Martial Arts: What Were They Designed For?

Discussion in 'General Martial Arts Talk' started by MJS, Dec 6, 2013.

  1. GaryR

    GaryR Green Belt

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    Full Definition of MARTIAL

    1. of, relating to, or suited for war or a warrior


    2. relating to an army or to military life


    3. experienced in or inclined to war : warlike

    The answer is simple, they were designed for combat, of all kinds. Anything else is just an activity. If you can't defend yourself, or you are not on the path to learning, you are not a MARTIAL artist, you are just an artist, a dancer, and a cultural dabbler--which is cool, to each his own.

    G
     
  2. RTKDCMB

    RTKDCMB Senior Master

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    I find it funny that the words martial and marital are so similar since they both involve some form of combat at some point.
     
  3. Spinedoc

    Spinedoc Brown Belt

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    Same with Santa and Satan........OOOPS....;)
     
  4. RTKDCMB

    RTKDCMB Senior Master

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    And the word bridal refers to something that goes on a bride at a wedding and a horse.
     
  5. TimoS

    TimoS Master of Arts

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    I thought that it's bridle when talking about horses
     
  6. Mark Lynn

    Mark Lynn Master Black Belt

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    I believe most if not all martial arts had their roots in military or self defense training, however many have also developed into martial sports
    Judo, Savate, Kendo, Olympic Style TKD, sport karate and TKD, Wushu, fencing, Muay Thai, Silat, to name a few.

    However Judo and Olympic style TKD are arts in their own right that are so different with different goals than the original (root) art that I believe they are created for sport. Their training is centered around sport contests, Judo's grading is around sport contests in that you must win matches to grade up if I remember right. Olympic style TKD is centered around TKD sparring and kicking techniques that bear no resemblance to root art of karate or old style TKD. Wushu too was formed out of CMA and created for competition.

    Kind of like foil fencing or Kendo.

    Aikido is an example of an art that came from a self defense art that became an religious expression.
    From Wkipedia "Aikido (Japanese: 合気道 Hepburn: Aikidō[SUP]?[/SUP]) [a.i.ki.doː] is a Japanese martial art developed by Morihei Ueshiba as a synthesis of his martial studies, philosophy, and religious beliefs. ...... Aikido derives mainly from the martial art of Daitō-ryū Aiki-jūjutsu, but began to diverge from it in the late 1920s, partly due to Ueshiba's involvement with the Ōmoto-kyō religion. ....(speaking of styles of Aikido) they all share techniques learned from Ueshiba and most have concern for the well-being of the attacker."
     
  7. StudentCarl

    StudentCarl 3rd Black Belt

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    I think the root of the arts is as old as childhood. Martial arts are a natural and enjoyable expression of ourselves that has been coordinated and structured into an activity. If you watch young children, particularly boys, in unstructured, unsupervised play, their play often becomes combative in some form. They often pretend some type of conflict and from an early age just about anything gets used as a pretend weapon. This is no different from the play fighting of wolf pups and bear cubs except that we humans are tool users and have language (and kids love making rules). The play and skills have practical value and also contribute to defining social hierarchy.

    Our 'grown up' martial arts are just a more mature form of the same thing. For some it's about the fighting skills; for some it's about where they fit in the social pecking order (ego); and for some it's about getting physical. Since we're grown up and have more reasoning ability and experience, we've made it both a science and an art...so we test, argue, and theorize about what's better technique or tactic (adults love arguing about rules too). However, in the end, I'm not sure there needs to be an exact grown-up answer. If it's good for the kids, it's okay for us too. It can give you skills, and it should be fun.
     
  8. K-man

    K-man Grandmaster

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    That is as silly as saying Goju Ryu is spiritual because Yamagucchi went down that track. Regardless, aikido is still a RBSD art if it is trained that way.
    :asian:
     
  9. Balrog

    Balrog Master of Arts

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    Agreed. The foundation is and has been and will be self defense. Yes, we've added a lot of "sport" aspects, but never lose sight of the fact that all of the training that we do is teaching us the best way to hit/kick/block/lock/choke/whatever another human being.
     
  10. Mark Lynn

    Mark Lynn Master Black Belt

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    I disagree, as the quote says not all Aikido is like this (it said most, the part of the last sentence that I bolded), however I have read this in more places in print than just Wikipedia, I only quoted it from Wiki because it was handy and I didn't want to search my books that are put up to reference those. As a self defense system or a battlefield art would you design a system with the well being of the aggressor in mind?

