Martially speaking

Sooner or later it happens, it’s just a matter of time.

Sooner or later, this sentence pops up during a class, in its various forms:

“This movement/this technique/this situation, martially speaking, doesn’t make sense/makes sense/it’s done like this/it’s not done like that”

Etc, etc, etc.

It is an interesting sentence, which usually arises in two contexts:

1)The practitioner who ask a question to the teacher regarding the effectiveness of a more or less understood (and more or less well explained) technique;

2)The technician who sees a movement performed by a practitioner, and explains the reason for the correction (and his teaching line);

It is interesting because, said in a certain way and every now and then it could make it seem that ordinary practice is something not well defined, ordered and finalized so that sometimes, when you practice “martially speaking”, you remember that you are studying a Martial Art.

Let’s be clear. The philological understanding of the movements that are learned in a Martial Art is not only culturally due but is also physically necessary for correct technical learning.

From this point of view, “martially speaking” is synonymous with “the technical solution of a simulated combat proposed in a given didactic system”. And it is a necessary teaching, pleasant to be received and stimulating to be requested. Moreover: it is a good indicator both of the quality of the coach and his preparation.

In this sense, a constant practice that is occasionally enriched by an in-depth reconstruction and “historical” contextualization, has its inner value.

However, there is another context in which “martially speaking” a big mess is made. A dissociated mess. On the one hand, ordinary training, which contain more or less haphazard techniques shown in a continuous cycle. On the other hand, every now and then one tries to find a meaning in the repetition of gestures which, as their technical precision grows, become more and more empty. Closing techniques in an increasingly coercive way; exploding in increasingly invasive projections, hiding behind the finger that “martially speaking” the practice needs “spicy”.

In the past, someone claimed that in Aikido there were…2264 (not one more, not one less!) defense and attack techniques. A dish with 2264 ingredients is probably an indigestible dish but even if it could be the best in the world it would always have those 2264 flavors (not one more, not one less!).

Adding a ladleful of spice to try to spice it up, or to get someone to taste it, could lead to an even more “martially speaking” incomprehensible taste.

Cheap cooks, at least, do that. Even if you pay five hundred euros per dish.

The study of the effectiveness of a technique has a situational meaning. Otherwise it is a demon that distracts from the primary objective of studying a discipline that is anything but martial.

A soldier, a security officer, a member of law enforcement: “martially speaking” these are the new and only “bushi” for which it makes sense to extend military training with a better understanding of empty hand techniques for handling an…uncooperative uke.

But to all the others, “martially speaking”, what’s the point of adding ten tablespoons of hot pepper (or wasabi) if they don’t know why or what they are eating during each training?

We did a quick calculation. After about ten years of practice, you know on average about forty ways to devastate a wrist with nikyo; about fifty with sankyo; another fifty ways to break an elbow and shoulder with yonkyo, a smash elbows with a counterarticular lever of rokkyo and udekimenage; about thirty to unscrew the neck with iriminage, to which is added the homage of jujinage in a dozen forms; a hundred projective techniques to land the aggressor in the most smashing way on the ground and about fifty techniques aimed at damaging the wrist or the entire wrist-elbow-shoulder chain (between kotegaeshi and shihonage).

And what do we really do with these hundreds of ways to destroy a person?

To somehow feel like important people, to be worth something, do we need to perform these techniques with some kind of additional spice, “martially speaking”?

Or is it not that, after all, there is the little voice of master Shifu from “Kung Fu Panda” who repeats to us too:

“When you focus on Kung Fu,…you suck”

And so, instead of patiently studying, growing and striving to become better people, we build our little image in our tiny oriental carnival. Nothing wrong, just that, “martially speaking” there is nothing further from a discipline.

Disclaimer Photo by Nick Fewings on Unsplash

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