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Garbach
30th March 2002, 16:39
Hi,

During a couple of visits on this forum I noticed there are a few people dead against governments getting involved in the martial arts.
In France in order to get insurance you have to a have a state approved license that states you’re a certified teacher. Without such a licence you’re not state approved, and cannot get insurance. An extra bonus is that potential students can get an independent verification of the teachers’ credentials, so they at least know this person can teach. The state does not get involved in the schools curriculum. One of its bodies just makes sure a martial arts teacher knows some basics, like first aid. To me this makes a lot of sense.

What I would like to know why are some of you so against a government intervention to guarantee a level of competence among martial arts teachers? This does not imply that a state can or should politicise a martial tradition.

Shitoryu Dude
30th March 2002, 18:50
Primarily because nobody in the USA has any faith in the government whatsoever. It is corrupt, frequently out of touch, slow to respond to change, and usually totally inept. Why would anyone want the government sticking it's inept nose into something it knows nothing about? The next thing you know some retarded bureaucrat would decide that perhaps Kung Fu didn't sit well with his idea of MA and ban everything except the Shotokan school his daughter goes to.

We would then run into the government's licensing program. Perhaps you would have to go to the licensing board to promote in rank as well. I can see it now - your certificate for Shodan will be issued by the state. What if like liquor licenses they decide how many MA schools an area should have? You want to start bidding for a dojo license when someone retires?

Of course, weapons training would be a thing of the past - with retards like Sarah Brady and Ted Kennedy running around loose in the wolrd, all the sword arts would be illegal. Actually, given enough time, all MA would soon be considered "harmfull" and they would make MA training a felony offense. Of course this would be done "for the children".

The less government the better.

:beer:

David T Anderson
30th March 2002, 22:39
I'm with Harvey -- the less the government has to do with the establishment and practice of Martial Arts, the better.

Yes, it would be a fine thing if there were some system to ensure competent instruction and responsible behavior by instructors and dojo operators and their students...but involvement by the government could never guarantee this. Instead it would mess things up with ignorant regulations and red tape.

I'm afraid we're just going to have to rely on people's common sense and ability to learn on their own....ooohhh, scary thought, isn't it? [grin]. that kind of thing might put a _lot- of bureacrats out of work....

Garbach
31st March 2002, 12:49
Just a few quotes. Most of what you’re saying I can relate to. Unfortunately bad budo is spreading and so are unqualified teachers. Some simple rules could help to clarify a lot and help prevent some inadequate people of becoming a teacher.

Shitoryu Dude: ‘Why would anyone want the government sticking it's inept nose into something it knows nothing about?’
Wouldn’t the same thing apply to medical doctors? In order to practise, you have to have state permission. We can hardly say the average civil servant is an expert when it comes to medicine, yet the system seems to work pretty well.

Shitoryu Dude: ‘Perhaps you would have to go to the licensing board to promote in rank as well. I can see it now - your certificate for Shodan will be issued by the state.’
That would be a horrible thing! Most legit organisations can handle their own. As far as I know this isn’t the case in France. It also wasn’t what I was saying. But they do seem to have a strange law over there: ‘If you have a black belt (no matter what martial art), and you are staying in some city or town: you have to report to the police that you have a black belt.’ But there is no interference with school curricula, as it should be.

Shitoryu Dude: ‘with retards like Sarah Brady and Ted Kennedy running around loose in the wolrd, all the sword arts would be illegal. Actually, given enough time, all MA would soon be considered "harmfull" and they would make MA training a felony offense.’
Ted Kennedy is even known on this side of the Atlantic but who is Sarah Brady????
Making training an offence … mmmmm … and the USA is a country where a depressed teenaged boy can get gun easier than a beer???? Reassuring! :confused:

David T Anderson: ‘but involvement by the government could never guarantee this.’
Why not? It appears to be the only body that can enforce a law.

Ron Rompen
31st March 2002, 14:18
Just to add in an opinion from someone north of the border. I have many of the same concerns posed by Shitoryu Dude.

I guess what would concern me most is who would issue the licenses and what qualifications THEY would have. How would you determine whether the next applicant for a license was a legitimate MA instructor, or another scam master?

If I was a practitioner of a relatively unknown style, how would I gain certification?

