I'm happy to see this thing settle down without too much controversy. Van and I were e-mailing each other about it over the weekend. Like a fight on the court or playing field, it's generally best to let the individual parties settle it.
There are some observations I'd like to make, partly because Van asked me to. I waited, because I didn't want to be part of the problem. But I think some things are worth discussing.
First... I don't think Randy meant anything by his tag line. It was a joke - period. I don't have a makiwara in my dojo, nor do I ever plan getting one. I have no use for it. Meanwhile, Vinny talked about what he heard concerning training methods (rolling pin on the shins) that someone reported to cause long-term damage. Something about bursting capillaries, and discolored skin on the shins. Well... We do rolling pin training in my dojo. At the end of the day, I did not worry about someone's opinion about my lack of a makiwara in the dojo, and I didn't worry about someone's opinion about the presence of rolling pins in the same. I personally am happy one dojo embraces something I don't and another avoids something that I do. This way I get to benchmark what we do. It's the best thing we have to a controlled study. Everything else is just an opinion - even if well-informed. Under the right conditions, I'll discuss it. I've learned long ago (the hard way...many times...) that issues can wait, life isn't that serious, there's no reason to find conflicts where they don't exist, and there are better ways to win friends and influence people. I personally am not offended by Randy's tag line, and I don't worry about my rolling pin training right now.
But yes, it was JUST A JOKE! As I told Van, it reminded me of an old song by The Charlottesville Blues Allstars.
My girl is red hot; your girl ain't diddly squat!
Are those fighting words? When the band plays this raucous rockabilly song for a dancing crowd, do fist fights break out because someone's woman was dissed? Of course not. The author of the song is just having a little fun with being in love.
That being said...
This forum has a serious problem with backhanded comments. There's a bad habit of making a point at the expense of others, when it really isn't necessary. And yes, I am guilty as charged. How many times have I said takeyourdo...I mean taequondo to be funny? It's funny - partly because it's ridiculous but has a small kernel of truth to it. The Koreans have one of the better business models on the planet, and their numbers speak to it. Martial arts are martial arts and business is business. Purists will gripe, and joke, and - yes - disparage. But... I really shouldn't do that if I want the opinion of very good TKD martial artists. And I've been the benefit of black belt TKD students who subsequently became very good Uechi students under me.
With the right company, you get away with stuff like this. With the right company, I can look at an Asian friend and say something like "Y'all look the same to me." It's funny to him because he knows me and prejudice is something that isn't part of my makeup. But I can't say something like that at work, because I don't know who will be listening and I don't know if someone will be offended by an off-color remark like this.
This is a public forum. We don't know who will be reading these threads. We don't know what effect our words have on others we don't know and can't even see. Doesn't it make sense to shape our language in a fashion where we minimize the risk of offending someone else? And knowing whether or not you will or will not offend someone is made easier by having a few basic rules to operate by, right? Occasionally the rules will seem a bit strange in isolated circumstances but... Rules are rules. Is it proper for Don to be able to decide when the rules do or do not apply to him?
Then there is the discussion...
This is the way I see it. It is my opinion, so take it for what it's worth - probably not more than 2 cents.
Neil asked Randy a legitimate question. Randy could have answered the question and some follow-up questions without getting emotionally hijacked. That would have been nice. Neil could have stayed in the discussion and seen it to the end. On more than one occasion, Neil has said something and then dropped out of sight. Sometimes it's something like 'You all don't want to know what I really think here...' and then refused to say anything when people encouraged him to speak his mind. If you really didn't intend to say something, why bother mentioning there was a thought in the first place? In like fashion, it would have been nice to see the line of questioning to the end. To do otherwise is like throwing a smoke bomb in a crowded room and running.
And all the rest of us should let two people have a decent discussion without piling on. Randy's a big boy; he can explain himself. Neil's a smart guy; he can articulate his thoughts. No need to take sides. Asking about the tagline was a legitimate question, and it would have been interesting to see an unemotional discussion of it all. In a perfect world...
I do not envy John's job. It's not a fun one. And John's new to this. He will screw up at least as many times as I have; that's the way I see it. I think we should all give him a little bit of slack. If you don't like what he said, say you don't like it. John will learn.
"Fair fighting" means sticking to a subject. If you still have issues with being slighted about this or the other insult or phantom insult, well... Go start a thread on it. Talk it out. Talk some more. And then, GET OVER IT. Whatever your do, stop bringing your old problems into new discussions. Life is short, and there's a beer in the refrigerator.
There, I've spoken my peace, piece, or whatever. There's a bullseye pinned to my back. Have at me!