martial art vs self defense

Bill Mattocks

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Yeah, agree to disagree is all well and good… but when you're using your own definitions and criteria that don't actually match the accepted definitions, it makes it hard to even discuss things in any real way. You've decided they're not "martial arts" because you don't consider it a correct definition/application of the term "art"… and you don't consider them "martial arts" because you don't see a separation between "military" and "martial"… okay… but how do we discuss things, then?

Well, we are, aren't we? :D


For the record, it's probably quite important to recognise that "martial art" is a Western term… and a fairly historical one… which didn't necessarily apply only to military combative methods… so, honestly, your personal definitions argue with historical usage, historical context, common usage, and so on.

To be clear, I agree with you that the common and accepted use of the term 'martial arts' does indeed include what most of us here on MT purport to study. I have just said that the word 'martial' in and of itself means related to war or the military. That's all. We can all agree to call what we do 'martial arts' and I'm fine with it.

Bill, I wasn't telling you what Marines do or don't do… I was pointing out that the examples you gave are a smaller look at the military overall, which, honestly, I think you'd have a hard time arguing with. As far as the big distinction I was referring to, you're bringing it up yourself here as well.

But tell me, are the Marines under an obligation to only attack? Are they only useful in an aggressive form, or are they also trained for extractions, relief, rescue operations, support missions, recon, and more?

Again, this isn't telling you what a Marine does or doesn't do… but I am questioning the notion that aggression and attack is the primary role of the armed forces.

We do all the things you mentioned. However, all of that is secondary to our primary mission, which is to kill people and break things on command.

Here's a major difference between the military (specifically the US Marines, which I can at least claim some expertise in) and traditional martial arts. Imagine two scenarios. In both, you are attacked by another person. However, in the first scenario, you are a US Marine, fighting in a pitched battle. In the other, you are a civilian walking down the street who has been set upon by a stranger.

In the first example, your duty to defend yourself is for a specific purpose, and it's not to stay alive. It is to stay alive FOR THE PURPOSE of defeating your enemy, up to and including killing him or her. Say you knock that person down and find yourself with a bayonet in your hand. Your next step would be to stick it in them repeatedly. Not to retreat.

In the second example, your duty is primarily to yourself and your personal safety. You want to minimize the risks you take, to disengage as safe as you can while preserving your life. If you happen to knock the aggressor down and you perceive you have the ability to safely run away, it would make sense to do exactly that. If you found yourself standing over your assailant and you had a knife in your hand, so long as he or she no longer posed a reasonable threat to you, you would not be legally justified in sticking into them repeatedly.

So my point is that although in war as a soldier or in peacetime as a civilian, we always strive to defend our own lives. However, in the military, one's responsibilities do not end with defending one's own life, and in fact may require taking risks that would be completely ridiculous to a civilian from a self-defense point of view. As well, one might be required to take additional steps after defending oneself that would not be considered within the realm of lawful self-defense in other circumstances.

I have served in situations in which areas I was defending were deemed 'vital to national security'. Had anyone, for any reason, crossed the perimeter I was ordered to defend, I would have shot at and tried to kill them. I would not have been looking to see if they were armed or if they posed a threat to me, etc, as one would do in traditional self-defense. I would simply kill them. That of course is not exactly kosher when one is walking down the street as a civilian.

Hmm… so you're grateful for the clarification on the terms you're using, but you're still going to apply a definition that isn't actually in line with the actual usage of the term… ignoring the aspects that conflict with your personal beliefs… again, Bill, I gotta ask… if you're not allowing for the terms in the discussion to have their common, and accurate, definitions… how do we discuss things? You'll just say that it means something different to you, yeah? Even when it doesn't genuinely mean what you think it does, or want it to?

