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Advantages and Disadvantages




Part 1 - Storm and Breeze


It is an obvious fact that people have different body types. There are tall ones and small ones, stronger and weaker ones, athletic and non-athletic, bendy and less flexible, long limbs versus small range, and so on.


As one can observe and experience time and again at many sporting activities, these differences bring about advantages for some people and disadvantages for others. This is also relevant for martial arts.


Does this mean that martial arts are primarily suited for specially built  people? Does it mean that the others should stop practising or better not start at all because they can never make up for the difference? The answer is No, because there are some remedies, for example ... by the way, did we already mention that it is the tall and strong ones having disadvantages and the smaller and weaker ones being favored.

Why? Because one of the distinguishing features of martial arts is that the primary energy source, the tool for achieving one's goals, should shift from body to mind. That is, of course, if one pursues some more genuine kind and not the purely superficial sporty type.


How does this relate to the advantage/disadvantage theme? The danger is that tall and strong people are always tempted to use their physical superiority and neglect or totally deny or make fun of other means.

This is completely different with weaker people. They don't do it, simply because they are not able to do it. From the beginning on, they are forced to cope with physically superior adversaries and there is no chance to achieve that by mere body exercises. Realizing this fact is a powerful motivation to explore different ways. But the bigger and stronger a person is, the less probable it becomes to encounter someone even bigger and stronger than himself.


Now, there is again the question from above: Are martial arts primarily suited for specially built people, namely for small and weak ones? Does it mean that the others, the tall and strong ones, should stop practising or even not start at all, because they can never overcome their own big body bias?

No, because there are some remedies, for example, focusing on technique, timing, breathing, and mental exercises. For training purposes, one might become aware of one's specific inherent superiorities and then try avoiding to use them, try to switch them off temporarily. Or, refering to another article on this website, it is an application for "Loosing for Winning". This is not only useful for extreme cases but for any encounter where one person is no match for the other. And it is even relevant for balanced situations.  Summing up, it always makes sense.


So, cheer up you muscle loaded giants, since even for you there is the possibility to advance in martial arts. And that is something different from merely wearing a black belt, winning tournaments, and beating people up.


And you, smaller and weaker ones, don't get deterred or frustrated. You got great training conditions right on from the start, without the delusion of muscle, limb range, and sportiness driven success; and with permanent reminders that you cannot succeed by piling up those things. But don't get cocky and think you have already accomplished everything. You might have special chances, but it is up to you what you make of it.



Part 2 - Climate Change


When the asian martial arts were introduced to the western world, its practitioners learned about philosophy and wisdom and mental power and special techniques and breathing and other stuff. Over time some relevant features also entered public knowledge and became synonymous with budo disciplines.


Today, a reverse trend is visible. For many students and also for formally certified masters, martial arts are becoming with increasingly disgusting implicitness a pure sport. (This is also reflected in the German language, where the term "Kampfsport = Martial Sport" is much more often used than "Kampfkunst = Martial Art".)

Refering to, for example, mental energy or certain ways of thinking and behavior, is often nothing more than paying lip service, a kind of name dropping in order to adorn oneself with the associations of what martial arts should be, what makes them stand out. And this boasting works, because nowadays it is often the public opinion which has still got the right notion, even if a quite crude one, of genuine features of martial arts. Outsiders tend to believe that the budo properties are still dominating the normal training regimes and also the acquired skills. But today, average action movies often contain more spirit and wisdom than a training session in many of so called dojos.


The responsibility to advance in martial arts is shifting from the organized educational system with its associations and its clubs and its examiners and its instructors to the students themselves. And it is getting harder, because the resistance and the incomprehension and the ridiculing is getting closer, since it is coming from the inside, from trainers and fellow club members.

When being drawn into the sport paradigm, certain physiological pecularities will indeed become disadvantages, unsurmountable obstacles.


2007 EWS



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