What Makes a ‘True Martial Art?’
Oddly, back when I was training in the Kang Duk Won, we bypassed the first few elements of a True Martial Art. As I studied other other martial arts, however, such as Aikido, Tai Chi Chuan, and so on, the importance of the items we hadn’t focused on became more important, and I began to see the whole picture.
First in these elements of a True Martial Art, breath. Breathing is life. The general rule is to breath out when the body expands, to breath in when the body contracts. As you become used to being struck and striking and block and so on, you learn to ‘breath into the body part’ striking or being struck. Actually, you don’t breath so much as use the idea of breathing to channel awareness, and this begins to build massive chi power.
And, if you don’t believe, then try doing a martial arts form without breathing and see what happens. Or, worse, try reverse breathing (breath out when the body contracts and in when the body expands) and watch yourself turn grey.
Second True Martial Art item, relax. One would think people would automatically relax when breathing, but, especially in early Karate, it doesn’t always happen. Many people push for rigidity and hard muscles and such, and then hold to that practice instead of developing further.
The fact is that in the classical arts it is too often that one is trained in the hard style until they get so old they can’t do it, then they naturally develop the softer modes. Sheer self defense for an overtaxed boxy. It is much better, and more efficient, and faster, to simply learn from the beginning that one should relax, except for the loose-tight effect, which we will cover at point five of the Elements of a True Martial Art.
Third of the True Martial Art points is ‘grounding.’ Grounding is when you sink your weight, and it is crucial to the true Martial Art, but is rarely done. Most people, you see, in spite of such good advice as ‘practice in a low stance,’ use their legs to hold their body off the ground. Instead, you must use it to connect your body to the ground. There is a huge difference here; the difference between art and sport.
When grounding you must breath down, relax, and let your awareness seep into the surface you are standing upon. When you truly relax you will not be resistive to energy, and when you ground you are tapping into the energy of the earth itself. Believe me, it is quite a sensation, if not a phenomenon, when you punch someone, and it is like hitting them with the planet.
Fourth in the True Martial Art line up is to align the body. While I teach this when I teach forms (Kata), I don’t really get into the reasons until the Master Instructor Course, which explains the incredible value of that course. The fact is that with the ‘Monkey see monkey do’ mode of instruction, and the proliferation of instructors, there is a crossed pair of lines. True understanding goes up in relation to the speed with which martial arts instructors are created.
Last in the the line up of what makes a True Martial Art is the principle of ‘Loose-tight.’ This is not just to be loose before the strike and focus the energies, but to be whiplike, and to actually use less and less ‘hard’ as one progress along the path of True Karate. Indeed, learn to be ‘liquid’ in your motions, and you have learned the truth of art.
So there are the five items of True Martial Arts, which can be extrapolated into all Martial Arts with but little adjustment.
The funny thing is that it aligns with the concept of Karate, which means empty hands. You can’t have empty hands unless you have an empty mind. And you won’t find an empty mind until you learn to focus on the principles outlined in this article to the distraction of muscles, combat, and other temporary joys.
At any rate, you will find these items (and a LOT more) in the course I have written which I refer to as The Best Online Karate Course in the World, which is the Kang Duk Won broken down into book and video so that any may understand. In this way we defeat the glut of unqualified Martial Arts instructors, and return the martial arts to the true.
The trick, of course, is to actually apply these items to the forms, and to the techniques, precisely as I show them. In that way you will return Martial arts to the old tradition, and classic power…all while evolving the fighting disciplines on planet earth to a true Golden Age.
Check out these ‘Frequently Asked Questions‘ concerning the True Martial Arts presented in The Best Online Karate course.