M is for Martial Arts

Might be that I have a bit of a reputation among my friends and co-workers as “that girl who could kick your ass if you’re not nice to her.” It’s a bit of an irritating bug to have hanging over one’s head because it both vastly overestimates my abilities and suggests that the only reason anyone learns a martial art is so that they have the ability to ‘kick the ass’ of anyone to pisses them off. But the point of martial arts is not to start fights–it’s to avoid them. Although I’ve studied different martial arts at different times in my life, I’m much more likely to write something scathingly passive aggressive about you if you get on my nerves, rather than whip out a stick and knock you over the head with it.

Japanese budo especially focus much less on the violence of the art and more on the internal or spiritual road of learning and reflection that one takes while studying. The ‘do’ at the end of kendo, kyudo, judo etc. means ‘path’ or ‘way’, so that when one says ‘I practice kendo’ what is meant isn’t, ‘I’ll beat you black and blue if you look at me funny,’ but rather, ‘I learn about life and myself via the sword.’ Poetic, huh?

Kendo is my Philosohpy, and I’m not alone. When Miyamoto Musashi wrote The Book of Five Rings in 1643, sword arts were a very real and deadly skill, and yet he still wrote about them as a meditative lifestyle, along side his descriptions of the best state of mind to be in before setting out to kill a man. The Heart of Kendo and, I’ve found, the heart of all of the martial arts I’ve studied is that the only real opponent you ever have is yourself. If you cannot first overcome yourself you cannot overcome anyone else. If we have One Arrow, One Life, traveling straight and swift toward our final destination, why waste time crying over the obstacles we build for ourselves?

What I’m getting at is, when the zombie Ninja Attack finally happens, I will be fully prepared and ready to kick ass.


13 thoughts on “M is for Martial Arts

    • Meh, all the martial arts I was taught aren’t all that great for self defense, in my opinion. I mean, there’s some practical advice in there if things get hairy, but all the forms and techniques that I learned? Not all that useful in a real fight.

    • I actually chose kendo because I was invited to join by some friends of mine. I’d seen it practiced before at the local community center and thought it was really cool, but didn’t actually join until my university days. Also, it’s pretty awesome to carry a wooden sword around with you on public transit.

      • I’d think that would give someone who might hit on you some pause. When I was in graduate school studying human anatomy, a colleague used to bring a limb home in a violin case for studying.

      • I’ve been described as “sexless” and “one of the guys” lots of times in my martial arts history. Mostly, guys think it’s cute. Mostly, I don’t care.

  1. I wish I knew some martial arts. 😦

    And I know a lot of martial arts say they are about avoiding fights, but learning to fight seems a weird way to avoid that. It seems to me that knowing what to do if can’t avoid one will at least leave you with fewer bruises.

    Or if you’re so good (and everyone knows it!) no one wants to fight you, all fights will be avoided.

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