Wednesday, August 15, 2012
Is Your Martial Art Either?
5:44 pm edt
Many people claim to train in the martial arts. However if you take the time to observe how people practice you will find
that the activity that they partake in is either not particularly martial or is anything but artistic. You will note that
I did not say what they practice, but how.
It is true that many systems lend themselves handily to becoming non-martial.
Aikido springs to mind. The cliche of the granola eating hippy thinking that they can spew energy balls or execute no touch
throws on non-compliant ukes is a sad statement on a fine art becoming decidedly non-martial. It is not just the so called
soft style that are susceptible to this phenomenon. There is nothing sadder than a traditional karate system that basically
kata's itself to death by removing the physical contact required to learn how to defend yourself.
As for the non-artistic
approach. Have you asked yourself recently what is actually artistic about your martial art? I hate to inform you, but copying
someone else is not art. If that were the case the Louvre would be full of paint by numbers and copies. A true artist emulates
a master's style. He/she does not just copy their movement or technique. Art inspires progression. What I see happening currently
is two ends of the extreme that stifle art. At one end are the rigid traditionalists that allow no changes to the curriculum
or technique. This leads to lack of growth and stagnation. What other 'art' still uses the exact techniques and sytles
from hundreds of years ago? At the other end are the free stylers who make up their own art with no foundation in the martial
or in reality. Is it artistic? I think not. Just because you are pissing on a canvas that doesn't make you Jackson Pollock...you
are just making a mess.
So, what is a modern martial artist to do? To paraphrase the Dos Equis guy, 'Stay Martial My
Friend'. Train hard. Have some contact. Don't lose sight of the purpose of your training. As one of Master Capela's senior
dans you to say to us when someone was reacting to a little bruising during kumite, 'It's a fight you know?'. The artistic
side is a bit more challenging. When you are at the black belt level you should be adding some of yourself to the art. You
are standing on the shoulders of giants as you train. Many years of effort by highly talented people have gone into getting
you where you are, it is time to add something to it instead of just going along for the ride. Each generation should add
something to the art and help it grow. Don't just crank out repetitions and try to look like someone else. Study your system
deeply and look inside yourself...art will spring forth.