Most students of martial arts will, after only a few classes, find themselves becoming curious about the history and culture that gave birth to their particular martial art of interest. History and culture, to a very large degree, sculpt and shape the techniques, philosophies and traditions inherent to a martial art form. They cannot be separated and so, practitioners of; for example, Karate might find themselves studying the different forms and schools of Karate: its varying histories, teachings and philosophies, as well as the culture of the Japanese warriors and masters who shaped its history.
Martial Arts Culture: Influences
Most people join a dojo (martial arts training center) to learn how to fight and/or defend themselves; they may even wish to take it to professional heights. But what few students realize is that soon they will find themselves becoming immersed in martial arts culture. Before they even know it, they start saving their pennies so that they can travel to Japan to visit its exquisite temples, join the bustle of its kaleidoscopic shopping streets and perhaps even catch a Shotokan Karate demonstration in motion. You’ll start picking up on the terminology of your martial arts culture and perhaps even learn the language.
It’s a wonderful thing to broaden your mind and few expect this when signing up for martial arts classes. There is one thing to understand and that is that, as it was explained, the culture and history of the country of origin plays an integral role in shaping the techniques taught by a particular form of martial arts. For example, countries that have been steeped in war for centuries often give birth to martial art forms that are violent in nature and enable their practitioners to engage in vicious hand-to-hand combat, such as Krav Maga, which was developed in Israel as a combat-survival art. Others are far more focused on peace and even seek to protect the attacker from harm, as is the case with Aikido and Judo, which were born in Japan during its peaceful eras.
Understanding Martial Arts and Culture
Many martial arts masters and practitioners believe that you cannot truly understand a martial art form without understanding and respecting the country, culture and history that gave rise to it. To take your love of martial arts far, you need to have a deep passion for martial arts culture. The message here is to learn your history: to become a part of martial arts culture, even if you are a full-blooded American and have never taken a step outside of your country. There is certainly great benefit in broadening your mind and your ability to respect and understand totally different cultures.
Links of Interest
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