So I took a brief tour of the various places on the net, to see what sort of conversations were happening in regards to this whole certification issue. What I saw really made me wonder about the wisdom of letting people vote. Dear WMA world…what the hell is wrong with you?!? Intellectual pomposity is no way to live your life. I think I’ll just tweak my BIND/DNS a little. I should be able to write an intelligent rule that redirects any attempt to connect to a forum or the website for any existing WMA organization, to somepalce safer for me to look at. Something with pictures of kittens. Or monkeys with switchblades. Soothing, relaxing images.
I think I will now ignore the growing number of hits on my blog, and pretend I am talking to a some close friends who speak my language. Otherwise, I’m going to continue to write blocks of profanity strewn rants and the delete them and the whole writing session will be wasted. And I’m out of fresh pictures to post, used them up during my last hangover. Dammit. Right. Moving on.
Certification is a form of marketing. It’s a useful tool for two groups. The first is for a new and growing group, or movement, to create a sense of legitimacy. It’s false, but it works. Makes you look more mature and serious than you are. The second group is the established or competing large group who wants to establish a monopoly. May or may not be evil, but it also works.
It’s too late to do the first. That boat sailed. And someone else has started up the second. The usual tactic in business-land at this point is to create competing standards, but honestly, that’s just a way to stall things out, not a solution. The big guys do that to each other. In our case, we are the little guy going up against the big guy. We need to attack. Our method of attack is through marketing, through brand and image. Hit the enemies weak points, move around their strong points, turn our weaknesses into strengths. If we are martial artists and not sport fencers, this kind of thinking is second nature to us, isn’t it?
The USFCA seems to be a fragile organization, with a lot of dissent, I hear. They have the strength of being an olympic level sport organization. That’s the big thing we need to move around. They have a history of supplying and enforcing education and certification, and we are the new kids on the block. A marketing move around that would be to emphasize that the USFCA cert is from an olympic level, and imply that the cert is oriented the same way. It’s easy to subtly turn the olympic thing into a weakness, if you are subtle. Too strong and it will bite you back, though, which is why I’m not providing specific examples.
Our weaknesses are small size, newness, and lack of central organization or unified approach. Which makes us friendly, local, dynamic and interesting.
I strongly disapprove of any kind of body dictating standards to the WMA world…most especially when that body comes from within the WMA world. That’s far more threatening to our growth than the USFCA. It destroys our uniqueness, and will stunt our growth, putting the wrong people in leadership positions, and leaving open too many opportunities for abuse of power by leaders. That sort of abuse is the worst thing that can happen to a growing movement, it can be subverted before it has a chance to find it’s own identity.
The only purpose any organizing body should have in our movement is fostering friendship and co-operation between schools…mutual assistance and nothing else. Certification is no issue for us, a unified teaching curriculum is no issue for us. These are straw men. Our only real problem is youth, and not wanting to give ourselves the time we need to grow.
Stop fucking things up. Stop promoting bad instructors. Stop arguing over tournament rules and who is right and who is wrong. Stop forming grade-school cliques. Start getting more students. Start promoting other schools, other teachers. Help each other out. Work to make yourself better fencers, help each other become better fencers and teachers. No shortcuts. Do things the hard way.