Originally published on 26NOV2010 for Examiner.com
K&B, LLC co-owner and instructor Don Alley is a martial arts, personal protection, and emergency preparedness writer. Many of his articles originally appeared in Examiner.com. As these articles are able to be retrieved from old web caches, they will be posted here.
One aspect of training in the martial arts is about personal protection for one’s self and his loved ones. The study of striking (percussion), grappling, and weaponry are hopefully all addressed at some point in the martial artist’s studies. The subject of firearms in martial practice is one that tends to divide the martial community.
The purists among martial artists believe that firearms are “the easy way” to self defense, and have no place in traditional martial study. They believe it takes little or no skill to pull a trigger, and true inner peace or mastery cannot come from such an easy path. These practitioners train hard so that they might never need such tools, and choose instead to rely on skill, technique, and awareness to obviate the need for firearms.
The “practicalists” see firearms as another martial weapon to be studied and mastered, believing that as weapons evolve, it is the martial artist’s duty to learn them and adapt or reinvent their technique to include them. They believe that if those brave souls of ancient times that developed the martial arts as we know them had access to this weaponry they would have used them. They believe in the hard training, skill, and awareness the purists do as well, but choose to embrace the evolution of weaponry.
In actuality, the practicalists are correct from a martial standpoint. If the samurai had automatic weapons, the katana would be symbolic or non-existent today. The armor of the knights of old were obsoleted by the earliest of firearms. In these cases, other types of martial study would have been developed and the arts we practice today would be different.
This does not mean the purists’ point of view is without merit. It also does not mean that one should not train under a purist. Both the purist and the practicalists have much to offer. The individual martial artist must decide what his priorities are in martial practice (personal protection, fitness, inner-peace), his willingness to embrace modern weaponry and spend the time and money to become proficient, and his comfort level in training with lethal weaponry.