I've been sitting on this rant for a while, but was finally pushed over the edge after reading yet another stupid post about how cool one of the groups mentioned in this list was.
Martial artists, combat athletes, and human beings in general like to glorify warriors and the societies that produce them. And while some of them can provide some great inspiration, and occasionally produced some awesome people, the popular imagination seems to ignore or forget the fact that many of these people were products of cultures that we would find completely abhorrent.
Honorable Mention: Klingons
"Dude, there is no way sensei is letting you bring that to weapons class..."
Yeah, I know, not a real culture. They are, however, a distillation of every stupid myth about warrior cultures, smashed together into one giant mish-mash of honorable warrior bullshit. They are some fourteen year old D&D players vain attempt to combine Vikings, Mongols, Samurai, and every other dumb myth into a single coherent whole.
And please, stop pretending like you don't know what I'm talking about. Martial artists are geeks. You know.
#5: Shaolin Monks
"Come on ladies! You've almost achieved enlightenment!"
If these guys were half as bad-ass as
their press makes them out to be, the Japanese wouldn't have conquered
China in the early 20th century.
face it. These guys came up with a workout routine because they were so
out of shape they couldn't make it through meditation, and then
marketed it as a fighting tool. Centuries later, Billy Blanks would take this idea to it's logical conclusion.
In fairness though, when your monastery becomes a popular place for wanted criminals to hang out and retire, you probably have a few bad-asses hanging around.
"Honey, the boys and I are going Viking for a couple of weeks. Do you need anything from Lindisfarne?"
You may not know this, but "Viking" is not actually a cultural descriptor. It's a verb. To go "a-Viking" means to get together a bunch of your homies and go out knocking over convenience stores. And by convenience stores, I mean monasteries. Because let's face it, while Apu the store clerk might have a sawed off shotgun behind his counter, no self-respecting medieval monk had anything of sort, which means you can kick their asses six ways to Sunday and still have time to rape and pillage the nearest settlement.
#3: Roman Gladiators
"My contract says WHAT?"
Again, not really a culture, but an occupation. The sort of occupation generally pursued by criminals or slaves. In fairness, these poor bastards actually share a lot in common with their supposed modern counterparts: fights were fixed, managers got more profit than fighters, and if you weren't doing well, they'd feed you to the wolves. Possibly literally.
"Dude, seriously. It's a peasant. He's not really human."
Samurai is an ancient Japanese word meaning "knight who will have too much bullshit built up around him in a few hundred years."
read more: Top Five Warrior Cultures That Suck More Than You Want To Admit