Doctrine which exists in Martial arts
There is at first sight a strange doctrine which exist
in Martial Arts. This is because the doctrine is so
strange as to be unbelievable, yet every true Martial
Artist would agree with it. That strange doctrine is
the fact that the Martial Artist is a person who searches
and seeks peace and inner serenity while at the same
time engaged in the pursuit of excellence in a fighting
art. How can this be?
How can these two seeming irreconcilable forces be
harmonised and what sense is to be gained of the martial
artist stating openly that they strive after peace and
tranquillity. The origins of martial arts, whether they
be the "internal" systems of Chinese forms, or
the "external" systems of the Okinawan Te
systems elucidate this doctrine of peace and serenity
balanced with the shear physical force and focus of
devastating fighting techniques.
But while this doctrine is strange it does not make
it unrealistic. Many martial artists practice some form
of meditation whether it be Zazen (seated meditation),
Mokuso (focused meditation), Chi Gung (internal controlled
breathing). Also practised are the gentler arts of the
Tea Ceremony, Bonsai, Calligraphy, Painting, Music etc.
All of these arts emphasise inner peace and tranquillity.
How many times have you heard heated discussions about
the merits of various styles and who can beat who, and
which style is the more powerful? It seems that all
of these questions have missed the point about martial
arts and their purpose. Long serving teachers know that
perfection of a technique must invariably bring with
it another step on the road toward perfection of the
self. There is a depth of spirituality within the martial
arts which, as yet, has not been explored fully in popularity.
If this strange doctrine is to be resolved then the
spiritual dimension of martial arts needs to be explored
more completely and in turn passed onto those we instruct.
This is part and parcel of the responsibility and duty
of a Senior Dan grade and instructor. It is not simply
about teaching the effectiveness of a technique, or
about providing students with confidence to walk those
now dangerous streets. It is much more.
It is also, surely, to provide them with an opportunity
to develop and discipline their own characters so that
they become not simply strong and effective exponents
of a technique, but mature and responsible citizens.
There is a fine balance between possession of arms,
preparing and use of the devastating techniques such
as those found within martial arts. Yet there ust also
be somethin us which fear to use our martial arts skills
even when some situations dictate that their use is
legitimate. There is another dimension within martial
arts that comes to the force when we are faced with
a situation of conflict. It takes more for us to run
away, to say no, to not get involved in the aggression
that surrounds us than it does for us to actually use
our martial arts skills. It is always easier to accede
to the criteria of others than to the serenity that
resides within us all.
There is an unspoken acknowledgement that states it
is precisely because we could cause so much damage that
this prevents us from doing so. The possession of something
controlled and effective as the martial discipline we
pursue does not of itself entail the use of it. Nor
does the fact that we possess such knowledge and means
of focusing our power and energy of itself imply that
it should be used even when situations dictate that
it could be used without impunity or troubling of conscience.
The pursuit of peace and serenity within each one of
us as we study and train in martial arts is not something
that is easy to come by. It requires a discipline and
a training even more profound than the developing of
the physical skills of martial arts. Thus it is right
that we aspire to a Heian-Do (a way of peace). This
must allow the complete, full and mature development
not only of our physical martial art skills, but also
the skills required to be a responsible and mature human
person who deals with their feelings appropriately and
So it is that some pursue the opposite of the explosive
physicality of martial arts. The practice of Ikebana
(flower arranging) and Bonsai (miniature trees) all
require great concentration and calmness. Both have
their own Kata (form) and both have their own demands
in terms of discipline and etiquette. These two dimensions
are crucial to understanding the inferiority of martial
arts. Without discipline and etiquette then the martial
arts become reducible to the extremities of negative
aggression. But making etiquette and discipline a vital
part of the study of martial arts lifts them above their
reduction and gives them sincerity and truthfulness.
It may be argued convincingly that a mugger, robber
or thug will not have the decency to make a Rei (bow)
and assume a Kumite Kamae (on guard) fighting stance.
However, because these people do not do this does not
mean to say that we must throw all our discipline and
etiquette out of the window. We must even show respect
to the mugger - if we do not then we move on the same
level as they do and no martial artist, regardless of
their discipline that they pursue, would say that they
would like to be compared to a mugger or a robber.
So then the development of peace and serenity must
be a central contributory factor in the development
of martial art, and our personal character. The practice
of meditation, prayer, or control and appropriate channelling
of emotion can be used to highlight this all-important
dimension to martial arts and more research needs to
be undertaken to show its importance. The gaining of
expertise or Dan grades is of no importance and ultimately
meaningless, if there is no hand in hand gaining of
inner peace and serenity.
All of us search for some experience of "something"
in our life, in our world. That indefinable, ineffable
"something" beyond ourselves that makes sense
of our existence and brings order to the chaos of our
lives. It is this experience of this "something"
that can redefine the martial arts not simply as fighting
systems, but as a legitimate philosophical outlook on
the whole mystery of life. Thus, what was originally
a doctrine of seeming unresolved tensions can become
a method and tool to greater and deeper human development.
Raymond Wood 7th. Dan Kyoshi Kyushindo
text from Ray Wood (possibly attributed
to an an original unknown author)