Penn & Teller’s Bullshit Martial Arts

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Penn and Teller Bullshit Martial Arts


As you may or may not know, the comedians Penn and Teller have a series on Showtime entitled Bullshit. This series supposedly debunks myths or falsehoods on different subjects by exposing them as bullshit, thus the name of their program. On June 24 the duo’s program covered martial arts with their main premise being that martial arts dojos are a rip off and a waste of time and money. Of course, being comedians, this show mainly consisted of little more than these two finding a handful of quacks to make fun of and thus show how all martial arts are a joke.

They had a lady on the show, who appeared to being a few cards short of a complete deck, showing her “version” of chi gong, a practice of working with the body’s energy. This practice is not only real, but has been scientifically proven…but on this show, they did not bother to find someone legitimate to demonstrate or talk about this art; instead they found a complete nut-case and made the art look like activity hour at the mental institution. It was funny for sure, but it had nothing to do with chi gong.

The foul-mouthed Penn continues his evaluation of the martial arts by critiquing a martial arts dojo in Florida where the instruction apparently did not understand what this show was all about or that he was being made the butt of the comedians’ jokes. They also looked at a more “realistic” martial arts dojo which was focused on real-life techniques which are more straight fighting than art or sport based…they made this guy look like a complete psycho, especially when he stated that if one of his students killed someone, he would be proud of them.

The comedians also pointed out that maybe it would be cheaper to just give criminals your wallet or buy a pistol than to spend your time and money on martial arts classes. Well, I guess it would also be cheaper just to cut a stick off of the oak tree in the back yard and carry it around with you too, but maybe a better way to save money would be not to pay for Showtime. Not only would this save you some money, but I don’t think you would miss much either, at least not during the Penn and Teller time slot.

This ridiculously, skewed presentation of the martial arts, complete with loads of un-needed foul language and topless dancing girls should be a red flag to anyone who is looking for serious information on the martial arts, martial arts rip-offs, real training, etc. Of course the show was entertaining, which is all Penn and Teller care about, remember these two only want viewers so they can keep the money rolling in, they aren’t concerned about the accuracy of their show any more than any other comedian.

The only part of the show that was not
part of the duo’s joke was the interview clips with Marc MacYoung, who
incidentally wrote the forward to my first book, Warrior Wisdom. Marc
added some common sense comments to the show, but his comments seemed to
support the comedians’ premise that martial arts classes are a rip off.
You may wonder how this could be. Well, the answer is that many
martial arts classes are a rip off – its as simple as that. Marc also has a good blog that discusses this. You may like to check it out also on his My Space page.

There are incompetent, dishonest people in the field of martial arts,
just as their are incompetent, dishonest people in any other field that
you can name. Anytime money is involved, you will find a huge number of
people who are ready, willing and able to cheat or con people out of
their hard earned money. I discuss this throughout my Warrior Wisdom
books. The vast majority of dojos scattered throughout this country are
mainly concerned with one thing – making money.


The truth is that it is very hard to find a dojo that will actually prepare you to defend yourself on the street. Most are concerned with sport martial arts, winning tournaments, practicing katas, etc., none of which prepare you for defending your life on the street, should you ever have to do so. Most of the instructors in these schools have never been in a real fight or if they have, it has been so long ago that they barely remember it.

To truly be prepared to defend yourself on the street, you need to find a dojo that can train you in real-life, scenario-based self-defense, de-escalation techniques, modern weapons (not many people walk around carrying kamas, tonfas, or nunchuks), awareness, and realistic techniques that can end a fight in seconds. There is a big difference in sport martial arts and true martial arts.

There are many reasons that people enroll in a martial arts school, and not all of them have to do with self-defense. Many people are simply looking for fun, a different way to get their exercise, or merely to check off another goal on their “bucket list.” Choosing a martial arts school depends on what you are looking for, but if you are looking to prepare yourself to be able to meet an unexpected assault on the street, you need to choose carefully.

The premise presented on this show that martial arts are a worthless con is completely false. If this were true, the military, police force, and special forces would not waste time training their personnel in martial arts. What is true is that not all martial arts training is equal. As with everything else in life, it is up to you to do your homework. Don’t be naive enough to think that going to a martial arts class twice a week and practice a few punches, kicks, and katas is going to prepare you for a ruthless street-fighter – it won’t.

This should have been the premise of this show, instead these guys dropped the ball, but hey, this is not a serious television show, so we shouldn’t expect anything different from these two. After all, it is much more entertaining for the average viewer to see a little comedy, some topless girls, and some unsuspecting people being made the butt of a joke, and a bunch of half-truths, than to see the real truth, but comedians/magicians never present their audience with the whole truth – that would spoil the show.

Here’s the link to the show if you care to see it for yourself. You may have to cut and paste this link for it to work. Beware that this show is not kid friendly.

Bohdi
Warrior Wisdom

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