Random thoughts on the arts

In a comment on a previous article, someone mentioned that there is still the “art” in martial arts which must be considered. Not furthering on the comment, but rather using it as a point of departure…


This comment really made me start to think. One of the first things which popped into my mind is the old line that “beauty is in the eye of the beholder”. Different people enjoy different types of dance, music, poetry, painting, etc. And so, there is a differing appeal to different people in the various offerings of the vast world of martial arts.


Since I assume that we are all, or mostly all adults here, I think that we can keep this conversation at a mature enough level to state openly that there is no superior martial art. Every martial art has its strengths and weaknesses. For me, Hung Gar works best for my body type and philosophical outlook. It’s fighting theories, strategies and techniques all work best for me


This is not to say that Aikido (or insert your chosen style into the sentence) sucks. I trained Aikido for a very short period of time in the mid 90’s and didn’t like it. But that only means it wasn’t right for me. As long as you enjoy the art you choose, that is all that matters.


That is enough about the “art” part. What about the “martial” part?


Well, then we start walking on rotten ice when we try to discuss that in a public forum. I will try to not name names of styles and instead just give, what I feel, are the requirements for an art to be classified as “martial”.


For a start, any art which wishes to be classified as a martial art should be something which is effectively usable by anyone regardless of gender, size or physical conditioning.


While there may be some who disagree with my very first point, I would like to insert a few notes. The word martial means war type. Invoking as it does the Roman God of War, Mars. Of course, war is definitely not for everyone, but there were times when the military had to take everyone in conscription. These people had to learn to fight and kill in a relatively short period of time. Most were not professional military; they were farmers, smiths and other tradesman. What they were taught had to be effective and easily learned.


When you try to evaluate any martial art, you need to ask a few questions.


  • What specifically are you looking for? IN the world of martial arts, different people have different goals. Some people want to get in shape, while others are looking for a hobby. Some wish to compete, and others want to be able to defend their family.
  • Is it safe to train in this system? Safety is a big concern to most of us. Especially when our martial art is a hobby, we do not want to use up all of our sick time recuperating from martial induced injuries.
  • Is it effective? When you get down to the nuts and bolts of any martial art, if it is not an effective form of self defense, you will not train in it for long.


For any martial art to truly be a martial art, it must make use of the natural weapons of the body. It should minimize wasted effort and “fluff”. It should offer you a range of choices to fit the necessities of the situation (i.e. it wont kill the opponent accidentally). It need to train your body at a level of reflexive skill, as opposed to thought based self defense selection.


Any martial art “works”. This is a very general statement, but what I am getting at is that any training is better than no training at all. Training will develop confidence, outlook and skills in self defense – no matter the chosen style.