What it Means to Be a Martial Artist in the Western World

(Specifically, America)

The martial arts are for self-defense, but there is much more to it that just fighting. They teach discipline, spirituality, and mentality as well cultivating physical strength and skill.

Students of the martial arts unfortunately are often stereotyped due to martial arts movies or video games. Here are some examples of how martial artists are stereotyped and people are mislead regarding the various fighting disciplines.

In Media

Unfortunately, much of what the general public knows about the martial art disciplines comes from Kung Fu movies and stereotypes expressed in them. Although I  admit that these movies are entertaining, they often downplay the truth of martial arts. A common stereotype in this subject is that all Asians know martial arts. This is joked about both commonly, and in media such as in the movie The Green Hornet where the main character's partner and chauffeur is Asian and happens to know a martial art. In the television show Arrow many of the characters played by Asian characters seem to know a martial art, such as Tatsu who knows how to wield a Katana for no reason. And in the movie The Karate Kid  Jaden Smith's character tells his mother that he is learning Kung Fu from a maintenance guy, and then explains that "It's China-everyone knows Kung Fu". This is harmful to Asians in America, who then will then have to face the stereotype that they know how to fight, or get into a fight because the other person assumes all Asians can fight. Media also has the misconception that martial art masters are old mystics, who live on a mountain or by a stream where they meditate and practice their secret style, and pass it on to one "chosen" student. According to the book The Composite Guide to Martial Arts,  an example of whythis is untrue is because the founder of the first Kyokushin Karate school in America, Masuatsu Oyama began learning martial arts in his elementary school in the 1920s.

Video On "All Asians Know Martial Arts" Stereotype

As Students

Students of the martial arts face all of the stereotypes listed above as well as other ones, such as the belief that martial arts practitioners can defeat an opponent in one hit, or without touching them. This is harmful to students who may face ridicule or bullying because of this uneducated belief, and potential students who may enter the discipline expecting to learn a one strike KO. Many students have been tricked out of money by schools like the one in the video below  that claim to teach students how to "defeat opponents with the force of their energy". Schools like this harm the martial arts society, subjecting students of honest martial arts to stereotypes and giving their own students false hope. Another stereotype is that martial arts are useless in a real fight. This belief is as common as it is offensive. It often causes martial artists to waiver in their discipline, question their identities within the discipline, or seek a different method of self defense then what they were originally in.

In Conclusion

Martial artists are stereotyped more often then the public may notice, and the public accepts it more often than they may notice.  Because the martial art I practice, ninjutsu, is stereotyped even more often than others, I feel like the stereotypes are even more common towards me and my fellow practitioners. My questions to you are, do you think that the stereotypes above should be exhibited less in media? And, Will you encourage others not to use these stereotypes when you can?

Now Watch a Video Of The Most Intense Battle Ever!!

WARNING: The video below is a little loud!!

Comment Stream

2 years ago

You didn't share the annotated bibliography correctly, you need to use the sharable link. I like your topic and your writing looks good.

2 years ago

The "no-touch" knockout looks RIDICULOUS.

2 years ago

IKR! Gave me a good laugh though

2 years ago

cats doing kung fu a thought i seen it all when black people got the right to vote