Are Martial Arts a form of Cultural Appropriation?

Originally published at: Are Martial Arts a form of Cultural Appropriation? - Bullshido

The academic definition of Cultural Appropriation is “the adoption of elements of a minority culture by members of the dominant culture”. A while back, a large kerfuffle was made about a teenage girl’s choice of prom dress. The girl, a Caucasian, wore a Chinese qipao to her high school’s prom. This girl upset some people by wearing a Chinese qipao to prom. Example. Sad. In the Martial Arts, it’s an understatement to say that wearing traditional Asian clothing—regardless of whether or not you’re actually Asian—is a common practice. And to point out that, at least in the United States, the overwhelming majority of Martial Arts practitioners are white, would be an exercise in the ancient art of No Doy. All white now… So this begs the question: is this an example of white people appropriating Asian culture? Are Martial Arts a form of Cultural Appropriation? No. You’re dumb. Now here’s a bunch of memes of varying dankness and such: You can hear his smarmy voice through your screen, can’t you? Bathilda’s clearly a Gryffindor Almost didn’t post this one… solid “10′ Pole” Situation, but what the hell. Come at us, bro. The good news is that Tumblr is going to die a slow death. Meh, you get the point. But Memes Are Not An Argument That’s where you’re wrong kiddo… finger pistols Seriously though? We’re not trying to make an argument. This article is fucking stupid, and the fact that we have to be proactive and type all this out is why we can’t have nice things:…

Maybe there’s an argument for saying that some westerner who acts like he just fell out of a Toshiro Mifune movie, squints his eyes, speaks like “as Confucius say…” and insists his students call him something silly like “dai-soke” is doing a cultural appropriation.

Or maybe he’s just a weeaboo. I think there were those in martial arts long before those guys who get all their knowledge of Japan from anime/hentai and want to go to glorious Nippon one day to find super kawaii traditional Japanese shrine maiden/kunoichi/geisha to be mai waifu.

Does it depend on the culture? I remember some pretty tragic takes on native American martial arts.

Considering most martial arts we have are from cultures trying to spread it actively a opposed to white people stealing it like it’s the British Museum, I’d say no.

Aren’t most of those Native American martial arts fake? IOW, someone just threw a bunch of random stuff together from other styles and marketed it as Native American?

Yeah, that might qualify as cultural appropriation.

There are loads of people faking being Native American for profit anyway (fake medicine men, people trying to sell books about native topics and such). There used to be a site that documented this stuff that was quite an eye opening read. Can’t remember what it was called now.

1 Like

Kano based a lot, arguably, the majority of Judo off of Western Wrestling, and Sumo.
And, Sumo, of course, although Japanese, was itself an import from the Mongols.
The end product, Judo, was a nice system.
So, sometimes, in fact, quite often, cultural appropriation is virtuous.
Regardless if done by any culture, from any culture.

Native American martial arts are all in all a bunch of bullshit.

It probably is cultural appropriation, but the historical relationship between Europeans and Asians , and Europeans and Africans is different

I think with Japan it’s sometimes more a misguided appreciation for a Japan that only really exists in movies and comic books. I’ve been active in some animu communities in the past and there are deffo these guys who think Japan is a land of cherry blossoms and katana and bushido. A land that breeds men of honor such as the samurai, ninja, stern-faced karate men, yakuza, kamikaze. And these guys are like “Japan still has something that sadly, we’ve lost”. Yaknow, like they wish they’d been born into the Japan they have in their heads.

I guess the point I’m making is “does it make a difference that they’re kinda sad and lost and that they probably mean well?”.

Whilst many Asian kingdoms/nations have been subjugated and colonised by Europeans there is not the history of systematic enslavement

That takes a lot of the sting of cultural appropriation away

Something, something, JLS

Are you cherry picking, and curve fitting, regarding Europe?

And also lumping all City States, together, as if they were not very different, not to mention sworn enemies?

You are am embarrassment to potatoes, everywhere.

Do people even take cultural appropriation seriously any more?

Even for the mid-2000’s it was a piss-poor attempt to manipulate identity politics.

1 Like

Down with the British Museum and it’s millions of pounds it’s spent on preserving antiquity that would have been lost to adventuring locals or rotted with time itself.

But yeah, colonialism etc.

Sumo from the Mongols? You mean like Bohk wrestling?

I’d have thought neighbouring countries like Korea and it’s own wrestling, Ssrieum, would have been a more likely contributor.

I think the difference is ‘offered vs taken’ but some people cannot for the life of them understand that it’s not always bad to learn from others

Ssrieum also came from the Mongols.

Interesting. Were they the original wrestlers of Asian?

Not necessarily the original, but their empire was vast, and they brought belt wrestling with them, where ever they went, and usually left it behind, after their empire was no more.

I think the difference is ‘offered vs taken’

That’s a good way to put it.

Don’t some Japanese arts need a specific license from the grandmaster to teach (and they’re very selective in who gets that)? But some westerners learn some of it and then go back home and proclaim themselves masters and start training people anyway? And there’s nothing that can be done, but it sucks?

Even sushi was an imported practice from China.
Aikido is for show.
Judo borrowed heavily from western wrestling.
The favorite sport in Japan, is baseball.
I could go on…

Im aware of some systems that do this, but the thing is there are very few gouverning bodies in martial arts that would stop someone who took a few classes from creating their own system and announcing themselves a mega dan in a ‘new’ version of whatever.
Look how many ninja schools there are claiming to be ‘the real deal’ but a lot of them are larpers larping that they found a real school after taking some Bujinkan classes… and then also on the Booj that’s a weird one because you can teach from a few dans in but to represent one of it’s nine schools to teach them (despite the main curriculum being from parts of those schools) you were expected to get the menkyo kaiden of that school…

Between looking back on that system more harshly and knowing that there were people I used to train with in it as teens who have become some pretty fluffly looking mega-dans with very dorky non-fighter students… my brain needs a lie down