Category Archives: art

martial art or art form?

This old post seemed appropriate in light of the conversation my previous post is involved in.

I find Kyudo an interesting art and an interesting subject for discussion of the term “martial art”. While Kyudo has its roots in combat archery and does use a weapon, it is obviously a spiritual and meditative pursuit rather than a combative skill. While Kyudo is called a “martial art”, I doubt that any Kyudo practitioner has delusions of being “combat effective” or believe that they are training in an art that will provide them with “street survival” skills. However I do believe that there are practitioners of various stylistic, meditative and “traditional” arts that DO believe such things. These are the people who believe that working on their “Chi” rather than their punching skills or physical conditioning will help them survive a confrontation. They are the people who think that a fight will somehow adhere to the protocols they follow at the dojo. These are the people who equate “martial art” with “combatives”.  A Kyudo practitioner is not the same as a historic Japanese combat archer. A sport fencing master is not automatically someone who could survive a real sword fight and a master in a “martial art” who has never faced a resisting opponent should not be presumed to be more likely to prevail against someone who has.

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what is an expert?

Im in an interesting discussion over at:

http://www.martialtalk.com/forum/showthread.php/108916-Is-it-possible-to-quot-train-quot-for-something-that-you-never-actually-do/page7

The following is something I posted there:

“Expert” is a subjective term. Having been through ALL sorts of training from martial arts, military, LE, SWAT, Federal LE schools I can attest that there are experts and there are EXPERTS.

Seeing that more of my training now centers around the “tactical” and firearms. In this world you have experts like Todd Jarret:

Todd has no military or LE background and I doubt he has ever had to shoot anyone. That being said, LE and Mil actively seek his instruction/expertise in what he does.

On the other end of the spectrum are guys like Kyle Lamb:

Former Army Delta. “Blackhawk Down” veteran…Iraq war Vet..etc. Has shot people, has been shot at…numerous times.

While Jarret is probably faster and more “expert” than Lamb when it comes to driving a gun, Lambs instruction is coming from an ENTIRELY different source. Shooting is shooting. Jarret and Lamb are both drawing, aiming and shooting firearms…what makes one “different” from the other?

This isnt to imply that I think one is “better” than the other. LE/MIL seek them both but what they provide isnt identitical.

So what is an “expert”? I myself have been through all sorts of training, Ive won some awards and tactical/firearms competitions. Im former mil, SWAT officer, a veteran police officer..so I am an “expert” of sorts compared to others. But Im nowhere near the “expert” these guys are and likely never will be…

the mystical and the mundane

I’ve often wondered how people (especially martial artists) can consider this:

an Art with all the benefits we ascribe to martial arts (discipline, mental clarity, improved concentration, moving meditation…etc.).

While they dismiss this:

As simply “shooting”…a hobby enjoyed by “gun nuts”, right wing extremists, rednecks and “preppers”.

Not that Iaido is NOT an “Art” or that it doesn’t have those benefits mind you, but the physical mechanics of drawing a sword are not “mystical”. The discipline of a trained firearms user is little different IMO. I laugh at the idea that a sub 2 second failure drill is somehow “less” than a clean sword cut.

Don’t confuse people out shooting at tin cans with skilled shooters. There are plenty of people out swinging martial arts weapons in their back yards with no training (as we all know)…they do not seem to taint the entire pool of martial artists though.

Good Luck, Bad Luck. Who knows?

Talisman/Omamori/Good Luck Charm
Image by timtak via Flickr

The Chinese farmer

There is a Chinese story of an old farmer who had an old horse for tilling his fields. One day the horse escaped into the hills and, when all the farmer’s neighbours sympathised with the old man over his bad luck, the farmer replied, ‘Bad luck? Good luck? Who knows?’

A week later the horse returned with a herd of wild horses from the hills and this time the neighbours congratulated the farmer on his good luck. His reply was, ‘Good luck? Bad luck? Who knows?’

Then, when the farmer’s son was attempting to tame one of the wild horses, he fell off its back and broke his leg. Everyone thought this very bad luck. Not the farmer, whose only reaction was, ‘Bad luck? Good luck? Who knows?’

Some weeks later the army marched into the village and conscripted every able-bodied youth they found there. When they saw the farmer’s son with his broken leg they let him off. Now was that good luck? Bad luck? Who knows?

reference

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manly poetry

Rudyard Kipling, the famous novelist was a res...
Image via Wikipedia

For verse that doesn’t leave you feeling like a effeminate, eggheaded, effete, nobody did it better than Rudyard Kipling.

I went into a public-‘ouse to get a pint o’ beer,
The publican ‘e up an’ sez, “We serve no red-coats here.”
The girls be’ind the bar they laughed an’ giggled fit to die,
I outs into the street again an’ to myself sez I:

O it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ “Tommy, go away”;
But it’s “Thank you, Mister Atkins”, when the band begins to play,
The band begins to play, my boys, the band begins to play,
O it’s “Thank you, Mister Atkins”, when the band begins to play.

