This post and the ones that follow are translation from Russian of part of the “Combat Machine” book by Anatoliy Taras.
In my opinion this person, who is a former officer of the Soviet Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU), a professor, a practitioner and expert in martial arts and self-defence, a journalist and an author of several insightful books, managed to express best the essence of martial arts.
The upcoming series of posts is the exact English translation of the book’s Chapter 29 – “What Is The Way of The Marital Arts?”. I will only add images now and then. I will also highlight in bold font thoughts that deserve special attention to my mind. Also, I will omit several less important passages.
I believe these excerpts from the the author’s book will be rather useful both for martial artists and non-practitioners alike.
“Combat Machine”by Anatoly Taras
In your journal you often mention “the way of the martial arts”, but in essence you don’t say a word about this way! Why is that? Because you don’t know yourself?
(From a reader’s letter to the author).
To put it briefly, the way of the martial arts is a process of turning a man into a warrior. And as Carlos Castaneda put it: “To become a warrior means to consciously develop a range of specific attributes and a behavior that corresponds to these attributes”. Mas Oyama basically said the same, but with other words: “The way of the martial arts is to capture the true meaning of life via the practice of martial arts”.
I believe first of all we need to understand why people are attracted by martial arts at all today, with so many types of firearms, chemical and electrical weapons around.
Apparently the thing is that martial arts (like some other hobbies) allow to fill profound needs that drive our actions. These human needs can be divided into three categories: vital, social, and ideal (spiritual). Filling vital needs ensures biological survival of an individual. Recognition from others is linked to social needs. As for the third group, this is where we find the reason for creativity, seeking truth, kindness, beauty, justice, and everything that altogether makes the meaning of life.
So the applied aspect of martial arts, known in Japanese Budo as jitsu (‘techniques’), corresponds to the the survival instinct embedded in human beings as a living species. Competitions and demonstrations correspond to the part of a man’s nature that wants recognition from others of his personal achievements and attributes. Finally, the third aspect of martial arts called do (‘way’) is linked to human development, quest for the meaning of life, acquisition of spiritual values. In some schools all these aspects of martial arts are intertwined and inseparable; in others they are developed separately (only real combat techniques, only sports, only psycho-physical perfection).
To be continued.