Remember when hard work still mattered in the martial arts? When you had to dedicate yourself to it for a long time (years!) to develop your skill if you wanted that black belt, that instructors patch, that fancy title in some foreign language. That’s why we called it “kung fu”, right?

Granted, it was a long time ago now (yes I’m starting to feel a bit ancient) but like a few other middle-aged martial artists I’ve spoken with about all this, I’m kind of looking at the state of things and going “What the fuck happened?”

Want to know the most advanced form of whatever art you are curious about? No problem. Just go search on Youtube because some attention-seeking like-junkie has probably uploaded it already. It’s pretty much guaranteed these days.

Want to call yourself an instructor in whatever art has tickled your fancy but not really feeling motivated enough study it for years on end to get there? No hay problema. Just go search on Google because somewhere there’s a teacher (maybe even a real one) who decided it’s less hassle and more lucrative to teach people online than in the flesh. Just remember to have your PayPal account ready if you want it. It’s pretty much guaranteed these days.

Can’t really blame the instructors for doing it. We all have bills to pay and running real schools can be a costly affair. Factor in how difficult it is to find enough dedicated students to just cover basic rent, and yeah, I totally get it. Times change and the arts too, right? But in too many cases, it’s all just about the ka-ching and I don’t like it.

Can’t really blame the new kind of students for doing it either. After all, real training hurts. You get bruised up and might even bleed a little. And it takes time too and other sacrifices. Besides, it’s a different world now and maybe people just want things for other reasons than we used to. Chances are they still feel as accomplished as the practitioners of old when they get that freshly paid for online certificate, and after all, doesn’t everyone deserve to be happy doing something they enjoy? Standards change and people too, right? I totally get it but in too many cases it’s just people being lazy, replacing time and effort with money and I don’t like it.

I still get the occasional email asking if I’ll make new instructional videos like the ones I did back in the WBBM days or if I’ll consider teaching online classes. The answer is always “No!” because you can buy information but not “kung fu” and selling one without demanding the other isn’t how I do things. And if some people are upset by that, I totally get it and you don’t have to like it.

But at least I won’t have to look at my own itsy-bitsy group of students while quietly asking myself “What the fuck happened?”

Because we still call it “kung fu”, right.