I am not terribly old (soon to be officially middle aged) but even in my almost-four-decades the world has changed dramatically. I know I am getting old because I am convinced everything was better when I was a kid. Perhaps I am just nostalgic? Na, everything was actually better. The music was awesome. Kids my age were listening to Metallica and Guns and Roses. Now they listen to Justin Bieber and Miley Cyrus. When I was a kid we were watching the original RoboCop and the first two Terminator movies (the ONLY two). And of course, when I was a kid, Star Wars referred to the first three movies (again, the ONLY three). See what I mean?
Now, if you are a twenty-something millennial you are shaking your head and thinking I am delusional as you subconsciously hear Tears for Fears or other such stereo-typical 80s music play in your head and you think of such 80s cult classic movies like Fast Times at Ridgemont High. And, if you are older than me, you think I am delusional because the 60s or 70s were way better than the 80s. That may be true. After all, at least the rock bands in the 70s did not wear makeup and shoulder pads. But see, that is the point, the further you go back, the better!
Well, there are at least two things that I believe are indeed better now, closing in on the end of the second decade of the 21st Century (can you believe that?). While I still stand by my assessment that the movies and the music were better some 30 years ago and further, I have at least some good news that our new millennia has ushered in: First, we have much better guns and gear, and second, we have built a better warrior. The fighting gear we now have is far superior to what was in common use even when I was a child, and the average dude who takes his martial path seriously is a more knowledgeable guy than he typically was back then.
The advancements in technology have combined with the pressing needs discovered in a theater of combat now for the past two decades and we are far more squared away. Much of what we now rely on actually goes back some time; for example, the original widely successful striker-fired polymer-framed gun was born in the 80s (see, the eighties were the best!) but up until the turn of the century your average dude that was carrying a gun was more likely carrying something else even though law enforcement had migrated to said gun by that time.
When I started carrying I was packing a full-size 1911, a spare mag, and a plain old pocket knife. That was squared away at the time. Not many considered carrying a blade that backed up the gun in a defensive fashion and the idea of carrying medical gear was completely foreign. Even flashlights were typically not carried by civilians because flashlights at that time were huge baton-like mag lights. Now I carry a gun that gives me twice the capacity at half the weight, medical, less lethal, a light, etc… and it all works out to be easier to carry than my old stuff.
The gear is not the only thing that has advanced, of course: our understanding of fighting has dramatically improved for both unarmed skills and firearms. While fighting skills will never be embraced by the general public, unfortunately, people in general seem to have become a bit more aware of what fighting actually looks like. In terms of unarmed skills I attribute this primarily to the UFC. Even on the street the average punk is more likely to try and shoot in on you for a takedown than he is to throw a Van Damme style flying kick. Even if he is untrained he now has a different perception of what fighting looks like. The same may be true for gun handling, although less so. But some more modern movies display much better gun handling than the older action movies. When watching a film like Collateral it is obvious that real training has at least begun to permeate the mind of directors like Michael Mann.
My oldest son is now at the age where he is starting to watch movies. He watched the newer and absolutely horrible Karate Kid with Jackie Chan, so I told him to watch the much better original. I watched the original with him, it was the first time I had seen it since my youth, and I realized this is what people used to think fighting looks like. I can attest to that because as a kid I was always reading Black Belt Magazine and the other martial arts rags available at the time and everything in those magazines focused on traditional arts; never to be found was anything about grappling or ground fighting. Royce Gracie would change all of that with the introduction of the UFC. I was young but I actually saw the very first UFC on pay-per-view. Even as a kid I remember thinking to myself that everything had just changed dramatically.
So, we all get nostalgic at times and we all resist change to some extent. However, when it comes to fighting we need to embrace advancement and work towards it. Just like the medical field embraces advancement because lives are on the line, so should we embrace advancement in this craft because ultimately this skill set is about saving lives. Stay relevant.
Now, as far as music goes, I remain blissfully out of date. In fact, I may play an Ozzy Osbourne album for my next workout…..