Sometimes I think we are separated by a common language. I feel like I'm agreeing with you, and you're perceiving that I'm not. I really don't know what to say after that. Martial literally means war or military. Hence terms like 'courts martial' in the military, and 'martial law' when war-time rules are imposed on a civilian population. We both seem to be agreeing that in common use, 'martial arts' as a term is applied to various self-defense systems, and we're both quite fine with that. Or am I missing something vital here? :D
 

Chris Parker

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Hey Bill,

Well, we are, aren't we? :D

Not yet, no… we're establishing parameters for a discussion…

To be clear, I agree with you that the common and accepted use of the term 'martial arts' does indeed include what most of us here on MT purport to study. I have just said that the word 'martial' in and of itself means related to war or the military. That's all. We can all agree to call what we do 'martial arts' and I'm fine with it.

Except, of course, that "martial" has other connotations to it's meaning, which go beyond the usage you're applying… but my point has been that you entered this debate to comment on the distinction between "martial arts" and "self defence", and then proceeded to deny that martial arts actually are martial arts… which makes discussion of what the differences and distinctions are rather difficult… to the point that you said, and I quote, "the author is arguing with a false premise".

If you're going to apply a different set of definitions to others, an actual discussion can be difficult, if not downright impossible… and saying now that you're accepting the term as commonly applied, really, means that you'd need to go back and revisit your entire argument. After all, you class your Isshin Ryu as self defence… in which case you're going to say that martial arts are self defence, at least in the case of your system… and all the discussion of what is or isn't done in the military is rather besides the point outside of anything specific to military systems (which are an absolute rarity).

We do all the things you mentioned. However, all of that is secondary to our primary mission, which is to kill people and break things on command.

Hmm… okay, here I will tell you what's what.

That's not your primary mission. It's more realistically the primary tactic… although it can, and is, superseded by other tactics depending on what the mission itself is. Now, the Marines are, in many ways, a special case… they are a "first strike, first engagement" battalion… that's what they were formed to be in 1775, and remain as such to today. That, not surprisingly, can colour your take on what the military is… and, I do have to stress here, I have nothing but the utmost respect and admiration for the Marine Corp, and any who even put up their hand to be a part of such a unit… but I will say that it is not the entire army, nor is it the single expression of the military (worldwide, or historically)… and that, really, many deployments don't feature or involve what you are describing as the "primary mission"… the first deployment was to capture enemy supplies in Nassau… not "kill", or "break"… capture. There is currently a unit (FET) whose job is to gather intelligence (a role described as the primary usage of snipers as well, for the record) or provide a community connection.

Yes, every Marine is a rifleman… every Marine is trained as a combative warrior. That's not disputed or minimised at all. I am, however, disputing your description of the primary mission… I actually prefer the way it's expressed on the Marine's webpage… "Missions have changed over the years, but what has remained constant since November 10, 1775 is our unyielding commitment to protecting the lives of our citizens and the interests of our nation. Our purpose, by Congressional mandate, is to be this nations' rapid response force." That doesn't say anything about a primary mission to "kill people and break things"… in fact, kinda the opposite. Of course, killing enemy combatants, employing various ordinances and other methods to "break things" can, and often is, a part of the way the actual primary mission (protect the citizens and interests of the United States) is achieved, but that's only part of the equation.

Again, you are confusing procedures and application (techniques and tactics) for purpose (mission).

Here's a major difference between the military (specifically the US Marines, which I can at least claim some expertise in) and traditional martial arts. Imagine two scenarios. In both, you are attacked by another person. However, in the first scenario, you are a US Marine, fighting in a pitched battle. In the other, you are a civilian walking down the street who has been set upon by a stranger.

Uh… no. Not quite… and only applicable to some application of martial arts, not (in many cases) the way it's taught, trained, designed, or anything else. And, so you know, there are martial arts that are trained in very much the same way that you're describing the military form… look to things like Morishige Ryu, Seki Ryu, Yo Ryu (all forms of Hojutsu), or Heki Ryu (Kyujutsu), as well as a range of Sojutsu systems that I'm familiar with… they're all designed around 'pitched battles'…

So, again, this isn't necessarily a distinction… as the military form is found in a number of martial arts, and the "civilian walking down the street" is really not.