I went into a theatre as sober as could be,
They gave a drunk civilian room, but ‘adn’t none for me;
They sent me to the gallery or round the music-‘alls,
But when it comes to fightin’, Lord! they’ll shove me in the stalls!

For it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ “Tommy, wait outside”;
But it’s “Special train for Atkins” when the trooper’s on the tide,
The troopship’s on the tide, my boys, the troopship’s on the tide,
O it’s “Special train for Atkins” when the trooper’s on the tide.

Yes, makin’ mock o’ uniforms that guard you while you sleep
Is cheaper than them uniforms, an’ they’re starvation cheap;
An’ hustlin’ drunken soldiers when they’re goin’ large a bit
Is five times better business than paradin’ in full kit.

Then it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ “Tommy, ‘ow’s yer soul?”
But it’s “Thin red line of ‘eroes” when the drums begin to roll,
The drums begin to roll, my boys, the drums begin to roll,
O it’s “Thin red line of ‘eroes” when the drums begin to roll.

We aren’t no thin red ‘eroes, nor we aren’t no blackguards too,
But single men in barricks, most remarkable like you;
An’ if sometimes our conduck isn’t all your fancy paints,
Why, single men in barricks don’t grow into plaster saints;

While it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ “Tommy, fall be’ind”,
But it’s “Please to walk in front, sir”, when there’s trouble in the wind,
There’s trouble in the wind, my boys, there’s trouble in the wind,
O it’s “Please to walk in front, sir”, when there’s trouble in the wind.

You talk o’ better food for us, an’ schools, an’ fires, an’ all:
We’ll wait for extry rations if you treat us rational.
Don’t mess about the cook-room slops, but prove it to our face
The Widow’s Uniform is not the soldier-man’s disgrace.

For it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ “Chuck him out, the brute!”
But it’s “Saviour of ‘is country” when the guns begin to shoot;
An’ it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ anything you please;
An’ Tommy ain’t a bloomin’ fool — you bet that Tommy sees!

Amen.

Find more of Kipling’s work here.

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yeah Im a Tolkien nerd….

Hello. My names Tom and Im a Tolkien geek.

I have been a fan of Tolkien since I picked up a copy of the Hobbit at the local library when I was a grade schooler and have read the Trilogy every few years ever since. I even packed a copy to take with me on deployment. The scene above is one of my favorite parts. Theoden, an aging king is answering a call for aid from an ancestral ally. It is a battle he knows is hopeless. Drastically outnumbered, he goes anyway. This passage in the book has always spoken to me. It speaks of duty, honor, courage,  good vs evil and standing up for what is right against all odds.

The film of course took liberties with the original text and it wasn’t quite portrayed “the way I saw it in my imagination”, but I still get that hair prickling on the back of my neck feeling when I watch it.

Then suddenly Merry felt it at last, beyond doubt: a change. Wind was in his face! Light was glimmering. Far, far away, in the South the clouds could be dimly seen as remote grey shapes, rolling up, drifting: morning lay beyond them.

But at that same moment there was a flash, as if lightning had sprung from the earth beneath the City. For a searing second it stood dazzling far off in black and white, its topmost tower like a glittering needle; and then as the darkness closed again there came rolling over the fields a great boom.

At that sound the bent shape of the king sprang suddenly erect. Tall and proud he seemed again; and rising in his his stirrups he cried in a loud voice, more clear than any there had ever heard a mortal man achieve before:

Arise, arise, Riders of Théoden!
Fell deeds awake: fire and slaughter!
Spear shall be shaken, shield be splintered,
A sword-day, a red day, ere the sun rises!

Ride now, ride now! Ride to Gondor!

With that he seized a great horn from Guthláf his banner-bearer, and he blew such a blast upon it that it burst asunder. And straightaway all the horns in the host were lifted up in music, and the blowing of the horns of Rohan in that hour was like a storm upon the plain and a thunder in the mountains.

Ride now, ride now! Ride to Gondor!

Suddenly the king cried to Snowmane and the horse sprang away. Behind him his banner blew in the wind, white horse upon a field of green, but he outpaced it. After him thundered the knights of his house, but he was ever before them. Éomer rode there, the white horsetail on his helm floating in this speed, and the front of the first éored roared like a breaker foaming to the shore, but Théoden could not be overtaken. Fey he seemed, or the battle-fury of his fathers ran like new fire in his veins, and he was borne up on Snowmane like a god of old, even as Oromë the Great in the battle of the Valar when the world was young. His golden shield was uncovered, and lo! it shone like an image of the Sun, and the grass flamed into green about the white feet of his steed. For morning came, morning and a wind from the sea; and darkness was removed, and the host of Mordor wailed, and terror took them, and they fled, and died, and the hoofs of wrath rode over them. And then all the host of Rohan burst into song, and they sang as they slew, for the joy of battle was on them, and the sound of their singing that was fair and terrible came even to the City.

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