Question on martial artists

Gerry Seymour

MT Moderator
Staff member
Supporting Member
Joined
Mar 27, 2012
Messages
27,092
Reaction score
8,438
Location
Hendersonville, NC
There are professional boxers, amateur boxers, and hobbyists who box for fitness and fun. Each could be good or bad at what they do, but if they actually get in the ring and mix it up, they are boxers.

Martial arts are more diverse, and they don't all have the goal of self defense. To me, being a martial artist has little to do with whether you use it in self defense or street fights. But then I don't going around calling myself a "martial artist" either. Seems like puffery.
This gets at what I was batting around in my mind (inside my head, apparently there's a cat). I think my most common usage of the term "martial artist" is reserved for folks who take it seriously...whatever that means to them.
 

Gerry Seymour

MT Moderator
Staff member
Supporting Member
Joined
Mar 27, 2012
Messages
27,092
Reaction score
8,438
Location
Hendersonville, NC
I'll recant somewhat, A Martial Arts hobbyist (in training)...is an acceptable martial artist.

It quits being a hobby, once it is used for reality.
I like the first half. But I disagree with the second part. I used mine in reality the first time somewhere around 1983. While I take my MA quite seriously at times, and have worked hard at it, it's mostly a hobby for me. Just a very serious hobby.
 

Bill Mattocks

Sr. Grandmaster
MTS Alumni
Joined
Feb 8, 2009
Messages
14,829
Reaction score
3,031
Location
Michigan
When in your opinion, can someone call themselves a martial artist?
It was a question asked in last night's class, when we have a discussion at the end, I never really thought about it much, but the answers were diverse.

I am a karateka. I am a student of karatedo, which is a way. In my case, that means a way of life. I am therefore a karate student walking a life-path that is heavily influenced by my martial arts training. What is another word for that? Don't know. Doesn't matter. The path doesn't need a name, really.
 

jobo

Grandmaster
Joined
Apr 3, 2017
Messages
9,762
Reaction score
1,503
Location
Manchester UK
Lol, well ain't that a cheek, you accusing someone else of using their own dictionary, you play chess, you ride a bike, you play the guitar, but do you need to be any good at these things to call yourself a guitarist, or is it in the spirit of, I could call myself a philosopher, because I think a lot.
well of course you can and that's rather the point, you can call yourself anything you want as long as it's not fraud. I'm middling good at all of them, I can play " wish you were here" in a recognisable maner, but I'm a way short of mr Gilmour
 

Gerry Seymour

MT Moderator
Staff member
Supporting Member
Joined
Mar 27, 2012
Messages
27,092
Reaction score
8,438
Location
Hendersonville, NC
well of course you can and that's rather the point, you can call yourself anything you want as long as it's not fraud. I'm middling good at all of them, I can play " wish you were here" in a recognisable maner, but I'm a way short of mr Gilmour
There are 3 or 4 songs I can almost play. I think it's fair to say I don't qualify as a guitarist. My guitar would definitely agree.
 

JR 137

Grandmaster
Joined
Apr 26, 2015
Messages
5,162
Reaction score
3,218
Location
In the dojo
Youre a martial artist the first time you line up for a martial arts class. Youre no longer a martial artist once you stop training. Sure some are better, some arent as good; some have trained a few days to several decades longer; some are more serious, some less so.

My teacher considers himself a student of karate. Going on 50 years now. 7th dan. By some definitions here, it seems he wouldnt be a martial artist yet.
 

AndreaLola

White Belt
Joined
May 4, 2019
Messages
6
Reaction score
10
This going to upset a few....

IMO...it is when you have used it effectively, to save your own life. Until then, you are still just practicing the martial Arts.

It is like asking, when can you call yourself a surgeon, is it when you are studying about operations or when you are applying what you learned, on a real patient.
I dont find it upsetting in the least, you're entitled to your opinion. I am going to state why I dont agree, though. Hopefully most of us are never in a situation where we have to actually defend our lives or the lives of those we love. Of course it happens, but I bet the majority of us never have and never will have to actually defend ourselves from a brutal life threatening attack.
I think anyone who trains consistently, benefits in the dozens of other ways martial arts offers, and continue to learn and develop are martial artists.