In the first example, your duty to defend yourself is for a specific purpose, and it's not to stay alive. It is to stay alive FOR THE PURPOSE of defeating your enemy, up to and including killing him or her. Say you knock that person down and find yourself with a bayonet in your hand. Your next step would be to stick it in them repeatedly. Not to retreat.

That would all depend on the particular mission, of course… in some cases, it'd be to capture the enemy for the purposes of interrogation… in others, it's to provide an opportunity to rescue others… in others, it might be to provide time and opportunity to obtain information or to prepare a sabotage event… or it could be to simply hold the enemy back, or turn back an attack, or to gain further ground, a strategic advancement, or any of a number of other reasons. The greater purpose is, as stated above, not to by definition "kill people", it's to protect the citizens and interests of the US, which can certainly involve the scenario you describe, but it's really not that every time.

I really don't know why the added aspect of closing to use a bayonet was in there… it doesn't really add anything to the argument, and doesn't highlight anything one way or the other, frankly… and I might point out that the idea of "continue forward, don't retreat" is quite present in many martial arts as well… particularly sporting systems, where you are penalised for being purely defensive or evasive, or for retreating (each of which are perfectly valid military tactics, for the record)… it's just that the scale is much smaller, the risk is many, many times lower, and the setting is very different.

In the second example, your duty is primarily to yourself and your personal safety. You want to minimize the risks you take, to disengage as safe as you can while preserving your life. If you happen to knock the aggressor down and you perceive you have the ability to safely run away, it would make sense to do exactly that. If you found yourself standing over your assailant and you had a knife in your hand, so long as he or she no longer posed a reasonable threat to you, you would not be legally justified in sticking into them repeatedly.

Sure… but that's getting into the realms of self defence… and, believe it or not, goes against what's actually taught in many martial arts. It's not always recognised what the actual tactics and strategic methods employed are teaching, I note, but but things like measured responses, disengagement, escape and so on are so rare in a martial arts teaching as to be virtually non-existent. In fact, I can only think of one martial system that actively has such concepts as part of the martial art teachings… there are quite a few that teach an awareness after the fact to reassess and not get caught out by a secondary attack (among other reasons…), referred to in Japanese as Zanshin… but even the way that's done doesn't really match the description you're giving here, and varies quite a bit from system to system.

So my point is that although in war as a soldier or in peacetime as a civilian, we always strive to defend our own lives. However, in the military, one's responsibilities do not end with defending one's own life, and in fact may require taking risks that would be completely ridiculous to a civilian from a self-defense point of view. As well, one might be required to take additional steps after defending oneself that would not be considered within the realm of lawful self-defense in other circumstances.

Yeah… most of that suits quite a lot of martial arts as well, Bill…

I have served in situations in which areas I was defending were deemed 'vital to national security'. Had anyone, for any reason, crossed the perimeter I was ordered to defend, I would have shot at and tried to kill them. I would not have been looking to see if they were armed or if they posed a threat to me, etc, as one would do in traditional self-defense. I would simply kill them. That of course is not exactly kosher when one is walking down the street as a civilian.

And again, you're distinguishing between military methods and self defence… martial arts, in many cases, are closer to the military form you're describing, rather than the self defence aspects you're bringing up.

Sometimes I think we are separated by a common language. I feel like I'm agreeing with you, and you're perceiving that I'm not. I really don't know what to say after that. Martial literally means war or military. Hence terms like 'courts martial' in the military, and 'martial law' when war-time rules are imposed on a civilian population. We both seem to be agreeing that in common use, 'martial arts' as a term is applied to various self-defense systems, and we're both quite fine with that. Or am I missing something vital here? :D

Separated by a common language? Maybe. Are you missing something in what I'm saying? Maybe. You're agreeing with me? Honestly, I'm less sure.

