Monday, July 25, 2011

Martial Arts Wars

Just got an email from somebody new to the whole online martial arts wars: "I hear you and Marc MacYoung don't get along. What do you have against him?"

Actually, I don't have anything against him. He does what he does, I do what I do, we don't see eye to eye, that's all.

Those of you who don't know, Marc "Animal" MacYoung is a writer and teacher who specializes in reality-based self defense; he has produced a number of well-received books and videos on the subject, and has even teamed with Rory Miller on recent projects. (It should be no surprise to long-time readers here that I'm a big fan of Rory Miller's work, and he and I don't see eye to eye on everything, either. What makes a horse race, isn't it?)

Why don't MacYoung and I chat any more? Some years ago, I was a member of his email list, whereupon there were now and again some spirited discussions of things martial. We often disagreed on philosophical points regarding matters of mayhem and assorted social interactions. 

For several reasons that won't mean anything to anybody not directly involved, Marc and his wife Dianna and I–she moderated the email group–arrived at a place where our disagreements made continuing dialog impossible to maintain. It was either apologize for something I said or I wouldn't be allowed to post any more, so I elected instead to leave–given as how I expected it to be a particularly cold day in Hell before I would back off my position, and fuck you very much ...

Strong-willed people disagree all the time. C'est la vie.

I have my view of what was what, I'm sure they have theirs, and naturally, I am inclined to hold that my view is the more reasonable one, but, of course, I would, wouldn't I? Doesn't mean that it's right. I expect them to feel the same way about how they saw it. 

MacYoung has lots of folks who like and admire him. I am just not counted among them ...


shugyosha said...

For what it's worth, I've been a friend of Marc for the last... 3 years life, another and a half more online. And I still don't know what happened.

Not that I want to, just thought worth mentioning that privacy is working well.

Ferran, BCN, Spain

Anonymous said...

It's a shame to hear about the feud.

I did Kung Fu for about five years when I was a teenager and kept up afterwards with weekend sparring-matches with a good friend who practiced Sanchin-Ryu.

I've been reading several of MacYoung's texts on self-defense and philosophy lately, and I find alot of it to be very practical and agreeable.

That being said, I actually see alot of synonymous views between your writings, Steve, and his.

You both seem to agree on alot of things and are both very, very practical thinkers in the realm of martial art.

I hope one day you both see eye to eye again and become good friends once more.

Steve Perry said...

Oil and water -- too far apart at a basic level to mix, I think.

Our encounter, which was about more than the subject ostensibly on the table at the time, made it clear that the conversation was done. Roll over and do it their way, or the highway.

Given that choice, the highway ...

A few tidbits since have come to light that have bolstered that realization. When somebody allows as how you've drunk the Kool-Aid? Further conversation is a waste of breath.

I have been off Marc's list for years; but that doesn't mean I have no way of knowing when somebody there talks about me or my art ...

shugyosha said...

WRT to that last sentence --at least in my email alert, it popped out later--: I guess I'm missing something, because my knee-jerk reaction is "your point being...?".

Take care

Steve Perry said...

My point? Well, part of it would be that I left the list with the attitude that we had personal and philosophical differences, but that I wasn't going to go out of my way to bad-mouth anybody. Live-and-let-live.

If someone asks how I saw things go, I tell 'em, but that has mostly been the extent of my comments.

I was there. I do know what happened. I'm one of those pack-rat writers who keeps a copy of everything, I've got all the emails to refresh my memory. I know exactly who said what, when, until I boogied.

That live-and-let-live notion apparently hasn't been the case from Marc and Dianna regarding this. I've heard from folks who were on the list and left, and from those who still hang out there, and some of what has been said about my art, my teacher, and my self has been way less than complimentary.

I know why, but chances of there being any eye-to-eye in a situation where somebody talks shit about you? Slim and snowball.

I make it a point to try not to say anything about somebody I wouldn't be willing to say to their face, and that mostly keeps me out of a lot of trouble.

That would be part of my point, too.

shugyosha said...

I'm afraid I don't agree with the vision those friends of yours have --provided, again, they have it from the last 4 years or so--. And although I do sense some bad blood between you three I don't recall that spilling into Mr. Plinck. As I mentioned in my first post "privacy is working well".

But I might be wrong. Wouldn't be the first time.

Steve Perry said...

Two things: I was there, and as you point out, you weren't. And I have copies of emails posted on his list in which Marc offers comments about all this that either you missed, or perhaps didn't see the insults in, and certainly within the last three years; either way, I wouldn't say it if I didn't have it.

Okay. You want to know, so here it is from where I sit:

Marc was flying Guru Steve Plinck in to teach his practice group Sera(k.) He was mightily impressed with Plinck -- that was the first thing he told me in the first email we exchanged. But apparently Marc's group wasn't spending much time practicing the techniques between sessions.

I have this from somebody who was working with the group at the time.

There came a gathering at Marc's, the first barbecue. Guru Plinck was invited, and went. I couldn't make it.

The Sera(k) students in Colorado were apparently thrilled to see Guru Plinck, and wanted to hang out and practice with him.

Marc was most unhappy with the Sera(k) folks over what he perceived as an insult because they'd rather work with Plinck than with the other teachers who showed up.

This really pissed Marc off. He said so on his list.

I allowed that if you are a huge fan of seafood and a world-class seafood cook shows up, it doesn't matter how well somebody else can cook a steak, beef won't be your first choice. That if you are Catholic, and the Pope comes to town, you don't want to go hear the Baptist preacher's sermon. Not an excuse to behave badly, of course, but at least you might see why.

When I offered this explanation, Marc wasn't having any of it, and that was the sub rosa conversation that shaped the subsequent disagreements we had. He thought we (the Sera(k) guys) were a bunch of elitist boors, and he didn't want to hear from us. And pretty quick, there weren't any of us left on his list.

Interesting coincidence, that.

Not long after that, Guru Plinck realized that Marc and his practice group weren't interested in learning Sera(k) as a system, so he cut them loose. (This isn't how Marc spins it, of course. In his version, he dropped Sera(k) after a yelling match with Guru Plinck.

Frankly, I find the notion of Marc yelling at Steve Plinck hilarious. And Marc's comment that we are elite, arrogant pricks not willing to step up and pay the blood price is pretty funny, too.)

Sera(k) isn't an art you can cherry-pick. The foundation requires time and practice to ingrain. It's not a matter of whether it is better or worse than other arts, that's just how it works. I tried to tell the list that, but they didn't want to hear that, either.

Marc and his group are eclectics, and part of the discussion that got me in dutch was disagreeing with his comment that monostylists don't measure up; that single styles don't work for self-defense.

Really? So why would you pay to have Steve Plinck come out and teach you if what he has doesn't work?

Like I said, Marc has a lot of admirers; my experience with how he behaved give me no reason to be among them.

Somebody asked, and I told them why.

Believe it or don't. Doesn't change what I know.