Re: how do we define martial?
Thanks for the pic Mert. I love those! It is good to see Hazen chime in as well. As Ranger Hazen will tell you, there are a broad range of skills that fall under the context of "martial arts". Most of them would not be considered by the civilian population nor to be honest are they considered "martial" by a military persepective, but they are necessary enablers martially. Things such as the ability to move through woods, swamps and jungles at night. To be able to hide covertly, to be able to shoot accurately under varying conditions....understanding how to read terrain etc. Just like archery, sword, pike, and horsemanship are all basic martial skills.
The point is, that without those skills, you have no need really for the empty handed skills that we commonly associate with martial arts.
We have, however, chosen to focus on a subset of skills designed to deal with particular scenarios that we feel may be relevant to us given an erosion of technology in the moment of battle or a degree of surprise on the street. These things in our imagination we feel warrant spending time with to empower us in some way.
So, from a psychological perspective we can benefit from training this stuff. We get in shape, we feel empowered, we self realize, hang out with others with a common interest, and naturally we grow. Of course this leads to improvement mentally and spiritually.
Even the military will be the first to tell you, as Ellis pointed out above....we don't train Combatives or Martial Arts because it will give us an technological edge on our opponent, we train it because at a base level it produces and encourages a warrior ethos. One that mandates that you have the willingness to close with and defeat your enemy when necessary under adverse conditions.
As I've stated several times. I believe that it is possible to have two individuals side-by-side in the dojo with the exact same instructor, doing the exact same things, and with the wrong intent and focus being doing entirely two different things. One can be performing a martial art and the other can be doing an interpretive dance.
Are their benefits to both? sure. They guy doing interpretive dance will gain health benefits, he will self realize in the manner he chooses to follow, he may become a happier person overall...but he is not doing a martial art, and I believe that under the pressure of combat and real conflict he will most likely fail due to the dissonance that he experiences that he has not prepared himself for.
The problem arises is that this dissonance and failure to face it honestly in training leads to greater harm in the aftermath of "battle". It is why Mushasi felt strongly about training the way he did in the Book of Five Rings and I concur.