I mean… "martial" does not "literally mean war or military"… it can be used as a synonym for "military", but can also have other connotations (leaving off the usage of "literally" there…)… which it does in the context of "martial arts". It absolutely doesn't mean "war"… you don't say you're going to wage martial on someone, or that you've declared martial… or that you're going to martial. So… a common language? Hmm. "Courts martial" and "martial law" are one usage of the term… that's a synonymous usage with "military"… to the point that you also get the term "military law", or a "military state"… but that's a different contextual usage than in "martial arts", whether you agree or not, that's the reality.

As far as "we both seem to be agreeing that in common use, 'martial arts' as a term is applied to various self-defence systems, and we're both quite fine with that"… uh, no. Not at all. In fact, my position is that exactly zero martial arts are genuinely "self defence systems", despite marketing and rhetoric to the contrary (I tend to look at exactly what's present, rather than listen to such phrasing)… and as far as being "fine with that" (that that's the way they're presented), again, completely no. I'm not fine with it… I consider it misunderstanding at best, dangerous misinformation at worst.

Which is getting back to the point of this thread.
 

Tony Dismukes

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Eh, looks like a bunch of descriptive vs prescriptive nitpicking over what words "really" mean. I think we can agree that, regardless of etymology, the term "martial arts" as used in English generally refers to systems such as Karate, Judo, Wing Chun, Muay Thai, etc, and not to actual military skills such driving tanks and managing supply chain logistics.

I'm just going to quote myself from a previous thread to sum up what I consider the most useful definitions to use in this sort of discussion:

Tony Dismukes said:
Fighting - covers any situation where two or more people are trying to violently defeat each other. This can occur in a sportive or a street context. The combatants may be armed or unarmed. They may be operating under different sets of rules (even in a non-sportive context). Just a few examples of a fight might be: a MMA bout between two pro fighters, three cops subduing a resisting suspect, a pair of drunks squaring up outside a bar over some verbal offense. Many, many more situations are possible. These different contexts significantly affect what tactics, principles, and techniques are most effective in winning the fight. Nevertheless, there is significant overlap in what works as well.

Not all violent situations are fights. A canny asocial predator will attempt to use surprise, intimidation, or overwhelming force to ensure that there is no fight - that all the violence is directed towards his victim with no resistance.

Most fights are not self-defense, but some are. (None of the examples I listed above would qualify.)

Self-defense - covers the necessary actions and skills to get home at the end of the day unharmed by violence, without any unscheduled stops along the way at the hospital or prison. Some of the relevant factors here include lifestyle, awareness, attitude, de-escalation skills, evasion skills, and understanding of how different types of violence begin.

Most of self-defense does not involve fighting. Sometimes it does, but usually that is an indication that you have either screwed up the other important aspects of self-defense or else gotten really unlucky. If you get into fights on any sort of regular basis and it's not part of your job, you should strongly consider the possibility that you are not just unlucky.

Based on these definitions, fighting and self-defense can be seen as separate circles in a Venn diagram with about 5% of overlap.

Martial arts: For some reason many people like to bring up the derivation of "martial" as evidence that martial arts have something to do with the arts of war. Regardless of the etymology, the overwhelming majority of martial arts have nothing at all to do with war-fighting.

Given the diversity of the martial arts, the best definition I can muster is "a formalized system in a certain historical context for training certain skills, attributes, or techniques in some way related to or derived from methods of violence." This can cover a lot of ground, for example:

  • an acrobatic performance art with stylized movements derived from old fighting techniques
  • an historical recreation of medieval swordfighting methods
  • a system for cultivating certain spiritual or mental attributes through the practice of physical techniques
  • a system for unarmed fighting in a civilian context
  • and many, many more.


Chris would probably insist that a martial art has a unifying set of principles that tie together its various techniques and training methods. I think it might be overstating the case to say that this is always true. I've seen plenty of martial arts where the principles don't really seem that unified.

