Lessons Learned from the Martial Subculture

In my previous posts I've laid out some of my story and how I came to think as I do about self-protection mentorship. I realized that I wanted be a bridge between where potential mentees are and where I believe they’ll be better off going, and that where I think the end result will be is to their benefit.

This might come as a shock to some, as it once was to me, but not everyone wants to be a card-carrying member of the martial arts culture. This is not to say that they don’t want and deserve quality training, nor does it mean that they are not committed to their growth.

But it does mean that they might prioritize these things differently than I do, or how my martial arts associates do, and that’s totally fine. Just because a person doesn’t want to hit a sports bar to watch the fights or convert their wardrobe to martial arts t-shirts with skulls and slogans on them doesn’t mean that they’re not invested in their martial education.

The parents with four children might not need to train for a mixed-martial arts fight so trying to convince them they do doesn’t help them grow. Now, this is not to say that they might not benefit from training with a guy who’s working towards competition. But it does mean that if the teacher/competitor isn't totally invested in the parent/student's growth then there won't be a positive, healthy relationship in place.

My responsibility is to bridge the gap between modern martial culture and the neophyte who is dipping a toe into the martial culture. If I present an image of what I perceive to be the ideal martial arts student, and present it in a way that mocks those who aren’t as “with it” as I’d like them to be, then eventually I will only be teaching inside an echo chamber.

That is to say, I’ll only engage with people who think, walk, talk, dress, and train like me. I've known and know far too many teachers who think this way and I can't stand being around them, so I can't imagine that potential mentees would, either.

This doesn’t benefit anyone and yet so many times, over the years, I’ve seen teachers driving away really good students simply because the teacher had the perception that their student wasn’t truly committed. The problem was actually that there was a blind spot in the teacher’s vision.

I can’t expect a new student to embrace martial culture from the start. I want to help people understanding the martial lifestyle by drawing from the culture itself and walking alongside them to coach not only the technique but the mindset itself.

The next article will be what I probably think is the most important because it can lead to fatal consequences. But that's all for now.

Until next time,


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