Sent from my SM-G950U using Tapatalk
 

isshinryuronin

Master Black Belt
Joined
Feb 28, 2019
Messages
1,077
Reaction score
992
Location
Las Vegas
I read something from Bruce Lee's the Tao of Jeet Kun Do over 40 years ago, but the idea stuck in my mind. I can paint, but I'm no artist. I don't know a variety of brush strokes, don't understand color theory and mixing, don't have an eye for composition or perspective - well, you get the idea.

Bruce said it is only after you master the basic techniques that the inner you can be expressed thru whatever art (paint, music, dance, martial) you are doing Then you can be creative. Then you have the skill to compose, rearrange and nuance. He defined art as the joining of technique and personal expression. I have always liked that concept and think it's one of his most insightful thoughts. If you possess the above mentioned attributes and skills - you are an artist in that field.
 

Gerry Seymour

MT Moderator
Staff member
Supporting Member
Joined
Mar 27, 2012
Messages
27,092
Reaction score
8,438
Location
Hendersonville, NC
I read something from Bruce Lee's the Tao of Jeet Kun Do over 40 years ago, but the idea stuck in my mind. I can paint, but I'm no artist. I don't know a variety of brush strokes, don't understand color theory and mixing, don't have an eye for composition or perspective - well, you get the idea.

Bruce said it is only after you master the basic techniques that the inner you can be expressed thru whatever art (paint, music, dance, martial) you are doing Then you can be creative. Then you have the skill to compose, rearrange and nuance. He defined art as the joining of technique and personal expression. I have always liked that concept and think it's one of his most insightful thoughts. If you possess the above mentioned attributes and skills - you are an artist in that field.
I like that, and the thought behind it, but I think a lot of people (including Lee, in this case) get lost in the semantics of the word art/artist. The word is (at least in the original translation from either Chinese or Japanese where this seems to come from) being used not in the sense of creative arts, but in a less-used definition (4th in the current Google listing of definitions for the word "art"):
a skill at doing a specified thing, typically one acquired through practice
By that definition, if we want to reserve the title "martial artist" beyond just starting training, it just means they need some skill. We could equate it to what was said earlier about guitarists. I own a guitar, and can make some lovely, meaningless sounds on it. I can't really play anything - I haven't practiced enough, or with enough focus. I'm not a guitarist. Jobo can play a few songs. He probably isn't good enough for a lot of creativity (most folks who can play a few songs pretty much have to stick to the way they've practiced them), but I'd still call him a guitarist. I don't know if he's a good guitarist, but there's a reason we have those modifiers.
 

DocWard

Purple Belt
Joined
Aug 13, 2008
Messages
305
Reaction score
179
Location
Ohio
When in your opinion, can someone call themselves a martial artist?

This question, and the subsequent responses, has been quite the fodder for thought, and even introspection for me. I would say that, purely in my opinion, one becomes a "martial artist," when they move past the point of simply taking lessons, or having a passing interest in it. Once there is some dedication to an art, and some act toward furthering oneself in the art, then one is a martial artist in the most basic sense of the word. Having said that, I believe the answer is also somewhat fluid. Does it mean after a student or practitioner passes a first belt test? Probably not. Does it mean the person has to be an advanced brown belt? Again, probably not.

I could use myself as a case in point. After I successfully passed a couple of belt levels, I decided I wanted to pursue my blackbelt in Kenpo. At that point in time, I considered myself a martial artist. I was engaging in sparring against others, I was dedicated to learning about the art, practicing the art, and becoming proficient.

After receiving my 1st degree brown belt and working toward my black belt, life got in the way and I needed to stop actively pursuing the same. I still maintained my interest, my desire, and I still sought out information, and worked to maintain basic proficiency, yet if asked, I would have likely said I was a "former martial artist" or something of the sort.

