fbpx
SocietySports

Martial Arts, McDojo’s, and Muslims

SocietySports

Martial Arts, McDojo’s, and Muslims

Choose a school or gym that teaches practical self defense. Not one that’s basically just child care or that teaches fluffy, un-realistic fighting with a Sensei who claims he can put you to sleep with one weird touch or that he can throw fireballs (yes, I actually heard that before as a kid).

/

“They’re like animals!”

I still remember these offensive words to this day. I was teaching Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and wrestling in the masjid for the local Muslim Students Association when a brother from the masjid began complaining about us. It was pretty disappointing, considering we were basically just wrestling and there was no hitting, no poor behavior, or anything un-Islamic or offensive taking place.

I was actually embarrassed for the brother because he considered wrestling and learning self-defense the same as acting like animals. 

This, along with countless other discussions I’ve heard over the years, have shown me how important it is for Muslims to have the right understanding of martial arts and self defense. 

There are three points I’ll discuss: one, the main purpose of training; two, making the choice of style(s)/school choice; and three, the possible un-Islamic elements.

1) Main Purpose

The reality is that martial arts are primarily for self defense, and self defense ultimately means fighting in one way or another. Yes, martial arts should also benefit the practitioner by aspects of learning discipline, respect, confidence, exercise, healthy living, and so forth. 

But when training in martial arts, it’s also important to keep in mind you are learning and practicing techniques to potentially protect yourself and loved ones. You’re not there to learn how to flip off the wall (although that would be cool!) or to pay a McDojo money to basically just teach your kid how to “dance” while they quickly earn a black belt that won’t even help them against husky school bullies. Always keep your real purpose at the forefront of your mind, and it will help you be successful in your martial arts journey, inshaaAllah.

2) Making the choice

Understand that martial arts doesn’t just include fighting styles that originally came from the Far East. While many of those are incredibly beneficial and should be studied (e.g. Muay Thai, Judo, Escrima/Kali, Silat, Kyokushin Karate, and Sanda Kung Fu are all incredible martial arts just to name a few), Western styles such as wrestling and boxing should also be considered. Although they are typically viewed as sports, they are very effective in self defense situations when properly applied.

There are benefits in pretty much every type of martial art, however some are much more practical for fight situations than others, and a combination of styles is the best strategy of all. In fact that was the conclusion Bruce Lee arrived at which eventually lead to Mixed Martial Arts (e.g. UFC).

On that note, whether you’re looking to train yourself or you’re a parent just trying to put your kid in a “Karate class”, it’s important to pick effective and realistic fighting styles. Modern day champions of the UFC such as Muslim brothers Khabib Nurmagomedov and Kamaru Usman, while trained in various martial arts (the concept MMA), both rely heavily on wrestling and ground fighting. This is a key aspect of self defense.

There is a reason why wrestling and grappling is from the Sunnah and has been practiced by pretty much all nations over the course of history. Trust me brothers and sisters, don’t neglect it!

Finally to close this point, please don’t let Hollywood be your guide. You may cheer watching a movie when you see one little dude or dudette flipping and spin kicking a bunch of buffalo dudes all over the place. It’s entertaining, but trust me, that’s not real. I know buffalo dudes. It doesn’t work.

Choose a school or gym that teaches practical self defense. Not one that’s basically just child care or that teaches fluffy, un-realistic fighting with a Sensei who claims he can put you to sleep with one weird touch or that he can throw fireballs (yes, I actually heard that before as a kid). In the martial arts community, we call those “McDojo’s.”

3) Un-Islamic Elements

Unfortunately, some martial arts include practices we cannot do as Muslims such as bowing to pictures of dead Masters or even making sujood, astaghfirullah. Some may try to pair you up with the opposite gender to practice techniques in a manner not allowed for us. I won’t get into details but I will share two main recommendations.

