Monday, February 13, 2017

The Martial Science

Some of us like to call what we do "martial science" versus martial arts.

I think this is an interesting idea, especially if the style in question is actually following the scientific method in its development and things constantly get challenged and verified by other people to test the validity of the solution to whatever martial arts problem is being discussed.

By ArchonMagnus - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,

Of course, much of the time, people calling what they do "martial science" don't use the scientific method to develop their style.  They are using it as a marketing gimmick to make their style seem more legitimate than others.  They don't undergo the rigorous process shown above at all, and they definitely don't seek out skeptical people to verify what they do as effective.

But that doesn't negate the idea of using the scientific method as an approach to developing a martial arts style.  This would, of course, apply mostly to modern "living" styles, versus classical styles that are as much about preservation of the source material as they are fighting or self defense.

If you're aiming to develop a modern, effective fighting method, why NOT use the scientific method to do it?

Of course, some of us do use a rudimentary scientific method to try to figure out what works.  But we don't do the whole process (especially in the testing part) and thus, it can't really be called using "scientific" per se.

It would be especially interesting if we had a standard process by which other groups could verify or disprove the "test results".  That'd help weed out a lot of iffy claims, wouldn't it?

Of course, we'd need a good, formal testing methodology.  We couldn't say, as many white belts do, "Yes, that's fine against (x) but what if I did (y)?" and then invalidate whatever technique is being examined.  That'd be moving the goalposts and changes the problem you're trying to solve in the first place.

I think it'd look a lot like this.

It would be neat the know that something works because it's been rigorously (and skeptically) tested, not because charismatic Grand Master so-in-so says it does.

So what do you think?  Should martial arts be more "martial science", using the scientific method as a way to develop techniques?  Or is what we do more than just what's "effective"?  Would you consider a martial "science" more or less legitimate than a martial "art"? I'd love to know what you think!