Martial Arts of the past grew out of necessity and developed through
culture, and while Martial Artists through the ages have tried to
develop skills in all aspects of combat, what we refer to now as cross
training, we are the only culture in the history of Martial Arts to
draw solely from the past, study alien cultures entwined with their
Martial Arts teachings and not rely on practical, ‘battle’ experience
to create our path to martial skill.
We are a world of warriors forever
changed by technology, both in the way we wage war, and the way
in which disciplines have spread throughout the world. From Japan
to Brazil, from Thailand to the United States, we are the first
humans with the desire to learn the art of combat with such a remarkable
choice of styles and the concurrent cultures which adjoin them.
In this unique environment a culture
has developed borne out of the dislocation from real combat - the
There are two prominent areas
of sociology which prove invaluable when studying the development
of modern Martial Arts and their culture. The first tracks the trend
of belief selection. Attributed in most instances to religion, this
phenomena also relates to the origins of the Martial Arts.
Belief selection is the process
in which people will enter into a faith or adapt to a culture, and
once stabilized, will pick and chose which parts of it suit them
and their lifestyles. For example many Christians will practice
their religion without necessarily attending church every week,
something considered a fundamental in their religions credo.
It is not hard to see the foundations of Martial Arts were irrepressibly
linked to religion. From India to China, then to Japan, Buddhism
and martial discipline were intertwined with the practice of martial
However when these martial arts
have been brought to the west they have only retained a spiritual
mysticism which many Kung Fu practitioners lament as media creation.
We must stress that this is a creation of de-spirituality in modern
times, as the knights of Europe were fervently religious in the
practice of their fighting arts, and solely modern developments
like Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and Russian Sombo have no pure religious
connection – this, in a sense, is why they are so popular with us.
Along their journey to our side of the world Martial Arts dropped
their religious fusion and became about discipline, positivity,
physical fitness and at best, diluted spirituality.
In this reality we can easily see
why certain Martial Arts are booming, and others, in general trends,
are being left behind. We are no longer conscribed by religious
beliefs, so what makes those of us who live the Martial Arts culture
do so? Well there are innumerate reasons, of course, but one school
of thought is beginning to rise, and this quote from Jiu-Jitsu fighter
Gerald Strebendt illustrates it perfectly.
“I would always like to submit someone. When I wrap up
on them slowly and watch them fight for air it makes me feel like
I am some kind of predator. It is one of the few things in the world
that is still pure. I want to make them tap out so there is no doubt
I have them mastered. If we were in nature and we were fighting
over food or women I could decide their fate... This is the moment
that every submission fighter lives for.”
Darwinism now stands as the prevailing
common knowledge belief for Western human beings on our origin and
the nature of nature. We are a society swept up in complications
and minutia, consistently distracted from the essence of existence
– survival. We live in opulent surroundings, no longer required
to fight for food and family, we now have the room to consider,
to self analyze and to cogitate why combat is in our blood.
The second area of sociology that
helps us is connected to this pervasive Darwinism and it deals with
isolation and anomie in modern cultures, as the proving ground and
fixated role for the male hunter-gatherer disappears into the new
millennium. The time when we didn’t consider why we practiced Martial
Arts is the time when they were developed into the legacy we reap.
There are many now who feel that warrior spirit within them, the
desire to fight and to win, that primeval urge to compete that motivates
so much of what we do in sport and in business.
The purest connection the modern
man has to this simple, uncomplicated reality is the modern Martial
Arts. Without the religious motivation of the past, many of us look
at the practice of fighting in a disciplined and honourable arena
as harking back to a better time, when things were simple, pure
and clinical. This predatory instinct drives the Martial Arts into
evolution through the years and we now sit on a generation without
a conformed, comforting set of beliefs who are going back to their
animal roots for guidance.