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Martial Arts Training Is All About Diversity and Respect

Last night at the Golden Globes award show Meryl Streep gave a mostly-positive speech about diversity, respect, and the importance of journalism to a free society.

She also attempted to elevate her speech by putting down an art she doesn’t think qualifies as an art. That art is, collectively: martial arts. Ms. Streep said: “So Hollywood is crawling with outsiders and foreigners, and if we kick them all out, you’ll have nothing to watch but football and mixed martial arts, which are not the arts.”

With all due respect, I beg to differ. Firstly, it would seem counter to everything an actor is about to claim that one person’s art does not qualify as art. Don’t like Sylvester Stallone’s movies? Fine, but don’t claim the resultant production of a motion picture is not a work of art (and in this case one that was nominated Academy Awards).

Secondly, if art is defined as “the expression or application of human creative skill and imagination” then certainly martial arts is correctly labeled an art. Martial arts is nothing if not a personal expression of human creative skill where the movement of the body can be a very beautiful thing to behold.

Thirdly, she must have missed the news about the last two significant MMA fights. To refresh, one involved an Irishman at the very pinnacle of his craft and his popularity. The other involved two women, the winner a Brazilian in a dominant performance.

Ms. Streep’s attempt to step on martial arts in order to achieve greater grandeur for her otherwise impassioned speech on inclusion clumsily excludes the millions of people around the world that practice and perform the many different martial arts. In speaking, she commits the very sin she’s rightfully railing against. It’s unfortunate that she chose this tactic in a speech about the very real values of diversity and respect. If there is one thing that’s pretty damn diverse and rooted in respect, it’s martial arts and the folks that practice it.


By: Allen Nieman

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