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Disenfranchised martial artists, those leaving an ivory tower for whatever reason or the other, are set to wonder the barren formidable wastelands to fend for themselves. As we know, some survive by taking a business approach to their martial arts where rank and pedigree is paramount. Other disenfranchised martial artists take another path, focused on skill.
I have observed those who take the business path have more difficulties forming associations and networking that pool talent for the purpose of resourcing and sharing skills. Where those who focus on developing skill have an easier to get what they need and connecting to like minded groups.

Business is highly competitive, suspicious and protective. No one who has a commercial dojo wants an experienced martial artist coming in looking to expand their resources and then end up stealing their students.

Skill orientated martial arts, we use to call them dojo rats, with the attitude of have Gi will travel type of people, and other words they are network orientated and may usually have a school of some sort. These people are more interested in developing and sharing skill and fraternal relationships.

Being in an ivory tower and seeing both types of disenfranchised martial arts come through our doors my observations are this. First, those orientated to skill focus less on rank and pedigree then those who run a commercial dojo. Cloth and paper are beneficial to the business and other worlds too for reasons we all know of. But as we know, cloth and paper really don’t represent or qualify skill all the time, i.e. inflated rank, bought rank, faked rank and paper, etc. Then when it comes to skill, it can’t be faked, expect for abstract based skill can be easily faked.

The bigger drawback, here, as previously mentioned, is for those disenfranchised who took a business approach; the replenishing of exhausted or limited skill resources. To remedy the situation, there is an effort to seek out resources, usually from those orientated to skill. Those who took a skill approach distrust and question those who have taken a business approach. Reason usually being is the natural suspicion that arises with too much rank and pedigree owned by one person. Because of business competition, fear of students being stolen by other instructors and schools, business can be really reserved in opening up and sharing their skill resources. Business orientated schools will open up and share resources if it helps business. This drawback in some cases can be a major one, and very difficult to overcome.

To solve this problem, I have seen some business orientated individual will change their approach. They will find someone either in an ivory tower or skill orientated to assist them in building new resources. In many cases the business orientated will return to the same previous business approach and claim expertise, a type of commensalism. In other cases, it can be more of a mutual relationship between the business and skill orientated individuals. But mostly, the relationship benefits the business orientated, which never the less solves the problem.

Submitted by “JP” – El Paso Texas