A much better idea would be OPTIONAL certification or licensing, at the provincial (rather than federal) level. This would allow those who desire it to 'play the game' while the rest of us continue on our merry way.

Rob Alvelais
31st March 2002, 15:58
Garbach mentioned France as an example of a country that has governmental regulation of Martial Arts Instruction. (presumably a good example?) :rolleyes:


In France, for example, if you want to charge for lessons, you must pass a test by FFKAMA. I have a Shodan student from France who trained in Seishin Kai. The tests are administered by several "style heads", as I understand. So, if you're a Shotokan Stylist, or a Shito Ryu stylist, then you test under the Shotokan fellow or the Shito Ryu fellow. All well and good, right? No!!


Say you're a Hayashi Ha or Motobu Ha Shito Ryu Stylist, or in Kenzo Mabuni's org. The Shito Ryu Style head is a member of the Shito Kai. You must perform your kata and kihon *HIS WAY* and not the way that you've been taught in your school.
Similarly, if you're say a Shotokai Stylist, then you must do your kata and basics, the JKA way. Sound's pretty lame to me. But, to err is human, to really FUBAR things requires Govt. intervention.

Another potential problem: My instructor is internationally recognized, JKF certified, a former member of the WKF Technical Comittee. The present President of the National Governing Body (NGB)(under the US Olympic Comittee) is my instructor's former brother-in-law. There doesn't appear to be any love lost between them.
Potentially, one could see how my instructor would have difficulty obtaining certification for personal and political reasons, should certification have to go through the NGB. Now, I'm not saying that this gentleman *would indeed* make life difficult for my instr., but it's easy to imagine how people with grudges in places of power *could* misuse their power. The illustration makes the concept easier to grasp. I've seen other people do similar things, (obtaining building permits, zoning variances, etc.) for far more petty reasons. So, why would MA instr be different?

And as for a teen ager being able to get a gun easier than a beer: Don't be an idiot!


Rob

David T Anderson
31st March 2002, 16:13
Originally posted by Garbach


David T Anderson: ?but involvement by the government could never guarantee this.?
Why not? It appears to be the only body that can enforce a law.

Evidently you have never met a law you didn't like...that is a very different world-view than mine. Governments are also the only bodies that can enforce a _bad_ law, or enforce a law _badly_. Any casual look in a book of history...or a current newspaper...should provide enough examples of this to dissuade any reasonable person that legislation is a magical elixir that necessarily improves the world.

Are bureaucrats automatically wiser than the rest of us? Are ordinary people all so stupid and inept that they can't learn to distinguish good from bad? I agree that bad budo is a problem...but government-managed budo would be no cure. It would be a costly mess and leave us with a sickly shell of what the martial arts used to be. [And this opinion is based on my experience with youth shooting sports in Canada, which once were government-sponsored, and now barely exist at all with _no_ government sponsorship. _Private_ sponsorship is disappearing because our new gun laws, and the demonization of shooting sports in Canada, discourages such activity].

David T Anderson
31st March 2002, 16:16
Originally posted by Ron Rompen
Just to add in an opinion from someone north of the border. I have many of the same concerns posed by Shitoryu Dude.

A much better idea would be OPTIONAL certification or licensing, at the provincial (rather than federal) level. This would allow those who desire it to 'play the game' while the rest of us continue on our merry way.

Ron...you can't possibly be suggesting that we establish TWO-TIER budo !?!?! :eek:

[You have to be Canadian to get this joke]:laugh:

Garbach
1st April 2002, 00:12
Lets get it clear. I think we’re all on the same level that a government should never interfere with a schools curriculum.
It is not a good idea to have a government that will get involved in the technical curricula of separate martial traditions. Indeed most civil servants, like most civilians, don’t even know the difference between Judo and Karate. Let alone the concept of different ryu in karate.

The idea behind such a body would be that it makes sure the licensed teachers of those martial arts are qualified. With this I mean that they ought to know about human physiology, first aid, how to teach children etc. So, just the general stuff.
A teachers’ certificate would then contain two elements:
1) that from the governing body stating the person in question is a qualified teacher;
2) a ryu specific education, provided by a styles own organization.

This would in my opinion have two effects. Firstly a teacher with such a diploma can be considered qualified. Thus making sure teachers can get insurance and preventing some accidents. Secondly such a construction would respect the different styles.

