I haven't found anything that really relates to this.

actual problems that you face

My situation is very simple. I know, offline, people who can and will answer the questions for the actual problems I face. So, if this line in the FAQ stands strong (and remembering that 'should' is a very slippery word), I'm afraid I will bow out of asking questions on this stackexchange site and may only stay to answer questions, if at all. (Let us please leave out the question of whether that would be a good thing or not).

I find this SE potentially very valuable because it will allow me to connect with people who have expertise in things in which I do not, thus allowing me to expand my realm of understanding. It will allow me to explore. And it will allow me to ask questions for problems that I do not face. Because I'm exploring, and everything I do works already quite well without that extra knowledge.

I suppose if I wanted to be extremely pedantic, I would ask for a working definition for 'problem' and 'facing'. Mind you, I understand them both fairly well - and I think I could argue for saying that since I am reading/watching/playing with something and I don't understand it, I am facing a problem.

So my question is - is this latter definition acceptable for this site?

  • 2
    A martial arts "actual problem that you face" standard would be tough. "Ow! Stop mugging me for one second while I log on..." Commented May 15, 2012 at 13:03
  • @DaveLiepmann only if we assume that the only purpose martial arts serve is fighting.
    – Anon
    Commented May 15, 2012 at 14:26
  • Not the only purpose; just the primary focus. If fighting is not the primary focus of a martial art, it would be better called "meditative arts" or dance. Commented May 15, 2012 at 14:31
  • @DaveLiepmann this conversation is off-topic for this question - but may I bring your attention to martialarts.stackexchange.com/questions/417/… .
    – Anon
    Commented May 15, 2012 at 14:36
  • I think you may be unclear on the definition of actual: "Existing in fact; typically as contrasted with what was intended, expected, or believed." We're talking about factual problems for the most part, though we've made room for theoretical so long as it doesn't delve into opinion uncorroborated by experience.
    – stslavik
    Commented May 16, 2012 at 22:44
  • Indeed. That does truly clarify things. Thank you.
    – Anon
    Commented May 17, 2012 at 1:02

3 Answers 3


I would argue that, given the 'art' part of our title, a lot of the 'actual problems' we face are going to be things which are not the sort of direct impediments to progress that you might encounter on, say, an engineering SE.

I expect that the sorts of problems we're likely to face are going to be difficulties or imperfections in technique or understanding, and they'll not be things we're being forced to face, but rather things we're facing as we grapple with a particular art, or our own growth as martial artists.

In short, I think the definition you propose is on the money, and to word it myself:

Problem - a difficulty in technique, understanding, or execution of some aspect of martial arts.

An actual problem you're facing - a problem, as defined above, that you have encountered either during formal martial arts training, or as a part of your personal growth as a martial artist.

So, these are OK (from this perspective, at least):

A few of the guys have been practicing joint locks after training, and we've run into a problem where joint lock technique X seems easily escapable. Is it a weak technique, or are we doing something wrong?


I've been doing extra kicking drills at home, and I've discovered a kicking technique which works for me but my instructor isn't familiar with. Do any styles have guidance about how to improve this particular technique?

Not OK:

I've never actually tried a joint lock, but I think they're ineffective. Am I right? (Not a problem you're facing)


I'm interested in learning about joint locks. Where should I start? (Not a problem - just seeking advice)

  • I would argue that not knowing where to start is a problem.
    – Robin Ashe
    Commented Jul 4, 2012 at 10:31
  • I think that Rophuine's practice of listing examples and counterexamples is helpful.
    – MCW
    Commented Aug 23, 2012 at 17:14

Personally I think you are taking that line a little too literally. Then again, maybe we could also re-word it a bit.

The key thing we want to avoid (and what that FAQ snippet alludes to) is extended discussion as we are not a chat forum, and questions should not be deliberately crafted in a way that promotes extended discussion.

Basically I think it can be summed up this way: lots of answers are good, lots of discussion is bad.

So should you question be an actual problem you are facing?

Not necessarily - there is plenty of room for theoretical questions.


First, it is worth noting that this particular piece is inherited from MetaFilter's FAQ, and is found even on the FAQ for SciFi and Fantasy and Judaism.

Speaking as a purely personal view, for the purposes of this site I would advocate the following understanding:


In my mind this doesn't (or perhaps shouldn't) mean "don't ask theory questions," but rather "questions that are too abstract are frequently difficult if not impossible to answer via experience or reference."

In short: Questions shouldn't read like zen koans, and it should be obvious what the asker is trying to solve or is trying to gain from asking the question. This is context dependent: something that is practical in one context may not be in another, and that renders it off topic. This was/is the challenge with questions such as Which muscles do I use to stand? (particularly in the original form), since it is difficult to make the answers (to the question as it was asked) practical within a martial arts context.


In keeping with Real Questions Have Answers: Questions should be of a form where there can be a relevant, on-topic answer that relies on citation or personal experience.

Questions that do not have answers in this reality–even if the ability to answer is beyond the scope of the current community–are not really a good fit for this format.

Questions such as "who would win this fantasy boxing match" would fail both this and the practicality test, while "who in your opinion is the best UFC fighter" (even if it were on-topic) would not be answerable by the standards of SE.


This being a question & answer site, questions should ask something and shouldn't just be comments followed by an "amirite?" or an equivalent. Basically it goes to the advice of if you want to ask something, this is the place, if you want to discuss something, this is probably not the best venue.

Actual Problems

I'm going to steal a page from SciFi's Meta and define "problem" via the dictionary as "any question or matter involving doubt, uncertainty, or difficulty."

If you already know the answer, you (generally) shouldn't be asking the question.

That You Face

Basically you should be asking questions for you. These should be questions that you are personally curious about and, hopefully, will be able to apply answers from in some way.

  • I upvoted the other answers because they all have good thinking in them, but this should be the definitive and accepted answer. Commented May 15, 2012 at 15:37
  • 2
    If you already know the answer, it's okay to ask and answer your own question. There could be benefits to the larger community at hand, and people are welcome to share that knowledge.
    – user15
    Commented May 15, 2012 at 16:40

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