At a recent Eskrima seminar in Seattle, I mentioned to GM Rene Latosa after class that martial arts from Asia, particularly countries colonized by western powers, deserve a greater respect for the very reason of past or present colonization or occupation.
I could tell he was taken aback when I said that Filipinos are a conquored people (as are Africans globally). I wish I had more time to get into it.
So, I will do so here.
One thing that I have been taught in my walk thru the world of martial arts was that there were three things never discussed in the dojo: religion, politics, and intimate relationships.
Yet, as I look around the martial arts scene, I see that there is a stridently persistant, ultra-conservative (and sometimes fascist or neo-nazi) political line being put forward. It sounds more impressive for a self-defense dvd ad to read "learn to protect your family from terrorism" than it does for it to read "learn 2 or 3 good techniques from a product that is presented in a way that reinforces long-held prejudices, paranoia, and government propaganda."
Some may say "how un-patriotic". I would argue that patriotism in the United States is deeply rooted in those long-held prejudices, paranoia, and government propaganda; the propaganda in particular. The propagandists have much of the entire population believing all kinds of fantastic foolishness on a whole host of subjects.
The fact is that the majority of the martial arts in Amerikkka come from Japan, Korea, China, or the Phillipines. All of these countries have been occupied by Amerikkka at one point in time or another. It was under this kind of pressure, that masters of the various arts taught U.S. troops, who then took what they learned back to Amerikkka and made it commercially profitable for themselves.
Sometimes, one of these masters would immigrate to the United States; usually for the economic opportunities afforded based upon the theft and pillage (and accompaning warefare)that would wreck their home country and help facilitate the sending of those resources to Amerikkka as consumer goods. These masters produce nothing, they provide a service; just like most workers and entrepreneurs in the U.S.
As a martial arts/self-defense instructor in Amerikkka, who was born here, and watched as the art of his people (hip-hop) was appropriated and commercialized, often to the detriment of its originators, I decided to "keep it real" as far as my practice was concerned:
1. I openly bear witness that Karate comes from Okinawa, then Japan. The Japanese government, with the help of wealthy and politically conservative Okinawans, has occupied Okinawa for years. When they couldn't successfully ban the practice of Karate, they used a loyal Okinawan uncle tom, Gichin Funakoshi, to make karate more "Japanese"; from the belt system to the way the word "Karate" is written in kanji.
2. I strive to make my interpretation of the art accessible to poor and marginalized communities as much as I can, despite the economic hardships and indifference to my efforts by the very people I seek to share this knowledge with.
3. I will not allow my art to become a spectator sport exclusively. It is important to show others what I teach and to allow students to test their skills in a relatively safe and controlled enviroment, but I refuse to preside over its degeneration into blood sport, savagery, and human cockfighting.