Once you understand the nature of fighting, of self-defense, and of a given martial art, then you are in a better place to evaluate how your martial arts training may affect your ability to defend yourself or to win a fight in a given context. Bear in mind that defending yourself and winning a fight are not the same thing. For example, if your training encourages your aggressive nature, then it may help you win a fight. If your training helps you stay calm, it may help you walk away from a fight, which is a much higher form of self-defense.
 

tshadowchaser

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not getting into the debate over what the marines do as that is but a mall part of what the thread should be about as far as the OP.
What I will say on it is I believe that each member of the armed forces in this country say an oath that says they "will defend the constitution of the United States" so that is the primary mission of our troops.
so can we get back to a generalized discussion of what the difference between a martial art and defenseless is
 

Bill Mattocks

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not getting into the debate over what the marines do as that is but a mall part of what the thread should be about as far as the OP.
What I will say on it is I believe that each member of the armed forces in this country say an oath that says they "will defend the constitution of the United States" so that is the primary mission of our troops.
so can we get back to a generalized discussion of what the difference between a martial art and defenseless is

I agree. I'm all done here.
 

cloud dancing

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When Tuck was teaching Shotokan-he would be realistic.ie=scream in persons face
threaten,insult,use vulgar language.prepare his students for real life self-defense situations with understanding
how attackers try to intimidate,frighten and distract their victims.
Study of Gift of Fear,Gavin de Becker gives real life self-defense mind-heart understanding
if you feel fear=there is something your subcomscious has seen.recognized that your conscious has not
noticed so react immediately with visual,body ,mind movements.I enjoy Barrom Bouncer and
other reads that emphasize reality.how one of his friends was murdered simply because the assailant hid the knife
by turning his body,smiling and asking a simple question..then one second thrust to his heart and DEAD.
Not speaking as a master artist but I have studied hwa Yu Tai-chi,Privleged short study with Quanjunim Chang
hapkido .skorea and some Pa Qua in S.korea.Chen Man Cheng Tai-chi.hunger to learn more more more.
having fought in Vietnam as Grunt 2M/47th mechanized-I always could feel when an attack was coming.
somehow inside me my HEART/SIXTH SENSE feelings warned me.I give praise to the lord for giving
me a HEART and that /dumb as I am/sometimes/enough times so that after land-mine blast,Vietnam.
twice stabbed-Philipines.I'm still alive. When I listen to my HEART life's so so good.
HEART.Self-defense that does not include awareness/zanshin is not self -defense but simply learning to
punch,kick,block and throw.with out awareness there is no genuine art.Quoting from Funakoshi's principles
all of martial arts begins and ends with REI/ translated as prayer/respect for the Gods-japanese kami
or simply respect your own feelings your OWN SELF.Self-awareness was one of qualities my Master for Raja Yoga Prem Rawat
gave to me,IF i PRACTISE WHAT TECHNIQUES HE TAUGHT ME..Times I could feel the thoughts of persons around me.
When ever I ignore my "SELF" always I have huge big time problems .
so As Sun Tzu said" know your self and your enemies and you will always win.
Military requires INTELLIGENCE to operate or failure results.
O-Sensei said train,train,train and progress comes to those who practise.Awareness and practise
many high level black belts have been sucker punched for not being aware,Why is this person inside
my circle.My area.Why is he /she asking for directions.The art of war is deception/distraction.
Self-defense training must interlock with reality of who,what, when where.I avoid places where I expect
violence=low class bars.Streets with little or no lighting. An instructor who has used his art vs
attacks that most would not have seen coming is one that I would trust to teach me.
flip a coin.Does the persons eyes follow the coin or follow you?? How easily can you be disracted from
awareness?? Love conquers all,but do not expect all who approach you to seek love.Violent ones master few techniques
but use them expertly.with awareness /listening to your heart and practise you have SELF-DEFENSE.
Army to Marine-Semper Fi -- my brother.OLD MAN WORKING TO STAY ALIVE/CENTERED IN LOVE.
learn to trust your self-your own feelings, respect your own heart and survival is almost 100% guaranteed.
BETTER TO LIGHT ONE CANDLE THAN TO CURSE THE DARKNESS. {my personal feelings}
 
OP
Reedone816

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Any link to the blog itself, so we can see the exact argument being put forth?
tried to look up in google again, but cannot find it, even the quote cannot be found again...
but again, the point of argument is the mind set, where sf is about surviving, while ma about imposing something...

