Guest Author - Caroline Chen-Whatley
It’s hard to think that not that long ago there was absolutely nothing online about Martial Arts. Those that did exist were buried, hidden away from most people’s view. And most of the conversations revolved around whom better than whom and what style worked better than another.
These days, Martial Arts is probably as common as boxing, perhaps arguably more so. If you use media such as television and movies as any gauge of popularity, there are more mainstream movies and television shows about Martial Artists than there has been for any other type of physical lifestyle aside from police stories.
Martial Arts has truly grown since back in its black days. It is no longer just for men or just about how to kill the next guy. It isn’t relegated to some dark corner and hidden from society. People don’t persecute you or call you a heathen just because you practice Martial Arts.
But Martial Arts online still has a way to go. The nature of Martial Arts remains a secretive world, filled with hidden histories and information not readily released. While the number of Martial Arts sites that exist has dramatically increased, especially over the last few years, the actual in-depth content hasn’t.
There are some out there trying to change this, to provide means of showcasing various styles or putting together instructional videos online. But overall those efforts have been few and far in-between.
Age. If we look at Martial Arts as we do a human, it is nearly 4,000 years old, if not older. It has existed since the start of civilization. Much of Martial Arts is set in its ways and perhaps not as quick to embrace the new technology until it has been proven. The Internet and being online is only a phenomenon that has struck us the last couple of decades. It is but a teen and must still prove itself.
Business. Martial Arts is very much a business these days, even if the person doing it is not. That being said, take a look at any company’s website and you will find only a small amount of information around their technology or techniques that give them the competitive edge. If we equate business to Martial Arts, it’s called intellectual property and gives companies the edge in discovery, manufacturing, and technology.
GIGO. Also known as “buyer beware”, GIGO is a common phrase used in computers translated to “garbage in, garbage out.” Most Martial Artists are cautious about what they put out there because it’s unpredictable how it will be used, or misused. Some of the information out there has proven to be misleading. Others have slandered people or bashed them for stating their beliefs about Martial Arts online. No matter if it’s Martial Arts or buying something, whatever is found online much be taken with a grain of caution and verified with other facts.
What does this mean?
As with pretty much anything else, it will take time for Martial Arts to fully engage the potential that the Internet has to offer it. Perhaps, some might say, it will never. But one thing is for certain, the Internet has proven as a powerful means to help spread this art and keep it alive for the next generation.
Perhaps it is up to the next generation to decide where to go from here.