As in any creative sphere, the essence of martial arts lies in the creative self-expression of an individual. The creative process in many kinds of such activity involves recurring actions. This is especially noticeable on the pupil, preparatory level of mastery, when the foundation is laid and the pupil is obliged to repeat (for example, a movement) until confident technique and ability to implement it. Many pupils remain at this stage and restrict themselves to cyclical repetitions of the school program. They sincerely believe that the excellent implementation of canons is the perfect mastery in martial arts. It is obvious that this view is on the decline, as for the followers, who are not capable of reaching their potential, as for the object of the art, “frozen” at the level of uncultivated trade. The aim at cyclicity and repetition by itself contradicts the idea of the creative act. Art is born at the same moment when rules and patterns go back.

The mythic scale of false messages and prejudices accompanies the whole history of martial arts. Schools and their “masters” readily give to their followers the legends of the originality, exceptionality and invincibility. In fact, currently, schools of martial arts create the rules of competitions, accompanying stuff and other identification. They are isolated within this artificial space, and inside they “speak” the language which only they know. To justify this isolation within the school the ultimate goal is declared: the saving of the canons, purity and traditions. Outsiders with their own rules are not allowed there. The separation of advanced pupils to create their own school is always connected with problems. In this situation, you can be announced “disloyal” and committed to anathema. The “masters” forget that all the schools were once created by people and martial art is not private property. People, selected to take, save, develop and impart the art of conduct of a battle, are only transfer members in the historical process. From false messages of their importance and exaggerated exceptionality, equally affects all parties: “the masters”, the followers (their pupils) and, most importantly, the art itself. The schools instructors do not know the simple truth that the art they take is not a school and a name, which they guard with heart and soul. The style, the school, the name are closed and finite. The Martial arts are, first of all, people! It works through the expression of their feelings: calm, anger, rage and kindness. The style is just a language which the body and the mind of a man speak. Technique means nothing, until it falls into daedal hands. Paints, brushes and canvas are only the artist tools.

The Martial arts can be distinguished in its beauty and brightness from all other artistic forms of human activity. It contains “the glacial moment of truth”. There is a mediate link between a fighting person and the real moment: here and now. Acuteness and clarity of presence, self-realization and junction with outward things at the moment are difficult to overestimate or find in such strong terms in any kind of art. There is no room for mistakes and debility, it is impossible to justify or explain the imperfection of the actions, it is impossible to fix anything, delay or repeat. Every spent moment can be the last one. And the question is not about who wins or loses, but in the total presence and self-realization through the language of martial arts and acts of the best what you can do at the moment. Consequences fade into the background. The things, which have to happens, surely happen.

These days, in the presence of modern technology, the purposefulness of martial arts lies not only in the ability to protect yourselves and your loved ones from aggression. Martial arts ceased to bear the narrow function of “integrity maintenance”. There are many other ways to do it. For example, the firearm can be much more efficient in many cases than the most sophisticated technique of martial arts. Besides, it does not require, in most conflict situations, unpleasant contact with the enemy. Nevertheless, people come into martial arts. They are guided by different motives, each of which has their own individual tint and its trigger mechanism. Most practitioners, often unconsciously, want to find in their practice more than the technical skills of embattling. Inquiring mind looks for something that could possibly be passed on everyday life, outside the practice place. This context in the martial arts was previously filled with philosophical and religious doctrines. It is known that initially, religion and philosophy was the point of departure for the appearance of Kung Fu and were the essence of one matter, complementing each other. With few exception, this component part is completely absent in modern schools. “The masters” do not find time to pay attention to the fact that there is mindless teaching of technique without a hint of an elementary interpretation of the roots, not to mention peeping in to the wisdom of the philosophical foundations of the basic techniques. Morality, ethics, style revelation on a base of modern concepts of the body biodynamics, the physiology and psychology of human consciousness in relation to the ability to fight, could fill the futility. But then “the master” should have not academic education, but, at least, piquant wit and spark of creativity in the soul.

It is not enough to follow the canons and save the heritage. In a closed room the air is quickly spoilt. Martial art is a living organism, growing and transforming. As a child, it needs activity and good nutrition. Only a person can bring both of them, a person who is able to evaluate and adopt the previous masters’ knowledge and make the next creative step. For the word “ART” stands near the word “MARTIAL”.

Originally, this article was published in magazine "Martial Arts" at 06.2014:

Igor Messing

Translated by: Ekaterina Pryamova
Club “Jook Lum”, St. Petersburg, Russia

© 2019 School Kung Fu "Jook Lum". All rights reserved.