Don't get lost in the marketing, is the real lesson there…
yes, M-I-S-S, disregard the weeds, looks for the crops...

for someone with limited experience, this really open up my view more :)
 

Chris Parker

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Martial arts used by militaries or developed by them?

http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=AeCVBz-DtmU

Er… no.

There's quite a difference between combative systems used as part of military application or engagement, and combative systems used for non-practical training exercises with emphasis on other aspects (competitive behaviour, promoting aggression and fitness, and so on). This is the latter… and, therefore, really isn't the context that's being meant or discussed here.
 

Brian R. VanCise

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Not to carry Bill's torch here but knowing several marines and having had one as a teacher Bill's description of what marines do and are trained to think is correct! I have heard these exact words over and over again. (ie: In other words, we kill people and break things, on command) Bill is a marine, he has been there and done that and will always be a marine!

Tony put things in perspective very nice. There is a lot of cross over between terms and to some extent we are splitting hairs here. I love Rory's work he is a great author and enjoy reading what he writes. He gives one perspective on self-defense and it is very valuable!
 

Cirdan

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Martial arts are just two words we use to name what we study, they do not contain the totality of what we do. You can argue forever about the meaning of your favorite words such as warrior, art, way, efficiency, millitary spirit, traditional, ki, soldier etc, especially if you are a dedicated Kuchi Bushi :p
 

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An analogy I use (firearms based again ;) ).

If you get basic firearms handling training and some basic combative firearms use training and you practice and train your fundamental techniques, but only enough to maintain proficiency in your skill set because that's enough of a training and time investment for you, than you are in the "self-defense" end of the spectrum.

If you are honing your reload speed by training and timing specific reloading techniques...if you are working to achieve the same proficiency with your one hand shooting with both right and left hands...if you spend a day doing 1000 pistol draws...if you analyze gear selection because one holster gives you a one tenth of a second faster draw speed....etc. etc. then you are more on the "martial art" end of the spectrum.

IMO you can be somewhere in the middle......
 
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Tgace

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Whats the difference between a bow hunter and an Olympic archer?
 

drop bear

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Hey Bill,



Not yet, no… we're establishing parameters for a discussion…



Except, of course, that "martial" has other connotations to it's meaning, which go beyond the usage you're applying… but my point has been that you entered this debate to comment on the distinction between "martial arts" and "self defence", and then proceeded to deny that martial arts actually are martial arts… which makes discussion of what the differences and distinctions are rather difficult… to the point that you said, and I quote, "the author is arguing with a false premise".

If you're going to apply a different set of definitions to others, an actual discussion can be difficult, if not downright impossible… and saying now that you're accepting the term as commonly applied, really, means that you'd need to go back and revisit your entire argument. After all, you class your Isshin Ryu as self defence… in which case you're going to say that martial arts are self defence, at least in the case of your system… and all the discussion of what is or isn't done in the military is rather besides the point outside of anything specific to military systems (which are an absolute rarity).



Hmm… okay, here I will tell you what's what.

That's not your primary mission. It's more realistically the primary tactic… although it can, and is, superseded by other tactics depending on what the mission itself is. Now, the Marines are, in many ways, a special case… they are a "first strike, first engagement" battalion… that's what they were formed to be in 1775, and remain as such to today. That, not surprisingly, can colour your take on what the military is… and, I do have to stress here, I have nothing but the utmost respect and admiration for the Marine Corp, and any who even put up their hand to be a part of such a unit… but I will say that it is not the entire army, nor is it the single expression of the military (worldwide, or historically)… and that, really, many deployments don't feature or involve what you are describing as the "primary mission"… the first deployment was to capture enemy supplies in Nassau… not "kill", or "break"… capture. There is currently a unit (FET) whose job is to gather intelligence (a role described as the primary usage of snipers as well, for the record) or provide a community connection.

