Hmmm... good one... lesse...
Well, let's start with "art." The most clinical, bare-bones way I can describe it is a
communication. The artist feels an emotion, then tries to depict that emotion or
feeling or sensation through his/her medium(be it painting, sculpture, or, like me,
writing). Then, the product of this translation is put out there. To me, the best
artists do it so well that all the patron must do is look at/read/listen to/taste/touch or
otherwise sense the medium to immediately experience the exact same feeling or
emotion or sensation that the artist felt in the first place. That, simply put, is a
communication. The sharing of ideas, emotions, whatever. That, I think, is what
Since we're deconstructing, what's "martial?" Well, I don't know the definition of
that, if there is one, but I'd have to consider it an adjective describing the act of
kicking the stuffing out of something. Put simply, combat, or conflict, or other
The way I see it, "martial art" is the combination of these two factors. We can't
have "martial art" without both. I can pick up a stick and brain somebody with it,
but I'm not necessarily performing an "art." That's not an expression of myself,
unless I'm making a political statement, and I can find better ways to do that
On the other hand, I can paint a picture or write a book, and it's unlikely that one
may use that for self-defense or battle, at least on the field or in a dark alley.
Granted, I'm generalizing, and there are variations of the above that may blur the
lines a bit, but I still think in terms of the definitions I've put above. "Martial arts" are,
in fact, a method of defending oneself, and even going on the offensive. They are,
however, also an expression of the self. Selecting a martial art tells a lot about a
person. Do they pick a "passive" or "active"(I use those terms loosely) art? What
does that mean? Are they aggressive or passive?
Further, I believe that even a lifetime of study will not allow one to know ALL of the
techniques in any martial art. One must eventually learn to pick and choose.
Arts with a blatantly spiritual side(T'ai Chi, Aikido et al) also encourage you to find
and work with yourself. That process defines everything, right down to whether
you will tenkan or do iriminage next time someone comes at you. Therefore, even
"martial" arts involve an expression of the self, even if one is not trying to
communicate to the masses.
Anyway, that's my two cents.