Would you then still object to a government body interfering?

Ron Rompen
1st April 2002, 03:01
[QUOTE]Originally posted by Garbach
[B].

(deleted to save space)

The idea behind such a body would be that it makes sure the licensed teachers of those martial arts are qualified. With this I mean that they ought to know about human physiology, first aid, how to teach children etc. So, just the general stuff.
A teachers’ certificate would then contain two elements:
1) that from the governing body stating the person in question is a qualified teacher;


I would agree (in principal at least) with this concept, although I would like further definition on what qualifications would be met to be a 'certified' teacher.



2) a ryu specific education, provided by a styles own organization.


A little more problem with this one. What about styles who do not choose to 'certify' their members? Or what about those of us who choose to form their own styles (legitimate ones, not the super promotions we have talked about in Bad Budo). Or take me as an example. Our dojo and one other have separated from our original parent group (mostly due to politics) and are now unaffiliated with any formal organization. Does this mean that I or my sensei shouldn't be certified as instructors any more? (Well, I shouldn't, but you know what I mean).

Garbach
1st April 2002, 14:25
Definition of a qualified teacher. Without trying to come up with a complete or even a scientifically sound definition I would say, an instructor who knows what he or she is doing. Who has insight into how to do a training, keeping in perspective the short and long run. Being able to make sure the students get an optimal education in a safe environment. This has nothing to do with the ryu curriculum!

Non-certifying styles. Is there a problem? Boxing doesn’t have dan-grades, the only rank you can get, solely depends on your ability in the ring. But there is no obligation to do tournaments. In my opinion the proposed education should be open for everyone! No obligation! If you don’t choose to participate that’s all right, but then no government certified teachers. If you do not allow ‘non-organized’ martial arts to participate, you would in fact act against the reason for such a government body: making sure the public can get qualified teachers in the martial arts.

I agree there are enough drawbacks, there is no guarantee that once somebody passes the test he or she will abide to what has been taught. Or even that a certified teacher would be better than a non certified one. But at least its better than muddling through.

But we did get a bit off topic! I have thought some more about the original question and came up with the conclusion that most of the difficulties concerning government intervention has to do with a people’s trust in and attitude towards that government. I think we in Europe have in general more confidence in our government. After all we did elect them! If they are so incompetent why don’t you form a party and try to make it better? I just find it strange that a country that always prides it to be the freest, the most democratic, the best country in the world at the same time has such a skeptic population towards the government they themselves elected.

Shitoryu Dude
1st April 2002, 19:37
I think the main problem people in the USA (and maybe Canada as well it seems) have is that we don't trust government. Garbach appears to reflect a basic overall trust of his government officials, which I hope is a good reflection of the people who run his government. On this side of the pond government functionaries are nearly universally reviled as meddlesome, incompetent, and corrupt. All of us have had the experience of a well intentioned government program or agency that has screwed up in a horrible fashion and now cannot be gotten rid of.

Another, more cynical view of government: A government is any organization that reserves for itself the exclusive right to kill people.

:beer:

Garbach
1st April 2002, 20:51
Please. Civil servants in the Netherlands are just as competent or incompetent, (perhaps just a bit more) meddlesome and corrupt as (almost) anywhere else. Just because I’ve stated a need, doesn’t mean the provided answer is the best one. I don’t even think there is a best answer. That doesn’t mean I think we should get rid of the government. Or not trust them with anything. Trust is good; control is better (especially concerning the government).

On the other hand, just letting the MA community handle their own cannot solve the problem described a few posts ago. That is the probably one of the main reasons there are so many … uh … ‘not-so-qualified-teachers’ out there.

Shitoryu Dude
1st April 2002, 21:02
I'll agree with that - there are a lot of flakes out there and hoping they go away certainly doesn't work :) I rather think we find the cure worse than the disease, and it quite likely won't be a cure at all.

Last year a couple of laws were proposed in New York that would have done much of what you proposed - both of them "died in committee" rather quickly from what I have read. As of now the US is not prepared to hand over control of MA instruction to the government.

