classes we weren’t worried that we’d break a nail or whatever folks are afraid of these days.

Now, to me it seems that we didn’t really need martial arts classes, we’d learned a lot of the lessons already. These days, I’d really like to see the kids rolling across the mats and punching each other in the nose. It might take some of the fear, loathing and theory out of their lives. Of course, parents would probably be charged with neglect, same as they are if they let their kids walk to school alone. What happened to us as parents?

Our teeth were crooked, our noses were bent, somehow we didn’t care. It would never occur to us to worry about being sued because we were trying to smack each other. The most damaging words I’ve ever heard in the martial arts and general sports world were from a lawyer who said “waiver, I’ll take your waiver and wipe my arse with it”.

Bring on the X-box where we can worry about online bullying.

Put your kids in judo and karate and kendo and let them see that a bruise is not a life-long traumatic experience to be spending their adult years in therapy over. It’s just a bruise. They heal. It’s the fear of the bruise that does the damage, the obsessing over the bruise.

Wow, grumpy old man, need a third coffee but I might have to sue the cafe if I go into AF. Probably preaching to the choir anyway because we aren’t advertising are we? Just talking to ourselves, inside our box.

Kim Taylor
Nov 26, 2017

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