If your dinner arrives on a funny shaped plate, ask yourself what the chef is compensating for.

One of the few things that I take almost as seriously as karate is cooking; I’ve done it for a living, betimes, and can happily fill a weekend trying to make the perfect lasagna.  I also love to eat out, although it is so often prohibitively expensive for my pay grade, and rules I learnt in the kitchen  inform my judgement of what I am being given.

My heart always sinks slightly when my food appears on a triangular plate.  Or a roof tile.  Or a chopping board.  Or with some inedible decoration.  A meal that has been over presented is so often trying to draw the diners attention away from inadequacies in the food.  A great looking burger on a wooden trencher with an american flag pinning it in place turns out to be burnt, cool meat on a soggy bun with flaccid french fries.  Only once, in my personal experience, has this not been the case.

I haven’t had a chance to write a full post this week.  I was needed to transport my mother and her belongings to Cambridge to support my elderly aunt.  Rattling up the M5 in Walter (our Corsa) I spent ten minutes behind a van that annoyed me.  And not because he was hogging the middle lane.

The vehicle was covered in McDojo branding.  The first sign was the large print ‘Martial Arts’ logo.   No style specified; to Ronald McSensei all martial arts are the same, just like rugby and soccer are identical.  Field, ball, kicking;  the same, so why bother specialising?

As I closed up with the van there was a long list of the benefits of this undifferentiated ‘martial art.’  Self defence (the McDojo euphemism for efficiently applied violence) languished near the bottom of an extensive list that included respect, bullying prevention, stranger awareness, internet safety, fire safety and drug awareness.  There were plenty more parent-worrying phrases that I can’t bring to mind now, and I remembered  bad food concealed behind excessive ornamentation.

There is only one thing a martial arts instructor needs to concern himself with: teaching a martial art.  A specific martial art.  Everything else on the list I learnt from parents, teachers and organisations like the Scouts and Cadets; do these people not give these lessons any more?  Is it really responsible parenting to entrust your child’s education about some very ticklish subjects to a stranger in a pair of pyjamas?

To be sure, sincere practice of a martial art is beneficial in developing positive character traits – discipline, courage, perseverance, respect and so on – but all that is really required for that development is quality martial art taught well, just as all that one needs for a good meal is decent ingredients cooked well.   Do not be impressed by the triangular plate of hyperbolic advertising.

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