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Athletics, Violence and Magic: some thoughts for MA

February 11, 2011

“It is essential when trying to get to the top to use proven equipment; only when you are on level terms with the best can you afford to experiment with your own ideas.  If you can’t fathom out what is the best equipment, because the top people all seem to have different ideas, then spend time talking to them and find out why they use what they do.” – Lawrie Smith in Tuning your Dinghy

An outsider may see martial arts as skillful athletic violence, so skillful it look like magic or trickery.  There may be other qualities the novice may attribute to the martial artist but over the next few posts I’ll be looking at combinations of these three.  By looking at disciplines that combine these qualities, and their elite practitioners, we can learn something for our own training.

Venn diagram of trickery athleticism and violence

Fig 1

A brief description of these:

  • Athletic:

An athlete trains their body to be capable of amazing physical feats.  These abilities are usually externally verified through competition with similarly trained rivals.

The conjuror carefully controls what their audience concentrates on.  They then reveal unexpected realities.  Discussed more here.

  • Violent:

The combatant incapacitate their adversary.

The illusions are created with physical skill e.g. synchronised swimming, gymnastics, break-dancing, mime and contortionism.  Exhibition style martial arts like XMA , tricking and Wushu fall into this catagory.  Discussed more here.

  • Athletic violence:

The athletes compete in codified violence, trickery and deception is discouraged.  “Rock ’em sock ’em” style boxing or milling (The partners square up and exchange blows, boxing tactic not allowed) fall under this heading. .

  • Magical violence:

The practitioner relies on escalation of force or some other “silver bullet” while athletic ability is ignored.

  • Magical athletic violence:

The warrior should have all of these qualities (my apologies for this cringe worthy word).

In the next few posts I’ll be looking at these different catagories in turn, examining their relation to martial arts.

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