Every term I get new children with lots of notions about what the martial arts are about. Some of the comments I get are funny—you just have to laugh. But in the mix I hear the same martial arts myths that have persisted for years, maybe decades. Here are the most common.
1. Myth: Martial arts are all about kicking, punching, and fighting.
Fact: Most programs teach avoidance of violence and respect for others. They highly discourage violence, and the higher rank one attains in the martial arts, the less likely they will have a need to prove themselves. Students who are in the arts for the wrong reasons are quickly weeded out by most reputable instructors. The ones who discover the true meaning behind martial arts—the respect, self-discipline, and improvement of oneself, and embrace it are the ones we want in our schools.
2. Myth: If you strike a person in the nose, you can drive the bones up through his brain and kill him.
Fact: This is not possible. The nose is made up of mostly soft cartilage, which does not have the strength necessary to penetrate the skull.
3. Myth: A black belt must register his hands as lethal weapons.
Fact: This myth has survived for decades, and there is no truth to it. There is no real regulation of individual martial artists in Australia or in the U.S.. Even if governments could afford to do it, which they cannot, it would probably be considered a violation of civil rights. There is nowhere in the world where martial artists are required to register themselves as lethal weapons.
4. Myth: There is one ultimate system of martial arts.
Fact: The people who claim to have the best system in the world are after one thing–your money. The fact is, there are superior martial artists, but not martial arts systems. Every martial art has something useful, and every one produces champions and people who can successfully defend themselves.
5. Myth: Once you reach black belt you are a master and can now quit.
Fact: Of course you can quit any time, but you are nowhere near a master at black belt. A master is usually someone who has spent over twenty years in the martial arts and is at least 5th Dan level. As a beginning black belt you are considered intermediate level in the whole scheme of things. However, it is still a huge accomplishment in that only about five out of 100 that start martial arts get to black belt.
6. Myth: Girls can’t do martial arts. This one has been around forever. It is amazing; some people still wonder why there are girls in the class.
Fact: There are many outstanding female martial artists worldwide. In fact, the Kenpo Freestyle Sydney team, which I coach, is comprised of about 40% girls and women. Some of our best competitors are female. This team has been undefeated in the NSW ISKA rankings for five years in a row. That should tell you something.
7. Myth: After a few weeks of training you will be able to fully defend yourself.
Fact: I hate to break it to you, but you will need at least six months to learn the basics, and probably at least a year after that of steady training to where you can confidently use it to defend yourself. Be patient and enjoy the process of learning and the self-defence aspects will take care of themselves.
Myths about martial arts are perpetuated through hearsay and exaggeration. Children are particularly susceptible to these ideas as they have no experience with which to judge reality vs. fantasy. It is my job as a children’s martial arts sensei to see that they know the truth. Do you have any myths you wish to add? Have at it!
Top Seven Myths Children Believe About Martial Arts is an original article by Sensei Matt Klein. For more information about the Kenpo Freestyle Sydney team follow this link.