Martial Inquiries

An Introduction And My General Understanding Of What Is Meant By Martial Arts

I thought I would begin MartialInquiries by introducing myself and giving an outline of what my understanding of ‘Martial Arts’ is – thereby giving an outline and guide for this site.

First, an introduction: My name is Aesielle Ehrhart. I have been training in the martial arts since I was very young, somewhere in my fourth or fifth year of life – it is honestly a bit difficult for me to tell. My expression of the martial arts has gone through many transformations throughout my life. I have gone from a diligent student, to a street fighter, to a sportsman, to a philosopher, and finally to where I am now (which, at the moment, I can provide no classification for). I expect to go through many more transformations as my life progresses as I am only 26 years old. I have plenty of time to change and evolve who I am, and to change how I express myself.

My view of the martial arts has also changed and matured with me through my life. For example: I used to be a slightly stereotypical ‘street fighter’ type in regards to my view of Taekwondo as a martial art. I used to believe that it held no place within the martial arts realm, and I thought it an abomination of the arts. The truth however is that Taekwondo is obviously a martial art. I was only acting out against what is now commonly known as ‘McDojos’, and I was losing myself in the opinions of others. I felt at the time that martial arts had to be purely about ‘beating people up’, and anything not fitting this description was thrown out. This view was obviously incorrect –martial arts is not simply about ‘beating people up’, and not all Taekwondo is conducted at a ‘McDojo’ – there are very serious students of Taekwondo who work diligently to perfect their art. It should also be noted that my view of the martial arts has changed dramatically since that time.

Many people define martial arts via their expression (or beliefs) of what it is. It is difficult for us (humans) to see beyond our own noses some times. I have heard that martial arts is a methodology of self-defense, or that it is the way to best hurt someone in the quickest manner possible, or that it was a way of obtaining some form of bushido or higher form. These definitions I receive always seem to reflect the individual more than it does martial arts. I cannot argue any of these views, but only can offer that they are fragmentary and only offer a fraction of the totality of what is martial arts. I do not believe they should be dismissed entirely, but that they should be understood within the context which they are spoken.

As for myself, I find that defining martial arts is actually a very difficult task. When asked the question of what martial arts is, I have given all of the answers above, along with many others. At present, my explanation of martial arts is as follows:

Martial arts are the expression of the self through the actuality, or immanency, of engagement of physical confrontation with the self or others.

This answer may seem as if I am trying to be too vague, or it may seem too much of a textbook definition, and is probably unsatisfactory to many people asking the question. Perhaps my definition is too much of a mirror to my own expression of the martial arts - dodgy.

My hope for this site is to have an outlet to express my feelings about the martial arts. Hopefully I will also gain feedback on that expression and hear the opinions of many other people.