Are Martial Arts Movies BAD for Martial Arts? • Martial Arts Journey


We all grew up with our favorite Martial Arts
movies calling us on the mat to become the next “Karate kid”, “Steven Seagal”
or “Jackie Chan”. It brought countless of people to training,
yet starting a question: did it bring the right people in? Hi, my name is Rokas and I welcome you to
a Brief Martial Arts video where we take a closer look at various martial arts and martial
arts phenomena. I’ve heard countless of people telling me
how they were inspired to start martial arts in the 80’s after watching the original
Karate Kid”. How many people wanted to do a split because
of Jean Claud Van Dam? And if not for Steven Seagal, potentially
Aikido would not be known to most of the people this day. Yet with all the flow of people that various
martial arts schools received because of these movies and personas, can it be that this also
hides a more negative side to it? While some of the “Karate Kid” people
still practice martial arts up to this day, many people come with false expectations to
a martial art school because of the difference of movie vs reality. We all w ant to be the hero of our story and
we all want to achieve power displayed in the movies, yet a movie lasts only a couple
of hours, during which a “nobody” becomes the best fighter in the world. While various martial arts movies show part
of the training, it doesn’t tell to us that we were not all born with a talent for fighting. Thus many who come to a Dojo or a gym inspired
after a movie, drop out almost instantly after they see the reality of how training not shown
in the movies. Still, that ends mostly as a positive phenomenon
for the schools or martial arts, because there will always be a drop out rate, yet some people,
as mentioned before, stay there for long and they might have never come if not for that
movie that they’ve seen. Yet what else can be troubling here in terms
of movies presenting a different type of reality? Of course, Holliwood and film industry is
all about money. It needs it’s fancy kicks and spins and
choreography and it’s something great to watch, yet there is a hidden danger here. To begin with we can start by looking at Aikido
and Steven Seagal as an example. On the rise of Steven with the movie “Above
the Law” in 1988 the flow to Aikido Dojo’s of new people was tremendous. And of course there was a big drop out rate
because of the previously mentioned movie training vs the reality of real training,
yet there was something else. In “Above the Law” as much as most (if
not all) Steven Seagal movies, he is invicible because of his Aikido. It is the bad ass/kick ass ultimate martial
art becauase of his portrayal of it. Some people though, when they came to the
Dojo’s that was not really what they’ve seen in the training that was presented to
them. Of course, maybe you could say that they should
have went directly to Steven and learn his own personal style of Aikido, which is more
“aggressive” yet even so, many people stayed Aikido with the false promise that
it does work as “in the movies” and that only if they train long enough it will be
effective, walking out with false confidence that they could deal with an actual assault,
if that moment came to be, until it may be too late. While times have changed and as we have internet,
more and more “ineffective” martial arts are being exposed and Aikido has lost a lot
of respect and trust from the general martial arts world, but even to this day I have people
coming in to my Dojo wanting to do Aikido because they want to be like Steven Seagal. So the myth is still carried on, even against
the odds, further developing ludicrous expectations. This falls claim even exists still in some
of Aikido’s instructors, which doesn’t allow them to face the truth and start changing
and adapting Aikido, or simply letting go of the claims that it is highly effective. Yet Aikido is no the only victim to this. For a moment, let’s take a look at kung
fu movies. The movie Yip Man starring Donnie Yen, released
in the 2008 was a highly succesfull movie watched by millions of people. And while Yip Man was a legendary martial
arts figure and the movie is truly engaging, not everyone can see beyond the entertainment
side of it. While in reality Wing Chun these days is starting
to suffer from a similar fate to Aikido, of having a lack of actual effectiveness compared
to it’s claims in a modern UFC, combat martial arts world, as a person witnesses Donnie Yen
taking on multiple Karateka at once and defeating them without taking any damage, guess how
many people, unfortunately, take that as a real possibility? It would cause me no surprise to hear how
many Wing Chun schools benefited from this movie and even more so, some of them potentially
presenting it as an example that it’s a fully functional martial art in these circumstances
(“Insert your joke about a McDojo here”). And the movie YipMan, with it’s following
parts, dealing with a champion boxer or Mike Tyson himself, is not the only one potentially
guilty of this. We have hundreds and thousands of Kung Fu/Karate,
etc. movies of an invincible warrior, kicking the butts of numerous opponents at once and
barely getting hurt. And while this is part of the business, it
is “just entertainment”, it brings a lot of false expectations which need to be openly
addressed or to be expected, that unaddressed can only continue to build a tremendous amount
of delusion, which already exists in the martial arts world. While with the current days MMA is becoming
more and more popular, even the UFC fights can sometimes make people forget, that while
highly effective, it is still a sport and it doesn’t often address the real common
questions of self-defense such as multiple opponents, objects as weapons and various
psychological aspects that go with actual self defense. Some of the more recent movies such as “Never
Back Down” or “RedBelt” with Chiwetel Ejiofor do introduce modern martial arts and
some reality aspects of it, still they give us a story of someone invincible and in one
of those cases, because of a bit of some training, or the receiving of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu RedBelt
because… Well, you tell me in the comments why he received
it at the end. (Sorry, spoilers, em… Before. Well, the movie is not about that anyway,
just watch it still). So we are left to consider this phenomenon
and to ask ourselves: can we do something about it? First of all, yes, of course, let us benefit
from the flow of people that come from watching martial arts movies, but also, let’s ask
ourselves if we should continue expanding the myth of supreme martial art, or martial
artist with little training, or if we should openly address this question more often than
rarely and support the martial arts world to evolve into the clear headed, realistic
world where it really belongs to, or if we want to keep developing the ludicrous side
of martial arts and sometimes, even forget ourselves what reality is. What do you think about this question? Do you think the “martial arts movie”
myths should continue to live on untouched? Do you think this question should be addressed
more often? Let us know in the comments. Also, remember to share and like this video
to spread this message and question. If you want more of these videos, subscribe
to know first when they come out. This was RokasLeo and I’ll see you on the
virtual mat again soon.

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