In a previous post I used Kyudo as an example of a martial art that has become more “art” than “martial” over time. Its practitioners admit that hitting the target is not even “important”, the whole “martial” point behind a bow. The arts stated aims are to improve mental acuity, concentration and the mind/body connection. Excellent goals and nothing to scoff at. I just think it stands as a great example of the wide range of what “martial art” can mean. In my opinion Kyudo looks to be an interesting art with potential cross-over application of is mental disciplines into any aspect of combat or life in general.
Featured above is an example of Capoeira . A Brazilian/African art that has gained some rapid popularity in North America recently. I think Capoeria is another fascinating “martial art” to look at when discussing the meaning of the term. Capoeira is a dynamic, athletic and highly stylistic art who’s own practitioners apparently debate its origins and purposes. Is it a dance? a game? a martial art? While its physical benefits of co-ordination, flexibility, agility and other traits are fairly obvious, its practical application as a “combative art” leaves some questions. The practicality of highly acrobatic movements under the stress of confrontation leaves me doubting its validity as a “combative system”, not to mention the issues of environment, clothing worn and available space.
Its always been my opinion that the topic of a martial arts “combative application” involves a lot of ego, self-worth and self-esteem issues in those crusading to defend their arts “fighting honor”. Study any art you desire, they all can have benefits that can be an advantage in a confrontation. The old saying “Its not the dog in the fight, its the fight in the dog” has a bit of weight in this issue. Skill without the mindset is a losing proposition.
It seems that taking a martial art simply because you enjoy it and could care less about its combative application is somehow taboo. There is absolutely nothing wrong with participating in something you enjoy and are good at. Something that gives you a sense of accomplishment even if it may not be the most practical for self-defense.
I believe that it is the “ego stroke” of thinking that you can dominate another with your martial skills that drives a lot of the fighting over what is “combat effective”. That “stroke” can be public (as in when you tell others that you train) or private (as when you don’t tell others but enjoy the private knowledge that you are a trained “killing machine”). Perhaps this is a natural human phenomena, if it is I believe that its important to recognize it. Live intentionally, not in denial.
In conclusion I would state that studying any art that punches, kicks, grapples and trains “fighting” skills has potential to be effective. However, if surviving a street attack is your stated aim, the only way to reach that goal is to train in a manner that approximates a real confrontation. That means that working against resisting opponents, regardless of the style, is whats important.