It all started when…well…I have heard it often enough. Much less in the past year, the chimps have evolved (including me), however, some chimps continue to hold on to the tree, unaware they can simply put their feet down, walk and experience other parts of the planet. Aaaahhhhnalogies.
Interestingly, when I meet martial art rope dartists (of which I happily am one) the word ‘style’ seldom, if ever comes up. I show martial artists martial technique, dance technique, spin technique and they eat it all up. I have told martial artists at Kung Fu schools where I was hosting workshops, “Oh! This technique looks awesome on fire!” Never, ever have I heard a martial artist say, “well, that’s not my style” when referring to learning various movement practices with a rope dart.
Now, the spinners ( of which I happily am one too). Why do I hear, “that’s not my style” over and over again from this group? No one in the first group ever says it, some in the second group do say it. Hmmmmm…..
**DISCLAIMER: This is an observation, not an accusation, which is happily open for discussion. If you’re a spinner or martial dartist or both who explores everything, excellent. Keep doing that.**
I don’t think I need to defend my credibility here but let’s look at from where my opinion is formed. For 8 months in 2015, I taught the rope dart (alongside other great dartists) at over 10 festivals and martial art schools across America as well as renegade workshops at parks and such and weekly classes at Rope Dart Academy NYC. With a rope dart, I have had person to person personal touch and connection with what has to be over 500 people in the past year, and that number is being conservative. Not a big number either, with the planet boasting 6.5 billion people, however, more than the average dartist has touched.
I showed these beautiful budding dartists the best of what I know; horizontal dance technique, spinning technique, and yes, even martial technique. Cutting to the chase, guess how many martial artists argued with what they were being shown? Seriously guess.
Are you ready for the answer? Zero.
How many spinners have argued with me over what I was showing them with the rationale of, ‘That’s not my style?’ At least a dozen. Now, approximately 12 closed minded people out of 500 is not too bad and this in no way means that it is a mentality amongst the spinning community as a whole, however, this article is not looking to make mathematical comparison, rather, it is asking why even 1 dartist would say it.
The question becomes: If you were really interested in this field wouldn’t you want to know everything about it?
I think many ‘style advocates’ do not really know what the word ‘style’ means. A person’s style is their signature stuff; their personality. It doesn’t encompass quite as much as most think and doesn’t really refer to techniques. I think people confuse the words ‘style’ and ‘system’. Martial arts has systems of learning. Dance has systems of learning. These systems of learning may be different, sure, but the root requirements (strength, flexibility, etc.) are the same. Other than presentation and intention, which has little to do with technique, what is really so different between martial ‘style’ and dance ‘style?’ The principles of rope dart movement are the same, to be sure, a spin is a spin, a shot is a shot, a wrap is a wrap. Further, I have seen beautiful choreographed dance pieces that included elbow shots and knee shots, which is unarguably martial technique.
Whatever the reason, this closed mentality leads to something: hard limits/boundaries. Literally these people are limiting what they can do with something that seems to have endless possibility.
Why be so polarized?
To not be into martial style (despite the rope dart directly coming from martial arts, but that’s a whole other thing) is a person’s way of saying, “I’m not good at this, hence, I reject it in the name of differing styles.” I mean, they cannot possibly know anything about it, so why so adamant about not liking it?
It all seems so, forgive me, personal…
I digress. On to you, dear reader. Do yourself a favor. If you want to get good with a rope dart eliminate this ‘style thing’ from your reality, in other words, never use that as an excuse to be mediocre. If you are not that interested in becoming good then of course do what you will. Seriously, look at those who use the phrase (read: excuse) ‘not my style’ and look at those who don’t use that phrase. The difference in skill level is apparent. It has to be. One person learns as much as they can, the other doesn’t. I have students less than a year that blow these style advocates out of the water in everything between tech and flow. I don’t limit my own learning, and my students enjoy the benefits of an open minded teacher who himself is constantly exploring new things and also encourages them to learn from others. The Rope Dart Academy NYC hosts guest instructors specifically so my students can learn things I don’t know yet! What’s more is I get to learn new things too! Win!
The ‘not my style’ people do the same old things they’ve been doing for years. No growth, no excitement. Predictable. Boring.
I think my success with the rope dart comes from the fact that I always thought I could learn from anyone and never rejected anything someone was showing me. I didn’t put myself in the proverbial box, never made excuses, stayed open minded and never ever ever said, “That’s not my style.” I have learned martial dart, dance dart, bounce dart, spin dart, swing dart… all the darts! Why? Growth. Exploration. Knowledge. Propagation.
I found the best dartists (‘best’ meaning open minded, explorative, non conforming, having almost nothing to do with technique) on the planet seldom use the word style in any real or serious context.
So, which one are you? Be careful with your answer, the possibilities could be infinite…