:beer:

Garbach
1st April 2002, 21:19
‘….hoping they go away certainly doesn't work’

How true, unfortunately! I think this is something so deeply rooted in the cultures of our countries we’ll never really agree on how to solve such a problem in a similar fashion. We just agree there is a problem. While there are some European countries (e.g. France) that try to regulate more in the MA, I don’t think the USA is country in which such a system will work. In Europe on the other hand there is talk about implementing the French system on a larger scale. I guess we will just have to wait and see if it really works. Or just hope the people get wiser, concerning the MA, and seek out a teacher who is capable.:toast:

Gary Dolce
2nd April 2002, 06:29
I am not a proponent of government involvement in the martial arts, but I have to respond to Harvey's comments on government in the USA.


Primarily because nobody in the USA has any faith in the government whatsoever. It is corrupt, frequently out of touch, slow to respond to change, and usually totally inept.

Harvey, you are right that government in this country has problems. As citizens, we should be working to correct those problems. But there are a lot of people in the government who are working very hard right now (and doing a great job) to make sure that your streets are safe, that you have clean water to drink, that your garbage is collected, that restaurants are inspected, that buildings are constructed properly, that the banking system is secure, that workplace conditions are safe, that social security checks go out, that the factories in your city minimize pollution, that terrorists can't hide in Afganistan.....

I could go on and on. Next time you want to make a blanket indictment of government, stop for a moment to think about the fact that there are a great many things that government in this country does very well. "Totally inept" - I don't think so! Consider living for a moment in a country where the government is truly corrupt or even absent and tell me that things aren't a hell of a lot better here.

Shitoryu Dude
2nd April 2002, 06:56
Having known a fair number of people who have worked "for the government", I'd say that we have way too many people manning a desk without any work to do. Rampant corruption in just about every municipality in the local verison of the roads dept is a running joke. Everyplace I've ever lived has had a expose on the guys who are supposed to be filling potholes either sleeping on the job or getting lap dances. Bureaucrats pad their offices with people who need to get constant union raises, police forces filled with violent psychotic thugs (I've met them), garbage collectors who are so deep into the mob they might as well hang "Soprano's Garbage" on the door. Federal government is filled with overstaffed offices due to union demands and frequently can't find it's ass with both hands.

About the only ones who DON'T rate a blanket condemnation are firefighters, emergency medical people, and the guys that take care of water, electricity and sewage.

We need government to get things done, but it sure could be done a whole lot better. The fastest way to screw anything up is to put big government in charge of it.

Just color me Libertarian.

;beer:

Senjojutsu
2nd April 2002, 09:09
This thread's banter reminds me of the joke about the three biggest lies in the English language:


1) The check is in the mail.


2) :nono: Self-censored to maintain proper decorum :nono:


3) I am from the government and are here to help you.


In Japan, are there not several "industry" organizations such as the Zen Nippon Kobudo Sogo Renmai, The Nihon Kobudo Shinkokai (Society for the Promotion of Japanese Classical Martial Arts), the Zen Nippon Kendo Renmai (ZNKR) and The Zen Nippon Iaido Renmai (ZNIR).

Does any have knowledge about the "real world" political workings of these associations and their quality assurance impact (or lack there of) within the Japanese MA community?

Shitoryu Dude
2nd April 2002, 15:41
I don't know about you, but I've told #2 a LOT!!:D

The other big lies are

4) "I love you"

5) "I'll call you"

6) "Trust me"

:beer:

shinbushi
2nd April 2002, 20:27
The problem with the government is that they would look to organizations like NAPMA, who advocate pull padding for any contact, and avoiding techs like throat strikes eye gouges etc. For Ryu certification, they would probably require it in English, Ours are all in Japanese. Plus each one of my dan licenses has a different katakana for David J. As a ‘ninjutsu’ instructor (Bujinkan) they would outlaw it. And of course all NHB type arts would be watered down to where they were not ‘harmful’.

Don Cunningham
2nd April 2002, 22:12
I am afraid that more legislation is the least likely solution. We are always passing laws to regulate some aspect of our lives, but the enforcement is sometimes questionable. While I am not totally cynical of government bureaucracy, I do believe that regulation of martial arts would be a disaster.

Some of us do have government regulation or oversight. For example, I teach a judo class through the local parks department. As a part-time city employee (necessary for insurance coverage), I had to have a police background check.

