Before I start today’s blog on Animals and Martial Arts, I just wanted to say that I was at the 2009 Canadian National Golden Belt Karate Champions on Saturday Sept 26 and I won 1st Place in Breaking. This win is my second national title to date.
Anyway on with the blog. Animals and Martial Arts goes hand and hand. Also every style out there has techniques and references to animals. Animals are a big part of nature and so is martial arts. We as humans learn from animal martial arts so to speak. Animals are born with an instinct to fight. They are also taught by their parents how to fight through rough play and survival training. So they are learning their own “Animal” Martial Arts. We as humans long ago knew how to survive and fight. We were born with a strong instinct of survival. We still have a strong urge to survive but not the instinct to fight like we use to.
We now a days learn to fight and defend ourselves through learning various martial arts at doangs and dojos all across the globe. If you look carefully at the various styles out there, you will see that a lot of techniques and concepts are based on animals. Some may think animals are stupid but they are the ones teaching us our human martial arts through their animal martial arts. Does this sound kinda ridiculous? Take a look at a few examples.
If you look at Shoalin Kung Fu from China. You will find that thye have various forms/patterns and fighting styles based on the different animals. You have the crane, snake, bear, tiger, leopard, monkey, mantis, eagle, and etc,. All they animals have unique strengths that allow them to survive against other animals. Whether they possess speed, power, flexibility, grace, or whatever. Each animal has it’s own way of defending themselves. Kung Fu Masters see this and chose to mirror these techniques.
I know that Muay Thai from Thailand uses a lot of techniques based off of elephant and monkey techniques. Korean Taekwondo from both North and South Korea uses techniques based on nature and mostly from the Tiger. The tiger is clever, powerful, and quick. And there is so many other styles that I am not too familiar with that uses animals as part of their style. Nature knows what it is doing. We are just smart enough to see it and use it in our own Human Martial Arts.
That was the physical side of the martial arts and animals. But we also use animals in the martial arts and in life to identify with. Many cultures and people chose to identify themselves to a certain extend with animals through the attributes that these animals have. Animals are known for various strengths and unique characteristics that make them so alluring. Some famous Martial Arts use animals as nicknames or ring names as these animals tend to describe these people or they have certain attributes of that animals.
For example you have Bruce Lee who was called Little Dragon. Dragons are larger than life creatures with tremendous power and grace. Sounds like Bruce Lee to me. You also have Don “The Dragon” Wilson, and Chip Townsend(The One Eyed Dragon) as well. They are all larger than life people who have taken their style to a whole new level. I, myself relate to the Wolverine. Wolverines are known for being very courageous, powerful, and strong for their size. They are also very intelligence animals that never give us. If a Wolverine gives up, it usually means they have died in battle. Gee, that sounds a little like me doesn’t it? I also have a good friend that relates themselves to a Phoenix.
I asked them yesterday if they knew any attributes of a Phoenix that relates to Martial Arts and they said they didn’t quite know. Well a Phoenix is a firebird and has a life cycle of about 500 to 1000 years and at the end of their life cycle they ignite into flames and become ashes. However the Phoenix rises again or is reborn as a new Phoenix. This Phoenix is to live as long as their former self. Phoenix’s also come back better then before. So how does this relate to martial arts? Well I pondered this while I was working out and came up with this solution.
Like the Phoenix, various styles of martial arts have fallen into almost extinction because of their own country or opposing countries leaders put a ban on that martial arts and would kill anyone practicing it. But also like the Phoenix, these styles risen from the ashes and have come back stronger then ever. A few examples of are Korean Taekwondo when Japan ruled Korea. The Koreans were not allowed to study Korean Martial Arts but that of Japanese. Muay Thai in Thailand was also ban as well as Savate in France. Look up the various styles of martial arts that you have heard of and check out their history. A lot of styles almost didn’t make it to modern times.
From a technique standpoint, we all have learned to do a certain techniques a certain way. We then have someone that has better technique show us a better way. At first when learning a new way, it seems that our technique gets worst. But as we practice it appears the technique has been reborn into something better. I have experienced this many of times as I strive to always improve myself in every way I can.
But I also just want to take a moment and remind you that martial arts just doesn’t exist in the dojangs/dogos. They don’t exist to just learn to punch and kick each other. Martial Arts is a way of life. We as martial artists need to take all the stuff we learn just as courtesy, respect, integrity, humility, self control, loyalty, and etc,. out into the real world and make a different.
I find sometimes we find ourselves in situations that just seems to tear us down and their is no where to go but up. We learn from this and are reborn per say into a better person in the physical, emotional, and spiritual sense. Hence the Phoenix reference.
So yeah, animals are a big part of our Martial Arts as well as our mental approach in these styles. Agree or disagree, up to you. But do google it and see for yourself.
Master Jonathan Field
P.S. What a long blog for me.