MARTIAL ARTS VS. FIGHTING ARTS
Black Belt|February/March 2020
JUDO ISN’T REALLY GOOD FOR SELF-DEFENSE. TRADITIONAL KARATE COMPETITIONS THAT DON’T HAVE ANY CONTACT AREN’T VERY EXCITING. TAI CHI DOESN’T DO ANYTHING FOR AEROBIC FITNESS. TAEKWONDO IS JUST A SPORT. COMMENTS LIKE THESE ARE COMMON IN MARTIAL ARTS CIRCLES. OFTEN, THEY COME FROM THOSE WHO IMAGINE THEMSELVES MUCH MORE EXPERIENCED AND COMPETENT THAN PERHAPS THEY ARE. WHEN WE HEAR SUCH STATEMENTS, WE WOULD DO WELL TO CONSIDER WHAT IS REALLY BEING SAID. MORE IMPORTANT, WHEN EVALUATING ANY ASPECT OF A FIGHTING ART, WE NEED TO BE VERY CLEAR ABOUT UNDERSTANDING WHAT THAT ART IS FOR.
DAVE LOWRY

Most serious practitioners understand the distinction between a martial art and a fighting art. Martial arts are those disciplines that were practiced by a warrior class or that have evolved from those disciplines. Fighting arts are those that were developed for reasons other than use on the battlefield: self-defense, sport and so on. So judo is a martial art, descended from the grappling techniques used by the samurai. Kung fu is a fighting art, created for self-defense or for combat against bandits.

Furthermore, it’s important to understand exactly what an art was designed for. No combat art, martial or otherwise, is without boundaries. All have more or less specific aims. Sometimes these might be multifaceted, yet inevitably they have limits. They must be judged by these aims and not by the wants or needs of those who might wish to pursue them.

Classical Japanese martial arts — for example, bujutsu — do not have methods or strategies that directly deal with the threat posed by firearms. Guns, except those used in massed formations, played but a minor role during Japan’s feudal period. So it would be unrealistic to propose spending years in a dojo teaching 17 th -century methods of fighting with a sword in order to learn how to defend oneself in an encounter with firearms.

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