Garry commented this in my post on The Art in Martial Arts:
While I agree that its impressive when you meet or train with a naturally talented athlete and almost impossible to compete with them on a level playing field, personally, I’m no longer as sure about the “art” element in martial arts. I think that the influence of scientific method on the study and practice of martial arts has become the standard starting point for students on their journey of discovery and I’m not sure whether this will prove to be positive or negative in their evolution. Many principles of movement are common across styles even if their emphasis and application varies. The moral and ethical principles prevalent in a society will always inform the way people learn and practice and create. Today, knowledge is everywhere on the Internet and people don’t have to undertake epic journeys to find competent martial practitioners. As to how many of these powerful warriors are ” artists ” I am not sure. Perhaps Oscar Wilde’s comments best elucidate my point, ” All art is completely useless “. By their very nature, martial arts are practical methods for self defense and therefore, are not art in the Wildean sense. I think martial methods or practices is a better generic term. But then again, what do I know, relatively speaking I’m fairly useless myself.
I think it depends on your definition of art. I touched upon it in the first part of my post already; for me it’s about skill and talent coming together. It’s what differentiates the commoners like us from the artists I listed. It’s one of the ways to define “art” and has been valid throughout the ages. A quote form that page:
Traditionally skill of execution was viewed as a quality inseparable from art and thus necessary for its success; for Leonardo da Vinci, art, neither more nor less than his other endeavors, was a manifestation of skill.
That’s what I’m talking about: Skill of execution is just as important as the end result. My whole point was that most of us don’t get to that stage, where we can perform our martial art at such a level that it becomes art. Much in the same way as Baryshnikov or Nureyev could take pretty much any ballet performance to a higher level.
Bringing it back to the topic: I’m just as impressed by Kaman’s sense of timing in the ring as Risuke Otake’s mastery of the blade. What they do isn’t as important as how they do it. To get to that level of skill, you need not only talent but also enormous amounts of training. [Read more…]