Thursday, June 25, 2009

Martial science verses Martial art

The term of martial art is something I realized I want to move away from. First of all I am not a martial artist and second of all it is not the art that I am interested in, nor do I appreciate it.

Science (from the Latin scientia, meaning "knowledge") refers to any systematic knowledge-base or prescriptive practice that is capable of resulting in a prediction or predictable type of outcome. In this sense, science may refer to a highly skilled technique or practice

Indeed it is the science of taijiquan that interests me, not the art. This is because there is a science to playing taiji that relates to a predictable outcome. In a martial venture what could be more desirable?

Now that martial arts are known as arts, they have become frivolous, often empty of martial content and full of superficial flash and stylized movements. People concerned with being martial artists are more concerned with how they look doing something, or how a move looks than they are concerned with a personal achievement. Art is not always superficial, but it often is, and more than that when we do enjoy art seldom is it the enjoyment of something that is an exact imitation of another thing, rather we enjoy the uniqueness and the personal experience involved. And yet how many martial artists are just going through motions? How many of them are performance artists concerned with impressing others with the appearance of their skill? How many of them are trying to do the moves by the numbers in the way they are expected to?

Those of you familiar with the histories, do you think that Yang Luchan was concerned with the image of taijiquan? I would say absolutely not, that he was concerned with the science of it and that the man was for all intents and purposes not a martial artist but was rather a martial scientist.

I have chosen to move away from martial arts in a conceptual sense and focus on martial science. After all I am not concerned with performing or impressing, I am concerned with the refinement of skill and personal development in a way that the concept of martial art fails to entail. Much of the content of this blog will endeavor to work towards this understanding, which is beyond images and opinions and comes down to very simple terms. These terms are testability and falsification and indeed if these terms do not apply then how can there be a science or even a consistent approach?

Lets face it, art is hit or miss. A science is far more exact and leads to clear understandings and new questions. Science most of all self corrects and assumes nothing, knowing full well all knowledge is relative and subject to change. An art is a matter of opinion, however opinion is worthless in science as is any preconception which hinders the ability to observe as objectively as possible and that is what this also comes down to, martial objectivity, something most martial artists know nothing about. When was the last time you met a martial artist with an open mind about other styles? Instead they all have opinions that they try to apply to every person doing a style. People from one style often claim that they can defeat another style and yet any contest is an event independent of the continuity and integrity of any specific style. A contest is never between styles, only between people and most of all between self and self.

What is the point of martial science? Partly to dispel martial ignorance found in things like unrealistic claims and expectations. This at least is a primary goal here now, to dispel martial myths perpetuated by martial artists by recognizing that objectivity is the only mental tool that allows clarity. Abandon preconception and prejudicial opinion and begin observing. Cleverness has no place in martial science either, or like martial artists we will end up just outwitting ourselves.