    Again from Wikipedia
    "Aikido is often translated as "the Way of unifying (with) life energy"[SUP][1][/SUP] or as "the Way of harmonious spirit."[SUP][2][/SUP] Ueshiba's goal was to create an art that practitioners could use to defend themselves while also protecting their attacker from injury.[SUP][3][/SUP][SUP][4] [/SUP] Ueshiba envisioned aikido not only as the synthesis of his martial training, but as an expression of his personal philosophy of universal peace and reconciliation. "

    The OP asked what martial arts were designed for; Aikido is an expression of Ueshiba sensei's personal philosophy of universal peace and reconciliation. The name even reflects this view point. To deny it or to call my statement silly (I'm not sure which you were calling silly) that Aikido was based on a SD system that became an religious expression, I think is wrong.

    Please correct me if I'm wrong here but I know of no other RBSD systems or other TMAs etc. etc. where the well being of the attacker was a primary concern of the defender. Well maybe the act of counting coup by the plains Indians or if you want to stretch it to the Flower Wars of the Aztecs but I believe that is getting outside of the scope of this discussion.

    I was not trying to run down the martial art of Aikido nor calling it silly, I was just trying to add to the discussion.
     
  11. RTKDCMB

    RTKDCMB Senior Master

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    Sounds the same like sowing and sewing.
     
  12. punisher73

    punisher73 Senior Master

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    I don't think it is cut and dried at all. What martial art? If you are talking about okinawan karate and their katas then it was developed as a system of civilian self-defense. If you are talking about some other styles, they were developed for use on the battlefield (many of the japanese -jutsu styles come to mind).

    Also, are we talking armed martial arts or unarmed martial arts? I can't think of ANY weapon based martial arts that were NOT developed for fighting/war.

    To me, "martial arts" is just to nebulous to say "yes/no" as a whole as to the self-defense vs. war argument. You have many different arts, but I would say they were all developed for fighting of somekind.
     
  13. punisher73

    punisher73 Senior Master

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    Ummmm, in describing what you do, you just described how most TMA's were originally taught as a civilian self-defense system and also how they developed originally. Someone found something that worked for them in certain situations and they passed it on to others. The katas were a way to cram in multiple applications and information in a small easy to remember practice to pull from and practice.
     
  14. K-man

    K-man Grandmaster

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    I'm not taking it that you are running down Aikido, just pointing out that you are as far from the truth of Aikido that you could possibly be. :)
     
  15. Zero

    Zero Master Black Belt

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    Reminds me of the first night of my Honey Moon where "my bride bridled at having to wear a bridle while dressed in her bridal gown" It was an odd night but no animals, of equine or other nature, were injured.
     
  16. Chris Parker

    Chris Parker Grandmaster

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    Cool. Let's see what we can come up with, then. I will quickly say, though, that what they were designed for, and what they're currently about can be quite removed from each other... as can "why people train"...

    Well, the thing is that "reasons for training" and "the reason for the arts design" are not the same thing... but we'll cover aspects of that as we go, using others posts to get to my points (hopefully!).

    I will say here, though, that RBSD systems don't actually teach "blocks, kicks, punches" etc... they teach contextual application of such things, which (in many cases) are drawn from the students martial arts experience. RBSD are not martial arts, and no martial arts are RBSD (although they can be trained in a "reality based" method, that doesn't actually make them RBSD systems without completely changing them from being the art they originally are... we'll probably come back to this).

    Hmm... no, can't say I'd agree with that. For one thing, it's just not that simple. I can name systems that are 600 years old that are centred on personal development and spiritual emphasis, and modern ones that don't care about it at all. Out of all the arts I study, which (when you add them up) is around a dozen, none of them are for self defence, let alone "first and foremost". There are some aspects that are related to self defence, but not in a modern context... the closest are my Iai methods. Some were created, as many of the older Japanese arts were, as a method of instructing in strategic and tactical thinking and application, more than as combative techniques per se.

    There's a difference between hyperbole describing benefits and accurate description of the purpose of a martial art...

    Not to put too fine a point on it, but Yoshida was either rather misinformed of the history of Jujutsu, or he was simplifying things to the point of inaccuracy. Personally, I think the latter.

    Again, I'd caution against the acceptance of hyperbole as fact... I mean, if we're talking about Japanese Jujutsu (as indicated by the prior quote), then the gun defence would have been non-existant... and the knife defence rather different.

    Cool, except that that's a self defence system (in the form of a book), not a martial art. Additionally, if it's only dealing with techniques, it's the least of all aspects for self defence.

    "Were used" and "were designed for" are, again, different. Each art is designed for a specific context, the trick is recognizing what that context is, and how it influences an art (when you can see that, you can see what the art is actually designed for).

    Even there, it's not that simple... there are a range of arts that simply aren't designed for combative usage in their construction, at least, not in the basic understanding of it.

