Wednesday, November 6, 2013

A Martial Artist's Guide to the Internet

    The internet maybe the culmination of humanity.  It communicates the enlightenment of human ideas, and highlights all the fears and insecurities that exist within us too.  In "non-virtual/real life" (I despise that we have to distinguish this), martial arts often exposes both of these aspects as well.  The whole initial purpose of the internet was to share ideas.  It has done some of this, but it also gives some people the courage of anonymity to rave and rant, often saying things they would never say to a person face-to-face. 
    That all being said, for martial artists the internet has been a great communicator.  I remember when the only martial arts I was ever exposed to was either Tae Kwon Do on one end of town, or Karate on the other end.  I was lucky enough to stumble onto a great system, more by accident than design.  However, now I can look at, compare, or contrast between different arts with the click of a mouse.  I can watch the masters perform techniques from beyond the grave.  I can ask martial artist their opinion from a world away.  And I can listen to specialized talk shows on martial arts any day I want, by downloading a podcast.  I've gotten in on the idea now.  I along with a small group of friends have recorded our first episode of the "Martial Thoughts Podcast," so stay tuned for that.  As a final point, you are reading this on the internet.
    This proliferation of information has the downside of overloading our minds.  Information overload (also known as infobestiy or (my favorite) infoxication, is the difficulty to make an informed decision, or understanding an issue based on too much information.  Looking at information on martial arts we can suffer from this as well.  Even picking a school or style of martial art we can suffer from this.  As such, I wanted to try and create a list of good, informed websites or internet resources that talk about martial arts with an open, and honest methodology.  Below you'll find a list of some websites that I like, or respect.  If you have any other websites or internet resource that fit this category, please post in the comments, and as long as its not an self-advertising site, I'll include a hyperlink in the post.

Love these guys!
Hiyaa: The Martial Arts Podcast
This is a good honest look at martial arts.  They don't pull their punches, but they are open to all practitioners of all arts.  They tend towards Chinese martial arts, but only because that's were their knowledge base lies.  I love these guys, their ideas and sense of humor would fit right in in our dojo.  They have 45 episodes, and are worth downloading from iTunes.

Ikigaiway Blog
A blog by Matthew Apsokardu which deals mainly with Okinawan Kenpo Karate, but is broad enough to be applicable to many martial artists.

This is a good resource for those interested in traditional Japanese martial arts.  There are book lists, essays, and a guide to different ryu.

Rory Miller's Blog
I'm a big fan, without being a fanboy, of Rory Miller's books.  If you have an interest in self-defense, pick up any one of his books.

If your art happens to be aikido (so this is a little specific), then I agree with the Katy Garden's comments, is a great resource.  I don't know who is putting up this information.  It doesn't seem to be based on any one specific school.  There is information presented on all the major schools, and as such tends to be a little generalized.  Which actually makes the website more reliable.

On a more generalized note, again going with the Gwen Martin's comment, has a good start of being a positive website.  It goes through various styles, from different Asian regions of the world, and describes the basics of them.  One thing that seems weird is that it doesn't differentiate between different styles of, say, kung fu.  It could be that they're waiting for people to write the pages, but the different forms of Kung Fu have very different ways of presenting themselves.  If you are new to the arts, then this is a great place to start.  If you're more involved in the arts already, and just want a cursory description, then this site would work great for that as well.

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