View Full Version : the man or the martial art?

Jody Holeton
2nd June 2000, 00:01
If you have a good fighter/martial artist/warrior are they good because of their martial art or because of their individual traits that allow them to excell (athletic ability, quick reflexes, amorality etc. etc.)?

I've got my thoughts on this what are yours?---Jody Holeton

Mike Collins
2nd June 2000, 00:51

8th June 2000, 11:20
I will just say I echo Popie's reply concerning your question, Toby. It is indeed subjective. A good killer for hire may want to be very good at some martial art.

My comment was only going to be in response to Popie's statement which said that Aikido is not "a competitive sport martial art." I hate to bring up such an overused argument, but shodokan (Tomiki style) aikido does have a shiai element to it, but if you are just saying as taught by Ueshiba, then it is valid. Another term which is way over used is "sport martial art." If the idea is to come away not carrying your head in your hands, then it really isn't martial, even to Ueshiba. The tournmaent play of aikido, as well as others, should be called "combative sport." Even those who do not enter shiai but are in the everyday class during randori, or even attack drills, have a sporting element, and that is increased by inclusion of the kyu/dan system of grading.
Just my perspective.

Mark F. Feigenbaum

Jody Holeton
8th June 2000, 21:57
Dear all,

One of the basic questions I've asked myself over the years about martial artists/warriors/soldiers, is it the person or is it their training that makes them effective. From studying people like Yagyu Jubei, Carlos Halfcock, Mahammid Ali, one has to ask themself whether those people would have been just as great, or as good of fighters without their respective arts?
Would Bruce Lee be just as good without kung-fu? How about Miyamoto Musashi? How far did their own personalities and wills take them?

Just my thoughts---Jody

Who's Toby? Is that Mark Fitzgerald for Mark F?

10th June 2000, 11:07
<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>Who's Toby? Is that Mark Fitzgerald for Mark F?<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Jody, here is my public apology. I have responded to you twice now, in different forums, wiht someone else's name. I apologize. Satisfied?

Mark F. Feigenbaum

10th June 2000, 15:32
Nature v Nurture. An age old question.

I rely on anectdotal evidence.

Most of the stories I have read about masters (whether they practice martial arts, religion, zen, yoga, tea ceremony or flower arranging etc) have all talked about the years of rigourous and disciplined training they undertook. None talk about natural ability.

Furthermore, many of those same people also talk about how they overcame sickness and disease at an early age to achieve what they did.

As the saying goes it takes many years to become an overnight success

For this reason, I tend NOT to believe in "natural ability" but rather unfulfilled potential. Within all of us is the latent ability to do anything others have done before and more, at least in terms of skill and determination.

Why do some fulfill their potential and other don't - life experience

Most people don't reach their potential because their life experiences (especially childhood experiences) have lead them to believe that

- it is an impossible challenge and is simply too hard

- they don't have a potential to fulfil

- they like being ordinary

- that you have to be "oriental" i.e. they believe in the movie fanatsy

- that you have to be big and strong

- that such abilities are against the laws of the church or "God"

Then there are all the fears you might have - death, pain, confrontation, failure, success etc. The list goes on.

For me, whether you take up the challenge and reach your natural potential depends on you and you alone, but it is there for the taking.

David Potter

10th June 2000, 16:39
That is an excellent observation. Myself, I have noticed that many people who seem blessed with a great deal of "natural ability" never seem to persevere in MA training. Perhaps they do not find the physical aspects challenging enough, and have not yet reached a point where the internal elements seem pertinent to their life and practice. If anyone else has noticed this, what do you think might be the reason for otherwise gifted students to drop out?

Krzysztof M. Mathews
" For I am the Cat who walks by himself, and all places are alike to me"
-Rudyard Kipling

11th June 2000, 01:44
<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Jody Holeton:
If you have a good fighter/martial artist/warrior are they good because of their martial art or because of their individual traits that allow them to excell (athletic ability, quick reflexes, amorality etc. etc.)?

I've got my thoughts on this what are yours?---Jody Holeton<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Basicaly yes! Something like learning a language some people just seem to have that basic instinct to progress quickley. However they sometimes have a hard time re-ducating their minds and bodies to react passively in an aggresive situation.

