Time once again for us martial arts bloggers to learn:
1) How NOT to make a case for or against someone or something
2) Why certain comments set our teeth on edge
3) How to stay focused when debating
White Belt One: I’ve noticed you have a tendency to rise up in your stance when you move. Maybe you should watch yourself in the mirror and think about keeping your belt the same height as you move.
White Belt Two: Oh yeah? Well, Captain Kangaroo, you do it too. So don’t tell me how to practice.
Do we detect a bit of ad hominem sauce in Two’s response? Yes, fallacies can be combined! The trick is to counter the main fallacy – in this case, Tu Quoque. Tu Quoque is Latin for “You also.” Two is hoping to shift attention away from his own inadequacies by pointing out that One is also having the same problem with moving in stances.
Stick to your guns with Tu Quoque.
White Belt One: Yes, I do pop up, and I’m working on it. Here comes Sensei – I’ll let you ask her about watching yourself in a mirror.
Let’s try another example.
Tom: I know you really like Sensei Rockum Sockum, but I’m just not sure about his credentials. I did some checking, and I think he got his black belt from a Cracker Jack box. I bought fifteen boxes of Cracker Jacks, opened them up, and sure enough! One of them had a black belt in it that looks just like Sensei Rockum Sockum’s belt.
Sam: Oh yeah?!? Well the style of Karate you study was founded by some guy who didn’t have any credentials or even a black belt! Nobody who practiced Karate used to have any framed certificates on their walls or cute little belts around their middles. I’m staying with Sensei Rockum Sockum’s Home Study Karate Kourse, thank you very much!
What Sam says about the founders of many of the styles of Karate is true. However, the real issue is that Tom has some evidence that Sensei Rockum Sockum might be a fraud. Can Sam prove Tom’s evidence is flimsy? Sam isn’t even trying – he’s dodging the issue! Sam is attempting to shift attention away from what is, to him, a very uncomfortable subject. The tricky thing with Tu Quoque is not to let the discussion degenerate.
A less than ideal response: Oh yeah? Well at least my Sensei earned his belt. You know, you’re really thick if you can’t see through Sensei Rockum Sockum.
A pretty good counter: It’s true that way back when, nobody had any belts except to hold up their pants. But let’s talk more about your instructor. I have more evidence that Sensei Rockum Sockum’s credentials are questionable, to say the least.