Yes, every Marine is a rifleman… every Marine is trained as a combative warrior. That's not disputed or minimised at all. I am, however, disputing your description of the primary mission… I actually prefer the way it's expressed on the Marine's webpage… "Missions have changed over the years, but what has remained constant since November 10, 1775 is our unyielding commitment to protecting the lives of our citizens and the interests of our nation. Our purpose, by Congressional mandate, is to be this nations' rapid response force." That doesn't say anything about a primary mission to "kill people and break things"… in fact, kinda the opposite. Of course, killing enemy combatants, employing various ordinances and other methods to "break things" can, and often is, a part of the way the actual primary mission (protect the citizens and interests of the United States) is achieved, but that's only part of the equation.

Again, you are confusing procedures and application (techniques and tactics) for purpose (mission).



Uh… no. Not quite… and only applicable to some application of martial arts, not (in many cases) the way it's taught, trained, designed, or anything else. And, so you know, there are martial arts that are trained in very much the same way that you're describing the military form… look to things like Morishige Ryu, Seki Ryu, Yo Ryu (all forms of Hojutsu), or Heki Ryu (Kyujutsu), as well as a range of Sojutsu systems that I'm familiar with… they're all designed around 'pitched battles'…

So, again, this isn't necessarily a distinction… as the military form is found in a number of martial arts, and the "civilian walking down the street" is really not.



That would all depend on the particular mission, of course… in some cases, it'd be to capture the enemy for the purposes of interrogation… in others, it's to provide an opportunity to rescue others… in others, it might be to provide time and opportunity to obtain information or to prepare a sabotage event… or it could be to simply hold the enemy back, or turn back an attack, or to gain further ground, a strategic advancement, or any of a number of other reasons. The greater purpose is, as stated above, not to by definition "kill people", it's to protect the citizens and interests of the US, which can certainly involve the scenario you describe, but it's really not that every time.

I really don't know why the added aspect of closing to use a bayonet was in there… it doesn't really add anything to the argument, and doesn't highlight anything one way or the other, frankly… and I might point out that the idea of "continue forward, don't retreat" is quite present in many martial arts as well… particularly sporting systems, where you are penalised for being purely defensive or evasive, or for retreating (each of which are perfectly valid military tactics, for the record)… it's just that the scale is much smaller, the risk is many, many times lower, and the setting is very different.



Sure… but that's getting into the realms of self defence… and, believe it or not, goes against what's actually taught in many martial arts. It's not always recognised what the actual tactics and strategic methods employed are teaching, I note, but but things like measured responses, disengagement, escape and so on are so rare in a martial arts teaching as to be virtually non-existent. In fact, I can only think of one martial system that actively has such concepts as part of the martial art teachings… there are quite a few that teach an awareness after the fact to reassess and not get caught out by a secondary attack (among other reasons…), referred to in Japanese as Zanshin… but even the way that's done doesn't really match the description you're giving here, and varies quite a bit from system to system.



Yeah… most of that suits quite a lot of martial arts as well, Bill…



And again, you're distinguishing between military methods and self defence… martial arts, in many cases, are closer to the military form you're describing, rather than the self defence aspects you're bringing up.



Separated by a common language? Maybe. Are you missing something in what I'm saying? Maybe. You're agreeing with me? Honestly, I'm less sure.

I mean… "martial" does not "literally mean war or military"… it can be used as a synonym for "military", but can also have other connotations (leaving off the usage of "literally" there…)… which it does in the context of "martial arts". It absolutely doesn't mean "war"… you don't say you're going to wage martial on someone, or that you've declared martial… or that you're going to martial. So… a common language? Hmm. "Courts martial" and "martial law" are one usage of the term… that's a synonymous usage with "military"… to the point that you also get the term "military law", or a "military state"… but that's a different contextual usage than in "martial arts", whether you agree or not, that's the reality.

