Basia Halliop wrote:
I guess if I have a point, it's maybe something like -- many things can provide very significant benefits outside of their core sphere... just like in all the examples given, things that are at their base basically non-martial (painting) can have significant martial benefits and usefulness (propaganda), that goes inthe other direction too -- things that are more 'martial' can still have lots of non-martial benefits and usefulness... Same goes for academic, etc, or many other categories.
Like it's OK to say 'Studying _____ has benefited me in many ways that are very non-martial' (and it doesn't necessarily meaning that you are claiming that ____ is or isn't 'martial', which would be another question altogether). Although I do find it kind of interesting that people get so attached to that particular word.
I agree that it is ok to gain non martial benifits from martial arts. However, I see many instructors actually advertising this as the main reason to train, with the martial part a 2nd or even 4th reason.
Why train TKD?
1) Help gain flexibility
2) Gain new friends
3) Improved happyness
4) Learn morals and respect
5) Self defense.
It seems that self defense is a side effect of TKD in this case and not a primary reason to study. Many things can have a martial side effect. For example hunting can have a side effect of allowing me to defend myself with a shotgun. But I don't think I should call it martial duck hunting. I submit that the primary reason for studying a martial art should be, well martial.
I do not tell people I'm a martial artist. I study combat sports, interpersonal conflict, or how to effectively hit someone with the planet then choke them. I train solely for person fitness, and growth. I do not feel that marital arts actively describes what I do. BJJ and judo are not warlike skills. Sure they could be useful to a soldier, but they are as closely related to war as cooking is. Knowing how to do both can save your life, but that doesn't make it a modern study of war (Martial line cooks?). 99% of the benefits I get are purely non-marital. The only one even close is personal self defense. I think a more accurate description would be self defense arts.
A martial art would be a study of modern warfare. Using modern weapons, tactics, and training methods. It may contain non martial trainings to build teamwork and self confidence (bjj in the army?), personal self defense tactics, how to row a boat, etc. But at it's core will be the purpose of something martial. That something is training soldiers to fight wars.
The term however has other meaning now. And it is just as important to accept the evolution of language. Just like hacker no longer means a guy who plays with technology, a martial artist is now anyone wearing silly clothes with semi athletic or acrobatic.skill. In fact, a martial artist no longer even requires the ability to defend oneself. For example XMA is a martial art. It consists of showmanship, screaming, and a lot of cheerleader type dancing. Having watched my nephew train, I know they do not even discuses self defense, they only talk about what impresses judges and looks fancy and which songs are more popular. Is it an impressive display of fitness? Sure. But it is not a marital art in my opinion.
I think this is the reason I tend to not want to associate myself with the word martial artist. It is now as defining as say human. It could mean I'm a fraud 30 year old 10th dan soke, a professional fighter, a 80 year old man who knocks people out with my screams, a guy who can do back flips to "who let the dogs out", or a scholar studying the ways of ancient sword.
It is important to study why you train what you train, and to make sure you are getting what you want out of your training. That was the main point I was getting at by challenging the word martial. Question your motives from time to time and examine what it means to you. In the end it is probably not important what you call a martial art as much as is its why you call it a martial art.