Insurance is not the only answer. I know of many commercial dojos which are operating without insurance or inadequate coverage. I know it seems like a potential train wreck, but restricting insurance coverage is not going to solve the problem, but only force more such situations.

By the way, I think potential students should inquire about the insurance coverage of their school and/or tournaments as a matter of course. It's bad enough to learn from an unqualified instructor, but what if there is an accident? A good friend broke his arm at a recent karate tournament. He had to have surgery to attach a metal plate to the bone. His employer insurance didn't cover a lot of his expenses, and it looks like he may have to go on disability as well since he can't work until his arm heals. Unfortunately, the tournament sponsor didn't have adequate insurance and it would take a lawsuit to recover his expenses. That alternative may take years and is unlikely to be successful even if he won since the tournament sponsor doesn't have that many assets to seize or the financial means to settle.

Marc Renouf
2nd April 2002, 23:54
Garbach wrote:

"With this I mean that they ought to know about human physiology, first aid, how to teach children etc. So, just the general stuff."

...and...

"Without trying to come up with a complete or even a scientifically sound definition I would say, an instructor who knows what he or she is doing. Who has insight into how to do a training, keeping in perspective the short and long run. Being able to make sure the students get an optimal education in a safe environment."

Sure, first aid is cool (and in order to get dojo space here at the University, we have to have people CPR certified), but how can you really test how well someone knows physiology? And teaching children? We don't teach children. So why make that a mandate in order to become "certified?"

The problem is that even if we did adopt some kind of certification, it wouldn't stop "Bad Budo." For instance, even if a particular dojo is associated with a national or international organization, it's no guarantee that they "know what they're doing." I know a couple of WTF, JKA, and Kodokan instructors that...well...suck. What they are teaching bears little or no resemblance to the "official" stuff, yet they are card-carrying instructors. And this doesn't even touch the people who teach fitness or sport martial arts while claiming to teach self-defense.

There will always be people out there willing to teach badly. Whether they just hastily make up their own stuff or completely suck at a traditional style is totally immaterial. No amount of regulation will even be able to tell the difference. This is especially true of organizations where rank isn't necessarily tied to skill. And how many home grown "international organizations" have we seen pop up that allow frauds, fakes, and fleecers a claim to legitimacy? "I'm a certified 174th Dan in Kick-jitsu, recognized by the World Uber-Council's Circle of Master Death-Dealing Badasses." How many people are taken in by self-proclaimed masters, bad teachers, and irresponsible instructors? If they can't tell the difference from training in the stuff first-hand, how is the government supposed to be able to tell the difference?

If we are unable to police ourselves (and given the number of quacks out there this appears to be a reasonable assumption), how can we expect the government to do effectively what we can not? Half the time, we as martial artists can't even agree on what constitutes good budo. Government certification of such a nebulous and poorly-defined term as "qualified" as it pertains to martial arts instruction won't help.

Rob Alvelais
3rd April 2002, 00:28
This appeared on the Shito Ryu Yahoo Group list.

<snip pleasantries>

"There are definite advantages to having a national governing body, and
definite disadvantages too. Advantages: standards kept same level across
all clubs/styles through Federation-run blackbelt tests (no blackbelt
testing in clubs, it's all done at a regional level: you may be tested by
instructors that you've never met before). Insurance for all club members at
good rates, well-organized local, regional and national tournaments, etc.

Disadvantages: everything comes to a standstill when "problems" found in top
levels (happened a year or so ago -- NOBODY could gain a black belt for a
*whole year* until the "problems" were resolved). Only one "approved" master
per style (Shotokan, Shito-ryu, Wado-ryu and Goju-ryu), so if you're
training Shito-ryu in France you are most-likely going to be of Shihan
Nakahashi's school. (There are some exceptions, but most instructors end up
toeing the federation line one way or another.) No dans awarded outside of
France are recognised by the FFKAMA without going through a
conversion/confirmation (retesting) process. If you have a fourth dan, for
example, awarded by an instructor who is not an FFKAMA-approved instructor
(e.g., outside of France), then you are not allowed to say that you have a
4th dan (illegal!! guillotine!!!) :-D

<snip>

More trouble than it's worth, IMO.
Seems bogus to me that despite getting my grade from Kenzo Mabuni, that I'd have to test again under someone in a different org. (Shito Kai) just to maintain my grade, or to be able to say that I'm a Nth dan. Furthermore, I'd have to relearn kata and perform them differently from the way that Kenzo Mabuni taught me!!