The first is before you join any school or gym, see if these issues exist there. If so, you can talk to the Head Trainer, Sensei, Sifu, etc. and see if they will accommodate you by being able to show them respect in another way that doesn’t go against your Islamic beliefs. You should have no problems if you explain it to them and it can be a great Dawah moment, inshaaAllah. 

But if this doesn’t work, there are always other places to train that should be more understanding. Also, sports like wrestling and boxing should totally avoid such issues.

The second suggestion is to setup or join Muslim martial arts classes. I have seen and been a part of many of these. Alhamdulillah, there are many Muslim brothers and sisters who are martial arts experts. Sabeel Combatives is an excellent example (check out their YouTube page) and they conduct local training for Muslim kids regularly in California, mashaaAllah.

Also, in LA there are private sisters-only self defense classes taught by a female Professional MMA fighter. There are many examples like this all over, and I highly recommend setting this up for brothers and sisters of all ages!

I firmly believe that both brothers and sisters need to train and train hard! Contrary to popular belief and what most 90s martial arts movies taught us (stop lying to us Hollywood!), size DOES matter quite often. That doesn’t mean because you’re small you are doomed. But part of self defense is taking every advantage possible and being as prepared as possible. Understand that fighting requires strength and especially cardio! So aside from martial arts training, be sure to work out and exercise (elliptical here I come!). This can often make the difference in a self defense situation.

Hope this was beneficial, inshaaAllah. Work hard, have fun, and train on!

Anyone with questions please feel free to contact me.

Whilst you’re here…

The Muslim Vibe is a non-profit media platform aiming to inspire, inform and empower Muslims like you. Our goal is to provide a space for young Muslims to learn about their faith as well as news stories affecting them, so we can reclaim the Muslim narrative from the mainstream.

Your support will help us achieve this goal, and enable us to produce more original content. Your support can help us in the fight against Islamophobia, by building a powerful platform for young Muslims who can share their ideas, experiences and opinions for a better future.

Please consider supporting The Muslim Vibe, from as little as £1 – it will only take a minute. Thank you and Jazakallah.

Keep Reading

Choose a school or gym that teaches practical self defense. Not one that’s basically just child care or that teaches fluffy, un-realistic fighting with a Sensei who claims he can put you to sleep with one weird touch or that he can throw fireballs (yes, I actually heard that before as a kid).

“They’re like animals!”

I still remember these offensive words to this day. I was teaching Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and wrestling in the masjid for the local Muslim Students Association when a brother from the masjid began complaining about us. It was pretty disappointing, considering we were basically just wrestling and there was no hitting, no poor behavior, or anything un-Islamic or offensive taking place.

I was actually embarrassed for the brother because he considered wrestling and learning self-defense the same as acting like animals. 

This, along with countless other discussions I’ve heard over the years, have shown me how important it is for Muslims to have the right understanding of martial arts and self defense. 

There are three points I’ll discuss: one, the main purpose of training; two, making the choice of style(s)/school choice; and three, the possible un-Islamic elements.

1) Main Purpose

The reality is that martial arts are primarily for self defense, and self defense ultimately means fighting in one way or another. Yes, martial arts should also benefit the practitioner by aspects of learning discipline, respect, confidence, exercise, healthy living, and so forth. 

But when training in martial arts, it’s also important to keep in mind you are learning and practicing techniques to potentially protect yourself and loved ones. You’re not there to learn how to flip off the wall (although that would be cool!) or to pay a McDojo money to basically just teach your kid how to “dance” while they quickly earn a black belt that won’t even help them against husky school bullies. Always keep your real purpose at the forefront of your mind, and it will help you be successful in your martial arts journey, inshaaAllah.

2) Making the choice

Understand that martial arts doesn’t just include fighting styles that originally came from the Far East. While many of those are incredibly beneficial and should be studied (e.g. Muay Thai, Judo, Escrima/Kali, Silat, Kyokushin Karate, and Sanda Kung Fu are all incredible martial arts just to name a few), Western styles such as wrestling and boxing should also be considered. Although they are typically viewed as sports, they are very effective in self defense situations when properly applied.

