Specifically, I asked Which muscles do I use to stand, which was closed as not being about martial arts, even after I related it to the major internal arts which focus heavily (no pun intended) on subtle weight shifts, balance and relaxation.

I could ask "what's the best way to hold your hands up in a guard" and the answer would be, "you learn to relax into it", but it's a double-edged question, because as you hold your hands up, you will develop some upper-body muscles necessary and also learn to relax into it.

Now, I don't actually need ma.se.com to answer this question for me. I'll figure it out given a few years of training. But the fact that this question came right out of my needs for my training lead me to think that this question is not off-topic.

So, when does a question stop being about martial arts?

2 Answers 2


To play beyond a certain level in martial arts require going beyond the technical. However, Stack Exchange created this template for successful Q&A communities around technical expertise. As such, the kind of questions accepted by the SE are going to be at a very low level of play -- despite the encouragement of inviting more "experts". This martial arts SE will never get beyond kid-level stuff, but that's fine.

One of the primary skill in learning martial arts is recognizing things outside of context. I'm sure people who have kamae- or kata-based training know what I'm talking about. Even those that train exclusively through drills need this. For example, an arm bar is an arm bar is an arm bar. As long as you get the minimum leverage points, you don't have to use your arms. You can use a shoulder and a leg for the fulcrum and applied force. I have friends who managed to use their face. You can use the other guy's body parts for the fulcrum. Always fun.

Once your mind starts looking at patterns outside of context, you start connecting the dots from other places. They appear to have nothing to do with martial arts, yet to the experienced, they have everything to do with MA. And then you start babbling like Venkatesh Rao (http://www.quora.com/Does-anyone-even-understand-Venkatesh-Rao/answers/979806). But hey, this is precisely why I don't talk about martial arts with non-martial arts people.

First though, to recognize principle outside its context, you gotta learn it within context. As long as we don't pretend that SE is the place to search out anything beyond the technical subset of basics, this is all good.

  • 1
    Well, that frustrates me, and I hope you're wrong. :)
    – Anon
    Feb 2, 2012 at 16:24
  • @Trevoke Guess we'll see. (A friend told me once, the most useful advice he'd been given in forums are through PMs. Hidden and obvious. So it's fine). Feb 2, 2012 at 16:35

i thought your revised question was actually quite on topic.

  • Well, thanks for that. What did you think of the original question?
    – Anon
    Feb 2, 2012 at 14:47
  • 3
    i probably wouldn't have voted to close it, but i can see why everyone else did. we've got a fine line to walk to keep this place tidy and useful.
    – Patricia
    Feb 2, 2012 at 15:28

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