However if one gets the opportunity to practice and study day in day out with a good teacher, some of it eventually rubs off. But you do bring up and important point. A respected and very strong teacher (national champion) presented me with a fan some years ago. The kanji written on it translate as "love your way". I thing we should all do these arts because we love them, not because we are particularly good at them. I you don't love your way it's time to move on and find something else.

Budo unfortunately does have this macho image sometimes and seems to inexorabley linked with military self defence in your part of the world (or should I say attack.)

If feel that if we could all understand this misconception the budo wold would perhaps improve and start to advance

So saying, I would like to say that the Japanese Prime ministers statement last month refering to Japan as "Kokutai", (a divine nation centered around the emperor.) does not reflect the feeling of the general public. I actually noticed a lot of people sitting down when they played the national anthem at an event last week.

Hyakutak http://www2.saganet.ne.jp/sword

Joseph Svinth
11th June 2000, 03:19
Now, while most of the people I've known in the martial arts took years to achieve grade, most of these slow starters were never truly athletic. The actual athletes were playing baseball or football or basketball, and the MA types were, in general, collected from the kids left over after sides were picked. (The natural athletes weren't worried about getting beat up after school, even as adults, but these kids were, even as adults.)

Meanwhile, the various Olympic-level judoka and professional boxers I've known generally were football players and such in high school, and after taking up judo or whatever they started winning black belt or comparable competitions within a year of beginning training. As one kendoka I knew who was also a starting running back said, beating the instructors was pretty easy within a few months of beginning training, but (laughing), he said that the instructors kept insisting that rather casually beating the instructors wasn't the point of kendo.

As for why people don't stay in martial arts, let's see. Maybe it has to do with the 40-year old 7-dan who is head of the association not being able to beat a brown belt in competition? Maybe it has to do with the national leader listing oral sex as a promotion requirement for female students? Maybe it has to do with the president of the IOC organization physically assaulting people, knowing that his diplomatic immunity means he can't be arrested? Maybe it has to do with national leaders getting caught taking bribes, and then saying, "Hey, it wasn't as much as they offered the basketball people." Maybe it has to do with having personal pride, and not liking to suck up to fat old men with enormous egos and little ability? (Several national leaders have taken offense when I asked them precisely which war or Olympics they got that medal in, as they weren't old enough for the war and their name never made the Olympics record book.)And maybe it has to do with the colossal egos that tend to appear in the martial arts. (In making the film documentary, the cameraman afterwards made jokes about several of the people we filmed, as it seems they had bigger egos than either Martin Scorsese or Oliver Stone, neither of whom is known in the film industry as Mr. Humble.)

Anyway, I haven't much use for the national and international organizations, can you tell? And maybe I'm not alone.


Jody Holeton
11th June 2000, 16:45
First off I'd like to say "doumo sumimasen" to MarkF. I thought he was one of my web stalkers harassing me.

Second I think David has got a good point about potential BUT I think personal ability is caught up in there. We language teachers have a theory called "the little black box" that allows people to learn a language and multiple languages. Could be the same thing in martial arts, sports or in plain killing people. Some people have it, some dont...

Third Mr. Svinth has got a good point and I'd like to start a whole new thread in teh kokoro section if we could.

Lastly I think martial arts adds to a person but some people would be REALLY tough mithout any training at all. Also I think some MA condition people NOT to fulfill their potential. Just my thoughts--Jody

Karl Kuhn
12th June 2000, 04:57
Mark F wrote:

>I hate to bring up such an overused >argument, but shodokan (Tomiki style) >aikido does have a shiai element to it,

Thanks for the notice. As I am sure you are aware, the Shodokan/Tomiki folk are continually faced with a current description of Aikido that not only excludes honest competetive rounds as a learning tool, but the idea that Aikido is the antithesis of a testable direct engagement.

Popie wrote:

>No public tournaments on the whole.

There are regular tournaments in Japan as part of the higher education system and events for non students. Britain has regular events, like every 6 weeks or something. In the US, we have not yet successfully formed the regional events in the way I hope to see, but I did post somethin in the seminars section about the 2000 Friendship games in VA in early Aug, should be a real good time.


26th June 2000, 06:54
Hi All!

I think the reasons for someone being a "good fighter" are many. First of all, if a person goes into their respective art with a completely open mind and heart and is willing to absord every teaching, i think that contributes. I also think its in the mentality. You have to give yourself to the fight.no running (unless you get the chance before hand) and no backing down. you have to never step back and always remain calm. In the tao te ching it states that the smoothest and calmest thing runs roughshod over the most rigid and spaceless thing.

