View Full Version : A Martial Art
My aim when starting new threads, I assure you, is not to bore but to ask questions ultimately for you to lead my mind along hitherto unknown or unexplored paths.
Most of the popular threads all seem to be of the same type; "Steet" aikido, atemi, killing, Hard or soft, Chi or not to chi, aiki-jujutsu/aikido etc etc etc you have all read them.
I am going to assume that everyone agree's that aikido is a martial art, if you don't then that might be another good thread to explore. The reason I assume this is that I want to explore what is a martial art. What is art to you? I can't answer this for you, obviously. However for me art is a medium which allows me to explore my self. Something which allows me express and bring to life my personality/soul in a physical form. And through this form I probe my short coming's for how can I truly bring to life my very being if I am unable to understand my self. This for me involves listening to my body and trying to gain an understanding of Tantien. But I study a martial art. Which to me I much more exciting. I am trying to do all of the above but with martial boundaries. Which is my key point. For me aikido must work on the bio-mechanical level and keep one safe when in harms way and yet it is my chosen vessel of exploration. "it's a lot like dancing" Dodson told us and so it is, however as we all know if striped of everything other than the physical aikido is an effective system of defence (a martial form) but it can be so much more and so we label it a martial art. however I practice aikido hard or soft, where ever I practice it, it has always been taught in such a way that it obeys these martial boundaries. Without these boundaries I feel aikido wouldn't be "alot like dancing" it would be dancing a beautiful art but not a martail art.
I look forward to your feed back on this and indeed what your thoughts are on the term Martial art.
10-11-2000, 01:27 PM
Hmmm... good one... lesse...
Well, let's start with "art." The most clinical, bare-bones way I can describe it is a
communication. The artist feels an emotion, then tries to depict that emotion or
feeling or sensation through his/her medium(be it painting, sculpture, or, like me,
writing). Then, the product of this translation is put out there. To me, the best
artists do it so well that all the patron must do is look at/read/listen to/taste/touch or
otherwise sense the medium to immediately experience the exact same feeling or
emotion or sensation that the artist felt in the first place. That, simply put, is a
communication. The sharing of ideas, emotions, whatever. That, I think, is what
Since we're deconstructing, what's "martial?" Well, I don't know the definition of
that, if there is one, but I'd have to consider it an adjective describing the act of
kicking the stuffing out of something. Put simply, combat, or conflict, or other
The way I see it, "martial art" is the combination of these two factors. We can't
have "martial art" without both. I can pick up a stick and brain somebody with it,
but I'm not necessarily performing an "art." That's not an expression of myself,
unless I'm making a political statement, and I can find better ways to do that :)
On the other hand, I can paint a picture or write a book, and it's unlikely that one
may use that for self-defense or battle, at least on the field or in a dark alley.
Granted, I'm generalizing, and there are variations of the above that may blur the
lines a bit, but I still think in terms of the definitions I've put above. "Martial arts" are,
in fact, a method of defending oneself, and even going on the offensive. They are,
however, also an expression of the self. Selecting a martial art tells a lot about a
person. Do they pick a "passive" or "active"(I use those terms loosely) art? What
does that mean? Are they aggressive or passive?
Further, I believe that even a lifetime of study will not allow one to know ALL of the
techniques in any martial art. One must eventually learn to pick and choose.
Arts with a blatantly spiritual side(T'ai Chi, Aikido et al) also encourage you to find
and work with yourself. That process defines everything, right down to whether
you will tenkan or do iriminage next time someone comes at you. Therefore, even
"martial" arts involve an expression of the self, even if one is not trying to
communicate to the masses.
Anyway, that's my two cents.
10-11-2000, 03:38 PM
I bet this one will inspire a more than its share of long responses, so I'll try to get to the point.
Basically, I believe that the term "Martial Arts" is somewhat misleading(I could be wrong though!). Why? because the term Art is used in the sense of a way of making something or doing something. For example, doctors call their profession their "Art". Have you ever heard the term "State-of-the-Art" referring to new technology? Martial, on the other hand implies war, pertaining to war or characteristic of war. Thus, Martial Art means the method of waging war. It is the almost literal translation of Bujutsu -the techniques of war or of "stopping the blade" or the techniques of the warrior.
Perhaps we should be thinking not in terms of Bujutsu, but in terms of Budo, the Way of the Warrior or the Way of "stopping the halberd". Not Martial Art, but rather, the Martial WAY. This goes beyond merely the "techniques of the Warrior"; it implies imbuing oneself with the attributes of the warrior of honesty, courage, clear- mindedness and compassion. It means BECOMING more than what we are, choosing an earnest, honest and moral way of life.
Is Aikido Budo? definitely: as long as we're training our mind and bodies in the context of an attack, stylized as it may be, depending on each one's style of Aikido, we're talking about a MARTIAL Art- the bringing of peace from a situation of CONFLICT. We are learning how to de- escalate conflict- those inside us, and through this training, eventually those outside us.
Just my 2 cents worth.
[Edited by stratcat on October 11, 2000 at 02:50pm]
I agree with the budo/bujutsu thing. Although I expect many jutsu named arts might better be labeled do arts if we wanted to be consistent.
On related note, I wonder why asian arts are always labeled martial arts and western ones often called sports. I can't think of a single good reason to call kendo and judo martial arts while calling fencing and olympic wrestling something else.
For the record, martial means "of war" and is derived from the name Mars, the roman god of war.
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