This weekend, I overheard a local martial arts guru discuss with a kind man the difference between the martial art he studied and the one I study. I usually don't dabble in this type of talk, but there was a sincere curiosity from the man's question so I felt obligated to offer some honest insight. Thinking I wasn't listening, the guru went on to tell the man that what I did was an old sword art that doesn't address 'modern, street situations'.
I turned to the small group of friends and students of the guru and with complete humility, I asked the guru if he or any of his black belts wanted to grapple. Certainly there was something I could learn. Surprised that I had overheard him, he quickly responded that his art was a stand up style, that going to the ground was senseless, stupid even! I was mistaken, but what luck, as the majority of our art was on our feet also. In agreement with his points about reality, I asked if he wanted to do some light stand up, striking, kicking, chokes, takedowns...
He suggested I might get hurt, starting to get apparently uncomfortable.
I shrugged my shoulders,
"Hmm, yes maybe you're right... How about this then, I propose a go with a weapon of your choice... wood of course."
"Won't happen. Your style is too focused on form and what I do is based on realistic situations of today."
Without eye contact, he went on to explain how he respected the traditional elements of what I teach, but it wasn't a valuable model of self defense in today's world. In attempt to win over his crowd he joked,
"Out there," pointing to a window, "you don't bow to someone who wants to kill you!" Oddly, there was no laugh.
I patiently said, "OK, you use whatever weapon you want. I will have none. We can go at whatever speed you think best. I won't grapple, I won't strike."He was now chuckling in company of straight faces.
"Not today." He walked away with his students in tow.
After a few seconds I told the man who asked the question, "There's the difference."
He thought my response was interesting and asked, "So you're 'that' confident that you could defeat him?"
"No. It's when I saw a man talking about something he knew nothing about, that it would be simple to make him defeat 'himself' and help you to see the difference for 'yourself'."