I've gotta disagree here. I know it's probably a futile argument because on one hand everything is inherently the same and on the other everything is unique and the answer lies somewhere in the middle, but for me, the commonly held belief that all martial arts are just different paths to the same end is false.
Leaving aside the many reasons an individual may practice a specific art, the ends, the entire reason for the existence of various martial arts, are not uniform:
- In some arts the aim is explicitly to learn the most effective way to harm (or kill) your opponent.
- Some arts are practiced for self improvement/meditation alone and the martial aspects are secondary, or even frowned upon (I'm thinking of the Shaolin Gong Fu I took).
- Others, Capoeira for example, grew as an expression of black freedom against an oppressive colonial regime and are still fundamentally about expression.
- Some are sports where the goal is to learn how to score points within a specific set of rules.
- And then there's Aikido, the aim of which is the unification of the practitioner's individual ki with the ki of the universe (or what have you...
And the list goes on.
My long winded point here is that to call these wildly diverse practices already united is stretching it. The only definition that would fit all the above would also include yoga and tennis (go Baghdatis) so the only thing that unites them is the fact that they consider themselves martial arts... a long way from inherently the same.
My 0.0632 Zlotych