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?