There are benefits in pretty much every type of martial art, however some are much more practical for fight situations than others, and a combination of styles is the best strategy of all. In fact that was the conclusion Bruce Lee arrived at which eventually lead to Mixed Martial Arts (e.g. UFC).

On that note, whether you’re looking to train yourself or you’re a parent just trying to put your kid in a “Karate class”, it’s important to pick effective and realistic fighting styles. Modern day champions of the UFC such as Muslim brothers Khabib Nurmagomedov and Kamaru Usman, while trained in various martial arts (the concept MMA), both rely heavily on wrestling and ground fighting. This is a key aspect of self defense.

There is a reason why wrestling and grappling is from the Sunnah and has been practiced by pretty much all nations over the course of history. Trust me brothers and sisters, don’t neglect it!

Finally to close this point, please don’t let Hollywood be your guide. You may cheer watching a movie when you see one little dude or dudette flipping and spin kicking a bunch of buffalo dudes all over the place. It’s entertaining, but trust me, that’s not real. I know buffalo dudes. It doesn’t work.

Choose a school or gym that teaches practical self defense. Not one that’s basically just child care or that teaches fluffy, un-realistic fighting with a Sensei who claims he can put you to sleep with one weird touch or that he can throw fireballs (yes, I actually heard that before as a kid). In the martial arts community, we call those “McDojo’s.”

3) Un-Islamic Elements

Unfortunately, some martial arts include practices we cannot do as Muslims such as bowing to pictures of dead Masters or even making sujood, astaghfirullah. Some may try to pair you up with the opposite gender to practice techniques in a manner not allowed for us. I won’t get into details but I will share two main recommendations.

The first is before you join any school or gym, see if these issues exist there. If so, you can talk to the Head Trainer, Sensei, Sifu, etc. and see if they will accommodate you by being able to show them respect in another way that doesn’t go against your Islamic beliefs. You should have no problems if you explain it to them and it can be a great Dawah moment, inshaaAllah. 

But if this doesn’t work, there are always other places to train that should be more understanding. Also, sports like wrestling and boxing should totally avoid such issues.

The second suggestion is to setup or join Muslim martial arts classes. I have seen and been a part of many of these. Alhamdulillah, there are many Muslim brothers and sisters who are martial arts experts. Sabeel Combatives is an excellent example (check out their YouTube page) and they conduct local training for Muslim kids regularly in California, mashaaAllah.

Also, in LA there are private sisters-only self defense classes taught by a female Professional MMA fighter. There are many examples like this all over, and I highly recommend setting this up for brothers and sisters of all ages!

I firmly believe that both brothers and sisters need to train and train hard! Contrary to popular belief and what most 90s martial arts movies taught us (stop lying to us Hollywood!), size DOES matter quite often. That doesn’t mean because you’re small you are doomed. But part of self defense is taking every advantage possible and being as prepared as possible. Understand that fighting requires strength and especially cardio! So aside from martial arts training, be sure to work out and exercise (elliptical here I come!). This can often make the difference in a self defense situation.

Hope this was beneficial, inshaaAllah. Work hard, have fun, and train on!

Anyone with questions please feel free to contact me.

Whilst you’re here…

The Muslim Vibe is a non-profit media platform aiming to inspire, inform and empower Muslims like you. Our goal is to provide a space for young Muslims to learn about their faith as well as news stories affecting them, so we can reclaim the Muslim narrative from the mainstream.

Your support will help us achieve this goal, and enable us to produce more original content. Your support can help us in the fight against Islamophobia, by building a powerful platform for young Muslims who can share their ideas, experiences and opinions for a better future.

Please consider supporting The Muslim Vibe, from as little as £1 – it will only take a minute. Thank you and Jazakallah.

Keep Reading

Menu