James Williams’s Perspective on Martial Arts

James Williams of Nami Ryu Aiki Heiho and Bugei Trading Company has written an essay worth a glance as a response to a message-board argument with neo-traditional martial purists (but skip the comments). It is available at http://www.e-budo.com/forum/showthread.php?t=38601.

In many ways, the content of what he has written is much less interesting than the language he has used. It is based on the language of Western honor, that would once have been familiar to any fighter in our culture, but now seems reactionary. For example:

‘[Writing on the Internet] gives you the feeling that you have a “right” to express your opinion with no consequence. This of course removes the foundations of courtesy and respect. It becomes about how you “feel”.’

In the end, this is not an argument about our culture, not about anything Japanese. I really believe that Mr. Williams is representing traditional Western martial values of honor and individuality, and is using his experience with Japanese culture to better understand that. While what he is arguing against is very modern (or possibly, though I hate the word, postmodern) values of cultural sensitivity and nostalgia.

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