29th January 2002, 03:43
When I first openned this thread, I thought I was going to see a lot of the "My style is better than your style" type arguments, and then the "It's the person, not the art" counter.
I am pleased that this hasn't been the case. This led me to realize there are 2 ways to look at the question.

One way is the "nature vs nurture" dichotomy, and the other is the "some people/arts are better than other people/arts." debate.

I've seen the "nature vs nurture" theme in many psychology and sociology texts. The idea being that human development is a combination of 'what you start with' - i.e. genetics, natural ability, and such - and 'what you are given' - the teaching from others, and other outside influences. The question usually is: "which side has more of an effect for different types of development.
For martial arts, in my opinion, "nurturing" predominates. "Nature" may have given someone strong bones and muscles, an agressive personality and the knack for being able to win fights against trained martial artists because of strength or speed. However, just winning fights isn't the ultimate goal of most martial arts. Training is what strengthens the heart and mind as well as the body, so that it is easier to end fights quickly, even before they start.
I agree with Joe, in that martial arts are really meant for those of us that don't have that "nature"-given talent for athletics. There's no reason why an athletic person can't learn martial arts to improve what they already have, but I believe it is the meeker of us (whether physically or mentally, i.e. fighting spirit) that need the advantage of learned skills to put us 'on a level playing field' with the bigger and stronger people. The great thing is that not only are 'the meek' improved and able to defend themselves against 'the strong' but if given enough training, a martial artist becomes a better fighter than a bigger, stronger, untrained person.
One may argue that if 2 people have equal amounts of training and experience, then the bigger and faster one will be better due to natural ability. This may depend on which martial art is being studied (some styles rely on strength/speed while others use more cunning and the application of proper technique), but I think equal experience makes the 2 fighters equal regardless of natural physical attributes.

Now, on to the "is it the art one studies, or the person that does the studying" more important?
I think this is a much harder question. It seems very similar to the first, but in the previous analysis, I was assuming that the 2 hypothetical people being compared practiced the same or similar arts.
This argument comes up so often, especially as an ego-laden "my dick is bigger than yours" contest (sorry, ladies. It's just a metaphor!)
It usually starts when one person says:
"I study the 'such-and-such' style, and I like it very much. I think it is the best style in the world!" then someone else says, "No, my style is better, because of 'this-and-that'" and of course, you can't argue with someone's personal preference, so it often degrades to something like:
"My sensei can beat up your sensei!" and the discussion gets nowhere.
Eventually, someone trying to settle it will say, "It doesn't matter what style you study. It all depends on the person, and their level of commitment, natural ability, . . . " etc.
In my opinion (and a humble and possibly misguided one it is), It *does* matter what style it is. This can get into comparing apples to oranges, but an example is: A person studies boxing for a year and gets into a fight with someone that has studied jujutsu for a year. Each one is of similar natural ability, but obviously, the boxer can punch well and defend against punches well, but the jujutsu guy also knows how to deal with punches and probably knows enough to be able to break the boxer's arms and strangle him. There is the chance that the boxer can get lucky and land a knockout punch, but we aren't talking about luck here.
The only way to prove that the person is more important than the art is to have 2 people from different styles fight. If the styles are so dissimilar and one is better than the other, than it comes down to (a little) natural ability, and experience. A master of aikido can easily dispatch a taekwondo greenbelt. In this case, the specific martial art doesn't matter. The master obviously has been aroung long enough to deal with many different attacks, and the greenbelt even if big, strong, and fast just doesn't have enough skill to win the fight.

This will probably be the only time I go into an argument like this one. I have stated my opinions. I find it useless trying to debate this issue with people as there are way too many factors in a real fight to know before hand what the outcome will be regardless of who the people are or what martial arts (if any) they have knowledge in.

Naturally, I will claim that the style I study is the best in the world, but only because it is best for me, and I think most other styles are lacking in some areas. Sure it is possible for someone from a different style with less experience to beat me in a fight. Life is too chaotic to dispute that fact. In a sense, it doesn't matter who the person is or what the style is. "The proof is in the pudding," as some people say, but every conflict has a different recipe, different ingredients, and different cooks making the pudding, so how valid is the "proof?"