Forbidden Kill Strikes

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Through most of history, all that a would-be teacher needed was the will to hang out a shingle. Instructors thus varied greatly in terms of skill, teaching ability, enthusiasm, and fees. Of course, if dueling was legal, the unskilled were unlikely to risk claiming mastery unless the money was excellent. But where dueling was illegal or looked down upon, and the martial arts rarely saw use in anger, false masters flourished alongside true ones.

In some times and places, though, martial artists did require a license to teach. For instance, in medieval and Renaissance Europe, those who wished to sell instruction sometimes needed a royal charter - which in turn required them to produce certification of their mastery. No such legal requirements exist today, but modern fighters must often join a federation or an organizing body in order to compete.

Separate from the issue of "who's a master" is the matter of injury - physical, psychological, or social. Historically, if a student suffered injury or was shown to be less skillful than his reputation demanded, the master could lose noble patronage or social approval. The teacher might face the law if he struck a social superior - even in training. Worries of modern teachers include insurance, lawsuits (for injury or harassment), half-hearted students, and concerned parents. Any of these things could lead to watered-down techniques, emphasis on Combat Art skills, and non-contact training.

Lastly, an instructor might not wish to teach just anyone lethal techniques for fear that an irresponsible student might use them unnecessarily, resulting in legal consequences! This was a serious concern for historical masters, and a realistic (and relatively benign) reason to apply the "Trained by a Fraud" lens (p. 145) to a style.

The names of many martial-arts styles - e.g., Hwa Rang Do (pp. 163164) and Shorinjikempo (see Kempo, pp. 172-173) - and schools (such as Dog Brothers Martial Arts, mentioned under Escrima, pp. 155-156) are trademarked. Martial Arts doesn't append the trademark sign (™) because this isn't a legal requirement for a game. What the law does require is that those who sell martial-arts instruction under these names have the trademark-holder's permission.

There's a good reason for this. Historically, the first fake teacher probably set up shop 15 minutes after the first real one. Today's laws protect business from this kind of theft. Of course, a trademark sign says nothing about the quality of the martial art. Trademark law protects the fraud who wants to keep competing scam artists off his turf as well (or as poorly) as it protects the true master.

Historical style founders would have adopted trademarks if they could have - especially the frauds! Such self-promoters as E.W. Barton-Wright (see Bartitsu, p. 167) would have appreciated the veneer of legitimacy that a legal trademark provided back when such things still impressed the masses. In the absence of such protection, warrior and swindler alike had to resort to more direct action if they wished to defend against misuse of their good (or at least popular) name . . .

Chapter Two

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