When it comes to traditional martial arts, we often see a lot of posing, costumes, and dramatics. If you go to a modern tournament that’s about all you see.
Is it any wonder that the rumor regarding traditional styles is that they are simply too rigid, too caught up in themselves to be efficient in the modern world?
The last question in our series makes no bones about it – the asker wants to know if the nature of traditional arts (and the abundance of style-blindness) makes traditionalism ineffective, not worth the time and effort of individuals who need something that can be relied upon in a pinch.
Check out my perspective on the matter. Once again, please forgive my brevity on certain matters as this is a big topic and I didn’t want people nodding off in front of their monitors.
In the video I mention trying to dig back to classical styles rather than traditional. This is a symantic matter that I use to distinguish between arts that seem to have evolved out of effectiveness and are more inclined toward rank, showmanship, etc, vs the original arts which were designed for straight life protection. There are plenty of folks who don’t use the same symantics as I do, so please don’t consider it any sort of textbook definition.
I use karate as my primary example simply because that is my area of study, along with certain Japanese Budo. However I do maintain that the core principles and methods as passed down by classical/traditional styles are, fundamentally, as valuable now as they ever were.
Breaking through the rigidity of practice is a matter of maintaining creativity and patience. However, as I have seen in practitioners far more advanced than myself, it is well worth it even in modern society.
Building an individual completely (character, technique, spirit, fitness, wellness, combat readiness, etc etc) is a monumental task. Classical styles attempt to accomplish just that, which is important to remember when comparing an old method with a modern fight sport (not better or worse, just different goals). Rigidity is a gateway of the self, and true classical sensei can guide you passed that to levels you didn’t suspect you were capable of.
This is a big one. It was extremely difficult to frame a complete answer to all the parts of this question.
To understand what I mean, play the video below and listen closely at the full question as I read it. You’ll no doubt recognize it’s broad implications. Nevertheless, I feel like I touched upon the most important factors and provided some concrete examples as to why I have drawn certain conclusions.
Hope you enjoy.
Keep in mind that the examples I cite in the video only hint at the broader spectrum of changes that have occurred. Each style and system has it’s own tale to tell.
Check out question 5 – Are Traditional Martial Arts Too Rigid?
The globalization of martial arts is still a young phenomenon. Think back only a few generations and you’ll notice that each particular art was mostly relegated to it’s birth country, with just a few foreign practitioners modestly spreading it back in their home countries.
Nowadays, any town that doesn’t offer at least three different kinds of arts is considered modest in size.
With this accelerated spread we’ve encountered a handful of problems that our predecessors wouldn’t have had to consider; one of which is the inclusion of ‘home language’. Some martial arts schools choose to do away with it entirely, while others prefer to preserve it.
In today’s video, I weigh the value of preserving your art’s origin language and when it might not be appropriate to do so:
Whether or not you choose to include an origin language in your studies, I hope you do it purposefully (knowing what you are gaining and losing).
Check out question 4 – What Martial Art Methods and Values Have Been Lost in Modern Times?