Jenn Reese Writer, Artist, Geek

Genre & Style Prejudice


Ooh, an elusive writing/martial arts cross-over post! (Well, okay. Not that elusive. Just go with it anyway.)

I believe in the worth of all genres. I don’t think they should be quantified — romance is not “better” than mainstream, science fiction is not “better” than romance. Live and let live, I say! There’s room for everyone’s tastes, both as writers and as readers. There is simply no good reason to cast aspersions on books that other people love just because they aren’t to our tastes.

And I feel this way about martial arts, too. I don’t believe one martial arts style is better than another. One may be more effective in a certain circumstance, but objectively, quantifiably “better”? No way!

The best school for any given student is the one that makes them love martial arts, the one that gets them excited about coming back and learning. The school that keeps them engaged. Doesn’t matter if it’s kung fu or kempo or kali or savate. (In the same way that I’ll never trash Harry Potter or Twilight or the latest Dan Brown novel — those books get people reading and keep them reading. For me, that’s the holy grail.)

Except… there is a martial arts style I have occasionally made fun of.* Even though it has many accomplished and effective practitioners, and even though some of my friends love it and are excellent examples of its worth. If I ever heard someone being that flip or dismissive of either the science fiction genre or kung fu, I’d be mighty pissed. And hurt. I would never say such things about what people like to read, and I’m appalled that I’ve said them about a martial art beloved by hundreds of thousands — if not millions — of people.

* No, I’m not telling you which martial art.

During a late-night conversation at Wiscon about martial arts styles, a friend pointed out my hypocrisy. I made some feeble excuses. But you know what? He was absolutely right. (Thank goodness for friends willing to call me on my mistakes!) And that was the last time.

I’m resolving to never again dismiss or disdain another martial art. It’s not only unhelpful, it’s harmful. And it’s not reflective of the sort of martial artist (or person) that I want to be.

How about you? Got any unreasonable or unhelpful prejudices you’d like to kick to the curb?

Brown belt test (3rd stripe), Kempo
December 6, 2003

About the author

Jenn Reese


  • I am seriously guessing which form. I'll ask you tonight :).

    If I hadn't put aside certain prejudices, I would never have read the Harry Potter books.

    My mother is a classical music elitist. She will only listen to Bach, and only Bach piano. She says violins are too sentimental. She especially HATES Tchaikovsky and made it very clear that if I didn't take on her antiTchai vitriol I would be disowned. I have to say, I've sneaked-listened to Tchaikovsky and though he can get a little cute, some of his music overwhelms me to the point of making me weep.

    Here lies Dobby. A free elf.

    Okay I am crying again.

    • Yeah, you and the Harry Potter books! That was a hardcore prejudice followed by a huge swing in the other direction. Good example, crying girl. :-P

    • I reserve the right to mock people who like nuts in their ice cream, 'cuz that's just WRONG.

      • You can mock my nutty ice cream all you want, just so long as you don't take it away. LOL. I might mock you back once I'm done enjoying it.

  • Hey, cool. Did you know you can leave a comment here *without* leaving that weird-looking "Name (Required)" tag behind? Yes, indeed, I am so quick.

    • I'm trying to figure out who posted this comment, but there are simply too many people it could be. :-D

  • What about "publishing methods." Self publishing, vanity press, etc. are as easy to mock as certain martial arts styles or genres.

    I find that I want to place a qualifier at the end of any general inclusive statement. Even the most predatory vanity press could be the starting point of a great work of art, but I wouldn't want a budding writer to think that was a GREAT route to take. All martial arts are worthwhile as long as they aren't psychologically damaging (sigh). I share your "anything to get people reading" attitude, but qualification inevitably creep in.

    • Well I think mockery is rarely a good idea, but not everything needs to be universally accepted either. There are some good reasons to be skeptical of lots of things, including some publishing methods. But yeah, I see your point. :-D

By Jenn Reese
Jenn Reese Writer, Artist, Geek

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