Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Martial Arts Answers for a Filmmaker (FYI)

A filmmaker, whose name must remain a secret, sent me the following questions in regards to a feature film in-the-works...

Hi Tom, Getting down to business, what I am really looking for is information re. the following aspects of martial arts:

What is the founding philosophy for marital arts and the core values that it aims to maintain and sustain in individuals? Would you consider martial arts a means to creating goodness in the world? and how?What is the form/type of martial arts that is most suited to a woman's physique, energy and mentality? Which types do women tend to pioneer in? etc.

I guess that is a start for now, I am also reading numerous books and looking at varied resources but wanted to get the organic knowledge from someone with as much expertise as yourself. Very briefly, my feature film (which I can not really say a lot about at the moment) but is about women superheroes! That is the most I can say for now. I trust you will understand. We maybe shooting in Austin too!! Hope you are great Tom.Thanks,

Ok ______, Thanks…and good luck!

Here are my answers:

What is the founding philosophy for marital arts and the core values that it aims to maintain and sustain in individuals?

There is nothing about the founding of the martial arts –or its core philosophy, that isn’t easily understood or recognized about "life" in general. Think of Maslow’s theory of the hierarchy of needs…first you satisfy hunger, shelter, companionship, and at the highest levels self-actualization and community contribution.

So too is it with martial arts.

Most people, now and historically, first started "practicing" martial "stuff" out of the basic need for protection…then came health, another form of protection, then came the expression of art, game, community, the search for mental clarity (peace) ---and all of the things you and I (human beings) think about when they’re not fighting the life-and-death struggle.

When you think of "martial arts" think "LIFE." When you say "martial artist", say HUMAN BEING. To be a martial arts master is embarrassingly easy ---being a solid, contributing, compassionate, empathetic, whole human being ---now THAT is hard work.

To be a martial artist is to have a self-defense consciousness (coined by my wife)…and "self-defense" is holistic –and not reserved for defense from physical attack alone. Follow me?

Oh, and I should mention, to be a "warrior" is easy. Pick up a weapon and kill. It is returning to be a whole human being, once you have faced the brutality of war, that is hard. People who want to be warriors have not, I think, experienced the horrible stupidity and uselessness of real war; the death of children, innocent and wide-eyed…the death of women who could have been their mothers…fathers who wanted no more than to watch their children play. People who aspire to a warrior attitude are not thinking clearly –as there is nothing about murder that feeds the soul or makes us better human beings.

If you are depicting people or super-heroes who are warriors, depict the understanding that consciousness and clarity, in this regard, is the highest form of "martial art." To lose the need and desire to fight. That is, at least at this time in my life, how I understand it.

Would you consider martial arts a means to creating goodness in the world? and how?

The martial arts, practiced diligently and with the right frame of mind ---like many things, has the potential to bring the practitioner to a centered, balanced, healthy, compassionate place.

If anger, as is said, comes from a place of fear –then the practice of the martial arts helps the practitioner overcome fear –to face fear (not just the fear of attack, but the fear of how one might feel if he or she "loses face" or feels intimidated or less-than or of losing something irreplaceable), then it is good for the world…as people do stupid things when they operate from a place of fear.

The practice of the martial arts does not bring enlightenment –just as "living" does not bring about enlightenment. There are just as many dysfunctional martial arts practitioners as there are dysfunctional human beings. What the martial arts has the potential to do, is make a person physically fit…which lends itself, for some, to mental and emotional fitness.

It is, above all else the PRACTICE of controlling one’s fear, the PRACTICE of staying clear headed under pressure, the PRACTICE of facing opponents without unjustified fear, the PRACTICE of moving the body in a way that deescalates conflict, minimizes the need for it –or its effects, it is in the quest to become clear –that one reaps the benefits of the practice of the martial arts. This idea is in everything –golf, the tea ceremony, the mountain climber…these are universal concepts.

Practice is where the value is. One doesn’t achieve "mastery", one practices the acts and concepts of mastery.

Martial arts is the car –not the trip. Martial arts are, primarily, about self-control…and self-awareness. Someone who exercises self-control –and who has a heightened sense of self-awareness OUGHT to function better as a human being. Someone who is highly self-aware, is then, I think, highly aware of the same ideas in his or her fellow human beings. That is good for the world, no?

Where martial arts might (or might not) be a more direct path to creating goodness, is directly related to the philosophy of the teacher…and "goodness" philosophy isn’t a martial arts thing…it is a very human thing. The wisest martial artists (human beings), look for teachers in everything –they look for the universal truths…not the one’s with specific labels of origin.
Martial arts is neither smart nor dumb, neither good or bad.

The Korean proverb is: The cow and the snake drink from the same pond ---the cow makes milk, the snake makes poison.

What is the form/type of martial arts that is most suited to a woman's physique, energy and mentality? Which types do women tend to pioneer in? etc.

Well, tough question, as women, like men, come in all shapes and sizes. Best to look, at least part of the time, at martial arts "styles" like state or country lines. Is there really a line between California and Nevada?


and there’s really not that big of difference in style or system of martial arts for the advanced practitioner. Some styles or systems might argue that point –but most of their stuff is what is called "branding" ---they’re making borders and rules that don’t exist in the real world. Bruce Lee’s philosophy in the Tao of JKD, is the right approach: "way as no way, no way as way." (actually, it’s "Using no way as way, having no limitation as limitation")

All that being said, women with less muscle than men, use martial arts techniques that don’t require superior strength. All martial arts have something of this as a part of their stuff…
And remember, empty handed fighting is a last resort…a weapon is almost always superior to no weapon. A woman with the right weapon, is (can be) as capable as a man or animal twice her size…or more.

Note too, that martial arts that are primarily sport related, like much of taekwondo and judo –are practicing with "rules of the game." These rules govern what they can or can’t do (or what they primarily focus on in practice). A warrior fighting a life and death struggle has no rules (I’m hypothesizing) except to survive.


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