So what is it about this industry that makes people think any idiot with a building and wearing a black piece of cloth is qualified to teach martial arts? Many say the problem has to do with lack of regulation, that in Asian countries you must be licensed through a government organization to teach martial arts. Honestly I think that's a horrible idea, but on the flip side we should be policing ourselves. Back in the old days, and my generation caught the tail end of it (I certainly got my fair share of it), there was a wonderful tradition of dojo busting that kept out the frauds and less-than-quality schools. Win or lose, it was about respect and as long as you could hold your own, you could stay and teach. Now everyone's quick to the call the police or draw a gun when you even mention you own a school nearby. But the real problem has nothing to do with that. The real problem is lack of education, and the wussification (with a capital "P") of America.
All martial arts share a common ground, combat. Even if your exact branch of your style has never seen combat, its origins are the same. Techniques that didn't work died with those who tried them, and what we are left with are generations of combat proven fighting skills. The term "martial art" literally means "skill of war." We are the successors to a legacy of countless warriors who fought and died to preserve and protect what they held dear. We owe it to them to preserve their teachings, their principles and their legacy for future generations.
So to everyone out there who thinks sport martial arts (including MMA) are the be-all and end-all of what martial arts training has to offer, to everyone who gives out rank indiscriminately, to everyone who focuses on fun and games in their class over practical application, I say this:
You are a liar! You are a fraud! You are not a martial artist!
I don't care who your teacher was. I don't care what prestigious organization gave you a pretty piece of paper that you can't even read. I don't care how long you've been training. I don't care how many stripes are on your belt. I don't care what title you demand your students call you.
It's perfectly fine to find new and exciting ways to pass on information, but if your classes look more like elementary school recess than combat training, you have no room to call yourself a martial artist. Call yourself a coach or a trainer. Find some other title, but in order to have the honor of being a martial artist. you must have a martial mindset. Enough is enough. Everything has its place, including fun and games. But the end result must be practicality, or you're lying to yourself and worst of all, you're lying to your students. Every single person who walks in your door puts their life in your hands, and for you to literally play games with their life is worse than pulling the trigger yourself. As their martial arts instructor, they're trusting you to protect them or to at least teach them how to protect themselves and their family. The average person looking to join martial arts doesn't know what they're looking for. They don't know how to sift through the garbage because it's all "karate" to them. So to not teach them properly, in my opinion, is the most dishonorable thing you could do and every drop of blood spilled will be on your conscience. Live with that.
EDIT: This article was edited on December 11, 2016 to remove any references to any specific school and is intended to express my opinion solely on the lack of proper self defense training that is generally accepted across the martial arts community.