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Why Doesn’t Anyone Care About Karate?

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Junk ScienceThe body of work studying martial arts practices is almost entirely junk science. Look at any study of martial arts that attempts to prove or disprove claims about its efficacy or determine how fast punches are, and you will find someone with a conflict of interest behind the research: a martial artist.

No one believes Exxon or BP when they release a study that says oil is good for the environment and a clean, safe energy source. That’s a ridiculous claim. We can all look at what happened in the Gulf of Mexico when one well of almost 4,000 failed and released oil into the water. It was a filthy mess and an ecological catastrophe from which that area will not fully recover during our lifetimes.

Martial artists are notorious for turning off their BS detectors when faced with anything about the martial arts that provides them with a message they want to hear. Studies using strobe lights to determine the strength of punches, about as scientifically valuable as a study guessing what sort of liquid flows in the canals on Mars, are probably the most reputable. And yet none, absolutely zero of this so-called science has ever been peer-reviewed by non-martial artist scientists with no conflict of interest. None of it is handed off to other researchers for further study. None of it is replicated.

All of it ends up going nowhere. A single study in the scientific world has a net value of zero. It means nothing. Presented with a single study as evidence of something, real scientists simply want to test all possibilities and tear it apart to see if it is true or not.

No martial artists. They take the one study, if it says what they want it to, and they swallow it hook, line, and sinker.

Junk science could easily become science if more studies were done and they were replicated. Why aren’t they?

To quote John Sambell’s comment on the last article, “No one cares. ;)”

And why is that? Because there is no money to be had in proving out or disproving any martial arts claims. And why is there no money to be had in proving or disproving out the many beliefs of martial arts practitioners about what they do? Because there is no great cost or value in the martial arts. There is no cost to society in the martial arts being practiced – because the practice is not bad enough that it gets on the radar. There is also no great value in the practice that produces some output that government or citizens can make great use of.

In short – no one is seriously harmed by it, and no one can find any great use for it.

Some activities where considerable money is spent experimenting and engineering better practices and products: biking, running, weight lifting, etc. Considerable money has been spent studying golf swings and baseball batting form. There is money there. There is nothing to be had from studying karate punches. They don’t produce money. They don’t impress. They don’t produce significant results that the society can get something from.

My son asked me why we stopped going to the moon in the 1970′s. I gave him a straight answer: “Because there is no oil or gold on the moon, son.” If someone could demonstrate a real-world value to be had from lunar landings, such as a moon made of uranium, gold, silver, platinum, cheddar cheese, or beautiful naked women of poor reputation, then you would see moon rockets taking off so often the skies would be continuously filled with plumes of smoke headed skyward.

The sad truth is that the moon holds none of this value for us as a people. Our scientists learn a lot from sending up rockets to the moon, but there isn’t anything there that the common man wants to obtain.

The martial arts are akin to the moon. There is nothing to be obtained there. You can’t really do anything with it. The investment is huge, the output is negligible, and whatever benefits there are can be gotten in lesson time more rapidly from other sources. Yes, it is a fun activity for us, the martial artists, but it isn’t of real value.

Look, people also love Pokemon cartoons. That doesn’t make them a way of life (though some would disagree). My friend Kevin Hawley once said that having a 4th degree black belt was the same as having a 4th degree wizard in Dungeons and Dragons. It’s neat for you, but out there in the world, it’s worthless. For the young out there, your Minecraft world is cool for you. But a lot of people look at you building an 8 bit blocky world and think, “Loser.”

I’m not judging you for having an activity. But let’s accept the obvious conclusion. Scientists don’t study karate because no one cares. No one cares because there isn’t any real value there. You can argue that my criticisms of your assumptions of karate are false, but no one with any scientific merit will back you up with funded research. You’ve got nothing anyone but a small niche market are interested in.

 

 

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