Martial Arts as War (MAW) and Martial Arts as Sport (MAS)—these are the two paradigms that, by and large, define the contemporary universe of the martial arts. Or so I have argued in previous essays. Now, it’s true, of course, that—as my own Master-Instructor observed to me in one of our countless conversations over this […]
Within the martial arts world, there exists two distinct, ultimately incompatible models: Martial Arts-As-Sport (MAAS) and Martial Arts-As-War (MAAW).
Admittedly, not every martial artist recognizes this distinction, for far too many practitioners of MAAS don’t recognize that they are indeed students of a sportive, a competition or contest-oriented, art. Boxers, UFC/MMA contestants, wrestlers, and students of all of the classical or traditional martial arts (in their current, commercialized forms) train in MAAS.
As such, the modalities of training with which these artists are familiar are radically unlike those in which students of MAAW are immersed. The differences are all but self-evident:
MAAS artists train to square off against a single opponent, of comparable height, weight, and size, whose identity they know in advance. They also know beforehand the specific time and location of their encounter, as well as the fact that it will transpire within a heavily-controlled environment—like a well-lit dojo or within a ring that will consist of mats free of such debris as gravel and glass—and be presided over by a referee who will ensure that the competition ends as soon as one contestant submits, proves incapable of carrying on, or violates any one of the dozens of injunctions against the use of potentially lethal strikes and weapons.
MAAW artists, in glaring contrast, train, and must train, along lines that—mentally, no less than physically—are intrinsically and fundamentally incompatible with those with which MAAS students are accustomed. To put it simply, MAAW students train for, well, war.
It is all too easy to forget, given the contemporary popularity of the pugilistic sports, that a martial art, by definition, is a warrior art, for the term “martial” means “of, or pertaining to, war.” And self-defense, as the legendary combat and self-defense instructor Bradley Steiner memorably noted, is “war in microcosm.”
Nor was Professor Steiner being hyperbolic. Those who train in MAAW do so with an eye toward unleashing violence—injurious and, if need be, lethal violence—against those who physically, imminently, imperil them, their loved ones, or whatever other innocents may be threatened while in their presence.
In other words, MAAW training is designed to prepare students to incapacitate, not their opponents, but the enemy (i.e. those who would make of themselves enemies of God and man by preying upon innocents). To this end, practitioners condition themselves to anticipate the possibility of battling multiple attackers, on any and all conceivable terrains (like uneven concrete strewn with rocks or shards of glass), under any and all possible conditions (like in darkness, while wearing bulky, winter-appropriate attire, and despite whatever physical handicaps he or she has), with anything that can so much as remotely be employed as a weapon, and with any and all of the ruthlessness to, as Warrior Flow Combatives founder, USMC Lieutenant-Colonel Al Ridenhour says, “win the fight of their lives.”
The objective for MAAW students is one and the same as that of soldiers: Destroy the enemy. This won’t necessarily require killing the enemy, but it most certainly could. At any rate, all students of self-defense combatives must be trained to “kill the bad guys,” as Ridenhour regularly says, for it is always possible for a person with the ability and the will to do so to refrain from killing if, given his (or her) circumstances, a person decides that the threat has been neutralized and no further steps are necessary. However, if a person hasn’t been trained (physically and mentally) to remove a murderous attacker from the land of the living, then there isn’t any way (except, perhaps, by accident) that he will be able to do so in the event that there is no other way to save his life and the lives of his loved ones.
In unpacking this distinction between these two incompatible models of the martial arts, I hope to shed light on two incompatible models of politics.
Simply put, conservatives, or at least those in the GOP/Conservative media coalition—what has been called “Conservatism Inc.” and what I refer to as “Big Conservatism,” or “the Big Con”—speak the language of PAW (Politics-As-War). Their actions, however, are a resounding endorsement of PAS (Politics-As-Sport).
