The Reason for the “Art” in “Martial Art” (My Opinion)

This blog represents my personal opinion…no one else’s, nor does it serve the function of telling others how they should feel or that, if they don’t feel like me, they are wrong. Feel free to think I am full of crap!

I can’t remember when I made this connection, but it has to be one of the most important revelations in my life. Some people I’ve explained it to haven’t been able to grasp what I’m getting at, but maybe this blog can express my thoughts better.

A lot of people think the only reasons to learn martial arts is to be able to handle yourself in a street fight, or to pump up your ego by winning a bunch of trophies and tournaments. There ARE people who sign up with those two mentalities, but I belong to a third category that most people don’t think of: I am the type of person who focuses on the “art” in “martial arts.” In doing so, I have come to realize ALL forms of artistic expression in which I engage are tied together in one big circle.

I think this revelation came about when I watched a man named Pierre Burton interview martial arts legend Bruce Lee. As far as I know, their discussion was the first time Bruce ever referred to what he taught as “the art of expressing the human body.” At the time I didn’t give it much thought, but over the years I’ve come to realize wing chun is just another form of self-expression. (The same could be said for ALL martial arts, but wing chun is the one I happen to practice.)

Look at the other two art forms that I love: writing and playing guitar. With both of these, the tools at my disposal have been used by countless people before me. I have (more or less) the same words to write stories or poems and the same guitar chords and scales to make music. However, it’s my job to take these same instruments and put them to use in a way that expresses ME. The same goes with wing chun: every practitioner before me has done a tan sao, or lan sao, or learned sil lum tao and chum kiu. However, I can’t become a good wing chun practitioner by simply mimicking the way Sifu teaches these things. I have to figure out what works best for me and adjust the tools accordingly (without violating the principles of the style, of course). That way it becomes more of an expression of who I am instead of just mimickry.

That’s how it is with every art though, at least in my experience: at first you imitate your idols/teacher, but then your own voice emerges.

At any rate, that’s how I came to realize wing chun, music and writing aren’t separate: they are all connected in one giant circle of self-expression.


About Steve Grogan

I am 40 years old, divorced, and a father of four kids. I am a practitioner of a self-defense system called wing chun kung fu. My other hobbies include writing, playing guitar, reading, watching movies, and listening to music. Recently I have gotten back into fitness, and this time I am DETERMINED to get the washboard abs...whether my metabolism will cooperate with me or not! The purpose of this blog is to write not only about my hobbies, but also about whatever crosses my mind, whether it is something I don't understand or something that aggravates me. So join me as I indulge my tendency to think too much about topics that don't usually cross anyone else's mind!
This entry was posted in art, biu jee, chum kiu, guitar, guitar playing, life, martial arts, music, off-topic, random, rant, self-expression, sil lum tao, wing chun, Writing. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to The Reason for the “Art” in “Martial Art” (My Opinion)

  1. wcman1976 says:

    Damn…five bloggers liked this in less than two hours! Thanks to all of you, especially those who also subscribed!

  2. Writing Jobs says:

    This was a very wonderful post today. Thanks for sharing this. Have a great day.

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