I have said time and time again martial arts are metaphors for life, but what exactly does that mean? In short it means all skills you need in life martial arts can give you. The most obvious of these is the ability to defend yourself. This skill, however, is simply scratching the surface. Looking deeper into self defense, beyond the base level of combative application, it ultimately means learning how to communicate effectively, keeping the advantage.
A well placed bomb, grenade, bullet, punch, kick, sweep, throw, joint lock etc. is simply one piece to the whole of martial arts that ultimately distills down to effective communication. How well can you develop report? How can both of you win? How can the conflict be dissolved? More so how can your enemy become your friend?
These are all questions answered using communication. For martial arts to build effective civilized people it must address these concerns and help the practitioner seek these in their day to day actions.
So how does a punch or kick etc have anything to do with communication? A simple answer is this, as you punch you are telling the one you're targeting something. I would argue you're telling your opponent to think about their actions. In the sense you're also telling them you disapprove of their actions toward you... and of course you're trying to convince them not to do this thing again. The greatness of joint locks is that when you truly have a good hold on someone, and they cannot escape, you have true bargaining power to communicate your concerns about their actions. The caveat to this is they are cognizant enough to communicate and choose to stop for you to let them go, or if they continue to struggle you have the opportunity to give them some more incentive to stop, i.e. more pain.
Hand to hand combat is then no more than a physical negotiation of who can do what they want. It may not be fair, just, etc. but at the base level that is what it is. The goal of all martial artists should be to learn how we can protect ourselves physically, but more so to develop ourselves in such a way we do not allow conflict to get to the point of physical confrontation. This is why effective use of communication should be in all martial arts courses.
The effective use of communication is reliant on strong internal foundations, and superior strategy, hence as Sun Tzu says in "The Art of War" “If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.”
Internal foundations of true confidence, character, people skills, and martial skill is the greatest preparation for conflict. In the USMC we always used to say, "The only way to with the Iraqi and Afghan wars is through the hearts and minds of the people." To this aim we must have impeccable communication skills!
There are a few books which I favor on these topics, however, there are many more which may ring true to you, so by all means if you found some you like use them. If you haven't found some here's some great places to start.
How to Win Friends and Influence People By: Dale Carnegie
A classic on communication many people have used to drive themselves to high success. Greatly applicable to all forms of leadership and where great leadership is internalized all benefit.
The Art of War: by Sun Tzu
I personally enjoy this copy because it has various other texts which are also of great importance to the practice of martial arts.
Verbal Judo: by George Thompson
This one I greatly enjoy because it's written from the perspective of police work and is a book many police training centers use to this day for communication advice which has been solidly used by many officers to deescalate hostile situations.
Daniel R. Hyde
Licensed Massage Therapist
OIF, OEF Veteran
U.S. Marine Corps
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