Taking a look at recent history, with the way that the US in particular federalized airport employees, I'd say no thanks. Let the Gov't leave us alone.

Rob

Garbach
3rd April 2002, 01:03
Marc,

I am not talking about a system that legitimizes the frauds! I’m talking about a system that provides an education for those who want to learn. In all the previous posts I’ve stressed the importance of a dichotomy between the general education and the ryu’s specific curriculum, the latter has to remain in the schools own organization. If you provide a general education the average skill level of the teachers can improve. If you do not agree with the last statement, please explain to me how the teaching level can degenerate by providing an education?

We all agree that the government (no matter in which country) has made mistakes. Just because mistakes are made, doesn’t mean that it would be better without a government. Without comparing martial artists to children, would you get rid of the government’s agency to protect children just because this agency makes mistakes? Mistakes are made wherever humans work. Mistakes however do not undermine the principle that is the government’s task to make sure its citizens are safe. Martial artists are also citizens who deserve safety. If educating MA teachers provides safety, what is wrong with it?

'We don't teach children. So why make that a mandate in order to become "certified?'

Is knowing about how to teach children by definition obsolete knowledge? One of my instructors has found that what works for children can also work very well for college students. He has experimented on us, and it wasn’t a bad experience, in fact it was clarifying. Besides that, who knows where you or your instructor will be teaching next?

'How many people are taken in by self-proclaimed masters, bad teachers, and irresponsible instructors? If they can't tell the difference from training in the stuff first-hand, how is the government supposed to be able to tell the difference?'

Concerning the publics’ choice in martial arts: It should be left to the individual practitioner! Self-proclaimed masters are indeed a problem. A problem that cannot be solved easily, if at all. My suggestion wasn’t meant to be the answer to all the problems in budo. Just a first step.

Shitoryu Dude
3rd April 2002, 01:13
That explains why we had no black belt promotions last year.

What exactly was the nature of the "problem"?

:beer:

Kimpatsu
3rd April 2002, 02:31
Hi, guys.
Great thread. I've enjoyed reading the posts. For longer-serving members of e-budo, you'll remember that we discussed this isue last year when New York suggested registration, as recalled by Harvey.
In the UK, the British Shorinji Kempo Federation has been plagued by government attempts to register and licence MA. The problem is that government officials have no idea of what constitutes a legitimate art, and think that all MA can be lumped together in a single organisation, rather like a lawn tennis club. They think of us as a sport (we're not), and are only interested in licencing or encouraging bodies that are going to bring home medals for the dear old motherland. Those of us who train for very different purposes are viewed with suspicion--after all, nobody really trains in MA to gain spiritual enlightenment, do they? Therefore, misunderstanding--factual error--lies at the bottom of their attempts at regulation. As I said in the similar discussion thread last year, the only people really competent to judge Shorinji Kempo are Shorinji Kenshi. But it doesn't occur to the government to ask us, because to their mind, that would be like asking hardened criminals for their opinions on prison reform, which shows that the government's mindset is already antagonistic, and erroneous. The reality of the present problem, in the UK at least, is that without British Sports Council recognition, new Shorinji Kempo branches are denied the use of government-owned sporting facilities, whereas Dr. Bob Phaker Soke PhD Grand Master of Fleece-em-and-Run-Ryu can gain certification and use those same facilities. Can anybody say, "irony"? Yes, I thought you could. I suppose this is my (long-winded) way of saying that I oppose government interference in MA, because they have proven that they can't get it right. Of course, they could always ask me. But then, that would be too easy... ;)
Best,

Marc Renouf
3rd April 2002, 20:23
Garbach wrote:


I am not talking about a system that legitimizes the frauds!

But don't you see? That's entirely the problem. As soon as you have a government body that bestows a license upon a dojo, you have given an explicit government "seal of approval" to that dojo. You have given the instructor the legitimacy of being recognized by the government as "knowing what he's doing." Tony brought up a perfectly reasonable ramification in that the frauds and fakers can get access to facilities that serious martial artists can't. Since it is highly doubtful that any government agency will be able to tell good budo from bad budo, frauds and fakes will be able to gain the seal of approval, which will in turn allow them to fleece even more students.

