Perhaps the biggest, and yet unsolved, art heist in America occurred in Boston in 1990. In the early morning hours, 2 men posing as police officers entered the Gardner Museum in Boston and ultimately made off with around $600 million dollars of priceless art at today's fair market value.
The case has been featured on American Greed and there was also a book written about the heist. We often assign Robinhood praise to the men smart enough to outsmart the local authorities and the FBI. Truth be told, as well planned and well executed as this caper may have been, an art heist is tragic for the people. Whether it's a beautiful painting, a flower, an elegant member of the opposite sex, beauty is art and we suffer with the loss.
So what happened to the beauty and magic of martial art, and who stole that art? When did it disappear and why? Who profited is the more appropriate question?
Martial sport has been a mainstay going back hundreds if not thousands of years. Gladiators to today's boxers, and MMA, the martial sport or to the finish contests have garnered huge audiences around the world. These skilled martial combatants train to compete at the highest level of personal combat (generally refereed). In days gone by, the matches often finished in death. Today's MMA often ends in bloody brutality that seems senseless except it feeds an appetite for primal brutality.
So when is pounding some one substantially restrained on the ground art?Where did we lose life and art and start developing an appetite for being vouyers to violence? It would appear that man has always had somewhat of an appetite for violence, especially if they themselves are guaranteed to be removed from harm personally, as in a spectator sport. It is my belief, that competitive fighting along with the Ego and bragging rites, not to mention financial rewards for the top names in their sports, has instilled the hero/crowd adulation phenomena among its growing spectator base.
There was a time when art, or what I call the magic of martial arts, concealed the physics of martial combat, magnifying the actions and results of a skilled martial artist. Sure, mass rules if it's equally trained and matched. But how does a 120lb. woman defeat a 200lb. man? Physics would state there's an 80lb. deficit for the woman. The math requires 80 plus pounds to disappear for the underdog to have a chance at matching the giant. In fighting, difficult, with martial arts, the art must make up the difference, and that my friends is the magic because with training, it can...consistently!
I remember my Sensei showing my a video over 20 years ago. It showed one of the Grandmasters dealing with 3 attackers. My Sensei was marveling at the Grandmaster's imperceptible use of center to cause the attackers to be dispatched, airborne no less. My untrained body and mind, my utter lack of appreciation for the "Art," left me know other possible logical conclusion other than "they're faking it!"
When the balance is tipped so subtly, almost no one sees what happened. That is the art that is missing from today's systems of fighting. When the obtuse forces that the crowds revere are internally generated and therefore invisible to the uninitiated, I am left marveling as if I'd just viewed a Monet or Rembrandt.
With a time limit, and audience ratings, the raw edge of pugilism is the product that people will pay for. Contact sports, raw aggression, dangerous sports with the potential for spectacular crashes and flameouts, creates and builds an audience as well as driving the revenue stream. Does a true martial artist who makes things real look unbelievable hold the same allure as the raw spillage of aggression and force? Not if the box office is considered! When was the last time you looked for and were awed by a low budget Indie film? Absolute core magic!
To me violence without art and singleminded humane consideration is just an innate survival adaptation exploited for profit and ego. Not only is the art that which attracted me to martial arts, but I detest fighting and 25 years later, refuse to engage in it or teach it. I do however teach how to survive the fighter. Our students understand what it takes to go home and can adapt to the "spirit" of an encounter.
Look at Capoeira the African martial art that became passed on through dance...art. The slow graceful forms of Tai Chi and Qi Kung are not only beautiful in composition, but exacting in application. For those of you that seek art, beauty, truth, fighting is not the answer and you will tire of the exploration of its principles which are limited. With "true" martial art, there is a host of options and possibilities, as there are no answers. If your appetite for art, beauty, and the depth of knowledge summon your DNA, you know what I speak is truth.
At Wash Park Martial Arts, we preserve the meaning of art. Our Traditional teachings train beautiful people, not fighters. We create artists, martial artists. Our students have the technical understanding and become superb martial mechanics as well as artists. And, having one with you in the real world when things get scary can be comforting. Studying art has unparalleled rewards and for those that chose it's path, it is a "way of life."
Come train, experience the art, become an artist and own that art.
Wash Park Martial Arts, training tomorrow's leaders, one student at a time.