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StackOverflow has a big readership. There are many skills which can be discussed, and it is very easy to specify exactly what skills are discussed. Example: "I'm using Rails 3.1.2 and rspec and I am running into this problem when writing a routing test".

MartialArts.StackExchange has a small readership. There are many, many more names to the skills that can be used (TKD, TSD, all the genres of karate, all the genres of kungfu, all the Japanese swordsmanship styles.....) than on StackOverflow, and the number of people who know (let alone have expertise in!) a given skill is much smaller. In addition, the people who have such expertise in a skill AND USE THE WEBSITE is sometimes nil. I find relatively fortunate that there is a Bujinkan teacher here, since it's a fairly obscure but very deep/layered system; I believe that baguazhang and isshinryu karate also end up in the list of really rare styles on this website. Of course, this is somewhat representative. Isshinryu is not as big as TKD, and Bagua is only beginning to gain popularity.

Still, it's -really easy- to ask a -very specific- question: "How does one perform a noto in Hasegawa-ryu?" Unfortunately, you need to pray that someone who also knows the style is around and can answer that question. I've studied Japanese swordsmanship for a few years and I know there are as many ways to sheathe the sword as there are styles.

So, if a very specific question, StackOverflow-style, is not likely to get an answer, what are we left with?

This has been one of the main reasons for my attempts at generic questions that serve every martial art, every practitioner (Unfortunately, it took me this long to get the epiphany and be able to articulate it). Here is a list of the few questions I have asked. One generated considerable debate and was closed twice, and the others generated a little less debate and remained open (My mind works in weird ways).

So, with that in mind, and understanding that we can't ask everyone to try and make abstraction of the details, maybe there are better ways to ask questions, and yet understand that the answer may:

  • not be what you want to hear
  • not match your expectations

Then we can ask a question that is not matched to a particular style, and can be answered by a wider majority of people, and still be useful.

Er... Yeah. I don't have a "real" question here, this is really to ... Start a conversation and see where it leads.

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    I think the big difference between SO and this.... the value of the answers is really high in SO, and really really really low on here. The questions are just strange, or just asked out of "vauge interest". Most learning and feedback in martial arts is done in class. Most questions of real value are answered when you can demonstrate things and someone can provide feedback and drill into things. – Keith Nicholas May 7 '12 at 3:39
  • All the questions I've asked had very high answer value to me. – Anon May 7 '12 at 13:21
  • I'd believe they were "really interesting" but in terms of progressing your martial arts, having a look at your questions, if they are providing significant value, I'd suggest a change in instructors! – Keith Nicholas May 7 '12 at 21:05
  • @KeithNicholas - that kind of comment, I feel, is particularly unacceptable. I'm going to pretend you never said that and never will again. – Anon May 8 '12 at 15:21
  • @Trevoke I think Keith's comment was perfectly reasonable, and would apply to most if not all users here. "Why do we do X" and "how do I do X" are the questions that advance martial arts skill, and they are both waaaaaay better served in person, in class. It's like on Fitness.SE, we don't do a lot of form checks for squats and stuff. It's just an ill-suited format to do so. – Dave Liepmann May 8 '12 at 15:42
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    If you expect a forum to be an end-all-be-all source of information for any sort of physical activity, you'll be extremely disappointed. There are no hard-and-fast absolutes in martial arts (even in the cases of history; many Japanese arts have embellished histories inclusive of mythical characters), but we can be a great place to start. – stslavik May 8 '12 at 15:52
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    @stslavik Yes, of course I agree. But that doesn't mean that we aren't better or worse at certain kinds of questions. In fact I would say that Keith's comment is an extension of Trevoke's central thrust: SO solves immediate problems in a concrete way, MA.SE doesn't and can't. – Dave Liepmann May 8 '12 at 16:22
  • I meant "suggesting for a change of instructors" is extremely inappropriate. – Anon May 8 '12 at 17:11
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MartialArts.StackExchange has a small readership. There are many, many more names to the skills that can be used (TKD, TSD, all the genres of karate, all the genres of kungfu, all the Japanese swordsmanship styles.....) than on StackOverflow, and the number of people who know (let alone have expertise in!) a given skill is much smaller. In addition, the people who have such expertise in a skill AND USE THE WEBSITE is sometimes nil.

