Youtube abounds with self-appointed ‘experts’ uploading countless video collections of supposedly ‘fake’ martial arts. Virtually all these ‘experts’ are invariably White males, and the brunt of their hobby are invariably non-American, non-White individuals. On the Chinese language equivalent of the US Youtube, (that is Communist China’s Youku), there is no such phenomenon as the martial arts ‘exposé’ video. This shows a stark cultural contrast between the US and China that evolves around ‘respect’ for others, and the ability to adjust and control the education of others without resorting to public humiliation. However, I must point-out that I am not defending or justifying fakers and fraudsters – many of whom are not isolated ‘loners’ easy to expose (such as is seen on much of the content on Youtube) – but are in fact considered ‘legitimate’ martial arts businessmen, respected by the Western, capitalist martial arts community (with many of these ‘names’ responsible for uploading ‘exposé’ videos). My point is that from a Chinese perspective, many Westerners misrepresent the Chinese martial arts (even some of those that train with Chinese teachers), but respected Chinese martial arts teachers do not waste their time uploading videos to expose this misrepresenting, which in part is due to cultural differences and a lack of genuine knowledge. Destructive criticism does not make better martial artists, or solve the problem of misrepresentation and misunderstanding. Destructive criticism simply destroys the confidence and self-respect of the victim – but does nothing to resolve the matter of a lack of genuine knowledge, therefore the problem of martial misrepresentation continues unabated.
From a Marxist-Leninist perspective, a critique of the Western martial arts scene should always begin with a criticism of the capitalist system itself. As soon as a martial arts teacher conveys his or her knowledge for money, they have entered the bourgeois system of doing business, and are inherently involved in the exploitation of their students. As a number of professional martial arts practitioners have participated in the ‘exposé’ business, the motivating criticism of their fellow ‘Western’ martial arts colleagues, hidden as it is within bourgeois notions of sentimentality (and vague racist notions of Asian ‘virtue’), are actually motivated by ‘business’ concerns. These corporate martial artists are operating a business monopoly, whereby any individual or small group claiming to practice martial arts, is attacked, demeaned and removed from the market, because of daring to stand ‘outside’ of the controlling martial arts cartels. Individuals and small groups that stand outside of the big martial corporations are similar to small businesses trying to gain a share of the market. In capitalist business terms, this represents a ‘threat’ to income and profit of the martial arts cartels, and they collectively move to nullify the opposition through the bad publicity generated by character assassination and the besmirching of personal training history, and biographical information. What is interesting is that within general commercial competition, it is usually the reputation of the business that is attacked, and seldom the history of the individuals that run them (barring major controversies, etc).
Having established the capitalist nature of Western martial arts practice (for those that accept ‘payment’ for teaching), it can be established that under the capitalist system of exploitation, all martial arts teaching is distorted to generate the greatest financial profit, rather than good martial arts students. The capitalist ethos dictates that only the richest students can afford the best instruction and pay to attend regular grading sessions. It logically follows that under capitalism, the richest students are not necessarily the ‘best’ students, and that through the agency of purchased grades, a false standard is established that prevents any challenges from outside the grading system. Where this capitalist fabrication often comes unstuck is during unscripted self-defence situations that occur outside the training hall. Many successful ‘sport’ martial artists (who have paid through the nose for their status and education) have fallen apart in a free-moving and fluid self-defence situation. Although this would usually be seen as bad for business (as the paid for martial style has failed the ultimate test), damage limitation is achieved by blaming the limitations of the individual concerned, rather than the exploitation inherent in the martial arts business that trained them, and the capitalist system.
Finally, many of these ‘exposé’ videos are obviously compiled by individuals with little genuine knowledge of true martial arts, and include legitimate martial arts practice from Japan and China, as well as Russia, and other places. Correct martial arts footage is interspersed between clips of obvious forgery (usually involving fake ‘chi’ exercises practised by ignorant Westerners who do not understand Chinese culture), or teachers who are very probably deliberately defrauding the public. The point is that these ‘exposé’ videos appear to follow the premise that if the practitioner is not ‘White’, them his or her martial skill must be ‘fake’ – this is the exercise of blatant Eurocentric racism. Not only this, but videos uploading onto Youtube that feature non-White martial practitioners ‘exposed’ for the general good of society, are often accompanied by hundreds of racist comments that go unmoderated and undeleted by those who have made the video in the first place. Whereas it appears acceptable to demean others in the name of profit in the USA, it seems equally acceptable that racist stereotyping and hate-speech are considered legitimate methods through which to discuss the Asian martial arts, and non-White martial arts practitioners. Martial arts in the West can only be genuinely criticised if they are contextualised in their proper ‘capitalist’ setting. Only then can the exploitative and racist nature of these ‘exposé’ videos be correctly understood. In the final analysis, all martial arts practised within the capitalist system are ‘fake’, what it seems to come down to, is the matter of ‘degree’.