On the subject of teaching children, Garbach writes:


Is knowing about how to teach children by definition obsolete knowledge? One of my instructors has found that what works for children can also work very well for college students. He has experimented on us, and it wasn’t a bad experience, in fact it was clarifying. Besides that, who knows where you or your instructor will be teaching next?

But that's exactly my point. It doesn't matter where I or my instructor is teaching next. The vast majority of what we do in the dojo is inappropriate for children. I'm not going to teach tameshigiri to a 6-year old. Period. If I am teaching, whom I give instruction to is my choice. No one can force me to teach children, and I think that teaching children some of the things we learn would be irresponsibly stupid. They simply lack the mental maturity to contextualize it. Hell, half the time the college students lack the mental maturity to contextualize it. Sometimes I am forced to wonder if I lack the mental maturity. ;)

But apart from that point, this difference between us simply goes to illustrate my point. Your view of martial arts appears to be one that includes teaching techniques to young children. Mine does not. Neither one of us is right or wrong, because I'm guessing that we practice totally different types of martial arts, with different philosophies and different goals. But if you and I have a difference of opinion as martial artists, how are we going to get a government bureaucracy (who will have little or no practical experience with which to make the decision) to agree on the "right" path to take.

And finally:


Just because mistakes are made, doesn’t mean that it would be better without a government. Without comparing martial artists to children, would you get rid of the government’s agency to protect children just because this agency makes mistakes?

First off, there is a flaw in your analogy. Martial artists do not necessarily need to be protected. We are adults, no one is forcing us to study martial arts, and we do so freely of our own will. So likening an overseeing MA organization to something like Child Protective Services implies a level of vulnerability that does not exist. CPS has the mandate to protect children because they can't protect themselves. The same can not necessarily be said of martial artists.

Be that as it may, we come to the second problem I have with your assertion, and that's that half the time Child Protective Services does as much harm as good. How many people (parents, day-care rpoviders, baby-sitters, etc) have had their lives ruined by overzealous CPS investigations? How many parents have lost their children because a government agency made a mistake? This is a particularly wrenching dichotomy for me, because I hate to see children hurt or exploited, but I also hate to see healthy families broken. I think that while the intent of CPS is a worthy one, its implementation is lacking. But it's a perfect example of what well-intentioned bureaucracies become. I can't see a martial arts regulatory board being any different.

Now, that said, I think that if you wanted to expand some of the consumer protection laws to apply to martial arts, I'd be all for that. In some cases, these laws already apply (such as the term limit for how long dojo "contracts" can be for). If bogus instructors could be busted for fraud for making up phony lineages, I'd be all for that too. If you could sue Billy Blanks for false advertising when he expounds on the self-defense virtues of TaeBo, I'd be behind you all the way.

What's harder to protect against than fraud is incompetence, however, and that's something we'll never get rid of. Look at our public schools. We have plenty of regulatory bodies supposedly assuring that our teachers are qualified, but some of them aren't. No government agency has yet figured out a solution to this problem in an area as critical as public education. That being the case, I don't hold out much hope for something as fringe as martial arts instruction.

Garbach
3rd April 2002, 23:37
First off all, I really like the way this thread is going. Different opinions that are spoken out and respected, the way it should be!

I think the difference in opinion arise due to one factor. We are from different backgrounds. We in Europe seem to have a bit more trust in our governments, yes, we know they can and do make mistakes. But we also believe that without a government in the right places to protect the public, it would be a lot worse. Providing A GENERAL EDUCATION separate from a school, good or bad can help protect the public. By and large I believe you, the people on the other side of the Atlantic, have a more skeptical view towards the government. What the reasons for this may be isn’t important for this discussion.