Now that I am actively engaged again, I again consider myself a martial artist.

So, in my opinion, a person can consider themselves a martial artist when they have dedicated themselves to pursuing the art and furthering themselves in it, and are actively engaged in doing so.

IMO...it is when you have used it effectively, to save your own life. Until then, you are still just practicing the martial Arts.

This is such a high bar that I believe it is safe to say many of those who would be pointed to as highly respected martial artists, or even icons in the arts, cannot meet the definition. I also believe it is completely incorrect, for reasons already stated.
 

jobo

Grandmaster
Joined
Apr 3, 2017
Messages
9,762
Reaction score
1,503
Location
Manchester UK
ethat.



You can say you do the hobby, but you can't say that is what you are.

I play guitar, (hobby) but "I am" not a guitarist.
the problem with the whole issue is I dont define myself by my hobbies, people ask me what I do for a living.this is generally an attempt to pigeon hole you by social economic status, dependent on who's asking and the context I have different answers to that question. if I'm in some rough pub I dont tell them I have multiple professional qualifications and work in senior management for a construction company, if it's some posh girl I'm chatting up I do. tell them what they want to hear so they react in a positive way to you. of late I just say I'm retired which then requires them to ask what did you used to do ,,,!


with hobbies, I'm not anything, I'm not a martial artist I would never tell someone was, just never. I spend I few hours a week training karate, I would never use that to define myself I'm reluctant to tell people I do karate at all, as it generally leads to a conversation I cant be bothered to have

karate and the multitude of other hobbies are just small facets of me. non of them define me as a person, why would I tell people that they do ?
 

JowGaWolf

Sr. Grandmaster
MT Mentor
Joined
Aug 3, 2015
Messages
10,614
Reaction score
3,566
Bruce said it is only after you master the basic techniques that the inner you can be expressed thru whatever art (paint, music, dance, martial) you are doing Then you can be creative.
This is what I was saying earlier, about having an understanding of what you are doing. A person who does the basics without understanding will just go through the motions and probably can only teach 5 minutes worth of basics. A person who does the basics with understanding can probably teach an hour or more covering just the punch alone.

Advanced techniques are just a greater understanding of the basics. Which is why everyone says a strong basic foundation is so important.
 
OP
Gweilo

Gweilo

Master Black Belt
Joined
Jan 11, 2019
Messages
1,141
Reaction score
330
people ask me what I do for a living.this is generally an attempt to pigeon hole you by social economic status, dependent on who's asking and the context

I have had some fun with this senario, I had a bloke ask me at a get together, what do you do, I clocked him asking the same question to everybody he spoke to, trying to neatly place people as better than him, the same as, or beneath him. The fun starts when you reveal little or nothing about yourself, and see how long it is before they get annoyed and walk away, the conversation went a little like this, what do you do, I play golf (I don't), so your a golfer then, are you pro, no I play golf, so what do you do then, I read books, do you work in a library, no I sometimes read books, s o what do you do for a living then, I play golf, at which point he sighed and walked away. It's good fun, sometimes they can get very abrupt.
 

JP3

Master Black Belt
Supporting Member
Joined
Dec 19, 2015
Messages
1,388
Reaction score
697
Location
Houston
When they do martial arts
For me, personally I'd add in "live to" to that, so it'd read: "When they live to do martial arts."

Lots of people have "done" some sort of MA for a couple of days or a couple of weeks, lost interest and dropped it. For me, those aren't martial artists.

Nearly everyone who takes time out of a day here and there to come to an online forum and talk about their practices of MA, what they've experienced in MA, ask questions about MA, laughed, joked, criticized and ridiculed about MA... I think those people are martial artists, for example.

Or, you could just practice pretty often for a time significant to you, that'd work to, I suppose.
 

