Spirituality and martial arts

Authored by: Henk Oosterling

The Routledge International Handbook of Spirituality in Society and the Professions

Print publication date:  March  2019
Online publication date:  March  2019

Print ISBN: 9781138214675
eBook ISBN: 9781315445489
Adobe ISBN:

10.4324/9781315445489-49

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Abstract

Martial arts have been part of cultures since ancient times. The art of the warrior or ‘martial art’ has been a crucial practice in human civilization. Cutting and carving techniques of wood or stone and the forging or casting of metals have produced weapons that defined and refined fighting techniques. Weapon styles and systems were introduced to counter different opponents, to fit the terrain, to bridge longer distances, and to enable mutual support in different battlefield tactics. These enabled men not only to defend their territory against invaders, but also to hunt, pacify, or kill other living beings. Due to the ultimate consequence of killing, i.e. to transgress the border between life and death, is to touch upon the divine realm of the gods. This explains why these practices were always embedded in a ritual context, so as to appease the gods. Martial arts have always been in close contact with religion. But the processing of precious materials also stimulated the development of the crafts that produced weapons as a sign of one’s societal wealth and status. Nobility, priesthood, and craftsmanship – with its modern avatar: the artist – have always acted in unison.

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