The Big Con media empire is unequivocally, from start to finish, predicated upon the axiom that a war, and one of cosmic significance, is being waged over the very soul of the Constitutional Republic and, for that matter, that of Western civilization itself. The talkers and scribblers of the Big Con exist for no other reason but to stoke within the minds of consumers the conviction that “we” must “fight the left,” for unless we do, all of the institutions for the sake of which generations of Americans have sacrificed their very lives, all of our rights, will give way to the “socialist” utopian fantasies of the left.
The left is coming for our speech, our guns, for everything that distinguishes a free man from a slave and about which many of the 20th century’s greatest thinkers and apostles of liberty (some of whom were themselves contributors to the post-World War II conservative movement and whose work was not long ago required reading for all self-described conservatives) wrote about in their critiques of the various forms of socialism and the bloodied carcasses that they almost invariably left in their wake.
It’s not that what the Big Con says about the left isn’t true. It’s actually, in a critical sense, worse than that.
The left does indeed wish to fundamentally transform America and Western civilization into something that will make them unrecognizable to their historical selves. And this transformation will indeed demand the elimination of the decentralization of authority and power delineated in the United States Constitution, the systemic and systematic violation of the “unalienable,” God-endowed rights affirmed by the Declaration of Independence, and the radical undermining of civil society.
There are, however, three points that must be grasped:
First, the left’s project has been underway for decades.
Second, this project accelerated exponentially in 2020.
Third, if the numerous assaults of which this project consists, strikes against the very essence of America, aren’t acts of war, then I fail to grasp what are.
It may, though, be not altogether accurate to refer to the enemy as “the left.” After all, the Republican Party and the Big Conservative media establishment that exists to promote the former have facilitated this project of fundamental transformation. The country’s “progressive” drift has continued steadily, unabated, until, in 2020, it jumped into overdrive.
There could be various reasons for this. Undoubtedly, there are legions of cynical, opportunistic Republican politicians and Big Con media personalities who are motivated first and foremost by considerations of self-interest. They are, in effect, mercenaries and celebrity whores.
This being said, it is equally doubtless that there are others who, while sincere, simply aren’t the people who anyone would want to be alongside in a foxhole. They have none of that warrior spirit, treating our politics, as they do, as if it is a game or a sport (even while tirelessly trying to persuade their constituents to believe that the country was on the brink of destruction and the only thing they can do to avert it is vote Republican in but another “most important election in our lifetime”).
The GOP/Big Conservatism complex comprises people who want to get, as Master Al Ridenhour, in describing martial arts instructors who refuse to teach their students how to prevail in mortal combat, puts it, “a little pregnant.” They don’t “fight” not just because they don’t know how to fight, but because they don’t even know the nature of the fight that’s being waged upon the very Americans who they purport to represent.
Their ignorance is willful, for it is fear-driven. But whether it is advertent or inadvertent, they should abandon their positions immediately and never again return to public life. If the men and women of the GOP and the Big Con are genuinely ignorant of the nature of the threat America faces, they have no right holding the offices that they do. If, which is vastly more likely, they are willfully ignorant, then they have arguably even less of a right being where they are, for warriors are distinguished on account of, not their lack of fear, but their resolve to daily confront their fears and prevail over them.
And warriors, when they are genuine warriors and in a leadership type of position, help those who turn to them to similarly prevail over their own fears. They would never increase the fears of those who rely upon them for direction and support, as Republicans and Big Conservatives invariably do.
The objective on the part of decent people is not to rid themselves of fear (for fear, when it is reasonable and oriented toward real objects, is at once necessary and desirable); the objective is to manage their fear, to conscript it in the service of their own self-empowerment.
There are steps toward this end that I will recommend in a future article. For now, though, it should be clear that the first step for those Americans who regard themselves as “conservatives” is to disengage from politics generally and the GOP and Big Conservatism media specifically.
It’s true that if the left didn’t have double standards it would have no standards at all. It’s no less true that if the Big Con didn’t have the left’s double standards to perpetually whine over, it would have nothing else at all.
Whining, crying, bitching, moaning, all while continually suffering one indignity after the other and doing nothing to change one’s situation—this is the stuff of cowards and losers.
Don’t be a coward. Don’t be a loser.
This means, among other things, that you shouldn’t vote for, listen to, watch, or read cowards and losers.