Four comments on martial arts

by Fred Ross Last updated: December 10, 2009

I sketched these in annoyance. How much obfuscation and mysticism of the orient has the same origin, I wonder?

  1. Which is more ludicrous:
    American marines and Chinese tai chi,
    or American tai chi and Chinese marines?
    Why is either ludicrous?
    In the end we have the same form.
    Why the preoccupation with karate vs. capoeira?
    A style is a codification by a master.
    The codex matters, but not its name.
    The codex lost, the name has no meaning.
    A line of masters can build great things,
    one generation can lose them all.
    Study with a present master,
    or the skilled student of a previous master.
    Beyond that the line is broken.

  2. The fool says, this attack can't be blocked.
    The master says,
         angle your elbow so or it will be broken
         you lose your balance in the step
         don't neglect your other hand
         you're putting a weird twist in your spine; stop it
         remember your elbow!
         what is it you're trying to hit? hit it
         you locked your elbow straight. why?
         your opponent dodged. what's your followup?

  3. It's a different mind to play in the ring
    or react at once to the unexpected
    or premeditatedly kill a man.
    The last I'll gladly leave to soldiers
    the second we call self defense
    does the first prepare us for the other two?

  4. Watching a master, you see his limbs move,
         you don't see the motions of his spine
    you see where he hits, but you don't perceive
         the nerves and bones he strikes
    you see his stance
         but what muscles bear the weight?
    you see him move
         do you know why he does?
    how will you know unless you can ask him?

Frederick Ross
Lausanne, Switzerland
July 2007