To begin, after reading Ted Howell's (bombastic) letter, I came to a couple of conclusions:
A.) He really likes what he does, replete with the hero worship and the "my dad used to beat up your dad" scenarios.
B.) He really disapproves of fluffy anything, soggy corn flakes, chick flicks, etc.
That said, I just have to say: each to his own. I am glad he feels so strongly, at least I know where he stands. I agree with what he has to say, just don't know why he said it. Nuff said.
I thought that what Emily and Anne gleaned from it was interesting.
Emily Dolan Gordon wrote:
First, how do we define "martial"?
...How to vanquish your opponent.
Anne Marie Giri wrote:
I think Emily asked a good question. And I've been wondering this myself. What is "martial"? Also what is "art"? Are the two really different? Are they really the same?
I am in the same boat. Here's my little twist on the story (prepare for digression...)
Martial means something about Mars (the Greek god of war, not the planet). He was red, blood-thirsty, angry a lot. Deep in my heart, when I say I do "martial arts", I cringe. This is because I don't associate budo with Mars.
There were a lot of Greek gods who were worshipped by warriors, including Heracles (Hercules), Apollo, Artemis (Diana), and notably, Athena (Minerva). And aside from all the corny mythology lessons we read in school, I think this has some sort of bearing on how we perceive fighting, killing and war. The United States is in the midst of a national debate concerning Mars energy vs. Athena energy, if you get my point.
I personally like Athena, she is the best of the Greek pantheon to embody "bunbu ichi", the union of wisdom and action. Mars is the "Lord of the Flies" in some respects, delighting in the twilight between life and death, involved in the process from one side to the other (it is a one way street last time I checked). He is more reptilian and cold-blooded than humane. He embodies a beserker rage, while the Japanese ideal is one of appropriateness and "shibumi", refinement or restraint.
So when I hear that we need to improve the martial quality of our practice, I wonder how much blood must be spilled. To kill and to kill well is martial. I find this an interesting sentiment coming from a law officer who lives and works in a "peaceful" country.