Thursday July 12, 2012
The changing face of martial arts
I REFER to the report “Martial arts practitioners urged to assist in fighting crime” (The Star, July10) and disagree with the Information, Communications and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim.
Although all forms of martial arts initially emphasised on attack and self-defence, this has changed dramatically.
Regardless of the type of martial arts, many practitioners realise that a lot of martial arts are currently taught for the purpose of health and sports (scoring points in competitions).
Unlike martial art gurus of the old day, many (although not all) younger teachers today no longer emphasise on the practical applications of the techniques.
Moreover, a simple demonstration on how to use a technique in front of a classroom, and using it in a real life situation are very different, and may have severe outcomes in the latter.
In Chinese, the word ‘wushu’ literally translates into ‘martial art’.
However, many wushu teachers also acknowledge that wushu has been translated into “dance art” as both Chinese characters have the same pronunciation.
A good example is taichi which was initially a formidable martial art during its early days. Currently, it is mostly practised by senior citizens, disregarding its practical usage.
Similarly, many other martial arts, regardless of origin, have moved towards emphasis on stage performances and health.
Even in competitions, practitioners are often assessed based on choreographed movements.
Although it is one of martial art’s ethics and value to help those abused, but to go up against an attacker without effective practical skills is definitely not encouraged.
I would urge the authorities to work closely with the various martial arts regulatory bodies in Malaysia, such as Malaysia Wushu Federation, Malaysia Taekwondo Association, Malaysia Aikido Association, Malaysia Karate Federation, to promote the practical usage of the respective martial arts in addition to their health benefits and to encourage more people to take up martial arts for self defence.