    I'm actually watching a documentary on Bruce Lee at the moment... and it's striking me just how much I'd argue with a lot of what he said about the reasons for martial arts. If he was around now, and on the forums, I'd be telling him he's missed the point on a lot of things... hmm... but to the point, Bruce's take on martial arts is that they are about personal self expression, pure and simple, above and beyond, well and truly before the idea of self defence.

    Most RBSD systems are designed to be methods of approaching training, not methods of techniques etc themselves. As a result, they don't need to be concerned with longevity... they're not martial arts.

    A fair few martial arts have been developed specifically for sports. They might have come from other arts that aren't (Kendo, which is designed for competition, came from a range of kenjutsu systems, which are not). The most recent, of course, is MMA.

    What makes you think that martial arts are about unarmed combat? Most old martial arts are primarily armed systems....

    Again, martial arts does not equal unarmed. Additionally, they're simply not all designed for self defence. Some are designed with duelling in mind, for example. It's hardly self defence if you're going out to meet someone for a fight...

    Okay, you've been banned, so you can't answer, but the last comment here is plainly and flatly nothing but your own personal value system at play. Look at Kyudoka (Japanese archery), are they not martial artists? Kyudo doesn't teach you anything about self defence....

    No, I'd disagree... Aikido (as many other arts) can be trained in a reality based way, but that doesn't make it an RBSD system... to make it that, you'd need to lose 90% of the system, and change a lot of what's left. With regards to the Goju Kai (Yamaguchi) analogy, no, I don't think I'd say they're the same thing at all. Ueshiba was rather vocal about the influence of the Otomo Sect on his Aikido post WWII, so to make that connection (with Aikido) can be fair for the most part. Obviously different forms have different emphasises, but it's still there (when dealing with Takemusu/Iwama Ryu it's far more obvious, Yoshinkan far less etc).

    "Jutsu" doesn't actually mean anything to do with "battlefield"... the "jutsu/do" distinction is more one of preferential terminology of the time than anything else, really. Iaijutsu, for instance, isn't anything to do with a battlefield/combat in war... nor are most Kenjutsu systems. I agree that it's just not that cut-and-dried, but that extends even through to the examples given... there just isn't a yes/no answer to this.

    Maybe some TMA's, but certainly not all, not even most, I'd say. Most just weren't designed as "civilian self defence" at all. It's even more of a gap when you look at specific cultural approaches... Japanese arts, more than anything else, are completely removed from the idea of civilian self defence. The main reason is that they were created by a warrior class, for use by the warrior class, typically against other members of the warrior class. Rory Miller has noted that most martial arts don't teach you to fight against someone untrained, they teach fighters to fight other fighters... which most don't realise or recognise. Anything military is designed to go up against other military systems/approaches, anything culturally based is going to be designed to go up against similar things from the same culture... which isn't necessarily just the same time and place, it means specific social groups etc, as well as the context it's designed for (strategic education, duelling, sporting contest, etc).

    So, what were martial arts designed for? Well, that depends on the art itself. No two martial arts are designed for the exact same reason... sometimes it's a direct response to a situation, sometimes it's to provide a particular role in education, sometimes it's to give an advantage in a specific context/situation... but most commonly, it's not to handle "common" violence (untrained assaults). It's to handle trained, or skilled opponents. Which actually takes it away from being designed for self defence.
     
  17. K-man

    K-man Grandmaster

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    'Martial Art' is such a broad term it makes the discussion academic. Some Martial Arts were designed specifically for self defence, others to teach concepts. Good grief Chris even brings up Takemusu. Perhaps if someone would care to define 'Martial Art' we might be able to have a decent discussion.
     
  18. celtic_crippler

    celtic_crippler Senior Master

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    Simply put, to do harm to another.

    As they've evolved into modern day "martial arts" many people have found other benefits and their respective schools have adjusted the curriculum to cater to those wants and needs.

    But, at the end of the day... it's all about doing damage. Why else practice punchs, kicks, locks, holds, etc... DERP
     
  19. K-man

    K-man Grandmaster

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    Unless you are a friend of The Boar Man

    :p
     
  20. MJS

    MJS Administrator Staff Member

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    I'd say the RBSD arts are more designed for fighting, plain and simple. While the other arts have different reasons, I still feel that the main reason was fighting. Sure, the inner peace, self control, blah, blah, are part of it, but I doubt it was the sole purpose. And no, of course the structure is going to be different, so I didn't mean to imply the classes will be like your typical class in TKD. Like I said, the average RBSD system is the bare bones, stripped down version of what you'd find in other arts. More meat and less fluff. :D123
     

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