I have just read a blog post by Mario McKenna (Okinawa Karatedo and Kobudo) which was both inspiring and refreshing to read. It was titled Yo-no-Bi which, as Mario explained, means 'application' and 'beauty'. When applied to martial arts it means practicality should be balanced by aesthetics. In other words martial arts is not just about fighting and learning in the fastest, most practical way but must also give regard to the efficacy, fluency and beauty of the techniques.
For some martial art practitioners the point of training is purely to get better at fighting and the more pragmatic the chosen art the better. Some of these people think that kata is a waste of time and is just flowery nonsense. The problem with reducing a martial art to its 'practical bones' is that in the end what ultimately counts is brute strength. The big, strong guy is likely to win whatever his technique is like. Purely practical fighting arts may offer a fast-track way to learn some self-defence but the practitioner will ultimately lack the higher skills and understanding that will make techniques dependent on skill rather than brute strength.
In his post Mario describes 'aesthetics' as those things that perfect distance, timing, composure, balance and other similar concepts. These things can be learnt through kata and then, when they are applied to self-defence, enable techniques to be executed exactly, fluently and effortlessly - no brute strength required!
Of course to transfer skills learnt through kata to self-defense takes time, experience and patience. It is not the fast track route. However, it is ultimately the best route to highly skilled (and beautiful) technique.
Thank you Mario for your excellent post.
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