As far as "we both seem to be agreeing that in common use, 'martial arts' as a term is applied to various self-defence systems, and we're both quite fine with that"… uh, no. Not at all. In fact, my position is that exactly zero martial arts are genuinely "self defence systems", despite marketing and rhetoric to the contrary (I tend to look at exactly what's present, rather than listen to such phrasing)… and as far as being "fine with that" (that that's the way they're presented), again, completely no. I'm not fine with it… I consider it misunderstanding at best, dangerous misinformation at worst.

Which is getting back to the point of this thread.

Where ever it is in that. The role of the Australian infantry.

The Royal Australian Infantry Corps - Australian Army

Which I think is similar to what he is getting at.kill guys and break stuff is a pretty common colloquialism used to describe that. I got the same spiel.
 

drop bear

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Martial arts are just two words we use to name what we study, they do not contain the totality of what we do. You can argue forever about the meaning of your favorite words such as warrior, art, way, efficiency, millitary spirit, traditional, ki, soldier etc, especially if you are a dedicated Kuchi Bushi :p


And before we get too semantic about the meanings of words. They change to fit current circumstances.
What is the strangest change in meaning that any word has undergone? | OxfordWords blog
 

Tgace

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The end result. I suppose.

Both would be arts.

Not necessarily. Bear with me (see what I did there?).

I'm a hunter. But I wouldn't consider myself an "Artist" of a hunter. Some guys know how to go out and intentionally find and bag a trophy sized animal. Their knowledge of hunting (and dedication to doing it) is at a different level from mine...which is really just the ability to go out into the woods and select a likely place and wait. My shooting ability/skill will dictate what shot I am capable of making.

To a "hunter" putting an arrow in a deer is only one component of hunting. An important one that needs technical training and practice certainly, but not necessarily to an "Art" level. Much like "self-defense" focused people may have training in H2H/firearms/etc. but not focused on to the level an "Artist" would. Archery mechanics are an important component to bow hunting but not necessarily focused on to an "Art" like level.

My youngest has started Olympic style archery...the minutia of stance, grip, release, follow-through etc. is focused on to a level the average bow-hunter would not spend the time on (some...maybe). Small variations can mean the difference between higher point scores or lower at long ranges. Minute differences that don't mean as much in the field on a game animal. That's more the "Art" of archery. Shes not (currently) interested in hunting. She just likes to shoot.

Can the "artist" become a proficient bow-hunter? Absolutely, the skills and training should translate easily. But ONLY for that last part. Putting the arrow in the deer. All the other skills of a hunter (stalking, scouting, animal behavior and patterns, etc) have nothing to do with this more "Art Level" approach to the bow. Can a Martial "Artist" become proficient at defending him/herself. Certainly, but SD contains far more things to know than how to punch/kick.

That's my .02
 

Argus

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It is, in fact, self-defense. And even the name 'Isshin-Ryu' refers to this. The English translation, I am told, means "One Heart Way." Way, not art. In fact, most of Karate is actually 'karate-do' and the word 'do' in Japanese means 'way', not 'art'.

Hey Bill,

Great post, and pretty spot on! I thought I would correct some Japanese terms, though:

"ryu" is written as 流, and actually refers to a 流派 -- a school, or lineage. It simply translates as "style," "school," or "method" [of].
"do" is written as 道 and does in fact mean "way," but is, as I understand it, largely a modern denotation adopted when Japanese martial arts were being re-purposed as more peaceful arts/sports, and/or methods of exercise and philosophy. I do not believe that Karate styles originally denoted themselves as 空手道.

That said, your post is pretty spot on, and generally the case with traditional martial arts. Even in fencing, whether it be Japanese or European schools, unarmored fighting -- which is generally of less relevance on the battlefield -- comprised a great portion of the "martial arts."


Edit: Woops. Looks like Chris was here before me...
 
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Tgace

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Can a Martial "Artist" become proficient at defending him/herself. Certainly, but SD contains far more things to know than how to punch/kick.

That's my .02

I suppose I should qualify that. SD contains "more" to know, but I suppose the "self defense" interested practitioner may also know "less" of the details/options/expertise of the specific art/skill than the "artist" will.
 
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