Although I appreciate your self-defense training materials (your Military X Knife Module is one of my favorite martial DVDs ever) and I generally enjoy your Force Centric blog, this one got under my skin a little.
What bugs me isn’t what you say — because you make some solid points — it’s what’s between the lines. It’s your implication that martial arts that involve “art for art’s sake,” “self perfection,” and other “esoteric and abstract pursuits” are suffering from a “lack of reality focus” and “fighting athleticism.”
I agree that martial arts without sincere contact and real fitness are just interpretive dance. But when you take out the work of the spirit, martial arts become blood cults, dark arts that put pain and punishment on a pedestal.
Without a spiritual center, martial arts are naked weapons, sharp blades left on a table where anybody can come along and hurt somebody with them. Weapons should come with safety instructions, right? I know you agree to a certain extent, because you teach the force continuum — when it’s right to strike, cut, stab and shoot. The spiritual parts of a martial art are the instruction manual. They’re there to prevent things from being taught out of context.
Context is important because, when you take violence out of its context — you isolate the fight from the fighter, the art from the warrior, and the heart from the fist, the human from humanity — you are engaging in compartmentalization. People who compartmentalize say crazy, stupid things.
“Sorry, but this is business,” said the gangster.
“My country wrong or right,” said the zealot.
“Tenno Heika Banzai!” yelled the kamikaze.
This is why I often refer to my martial art as “Full Context Martial Arts.”
Seems to me the perfect comparison is the true martial spirit and heroism of judoka Jeremy Glick vs. the fully compartmentalized martial training of the terrorists on board Flight 93.
The whole point of martial arts is to aid the best of us in prevailing over the worst of us, to promote good in the fight against evil, and to rage against the dying of the light until our last breath.