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Tai Chi and Martial Art  
martial arts and the application of combat tai chi

Doctrine which exists in Martial arts


There is at first sight a strange doctrine which exist in Martial Arts. This is because the doctrine is so strange as to be unbelievable, yet every true Martial Artist would agree with it. That strange doctrine is the fact that the Martial Artist is a person who searches and seeks peace and inner serenity while at the same time engaged in the pursuit of excellence in a fighting art. How can this be?

How can these two seeming irreconcilable forces be harmonised and what sense is to be gained of the martial artist stating openly that they strive after peace and tranquillity. The origins of martial arts, whether they be the "internal" systems of Chinese forms, or the "external" systems of the Okinawan Te systems elucidate this doctrine of peace and serenity balanced with the shear physical force and focus of devastating fighting techniques.

But while this doctrine is strange it does not make it unrealistic. Many martial artists practice some form of meditation whether it be Zazen (seated meditation), Mokuso (focused meditation), Chi Gung (internal controlled breathing). Also practised are the gentler arts of the Tea Ceremony, Bonsai, Calligraphy, Painting, Music etc. All of these arts emphasise inner peace and tranquillity.

How many times have you heard heated discussions about the merits of various styles and who can beat who, and which style is the more powerful? It seems that all of these questions have missed the point about martial arts and their purpose. Long serving teachers know that perfection of a technique must invariably bring with it another step on the road toward perfection of the self. There is a depth of spirituality within the martial arts which, as yet, has not been explored fully in popularity.

If this strange doctrine is to be resolved then the spiritual dimension of martial arts needs to be explored more completely and in turn passed onto those we instruct. This is part and parcel of the responsibility and duty of a Senior Dan grade and instructor. It is not simply about teaching the effectiveness of a technique, or about providing students with confidence to walk those now dangerous streets. It is much more.

It is also, surely, to provide them with an opportunity to develop and discipline their own characters so that they become not simply strong and effective exponents of a technique, but mature and responsible citizens.

There is a fine balance between possession of arms, preparing and use of the devastating techniques such as those found within martial arts. Yet there ust also be somethin us which fear to use our martial arts skills even when some situations dictate that their use is legitimate. There is another dimension within martial arts that comes to the force when we are faced with a situation of conflict. It takes more for us to run away, to say no, to not get involved in the aggression that surrounds us than it does for us to actually use our martial arts skills. It is always easier to accede to the criteria of others than to the serenity that resides within us all.

There is an unspoken acknowledgement that states it is precisely because we could cause so much damage that this prevents us from doing so. The possession of something controlled and effective as the martial discipline we pursue does not of itself entail the use of it. Nor does the fact that we possess such knowledge and means of focusing our power and energy of itself imply that it should be used even when situations dictate that it could be used without impunity or troubling of conscience.

The pursuit of peace and serenity within each one of us as we study and train in martial arts is not something that is easy to come by. It requires a discipline and a training even more profound than the developing of the physical skills of martial arts. Thus it is right that we aspire to a Heian-Do (a way of peace). This must allow the complete, full and mature development not only of our physical martial art skills, but also the skills required to be a responsible and mature human person who deals with their feelings appropriately and truthfully.

So it is that some pursue the opposite of the explosive physicality of martial arts. The practice of Ikebana (flower arranging) and Bonsai (miniature trees) all require great concentration and calmness. Both have their own Kata (form) and both have their own demands in terms of discipline and etiquette. These two dimensions are crucial to understanding the inferiority of martial arts. Without discipline and etiquette then the martial arts become reducible to the extremities of negative aggression. But making etiquette and discipline a vital part of the study of martial arts lifts them above their reduction and gives them sincerity and truthfulness.

It may be argued convincingly that a mugger, robber or thug will not have the decency to make a Rei (bow) and assume a Kumite Kamae (on guard) fighting stance. However, because these people do not do this does not mean to say that we must throw all our discipline and etiquette out of the window. We must even show respect to the mugger - if we do not then we move on the same level as they do and no martial artist, regardless of their discipline that they pursue, would say that they would like to be compared to a mugger or a robber.

So then the development of peace and serenity must be a central contributory factor in the development of martial art, and our personal character. The practice of meditation, prayer, or control and appropriate channelling of emotion can be used to highlight this all-important dimension to martial arts and more research needs to be undertaken to show its importance. The gaining of expertise or Dan grades is of no importance and ultimately meaningless, if there is no hand in hand gaining of inner peace and serenity.

All of us search for some experience of "something" in our life, in our world. That indefinable, ineffable "something" beyond ourselves that makes sense of our existence and brings order to the chaos of our lives. It is this experience of this "something" that can redefine the martial arts not simply as fighting systems, but as a legitimate philosophical outlook on the whole mystery of life. Thus, what was originally a doctrine of seeming unresolved tensions can become a method and tool to greater and deeper human development.

Raymond Wood 7th. Dan Kyoshi Kyushindo

text from Ray Wood (possibly attributed to an an original unknown author)

All of us search for some experience of "something" in our life, in our world. That indefinable, ineffable "something" beyond ourselves that makes sense of our existence and brings order to the chaos of our lives. It is this experience of this "something" that can redefine the martial arts not simply as fighting systems, but as a legitimate philosophical outlook on the whole mystery of life.
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