Apr 5 2022
7. “Putting the art back into the martial arts”
If ancient movement arts—if we widen our focus beyond martial arts to include, for example, traditional Japanese Noh theater or tea ceremony—if these ways of movement are not just “museum pieces” but are still relevant for us today as contemporary, living systems of physical training; then we might ask if they should be not just revived or preserved, but somehow re-invented. Aoki explains his goals in the process of inventing Shintaido, as he writes:
“By using body movement, we could regain a measure of the genuine communication which has almost disappeared from our lives, and at the same time, repair our bodies and minds from the damaging effects of modern civilization.…
“After retracing the last three hundred years of martial arts history, I concluded that just as modern art had to be created in its own historical context, the martial arts could be adapted to modern conditions, and the forms and movements would be completely different from the traditional styles.
“…[T]he simple study of classical methods never produces a new way of expression. One cannot be an Andy Warhol merely by practicing drawing for a prescribed amount of time. Similarly, I did not limit my study to karate and the other martial arts in this limited way.”
The purpose of Shintaido, as Aoki summarizes it, is “…not to preserve old classical forms and transmit them to succeeding generations,” but to use “…a body movement or the martial arts to examine the conditions of our own age.”
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