As we continue to develop our programs and explore our group identity, it became apparent that we cover a lot more ground than the average “martial arts” school, and still have a lot of more to cover. Practical, eclectic fighting skills taught at the individual level, training priorities guided by analysis of violent situations and environments, instructional methods based on modern motor learning and educational models, an emphasis on accurate knowledge of human anatomy and psychology, supported by cutting edge performance enhancement and injury prevention conditioning, a commitment to honest and ethical practice…it’s not easy to get it all into one neat bite. As a part of my ongoing MS (Human Movement) coursework, I was recently required to develop a personal mission statement that reflects my goals in the field as well as a commitment to ethical and evidence-based practice. This got me wondering about what our group sees as it’s mission. After much discussion and exchanging ideas among the St. Louis, Wash U and Virginia clubs, the following reflections of who we are and what we do took shape:
1a. Our mission is to empower responsible adults through teaching them fighting and self defense skills.
b. We do not restrict our training to those who are already fit and strong: we aim to teach those who might need to fight, not just those who are naturally good athletes and fighters.
2a. We recognize that physical strength and fitness are an advantage in fighting and help to prevent injuries in training, and so an essential part of our mission is increasing the strength and fitness of the people we teach.
b. We hold that appropriate programming begins with the needs of the students.
c. We are aware of much misleading and false information about both fighting and fitness. We recognize the scientific method as the best means to sort truth from mere opinion and we are committed to reason-and evidence-based approaches. It is a part of our mission to update our beliefs and practices in response to new evidence.
d. Publication of quality evidence-based literature and original research, experiential knowledge of other fighting arts and the as well as organization of seminars and symposia, are a priority to which all members of FSRI are encouraged to contribute per their specialties.
3a. We endeavor to foster an atmosphere in which responsible adults may learn to fight regardless of class, race, gender, sexual-orientation, age or disability.
b. We are committed to creating a training environment that enables and encourages cooperative learning, and which promotes problem-solving as a means to forging healthy personal relationships as well as appropriate responses to violence
c. We reject any conflation of ability in fighting with moral rectitude. These things are distinct. Being a teacher of fighting does not make one morally superior to one’s students. Being a better fighter does not make one a better person.