Join Date: May 2003
Re: how do we define martial?
Donn Draeger used to speak to groups of "martial artists" and ask "How many here do a martial art?" Everyone would raise their hand. Then, he'd ask. "How many do judo?" And to the hand-raisers, he'd say, "That's not a martial art. That's a sport." Then, "How many do karate?" To the hand-raisers, he'd say, "That is a folk practice of peasants, arguably for the purpose of self-defense in civilian life. That is not a martial art." How many do t'ai chi, bagua, xingyi, or Shaolin." To the hand-raisers, he'd say, "Most all Chinese martial arts were practiced by the merchant and well-to-do classes of China, with lots of time of their hands. Hobbies for rich boys, in other words. Xingyi may have been derived from a martial art, that of the spear. But almost all of your kungfu is civilian sportive fighting, self-cultivation and the like." And, "How many do aikido?" To the hand-raisers, he'd say, "That's certainly not a martial art. There are movements derived from old combatives, but none of it is suitable for war, and it is open to anyone. By definition, only the warrior class can do a martial art."
Which, by the way, explains Ueshiba's extended family breaking into near hysterical laughter when he, a farmer's son, announced that he was moving from Tanabe to become a full-time "martial arts" instructor.
Martial - derived from Mars, the god of war. If it isn't about war, it isn't, strictly speaking, martial.
While we are quibbling semantics, in fact, Mars was the god of offensive war. Mars was originally a god of the border between cultivated and wild lands. For the Romans, Pax Romana could only be established when the wild was tamed and cultivated (this, by the way, has been the excuse for genocide forever. See: Kiernan, Ben, Blood and Soil: A World History of Genocide and Extermination from Sparta to Darfur, Yale University Pres, New Haven, Connecticut, 2007). At any rate, the Romans merged this trivial "god of the margins" with the Greek Ares, and hence Mars became the Roman god of extending the borders into the wilds.
Donn did not have much of a sense of humor regarding his pet theories (newly made shibboleths). So pointing this out to him, I suggested that he needed to fine-tune things further, because Minerva (the Roman Athena) was, in fact, the protector of cities, the goddess of defensive warfare. I pointed out that Maniwa Nen-ryu defined itself as purely defensive, a protector of their own land and that even their combative theories were based almost solely on go-no-sen, eliciting attacks which they then crushed. I therefore suggested that he should examine martial schools a little more closely and perhaps divide them in primarily Martial as opposed to primarily Minervic. He was not amused (which amused me more).
BTW - the Japanese use to use the term Mashuraru Atsu to describe competitive kick boxing and MMA, particularly that fought in an arena with ring girls, and paychecks at the end.
And Wushu, the Chinese term for bujutsu (actually, the other way around) means, to Chinese, the show-forms with the dramatic choreography - not real - ummmm - what do you call it - stuff.