Martial Arts Scepticism: Philosophy and Ancient Wisdom
“Prior to the end of the Qing Dynasty, Chinese martial arts had one goal, pure and simple: winning confrontations through intimidation, the use of weapons, or the use of one’s fists…Chinese martial arts were considered to be a physical skill, a manual skill; they were not linked to any esoteric philosophy, nor were they viewed as a from of character development, religious practice, or spiritual development”.
– “Chinese Martial Arts Training Manuals: A Historical Survey”, Brian Kennedy and Elizabeth Guo
Philosophy and martial arts have been associated with each other since… well, not really as long as we would like to think. As much as we want to believe that all the great warriors of old were virtuous and wise sages, it seems highly unlikely. Systems of truly efficient combat are developed by, or derived from, the methods of those who are truly proficient at violence. It is as simple and straightforward as that. The martial artists who have made the biggest tremors in the martial arts community are those who have tested and applied their skills in real life violence or, at least, those who have trained under others who have this level of experience. The true roots of martial arts are found in fighters, be they soldiers, pugilists, street brawlers or people involved in security, who passed their knowledge onto others. The philosophy came later and the esoteric and “character building” stuff came much later.