Not long ago I was involved in a conversation on martial arts and martial culture, it was a round table of sorts. The conversation was sparked by of a video that was going around showing two young children in a MMA style fight in Britain. Most people were outraged at the spectacle of eight and ten-year old children fighting in such a manner. However, one participant in the conversation noted that it is important to teach children to protect and defend themselves and we all agreed. Of course we were all martial artistes of some variety and level.
During the conversation I noted that martial culture does not promote violence, but in fact promotes peace. This was met by a mixed bag of responses, splitting almost evenly between those that agreed with my stance and those that did not. The strongest opposition came from one participant who stated that martial arts are entirely about violence and death. That the purpose of the martial arts is based on combat, war and must essentially be rooted in violence. Thus, martial arts cultivate violence.
Violence of course it what is produced, at the end of the day in the world of martial arts, but it is not violence that martial arts cultivate. To cultivate something is to perpetuate it’s growth, to foster it’s expansion. Growing violence is not the Way of martial arts. It is a way of cultivating beauty and unfolding of the human spirit. Martial arts cultivate a discipline within those of us that practice any form of the martial arts that expands beyond the ending result of the damage our hands and feet may bring.
The martial Way teaches us to understand the beauty of our bodies, minds and to admire the beauty around us. The Way is a beauteous path to understanding the world around us and how each plant, animal or geological formation is a part of us and that we are only a tiny part of the whole. Sifu Roberto Sharpe of New York said that his teacher told him that by learning the martial arts he has become useful to society.
However, in the end, should the necessity to utilize our skill in the form of combat, the Way teaches us that it is the peaceful mind that will prevail. It is the calm and stilled mind that will bring about a successful ending to a combative experience. The Way of martial arts is to to cultivate the peaceful mind. A mind full of peace.