Who Owns A Martial Art?

Some Martial Arts systems have been in existence for hundreds of years and some are less than three years old. Those schools having an organized ranking system in place were inherited by the senior teacher and when no established order of succession was in place; many teachers went their own way. New schools with new and unique names were formed. Some teachers with skills in more than one martial art integrated what they learned and developed a new fighting style. When we speak of a “traditional” system we can only mean “as the founder intended”. Even some who claim to be traditional have adapted their training routines to fit within modern legal and ethical guidelines. There are stories of how teachers would expect a student to become a servant of the master for several years in order to prove worthiness to receive instruction. There was no waiver of liability or insurance policy required and when a student was injured the master and other students nursed him back to health. The training uniform was the work clothes of the day. Ranks didn’t exist, the best fighter was acknowledged as the senior. The mind as well as the body needed to be conditioned if one was to face opponents with the skill to cause serious injury or death. All school members were taught to follow the philosophy of the master. So this information tells us that all schools may be called “traditional”, old tradition or new tradition. Throughout the history of martial arts and sport fighting in America organizers have competed for control of schools, events, and ranks. They claim that there can only be one organization for a system and theirs is the only official one. This isn’t true. There are always limits as to whom or what is under the control of any organization. In this country we always have the right to be independent. Some organizations are broken down into sub-organizations and those not interested in joining may be identified as members at large, this keeps them in the count of who has the most members. Each organization may claim to have trained a champion but, champion only in that organization. Organizations will sometimes cooperate in order to determine a true title winner in an open event. Open events are shunned by those not willing to risk the loss of prestige if their champion does not come home with the trophy. Many masters of martial arts will not enter a sport contest and feel that fighting for sport is immoral. Others feel that there is no challenge for one of their skill. When a master or any martial artist enters the entertainment business an air of insincerity will surround him. Some martial artists do not approve of the false impressions created by theatrical martial arts. The owner of any martial art is the practitioner who knows in his or her own mind that they have experienced the truth at sometime during their practice. This is different from hearing or seeing what is true. It is an experience that is perceived to be in slow motion and without thought of ambition or fear. If this is you, you own your martial art.

Joe Sensei