Some Prefer the Familiar, Others the Exotic.

Recognizing the effect a martial art’s cultural background has on its teachings, how it is taught and understood is an important aspect for both teacher and student. Bob Orlando cites as his “central truth” in his work Martial Arts America, that the “philosophies and methods of instruction must match the culture of those being instructed.” In his work he argues for recognizing the differences between East and West and assessing relevancy to the American student in modern society. In such an approach it should not seem far fetched to recognize that an American claiming European ancestry might find more inherent romantic attachment and understanding in the teachings of a 15th century Franconian fencing master than any number of Asian schools which can present unfamiliar languages, religions, and philosophical concepts.

A martial system developed for persons of another culture arguably ignores fundamental instincts or tendencies of those raised in other cultures and influenced by their own traditions. This does not make it less effective a martial art, but perhaps less implicitly understood by someone whose understanding of combat is fundamentally different, and perhaps better served by a different style of teaching or training system.

By contrast, Western Martial Arts align themselves very handily with the same such individual seeking to reconnect with their European ancestry. The languages, religions, social habits, even the foods their historical counterparts knew are still familiar today within their own cultural sphere. If the philosophies and methods of teaching must match the culture of those being taught then by going straight to a martial art of one’s own culture this requirement is met much more readily then by traversing not only time (as must occur in any historical study) but culture as well (through East and West).

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