Concerning your remarks about teaching children, I believe that is a topic that deserves its own thread. But here’s my (summarized) point of view. Children in the martial arts have their place. They should be respected as people, but treated like children. MA can be beneficial for everyone, small children, teenagers, adults and senior citizens. These benefits range for aggression control, improving self-esteem and learning self-defense. This does not mean that children should be taught the same way adults are; they need special attention. We can agree that many of the techniques taught are too difficult for small children. In my opinion many of these benefits should not be withheld from anyone. On the other hand it is not my place to tell you, you should teach children. Judo is probably the best example of a MA that is suited quite well for children. MA and children do not by definition exclude each other. For more information regarding the overall effect of MA on people read: http://www.mattekloppers.nl/klopgeest/column_new.php


I also wrote: ‘If you provide a general education the average skill level of the teachers can improve. If you do not agree with the last statement, please explain to me how the teaching level can degenerate by providing an education?’
Could you please answer this question, I would like to know your opinion. The key operative being ‘a general education’; not endorsing, denying, changing or making any statement about the legitimacy of the ryu or its curriculum. A teaching certificate would only state that he or she knows something about teaching, not that what is taught is ‘good budo’.


’ So likening an overseeing MA organization to something like Child Protective Services implies a level of vulnerability that does not exist.’

This vulnerability obviously does exist. How many times do we hear and read of yet another phony that makes up a lineage, charges ridiculous fees and adults get suckered into such a scam? Or even worse, get hurt because the instructor is completely incompetent. Don’t these people deserve protection?


‘Now, that said, I think that if you wanted to expand some of the consumer protection laws to apply to martial arts, I'd be all for that.’

Aren’t the consumer protections laws also enforced by bureaucracies? ;)


‘If bogus instructors could be busted for fraud for making up phony lineages, I'd be all for that too.’

Who should bust them? Financial fraud can be proven relatively easy. A phony lineage on the other hand …. uh … well I think there would be many more ‘secret societies’ out there. The only way to ‘fight’ these people is by exposing them. Most of the people on this forum can smell a phony a mile away, most of the public cannot. By providing at least a general education the risk of injury can be reduced. Either way it is the duty of serious martial artist to inform and where necessary expose.

Marc Renouf
9th April 2002, 19:45
Garbach wrote:

"If you provide a general education the average skill level of the teachers can improve. If you do not agree with the last statement, please explain to me how the teaching level can degenerate by providing an education?"

It's not that the level of teaching will degenerate, it's that it will bestow a potentially false aura of competency to an instructor. As it is now, there is no governmental body overseeing martial arts instruction. People realize that it's a case of caveat emptor. But if there is an overseeing body, it gives people a false sense of oversight that really isn't there. Or rather, people will mistakenly assume that the government endorsement will somehow enhance the quality of the martial art that they're learning.

I'll give you an analogy: day-care centers. State licensing of day-care centers only cover the basics (ensuring proper safety, nutrition, and worker-to-child ratio, etc). Would you trust a day-care center that was state certified? What if the staff sat around playing cards all day? So long as they feed the kids every 4 hours and keep them from falling off anything, they don't really have to do anything more. So your kids can be almost completely unsupervised and more or less running wild, even though the day-care center is "licensed."

And yet, that same day-care center can advertise, saying "We are licensed and certified by the appropriate state and local authorities." So in essence, if you're not doing anything to guarantess the quality of the budo they teach, all you're doing is giving them one more claim to legitimacy.

Does this make sense? I understand your essential point: that an educated, prepared instructor is better than an ignorant, unprepared one. I don't disagree, but I think that the gain in terms of making the experience "better" for the consumer is probably very small, especially given the downsides of such a plan.

Garbach
10th April 2002, 00:13
Hi Marc,

Well it basically comes down to a choice. You leave everything in the hands of the public. Or you could have a body that makes sure at least the minimal requirements of how to teach are guaranteed. Both have their advantages and disadvantages and have been discussed in-depth. It is quite obvious we agree on the problem of frauds. Just our ways on how to handle such a problem differs.

Choosing the first alternative does bring a problem to the limelight: who will inform the unknowing public? Many of these people do not know how to recognize a legit dojo or a competent teacher. These people do not deserve to be suckered into a scam, one that will cost them a lot of money, their faith in the martial arts and perhaps even their health. Despite the disadvantages of the second alternative I believe by providing an obligatory education to every would-be martial arts teacher, many accidents can be avoided. A state license in such an instance would proclaim no more than that such a dojo has a reasonable tariff, insurance and at least an instructor who has some education. This leaves ‘only’ the problem of Bad Budo.

As for the argument that bogus sensei would derive credibility from a state certificate, well, … again that ugly choice. I would vote for public safety and leave it to the true martial artists to expose the frauds.