Sunday, May 04, 2008

"Martial" or "Art"?

Over tea in between demonstrations yesterday, Guro Fred and I had a chat about the martial arts. It is very rare to find someone with his astounding background, which includes healing and fighting, Chinese and western styles, and a lifestyle steeped both in deep philosophy and practical application. When you visit Singapore, I suggest you empty your cup and come see for yourself. He will impress you. And he's also a really nice guy :-)

We can surely find a difference between arts that are purely combative and those which offer longevity. Boxing, Muay Thai, Krav Maga, BJJ all spring to mind as arts wich promote total combat effectiveness, at the expense of often failing to emphasize longevity or spiritual and philosophical framework. On the flip side, we consider such arts as Tai Chi or aikido as being "moving yoga", impractical in actual life-or-death confrontations. As is so often the case, BALANCE is the right approach.

In my view, Martial Arts are simply that. We must try hard to keep an equal amount of "martial" and "art" in what we do. Losing one or the other diminishes the value. Overemphasis on one or the other leaves us in danger.

Overemphasis on Martial - leads to violent tendency, short-term mentality, and damage to the body

he was never much for meditation

Overemphasis on Art
- leads to false sense of security and failure to develop practical life-saving skills

helpful for picking daisies, but...

Let me be very clear - The right combination is always the combination that suits the soul of the one doing the training. I think it is very important to find a master who has the right mix for you. Failure to do so can lead to disappointment later on. By way of example, a dear friend of mine is more skewed toward martial than art, and Yoshinkan fails to satisfy his need for practicality and combat effectiveness. At the same time, I have friends for whom the martial arts is a vehicle of self-discovery, deeply connected to their worldview. Boxing is considered by them to be an improper vehicle for spiritual development.

For what it is worth, my personal goal is optimization, and I think that is best found in balance the "martial" and the "art". My experience is that this blend offers the best of both, and satisfies in times where our spirit needs a bit of each to keep growing.

Turn your TV off, have a think about it, and let me know your viewpoint.


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