Relevance of Martial Arts Today 600 years ago in feudal Japan our lives would
have depended on how good we are at martial arts. Similar rules applied to Medieval Europe
or Ancient Greece and Rome. Yet Martial Arts are not the same as in the past. So why Martial
Arts are still relevant today? What made them change in the history of time?
The last country to still use martial arts as a priority for surviving deadly encounters
was Feudal to Modern Japan. In 1860-es, when steam engine and telegraph were already in
use and America was fighting it’s civil war, the warrior class of the samurai were
ruling Japan. Their chances to live another day depended on their martial skills and having
to fight until death was a common event. Yet after the Meiji Restoration, when the
military ruling came to an end and Japan opened up to foreign countries, all the exposure
to different cultures and technology lead to a fall of the need for martial arts. Martial
arts such as Kenjutsu (the way of the sword) and Jujitsu became unpopular. People started
believing it was out-dated and while being challenged to a death duel or participating
in close combat battles came to an end – few saw reasons to practice it.
Those devoted to Martial Arts came to conclusions that their practices had to be changed according
to more modern times. This created opportunities for masters such as Jigoro Kano. Sensei Kano
– a devoted student of Jujitsu, understanding the changings of time, excluded deadly techniques
and stressed great emphasis on physical and moral development. Thus Judo – a martial
art suitable for the times was born. Further development of martial arts was also
influenced by the different situation that modern day presented. Martial arts became
increasingly more important as a tool of self-development and competition, rather than as a tool of
survival, thus giving birth to modern martial arts that we practice today. Nevertheless
this contradicts with some peoples thinking. No doubt there are extreme cases such as military
hand-to-hand combat training which can still be decisive in a matter of survival and other
professions which deal with physical conflict all the time. Yet being attacked to a regular
person in a life threatening situation is increasingly rare in most countries. Despite
that some people still see martial arts as means of survival.
But then if martial arts are still primarily a matter of survival, why do we keep dressing
with Japanese GI and practice bows and continue to develop techniques which are often not
useful in a self defensive situation? Too often we forget the meaning of martial
arts today as a tool of development and spend hundreds of hours preparing for that one encounter
that we might never have. We end up arguing about which techniques are effective and which
martial art doesn’t deserve to exist. We end up living in tension and fear of conflict,
rather than becoming self confident and ready for more than just brawling in the streets.
Surely, martial arts can be beneficial and very important in self-defense situations,
but they are so much more than that. Yet whilst we will see it as a means of survival primarily,
we will miss so much more that it can offer. Let me know your thoughts about the situation
of martial arts. Also, subscribe to follow when the next video will come out exploring
martial arts from a different view and check what already is out there on Aikido Siauliai
YouTube channel. This is Sensei Rokas, stay inspired.