Life imitates Martial Arts

Essay question for belt testing December 2014:  Why must we, as martial artists, maintain our, martial arts spirit both inside and out of the dojhan?

This question made me think of the philosophy that Life imitates Art.  Making a quick Google search on the subject, I was educated on the fact that this is in fact a topic of theses from such revered Western philosophers as Aristotle, Plato and Aristophanes.  The following is an excerpt from Wikipedia

 Oscar Wilde,… opined in his 1889 essay The Decay of Lying that, “Life imitates Art far more than Art imitates Life”…Wilde holds that anti-mimesis “results not merely from Life’s imitative instinct, but from the fact that the self-conscious aim of Life is to find expression, and that Art offers it certain beautiful forms through which it may realise that energy.”.[1][2]

What is found in life and nature is not what is really there, but is that which artists have taught people to find there, through art. As in an example posited by Wilde, although there has been fog in London for centuries, one notices the beauty and wonder of the fog because “poets and painters have taught the loveliness of such effects…They did not exist till Art had invented them.”.

In the case of our Martial Arts, the “martial arts spirit” can be identified as our Creed, which we recite and attempt to follow when in the dojhan.  What happens outside the dojhan?  To follow Wilde’s example of Life imitating Art, although there is excellence in the world and in our individual selves, we notice the existence and wonder of that excellence because martial arts has taught us to appreciate them… They did not exist until Martial Arts revealed them to us.  Then we should maintain our martial arts spirit outside of the dojhan to help us to access the possibility of excellence in all areas of our lives.

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