Tradition in the Martial Arts

In martial art there are a number of principles that allow it to work. It is important to understand these principles; timing, distance, location, balance, leverage, weak and strong points ----- always using your strength against a weakness, avoiding the strength of your opponent ---- misdirection, hiding, etc. These are principles of martial art and must be understood whether it is today or in millenniums past. At one time very few persons were literate and so visual means were used to pass on needed information. The trades had apprentices, farmers taught their sons through example and participation. In martial art data were used to teach important principles of movement, position, and timing, etc. Embodied in each kata were certain important principles to be learned. As long as that "important principle" was being taught, the kata was fulfilling its roll, it had value and purpose. The problem has been our human tendency to focus on the visual, avoiding the more difficult mental and inner study. This has caused an emphasis on the form and a loss of the content. Kata are now done more as an exercise in memorization, a sort of dance, with little or no defense value. This attempt to make martial art a static form, to lock it into place is mistakenly viewed as doing "traditional martial art". However well meaning this may be, it is still a mistake. Even at the time of those kata's creation, martial art was evolving, constantly changing to fit the needs of the society at that time. That has always been the purpose of martial art, to give the 'artists' the tools to survive within their society! If it hadn't adapted, it would have failed ---- we wouldn't even know of it today. It is here for us to study because it worked, it was successful. True modern martial artists do not forget their "roots" respecting the valid principles taught then which are still true and effective today. They do also recognize that new threats have arisen and must be addressed. Using the old "tried and true" principles does give proper respect to our roots, but more important, it works and if that makes those who so adapt, "modern", it also makes them survivors. In fact the "adapters" are not just "modern" they are following what has always been "tradition", a tradition of change and adaptation. I find the whole argument on who is "best" without any merit, and useless words. If the traditional martial artists are learning the underlying principles of martial art they will also be adapting.

All of us alive today are the children of a warrior, someone who was willing to fight for his/her life, or his/her progeny would have perished. The warrior tradition is in us all, but not all of us have awakened to it. To those who have goes a great responsibility. We have the responsibility to use our skills appropriately, to never do actions destructive to the human community but to help others. Sometimes this will mean requiring others to be responsible in their actions. We do this by persuasion or any other means, even by putting a personal price on unacceptable actions, paid by the perpetuator at the time of occurrence.