One of the biggest hurdles with this site is encouraging participation from "experts". Personally, I have invited a ton of people I know to have expertise from obscure and well known arts that I've had the pleasure to know over the years; unfortunately, getting them to even try to participate has been difficult.

There are thousands of styles of martial arts. Each of those has as many variants as practitioners – we each create our own martial art. Other users here have criticized people answering outside of their arts, but the truth is that they would not have the arts today if their own instructors had not studied from others outside their own art as well.

The difference between a programming language and a martial art is one of boundaries: with a programming language, you have an extremely finite number of options based on the semantics and syntax of the language. If I want to define define a variable in C++, I have a relatively small number of options:

<stasis?> <signedness?> <type> <var_name>[ = <value>];

To do something, then, we can see and consider a relatively small selection of options. Then we have "best use cases" and other standards to shave time and create cleaner code.

In martial arts, we do not have such considerations. If we punch, we have considerations for targets all over the body, proper striking surfaces for different parts ("fists"), angles, distances, timing, the considerations of the actions of the target. We can, of course, simplify this down to, as you've said, "How do I perform XYZ waza/technique?" Then the answers come from individual experience.

This is what's known as an apples-to-oranges comparison: StackOverflow is an objective site; this is a subjective site. Because it's a subjective site, we do our best to answer using the good subjective, bad subjective philosophy.

Many have been closed, although they almost all have accepted answers.

This is a bit misleading. You have asked 6 questions. 1 has been closed (twice, if I'm not mistaken). All the others are still open.

Edit: Struck on account of editing.

Regarding answers, you are the one who selects answers, the community is what decides questions merit for the site. I feel like I'm repeating myself on this point a lot lately. Please see: Closed Questions on MartialArts.StackExchange.Com

maybe there are better ways to ask questions, and yet understand that the answer may:

  • not be what you want to hear
  • not match your expectations

The answer is not necessarily the indication of the value of the question or answer to the community; votes are. Votes are the communities way of saying, "I find this question/answer to be valuable to me." This is why you'll often see questions with accepted answers with low ratings, and higher vote ratings on other answers. Your questions and answers are not necessarily your own here. They are collaboratively edited.

This site is like any other subjective site (workplace, parenting, etc.): Asking good questions is about being specific about what you want. Good questions bring good answers.

Above all else:

If there's something you don't like about the site, it's in your power to change it. This site runs off of the community's participation. Participate in meta, chat, and comment on questions that you feel need help or comment to tell the posters about their excellent questions. Participate in the good and the bad; welcome newcomers to the site; and make this site as excellent as we know it can be.

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  • Woops. Indeed. I fixed the qualitative sentence about my questions. Thanks for that. Now reading more. – Anon May 7 '12 at 17:14
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I think a more realistic solution than "ask generic questions, get generic answers" or "just keep plugging away, guys" is "ask a very specific question, demand a very (style-)specific answer, and don't hold your breath, because it requires a very specific population."

I also think this site is much better suited for esoterica instead of technique questions. As noted by Keith, we're probably not going to get better at technique by asking questions. Tactics, strategy, history, style comparisons, investigations of fraud, inquiries into what styles do things...those are well-suited to the Q&A format.

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  • You said 'esoterica' and then you mentioned things that aren't esoteric. Was that on purpose? – Anon May 8 '12 at 15:22
  • @Trevoke I meant "of rare or uncommon interest", or "understood or cared about by a small group", which I believe (perhaps wrongly?) is an accepted definition of the word "esoterica". In the context of martial arts, would classify tactics, strategy, fraud, and cross-style questions are examples of esoterica, as opposed to the exoteric ("public", "external", "reproducible") topics of hitting, choking, pinning, and jointlocking people. – Dave Liepmann May 8 '12 at 15:35
  • Hmm. Okay. I take it back. Still, in that case, we're dealing with a level beyond the average martial arts (like "when do I run away"), that applies to everyone regardless of the art. – Anon May 8 '12 at 17:12

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