Saturday, July 11, 2009

Martial Arts and Gamers

So, I've been wondering lately. I read an article sometime back and found several more on the web recently about how hackers seem to gravitate to the martial arts. In other words their is a positive correlation between hacking as an activity and martial arts as an activity. Most hackers seem involved in the martial arts in some way shape of form.

Now, this was intriguing to me and as I'm not a hacker, I was naturally led to wonder why. Well there's a lot of psychologizing about it, but basically they say something about the mental discipline required for hacking is similar to that required by or trained in the marital arts. Well, I don't know about that--but I have seen in my own experience and relations a positive correlation between gamers and martial arts.

There seem to be a higher percentage of gamers that are interested in or actively training in the martial arts. I myself have studied the martial arts on and off since my teens. I started with light fighting in the SCA--obviously a medieval / fantasy motive there, eh? From there it moved into a fascination shared by my friends and me, though largely as armchair samurai and backyard stick swingers. But we learned quite a bit academically speaking.

Then in my early tweens I started to teach myself tai chi, which lasted for several years until I found my first real lung fu school--Shaolin Do. I trained there for a year, before becoming a littel disillusioned due to my over-analytical tendencies. So I dropped out and took ninjutsu for about three months. That didn;t last long, as I was basically a kung fu guy and ninjutsu was _very_ different. At this same time I had taken over a year of college level fencing, foil, epee and sabre. I was even asked to be an assistant instructor for the beginning foil classes. But I floated for awhile in regards to the traditional arts, studying up on what art might be best for me. Then one day in a bookstore I came upon a flier for a Wing Tsun school. Intrigued and out of the loop for too long I recommitted and studied for another year.

A crime and self defense crisis made me question the whole value of martial arts for self defense and I stopped training again. I even thought about going back to ninjutsu for awhile, thinking that hiding in the shadows, or backstabbing someone beats the hell out of having a gun held to your head. Then life changes and lots of other things transpired and I left martial arts alone for a long time. Oh I talked, meditated, prayed and studied about it. My good friend Scott and I carried on a lengthy correspondence about the art of Kenpo all the time I was on my mission. I played a little bit with various mission companions who also studied the martial arts and answered a lot of questions for myself about the true mature of the martial arts in light of all my experience.

And when I returned, married and life settled and I was recentered and happy once again I followed the call anew. And synchronistically I found a Kenpo school. I trained for a year or so and my instructor left for California. So I was left to my own devices once again. Back to the drawing board brought me back to my roots of kung fu, and I studied with Wing Chun videos, Northern Shaolin videos and even some Hung Gar and Hsing I. All the while looking for something to settle on. It seems that after all my study and practice I was the one year wonder and things would fizzle again and again. Was there a pattern I was supposed to be seeing?

At any rate I am now working with Doc Fai Wong's Plum Blossom Federation and studying Choy Li Fut in his distance learning program. I won't go into all the reasons I made that choice, but so far it's good--really good.

Which of course has me realizing--long ago--that one of the main constants in my life, one of the things I always come back to, besides gaming is the martial arts. Connection? Not sure, but of my longtime gaming friends 67% are into the martial arts. And a disproportionate number go into the military as well. Looking for adventure like I was? Not sure. Any ideas? I am really intrigued by this fact. I even once heard a radio piece on NPR about gamers heading off to fight in the war on terror as Paladins against injustice. It was a touching piece.

Especially in light of the Israeli Military's opinion that gamers should not be allowed in the armed services because their tendency to fantasize made them unstable for military life. Hmmm. They may have something there too. What the heck does that mean?

Lots for me to think through.



The Jones Family said...

This is actually a new connection to me, although it makes sense. I think that it all stems from the desire for adventure and the mysterious, cryptic or unknown. From the exclusivity of Shaolin monks in their temples high in the mountains to the first organized group of high-quality assassin/spies, the ninjas, there is something in each of that the enjoys RPG's, that is also going to be drawn to the martial arts. I also think there is probably a significant interest by gamers in the CIA, NSA, and Special Forces for the same reasons. Not to mention the connection between gamers who become highly trained scientists searching the inexplicable or unexplored. Great post and mind candy.

Chris said...

Thanks Steve. I agree with the posts about the mystery and unknown. I too have considered all those careers you mention.

Makes me wonder, though, exactly how successful these gamers are in these fields and careers.

The Jones Family said...

You've got your Vin Diesels, Conan O'briens, Robin Williams, and Stephen Kings, but I'd if I had to bet, I'd so most successful people don't have the time they'd like to dedicate to playing anymore. Take you and me - a highly-educated HS teacher and a mid-level business manager - don't have the time to play as much as we'd like. Those gamers that do play extensively, usually don't have much else to speak of by way of professional success. And the ones that do work for Wizards of the Coast, etc. But the medicinal chemist finding cures for Anthrax and the double-agent on an undercover mission in Cuba??? They don't have so much time to roll the dice nowadays. But that's not at all to say that they didn't wish they DID have the time.

The topic reminds me, unfortunately, of my two-week stint playing football in middle school. Sure, it was scorching hot and I wasn't really that good, but do you want to know REAL reason I quit? I wanted to go home and play D&D with Chris, Max & Sharky. I still believe I made the right choice.

Viva la D&D!!!

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