Martial Arts refers to an activity that pursues the harmonized growth and improvement through spiritual and physical activities. Through training one must overcome extreme opposition for survival between himself and the opponent. Martial Arts is a concrete system of fighting skills that imply all of these meanings. Extreme opposition for survival refers in most cases to the fight that puts life at risk, but is not confined merely to that. Rather, this relationship includes all cases where you fight antagonistically for everything you have; for example, the case of a political struggle for the life or death of a people or nation, or else an investment of all one’s time and money in a business or enterprise, and so forth.
This extreme opposition for survival means that there must be opposition in what you want and pursue. Life is a continuity of pursuing what you want and all trivial opposition is actually related to everything in life. It is natural for everyone to try to overcome such antagonistic situations you are not a Martial Artist.
Therefore, Martial Arts pushes us to advance in the world through overcoming oppositions and antagonisms, so that you might attain improvement and growth. These oppositions and antagonisms exist everywhere in life, and thus, while merely being a part of life Martial Arts also contains the whole of life. We can therefore educate people through Martial Arts, a concrete system of fighting skills. There is neither part nor whole in Martial Arts, and such is the case in life.
The nature of the relationship between you and your opponent in Martial Arts is that of extreme opposition for survival. In the most concrete cases, this manifests itself as a violent face-off for survival. Ultimately, Martial Arts is very antagonistic, which may offend those who wish to evaluate a Martial Art in positive emotional terms.
Additionally, that relationship of opposition that contains the origin of Martial Arts is also both the moment where life begins, and where the possibilities of the world are made manifest; these possibilities occur with change as everything changes. That is to say, the fundamental meaning underlying everything’s existence is synonymous with the principles taught through Martial Arts. A historian once noted that history is the continuous process of challenge and response; nothing exists in isolation. As in Martial Arts you are either getting better or worse, you never stay the same. The essence of life is just such a process itself, continuous change undertaken in the context of the world’s tensions and struggles. Everyone who understands Martial Arts comes to realize this truth not only through his thoughts but through his actions in life.
Martial Arts, whose source is opposition, is the figure of man who does not stay within that opposition but progresses in overcoming it for the sake of peace and harmony. Regardless of what some may maintain, this is the same as happens in life. It is in autumn and winter that plants bear their fruit and sow their seeds to await the rebirth of spring; a beast runs after its prey due to hunger, while it flees to avoid its natural enemy. A plant cannot be a living thing without the process of autumn and winter and the bearing the fruit and sowing of seeds. Nor can a beast live without both pursuing its prey and fleeing its natural enemy. If life consisted merely in maintaining one’s physical form and shape then dolls and other inanimate objects could also be regarded as alive. There are inevitable tensions and oppositions in the life of mankind and there cannot be life without the process of overcoming such challenges. Martial Arts may be regarded as a tree whose roots are the essence of life that allows its branches to spread and flourish. The tree of Martial Arts can spread its branches only if somewhere its root exists.
By contemplating this truth you will come to understand that the opposition we dislike is not merely bad, nor is peace merely good. Only then can you accept all. These are the starting and ending points of what Martial Arts teaches us as the truth of life.
Gene Nech is a Taekwondo - 4th Degree World Taekwondo Federation, Chess Master and Origami Enthusiast.