In my personal opinion, everybody sells something, whether you like to admit it or not. if you believe in something, you’re selling it, well sort of. The ‘sales-DNA’ is encoded in us when we are born; well even before we are born. Our dads have to woo our mums (for some it’s the other way around), and a successful ‘sales’ pitch would mean that our dads get to deposit his army of sperms in our mother’s reproductive cavity and viola! we come into existence, by the virtue of a successful sale pitch!
We are still selling in Martial Arts, my sensei believes in Aikido and the positive properties that come along with it. Otherwise, why would he stick with it for more than 40 years? I share the same sheet of music with him too. The question that comes in mind is this, what is the caveat about what we are selling?
And how do we go about selling what we are selling with actually ‘selling’ it? The damning thing about martial arts, or other experiential sales products or services, is that once you get over zealous about the selling, the product and services loses it favour. This is especially true in this age of New Truths. if you are ‘selling’ a religious belief, and say that your style of religion can save the world, chances are people will google you and find out if you are the real McCoy, or not. Surely if your market segment is big enough, a substantial number might and will buy your sales pitch, but if your product and services are too aligned to one extreme of the pitch, it bound to run into trouble one day.
This also runs true for my sensei, as he believes that Aikido is generally effective against most forms of attacks. Although his ‘self-defense’ pitch has ran down significantly these days, he might come to believe that in a street fight, classical application of Aikido will be sufficient to deal with most forms of assailants. I have to sound a caution, though, I write this based on what I observed in Harry sensei’s teachings and sayings, and never did he explicitly showed a street defense style of Aikido.
So what am I saying here? Is Harry sensei ‘wrong’? That his style of Aikido is ineffective in a street fight? A street fight and a dojo is worlds apart, those wise enough will know that, whose who aren’t will find out at their own peril. Harry sensei’s style is very much classical, after almost 40 years of training; he has his own set of conditioned beliefs and sometimes he unwitting sells them to us, starry eyed students. In this age and time, some much about ‘warfare’ has changed, forty years ago, MMA was non-existent. Hell, even Jeet Kun Do is in its infancy, I really don’t know how people fight 40 years ago since I wasn’t born then, but we can safely guess that that the current proliferation of fighting styles has made the martial arts fraternity a vibrant albeit unpredictable one.
So I kinda rolled my eye, everytime I hear that particular martial art is ‘self-defense’. It’s a good sales pitch, as it appeals to the insecurities in us. We would like to have some skilled assets when, and if we ever get into a violent situation. But violent situations are largely unpredictable, with no rules, so we have to be very cautious when we hear about our instructors’ ability to use their art effectively in a ‘self-defense’ situation. It’s alright if your teacher sells martial arts as martial arts, but if your teachers sell martial arts as something else, it’s about time you open your eyes a little wider and see what’s in the fine print.