Institutionalized Darwinism – Erik Kondo

Many people have a basic understanding of Darwin’s theory of National Selection a/k/a Survival of the Fittest. The premise is that as a species evolve, the stronger more effective traits and characteristics survive and propagate, while the weaker ones dwindle and die out. As a result, the species as a whole is always improving.

Natural Selection can also be seen in certain fields of human performance and their associated training methodologies. Specifically, those areas where the high end of absolute performance in a given field keeps improving. For examples, look at many fields of athletics or extreme sports where performance records are constantly being broken. Achievements and stunts once considered impossible have become routine. Speed records for running, jumping, climbing, swimming, and more are broken regularly. For aerial stunts, single backflips have morphed into doubles, then into triples.

But then there are also those areas of human activity where improvements haven’t occurred. Or even worse, performances have become inferior over time. How can this be? Shouldn’t the effect of Natural Selection create steady improvement in all areas as better methods replace worse?

The first answer is that Darwinism requires a reason/motivation to create change. Without a reason to change or a motivating threat of some sort, Darwinism doesn’t apply. In that case, inertia rules and nothing changes. Training methods are static and handed down from generation to generation. The philosophy is that it is done this way because it has always been done this way.

Now look at areas where absolute performance is deteriorating.

What if Natural Selection is actually happening, but this type of Natural Selection is geared towards to benefiting the associated Institution rather than the Individual?

For example, look at the Martial Arts Industry as a whole (the Institution) in terms of self-defense. Darwinism as applied to Individuals would mean that martial arts practitioners would keep getting better and better at defending themselves. Absolute training times to achieve reasonable proficiency would get shorter. Self-defense effectiveness would increase for more people, and a greater variety of people. But that isn’t happening.

Despite Institutionalized claims to the contrary, overall martial arts effectiveness for self-defense is arguably getting worse, or at least not improving. Does that mean that Darwinism doesn’t apply to the Martial Arts Industry? Or is the Institution of the Martial Arts benefiting at the expense of individual performance?

Institutionalized Darwinism is my name for the process in which the ongoing change benefits the needs of the Institution rather than the needs of the individual. And that may also mean at the expense of the Individual.

What are the needs of martial arts organizations? A few are: to grow in size and scope, to attract more students, to make more money, to sell more products, to become more influential in society. Making martial arts classes non-challenging to student’s egos and promoting fantasy fighting disguised as self-defense training benefits the Institution, but does nothing to advance Individual self-defense effectiveness.

Institutionalized Darwinism explains the majority of YouTube self-defense videos, moves, and tips. The Process of Natural Selection doesn’t weed out the bad and promote the good from the standpoint of the Individual, but it does benefit someone or something. It is up to you to determine who or what benefits from these promoted training methodologies, most likely, it isn’t you.


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