Martial arts vary in times of war/chaos compared to times of relative peace. Despite what you hear and read in the media, most of us today live in relatively peaceful times where we can call the police if anybody threatens or attacks us. Obviously if you have a job such as policeman, prison officer or bouncer; you will see more violence then most others. Also if you go to rough pubs or join gangs who clash with other gangs, then you also will see more violence. But if you don’t have a job that requires you to sort out trouble; and if you don’t deliberately mix with violent people; then the chances are that you will not actually see much violence in your day to day life.
That means that we are free to put more into our martial arts and explore them in more depth. If you are likely to face danger everyday then you would probably just focus on a few techniques that you’d repeat over and over again, endlessly, as your life could depend on them. But in times of peace however we can increase our syllabus and include more self development aspects within our training and things like sport.
To quote Jamie Clubb:
“Those who enjoyed learning combat wished to expand on their training and the luxury of not having to fight for your life day in and day out helped the martial artist achieve their goal. This was a natural progression for anyone who had an artistic mind. Shakespeare originally wrote plays to earn a living, but as he became more successful he was able to indulge himelsf and write from a more intellectual point of view.
Likewise, the successful martial artist grew bored with practicing the same simple drill year after year – a drill designed with only the lowest intellect’s ability to master in mind”.
The idea of adapting a fighting system during times of relative peace is nothing new. Even the Knights of old had their jousting tournaments to keep them sharp when there were no wars to fight.
Martial arts have so much to offer us in terms of health, wellbeing, confidence, spiritual and self development, (many of these benefits occur almost as a by-product of training anyway) so what would be the point of limiting ourselves purely to the combat side during times of relative peace. That’s not to say that our martial arts should become ineffective or watered down, far from it. On some levels we actually have more time to experiment to find out find out even more effective ways of doing things. However, why not broaden their scope to deal with other “threats” that we may face in our modern lives (like stress, health, etc).
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Bonus: Historical look at Bassai Dai, one of Karate’s most pivotal katas