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Josh Ryer

My Definition Of A Pure Martial Art

Recently one of my students invited another martial arts teacher and practitioner to observe a Belt Graduation at my Academy. After the graduation had passed, my student shared with me a comment from his friend that the way we practice the martial art was not pure. Since that time, I often think about that comment and wanted to share some of my thoughts on the idea of a pure martial art…

I believe that a pure art is one that is taught genuinely from the teacher directly to the student, based on a logical and practical interpretation of that art’s concepts, training model, and traditions as understood by that teacher. It should breed students (and future instructors) who understand, and most importantly, can apply the core concepts from that art. Students should be creative with their knowledge, and now have their own interpretation to pass on to future generations. That, to me, is a pure art!

I want to emphasize the word “genuinely” as I use that word to express an unreserved exchange of information. The teacher holds nothing back; no hidden meanings; no dangling carrot; no cookie cutter read from a training manual education. I also emphasize “directly” to express a live learning experience in person with the teacher. It’s difficult to say that a student can receive a solid education from a book or video, as how can you completely express raw movement in words, or feel the application of a technique through video. Don’t get me wrong, you can learn a whole lot from these resources, but they should only be supplements to live instruction.

In most cases, people consider a pure art to be the original interpretation of the art from the Founder. I feel this definition is flawed, because only the Founder has this perspective.  No matter how hard a student will try to attain this exact version, they will always experience the art in their own way. I would like to close by saying last night I sat in awe as I watched this very same student practicing. I was happy to see that he has taken the art and made it his own based on his understanding… that’s as pure as you can get in my opinion!
April 27, 2012