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The longer I train, the more I come to realize that martial arts are a form of technology. They are sophisticated arts with many nuances and layers.
In the movie Hero, the character Nameless connects the fighting skill of Broken Sword with his abilities as a calligrapher. He says the two abilities are inextricably intertwined. So Nameless endevours to study Broken Sword’s calligraphy to determine how to defeat him.
When studying painting, the beginner looks at colours and images. As mastery increases, they notice brush strokes and greater subtleties. All of these subtleties were developed just as any other technology is refined.
Martial arts have their own subtleties. A beginner may look at a kick and think there are a certain number of kicks and that they’re strictly offensive. As skill grows, the subtleties of kicks emerge – such as striking surface (heel, ball, blade, top of arch, inside of arch, etc), target (head, chest, ribs, foot, even lymphnodes). These all change how a kick is thrown.
Martial arts are a sophisticated technology which developed alongside others like weapons and armour. As the Japanese swordsmiths perfected their craft, their technology, the samurai perfected their skills to use the sword. Ninjas developed their own technology to counter the samurai. Feudal Japan was a technological arms race, with philosophies and codes of honour all a part of it.
I see, in a lot of modern practitioners, a regression in this technology. Maybe I’m wrong, and I’m not giving strip-mall Tae Kwon Do and Karate schools their due credit. Mastery over an art requires not teaching, but guidance; not learning, but embracing.
For the longest time when Master Craig said we are training ourselves on a cellular level, I didn’t really understand what he meant. Now I realize that we are aligning every cell of our being towards a goal. Imbuing each organelle with the knowledge necessary to merge our minds and bodies into the most advanced weapon we’ll ever know.
After all, we are the only weapons on the planet that are capable of ending a conflict peacefully, and before it begins – yet we can be as devastating a force as an atomic bomb if needed. We make smart bombs look downright stupid.