Theory versus practice, style versus subtance

In theory there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice there is.
-- Yogi Berra

In the gym the other night, practically every single TV in the place was switched over to one of the ESPN channels, for reasons that I rather fail to understand. On one of those channels was showing what I later realised was a replay of the ISKA 2013 US Open karate championships:


Now don't get me wrong, the stuff that these kids (and they ARE kids, at least relative to me) were pulling off on that stage was undeniably very cool to watch. It spoke volumes for their discipline, training, and skill that they were able to pull off tricks like that with that kind of control and speed.

But ultimately, that's all they were- tricks.

They were techniques and applications designed specifically to bedazzle and impress, to amaze and entertain. They were perfectly suited for that purpose. Yet the more I watched, the more I realised that nothing they were doing was applicable in real-world combat situations, where your goal is to inflict maximum damage upon your aggressor while extracting yourself from the situation as fast and as safely as possible. Watching those kids doing backflips and somersaults and weapons demonstrations with katana and stick, I found myself wondering what they would do when confronted with a real knife attack, or a real aggressor with a gun. Would they be able to handle a situation like that?

I seriously doubt it.

It brought to mind in very abrupt fashion the vast gulf between theory and practice- and revisited a very important lesson that I think every Manospherian needs to learn from time to time. Namely, there is a world of difference between reading something on a website, or hearing about it from someone, and actually applying that knowledge in the real world.

The metric by which any knowledge should be measured is whether it is actually useful in some way. The method by which you should judge the information that you read from blogs like this one, which teach self-improvement in some way, or from PUA-oriented blogs which teach pickup skills, or any other blog for that matter, is whether or not the information thus imparted can be used for something.

If it cannot be applied in the real world successfully, then it's a waste of your time. It's just that simple. It's the difference between theory and practice, the difference between style and substance, the difference between a sales pitch and a real product.

When it comes to martial arts, for instance, I don't care how many black belts you claim to have. If you don't have real experience sparring, you can never claim to be good at fighting. I'll tell you this from personal experience- the moment that first punch sails past your face (or in my case, whacked me straight in the temple), you very quickly forget all of the fancy techniques and tricks that you learned and focus on the simple act of staying alive. The people who are truly good at martial arts are not the dancers and showmen- they are the trained killers who can break you in two in under a minute.

The subject of health and human happiness is no different. You can claim to read as many studies as you want on the subject- they all end up contradicting each other eventually anyway. Until you actually take the plunge and go Paleo, and see for yourself just what a massive change eating fats and proteins can make to your life and health, you cannot claim to be interested in your own health.

I don't care how many fitness magazines you subscribe to. Until you prove to others around you that you can lift weights properly in the gym- and not necessarily heavy weights either- with good form and clear goals, then you cannot claim to be strong.

I don't care how many pickup sites you visit, or how many articles you've read on the subject of female hypergamy, or how many discussions you've had on internet forums on the subject of the "best" technique for getting a girl to sleep with you. Until you've put in the work, and until you've done real approaches (whether online or in person), until you've gone on real dates, until you've done real closes and gotten real lays and relationships out of the process, you're just a keyboard jockey with more time than skills.

I don't care how many textbooks on economics you've read. I don't care how many papers you've written on neo-Keynesian multipliers or weightless economies or the effects of neo-liberalisation on trade. Until you can show that your business cycle theories actually match the facts of life, then you're nothing more than an ivory tower academic.

I don't care how many lessons you've taken in Brazilian jiu-jitsu or kyokushin karate or kendo or eskrima. Until you've actually sparred, against a real, live opponent- until you've demonstrated clearly that you can hit, and take a hit, and get back up and keep fighting- then you cannot claim to know how to fight.

Never forget the vast difference between learning a bunch of very specific tricks and techniques that apply only to very special situations under very particular conditions, and learning useful knowledge that will enhance your life and keep you strong, healthy, happy, and powerful.

There is some good news. If you're just starting out in the process of freeing your mind from all of the pretty lies you've been taught all your life, then sites like this one can teach you how to do it. If you're well down that road already, then this might serve as a useful reminder of the end goal- the best possible version of you, created and built and refined through years and decades of hard work, real-world application, and absolute dedication to that goal.

But ultimately, you have to accept that the goal itself is worthwhile. And you have to be willing to do what is necessary to separate out theory from practice, style from substance, and folly from wisdom.



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