Martial arts

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Martial arts

Unread postby laojim » Mon Oct 11, 2010 5:15 am

I have a question, the answer to which someone here might know.

In it's most basic form the question is, what is the deal with all this "martial arts" stuff.

To elucidate: I have seen a few films featuring improbably complex and patently impossible stunts carefully choreographed in the film where the hero fights off countless thugs or soldiers. This has, obviously, become an entire genre of Oriental film, combined with every imaginable love story, cowboy story, gangster story and so on.

I know that there are a great many people who practice one form or another of tai chi for exercise as a sort of yoga. I also know there are a lot of people who take classes and earn belts of various colors and that there is even an Olympic sport. It is always claimed to be derived from some ancient wisdom or monastery like the Shao Lin (little grove) and that it is tied up in some ways with Buddhism or other religion.

One of the things I cannot make out is what is martial about it. The term is usually taken to mean military but this stuff seems to be regarded more as meditative practice than as military methodology. Having seen any number of Chinese films I have never seen any battle scene where the troops generally approached their foes with their "fists of fury." They seem to have preferred a spear. This holds true for the entire history of China, if the films are to be believed. I even sat through most of the recent grim spectacular about NanKing and just saw guys with guns and grenades without a martial arts master anywhere to be seen.

I think it was Alan Watts who wrote that the Chinese love the rugged individualist taking on the world. This appears to be the situation with the martial artists. They are usually portrayed as lone individuals using their skills against bands of brigands or bands of soldiers.

The other odd thing about all this is that most commonly the martial artist must pose momentarily before following through a movement that ends in another pose. The villain with his gun never seems to take that opportunity to shoot the guy, but will wait patiently before shooting while the hero executes some backward somersaults. What little fighting I have ever seen is always frantic and chaotic with no good time to pose.

From the Opera, however, I get the impression that this has more to do with dance than with fighting. Poses are very important in the Chinese opera and the performers will often snap to gazing at the audience at the end of the line of music. I actually get the general impressing that the Chinese do not make much distinction between the dance, tumbling, and the martial arts, all of which can be presented on the stage.
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Re: Martial arts

Unread postby Zhuanyong » Mon Oct 11, 2010 4:23 pm

Some forms of Martial Arts apparently are regarded more highly for exerise purpose or 'self-defense'. I remember the days of Japanese & Chinese Goju for myself and being taught - 'Never use this art unless you have to, and only to use it for the purpose of self-defense'

I don't actually remember using anything I learned in a real fight however; I would take the route spoken of by Bruce Lee in regards to the actual application. Real fights aren't as choregraphed as what we see. I remember someone trying to do some form of martial arts against me - don't remember. It was all ended with an adaptable judo slam (and I've never taken Judo classes)
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Re: Martial arts

Unread postby TheWrathPrince » Mon Jan 07, 2013 5:20 am

I think the best martial arts for exercise is Wu Shu.


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Re: Martial arts

Unread postby Elitemsh » Mon Jan 07, 2013 1:48 pm

laojim wrote:One of the things I cannot make out is what is martial about it. The term is usually taken to mean military but this stuff seems to be regarded more as meditative practice than as military methodology. Having seen any number of Chinese films I have never seen any battle scene where the troops generally approached their foes with their "fists of fury." They seem to have preferred a spear. This holds true for the entire history of China, if the films are to be believed. I even sat through most of the recent grim spectacular about NanKing and just saw guys with guns and grenades without a martial arts master anywhere to be seen.


Now it is more of a meditative practice perhaps but it wasn’t always so. Consider a famous Chinese martial art: Xing yi quan. This martial art was based upon military spear techniques which were then adapted to fighting unarmed. The first man who was recorded to have taught this martial art was regarded as a master spear fighter. When wars started to end during his lifetime, carrying a weapon was impractical but there was still a need to be able to defend oneself. He then used his knowledge and experience of spear fighting to develop this unarmed martial art so as to be able to fight in a time of peace.

I guess it’s just that most people will not have to actually fight during their lifetimes now and thus the meditative benefits are emphasised more. This will have a greater impact upon one’s life nowadays.

Anyhow the idea is that some/ many unarmed fighting techniques were only invented because the originators were approaching the kind of time when it wasn’t feasible or realistic to carry a weapon. Naturally then if a soldier can choose between fighting with a weapon or unarmed, he will choose the weapon. It is far more efficient to fight with a weapon because you obviously do much more damage while expending less energy.
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Re: Martial arts

Unread postby Tian Shan » Fri Apr 05, 2013 5:31 am

Martial arts is an art, a discipline.

Yes, martial arts can be used to fight against other people, but originally it was a form for fighting against oneself. As you said Chinese martial arts is based in buddhist/taoist ways. Martial arts was not only physical exercise, nor choreographic stunts, its basis was in the accompanied teachings of moral discipline. It was a discipline to fight against our mind, our egos of laziness pride, lust, anger etc...
People always want easy way so few people want to fight against these things now, and rather fight other people.

Fortunately even though most of the deep teachings are not accompanied, martial arts still tells you to avoid fights at all cost.

Personally I think everyone should learn martial arts at least for self-defense and health. But without moral/ethical/spiritual (whatever you want to call it) refinement this would be dangerous and may encourage more conflict.

Martial arts also teach how to use weapons, but if you don't know how to use it to disable your foe, but do not want to kill him, it is more dangerous to have the weapon because he may use it against you (like guns, don't point a gun unless you are willing to shoot or it maybe used against you.)
And in the old days people were stronger so you hear of the more extreme deeds of old stories (of course things are also made up)
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Re: Martial arts

Unread postby jangoolee » Fri Mar 27, 2015 12:15 pm

Martial arts are codified systems and traditions of combat practices, which are practiced for a variety of reasons: self-defense, competition, physical health and ...
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