This article has been re-included due to popular demand
There are certain tried and tested methods for the promotion of martial arts and martial arts organizations. Some might call them unscrupulous. But as there are many genuine and hard working martial artists struggling to make a living, I believe it's time to pass on this valuable knowledge. Why shouldn't the sincere and humble make as much money as bigmouthed bullshitters?
To avoid causing offence I would like to stress that the techniques described below apply only to other schools and styles. Whatever you practice is of course the genuine article.
1. Use superlatives.
When promoting a martial art it is vital to use as many superlatives as possible. One of the best is ultimate as in ultimate street fighting system. Describe practitioners as unbeatable and invincible (see below). Other good words, though not superlatives are devastating, effective, and powerful. To add weight to these prefix them with most. For further impact suffix with in the world. This is important for the geographically challenged. If you plan to appeal to people with speciesist tendencies suffix with known to man (see note 1)
2. Mysterious origins
To have the requisite mystique a martial art MUST have either a mysterious origin or have been taught by an invincible teacher (see points on verification below).
In the case of existing arts, the origin can be a forgotten lineage. Possibly the hidden lineage will predate any known historical appearance of the art. In which case the following applies.
The art should have been transmitted in an unbroken form from either an immortal, or an enlightened being. These words are good because they are pretty superlative. They can be substituted, or used in conjunction with Tibetan (see note 2), as well as each other.
When referring to previous unbeatable and invincible grandmasters of a lineage, it is important claims about their powers be unverifiable. This is easily achieved if they are dead in which case you should play down the immortality a bit. Alternatively place the grandmaster somewhere remote and inaccessible. Mountains in China are a traditional favourite. Remember that for geographical purposes China also includes Tibet.
You can play on this theme by saying that your teacher was not remote but reclusive. Perhaps they were a next door neighbour, or a man in the park. If people wonder why this master in our midst has been hidden for so long put it down to profound spirituality and humility. If you are really crafty you can even claim the same virtues for yourself while in the act of shameless self promotion.
If the teacher is a well known figure it is advisable to claim to be the only one to have inherited the 'true transmission'. Time and language need be no barrier in the reception of true transmissions. It takes no time to receive one through 'direct energetic transfer.
3. Special powers and secret knowledge
Any martial art that doesn't want to be the ultimate street self defense should at least claim to have special powers and secret methods. Rules of verification apply here of course.
Special powers are only shown or demonstrated on willing parties, whose level of spiritual awakening makes it appropriate for them. For all other people these techniques are too dangerous.
Secret methods are great for two reasons. They get the punters intrigued, and they cost more. To be secret a method doesn't have to be unique or even special. It just means you need to make your students paranoid about showing it to anyone else (see section on students).
It is important to keep the students in a controllable state. This can be done in several ways.
First demand total obedience on the basis that it is traditional in the master student relationship. There are always a few students who want to be dominated in this way. This method has the advantage that it can also provide willing hands for your housework.
On all accounts discourage your students from looking into other styles. It could be disastrous if your students discover their secret methods are widely practiced under less grand titles.
Looking at other methods and styles used to be called heresy in the Roman Catholic Church. People involved in it would be excommunicated (thrown out of the school), or in extreme cases, burnt alive (for their own good). We can learn a lot from the Catholics as their style has survived, thrived and is extremely rich. You may have seen martial arts classes advertised on some of their real estate.
There are two main ways of discouraging investigation and other forms of free thought.
Either suggest that there is nothing worth learning outside the schools as everything else is crude, unspiritual, unsophisticated, bad for you, untraditional and not the true transmission.
You can also suggest that at the current stage of development to mix training methods, or energies would be detrimenta.
5. Don't be shy
Like the existence of secret techniques, the shortcomings of other styles should be loudly and publicly announced.
It is not so much that other styles have to be directly badmouthed (though that can be fun), more that they are subtly compared to the sublime intricacies of your chosen art and found wanting.
Any challenges that result from either grand claims or provocative language are easily dealt with.
The challenge can be accepted on bizarre or ludicrous grounds. For instance 'I'll happily fight, but in the traditional way, in front of a jury of seventeen masters, who will be carefully picked from my students, on the evening of the next full moon that falls on February 29th.'
Challenges can always be declined on the grounds of compassion. The power and technique of the style being too dangerous to use in an uncontrolled way.
On the off chance that some ruffian actually succeeds in anything physical, any perceived defeat can be dismissed as the result of either crude force or a surprise attack.
I'm currently working on software that can produce publicity material according to this template. It's going to be called Blagwizard, and will work in conjunction with most of the common DTP and word-processing programs. It will include variations to allow the full spectrum of martial arts from spiritual and harmonious, killer street, traditional, original and traditional original styles.
I'm particularly proud of the Asian language generator. It can produce style, technique and principle names in Japanese, Korean, and three dialects of Chinese, with calligraphy! I expect it will be a great commercial success.
I've used a prototype of Blagwizard to create adverts in this and other martial arts magazines. See if you can spot them. I think you find they blend in seamlessly.
Note 1. I train with great White Sharks, Tigers, Grizzly Bears, and Ebola viruses.
Note 2. This only applies while Tibetan spiritual systems are fashionable.