The good old days, (the 1970’s), when men were men and women used to be grateful. Well at least that’s how people used to talk before a million new rules and political correctness came about in British society and made people scared to do or say the wrong thing.
Society and cultural values have changed over the decades and within the world of martial arts this is also true in various ways. Back in the 1970’s for example, when I first started my martial arts training as a young lad of just 17 years old, attending classes were a no frills event.
You turned up, (on time if you valued your life), got into your uniform and started to warm yourself up before the class started. Anyone just standing around talking was promptly told to get on with it or risked being thrown out of the class, never to return, on the spot.
Although there was a degree of tolerance with regard to discipline within various martial art clubs back then some clubs were well known for being very strict. The club that I attended held classes for an average duration of 90 minutes and in that time every single second was used up with hard and fast training. There was never any time to mess about or have a chat with others and the thought of treating the training session as a social meeting or having a bit of fun in any shape or form never crossed anyone’s mind. Every week you would turn up and train hard and then go home, nothing else.
The instructors set the standard throughout every training session and always did more than the students. If one of the assistant teachers of the class just stood there doing nothing then the head teacher would do his nut, but of course this never happened often as the assistants knew better than to try and get away with being idle.
This standard within all of the training sessions also included the few child members of the class. If a child dared to mess about he was thrown out of the class on the spot.
This was a traditional school of combat and the instructors never wasted time on kids who just messed about.
Although standards, and the level of discipline, was very high the instructors insisted that we called them by their first name and they would often say that they had no time for fancy titles like ‘Master’ or ‘Sir’ as that kind of thing should be left for those who suffer from big egos and vanity.
During my years with the club, back then, the number of times photos of the class were taken could have been counted on one hand as the instructors found it ‘time-wasting’ during a practice session.
Unlike in my day when you simply turned up – worked hard – and then went home, today many martial art clubs are more like a social event than a martial arts school, with hundreds of photos being taken within a class on a regular basis and social club events and even raffle tickets being organised on a monthly basis. And the thought of children running around the training area screaming and going wild was totally unheard of back in the day when I was a humble student.
Back in the 1970’s the cost of a 90 minute lesson within the club that I attended would cost you the price of 4 pints of beer which worked out at a £1 a lesson. Based on the price of a pint of beer today a lesson these days, based upon that, would cost you £12 or more, so at least the price of lessons today are remarkably cheap. (Based on 2018 prices)
Although protective gloves, boots and other padded protection for the body was available, albeit somewhat limited back then, students who attended the club did freestyle sparring, (they call it kickboxing these days of course), without such padded equipment.
Although this resulted in various injuries it did have the added bonus of making students very aware of the dangers to themselves and did not give them a false sense of security which is often the case when covered from head to toe in body protection.
Maybe the good old days were never that good after all but it did produce true black belts, which is a questionable thing the way some people get them today.