DocWard

Purple Belt
Joined
Aug 13, 2008
Messages
305
Reaction score
179
Location
Ohio
the problem with the whole issue is I dont define myself by my hobbies, people ask me what I do for a living.this is generally an attempt to pigeon hole you by social economic status, dependent on who's asking and the context I have different answers to that question. if I'm in some rough pub I dont tell them I have multiple professional qualifications and work in senior management for a construction company, if it's some posh girl I'm chatting up I do. tell them what they want to hear so they react in a positive way to you. of late I just say I'm retired which then requires them to ask what did you used to do ,,,!


with hobbies, I'm not anything, I'm not a martial artist I would never tell someone was, just never. I spend I few hours a week training karate, I would never use that to define myself I'm reluctant to tell people I do karate at all, as it generally leads to a conversation I cant be bothered to have

karate and the multitude of other hobbies are just small facets of me. non of them define me as a person, why would I tell people that they do ?

Interesting thoughts, I found myself nodding as I read it. I do realize, though, that casual acquaintances will pigeon hole me regardless. I believe it is human nature to do so. You may not agree, but from my perspective, so long as I don't allow those who need to not pigeon hole me in a specific way to do so,and don't allow myself to do so, then that is the primary concern. How others, particularly those I barely know, define me, is of little importance to me personally.

I have had some fun with this senario, I had a bloke ask me at a get together, what do you do, I clocked him asking the same question to everybody he spoke to, trying to neatly place people as better than him, the same as, or beneath him. The fun starts when you reveal little or nothing about yourself, and see how long it is before they get annoyed and walk away, the conversation went a little like this, what do you do, I play golf (I don't), so your a golfer then, are you pro, no I play golf, so what do you do then, I read books, do you work in a library, no I sometimes read books, s o what do you do for a living then, I play golf, at which point he sighed and walked away. It's good fun, sometimes they can get very abrupt.

I've had a couple of similar experiences, and it can be somewhat entertaining. Particularly since I work selling firearms, I'm a licensed attorney, and I'm a retired combat medic in the Army. Add my hobbies into the mix (martial arts, reading, scale models, competitive shooting) and it can be quite humorous.
 

ShortBridge

3rd Black Belt
Joined
Feb 9, 2015
Messages
923
Reaction score
652
Location
Seattle, WA, USA
People are free to refer to themselves however they want to, there are no rules. That said, I don't think that I've ever referred to myself as a martial artist and it's not something that I'm saving for some milestone.
 

JowGaWolf

Sr. Grandmaster
MT Mentor
Joined
Aug 3, 2015
Messages
10,614
Reaction score
3,566
People are free to refer to themselves however they want to, there are no rules. That said, I don't think that I've ever referred to myself as a martial artist and it's not something that I'm saving for some milestone.
This is how it is for most people outside the boundaries of the professional context. When and where the question is asked will play a big role of how we define Martial Artist. The general public probably has a lower requirement for who they classify as a martial artist.
 

skribs

Grandmaster
Joined
Nov 14, 2013
Messages
5,749
Reaction score
1,418
A person who does the basics without understanding will just go through the motions and probably can only teach 5 minutes worth of basics. A person who does the basics with understanding can probably teach an hour or more covering just the punch alone.

This kind of goes along with something I realized early on in my training. I was a very detail-oriented guy, and my dojang when I was a kid was very much the type to try and stamp out the bad habits early on, so you only practice good habits.

My Master at my current school is very much about learning by doing, and molding that technique over time. It was very frustrating when I started teaching, because I'd look around at the beginners I was teaching and wonder how they're supposed to learn anything when we don't have time to give them much critique and advice.

At the same time, I was watching Ginger Ninja Trickster's videos on Youtube, and he'll spend 10 minutes doing a tutorial on a front kick (and no second in those 10 minutes are wasted, he is very good at producing his guides). And I realized that if we were to go into detail, it could be that we only teach 4 techniques in a class and there's very little time to actually practice. So the line has to be drawn somewhere.
 

Latest Discussions

Top