Anyone who has been involved in the martial arts for any length of time, even is only a short time, would have noticed that there tends to be a ďmy style is bestĒ phenomenon whenever systems are discussed. I am talking, of course, in general and I am not implying that everyone is like this, but (in general) when it comes to the martial arts, practitioners tend to be very protective of their system.
I believe a lot of this is due to ethnocentrism. Ethnocentrism is the tendency to view the world though ones own cultural filters. You can argue that a martial arts style or system (organisation or whatever) is in fact a sub culture. It has itís own unique set of shared values behaviours and beliefs, just like any culture. It is a natural psychological trait to view your own culture as superior to other cultures. as a member of an in-group you will tend to favour and see your group in a positive light. You will also see out-groups in a less positive manner.
One reason for this is that we all wish to see ourselves as superior to others, or at least see our self as positive. By filtering out the negatives of your in-group you, as a member of that group, are reflected as more positive. By filtering out the positives and emphasising the negatives of the out-group you further highlight the positiveness of your in-group and thus your self.
Stereotypes of out-groups tend to be more negative in nature then stereotypes within the group. One of the preposed reasons for this stems from early man when we competed with other groups for food, reproduction territory and so on. Another group was often a threat so we developed psychological filters to recognise this. In a similar way that early man felt fear when in the company of a sabre tooth cat.
Another reason is for the continuation of genetic material. We are more likely to see people in our own group as family positively and will more actively protect family members that outside members. You share genetic material with your family and this preference provides a mean to help ensure that material continues on. This is also why like races stick together and tend to form groups in a sense people of the same race share similar genetics it seems logical that one would prefer the survival of there own genetic material or similar genetic material to continue on.
Whatís this got to do with martial arts? Well the above is just a couple of theories to explain where these tendencies came from. The common underlying theme is that of survival (of both the individual and the species) (it also involves their strengthening/improvement). What is it that martial arts are all about? There are two main things; improvement and survival. So the ethnocentric nature of martial arts tends to be stronger as the underlying motivation are so similar. By its very nature martial arts is about fighting and that means to be superior over another.
What we need to do is realise that the martial arts are more alike then they are different, we have to all realise that the same filters that enables you to hear your name spoken across the room at a noisy cocktail party, also filters your perception of other martial arts styles/systems and intact any group that you do not belong to. We are all martial artists, we all belong to this culture, the individual sub cultures are just simply taking a different approach to the same basic goals
Look at the RBSD vís TMA debate. The both address the issue of survival and improvement. TMA tend to be more focussed on the improvement side of things while RBSD is concerned primarily with survival. Each group, through Ethnocentrism, will see how the other doesnít satisfy their own goals.