By Jose R. Villanueva

As originally published on the Listen & Be Heard Weekly1, March 2, 2005.

Many "raw" students of Martial Arts do not understand its true meaning. Some students, who have trained for some time, are still not enlightened. This represents the sum of all truths in a certain subject, area, activity, which a person discovers. To divine the true meaning, one must correctly define "Martial Arts," as the relationship between the mind, body, spirit, the "KRC" triangle, and integrity, honor, and ethics.

The "KRC" triangle stands for Knowledge, Responsibility, and Control. As one obtains more knowledge, they gain in ability. And he or she can take responsibility for their abilities – and thus control an area, or activity applying their abilities.

The word Martial means fighting. Fighting is application because the general scope of the Martial Arts is learning how to defend oneself or others. Doing this involves some fighting. Art itself is a high level of creativity, and belongs along the aesthetic band. (Art is art only if it communicates and invokes some emotional response). And Martial Arts contain fighting systems that are applied to defense or sport, and the artistic value is contained in the beauty of "Forms" (kata) which are performed by the practitioner.

The mind, body, and spirit are all aspects of the Martial Arts. When one can align them together, the practitioner obtains balance. One cannot have one without the other. Otherwise, the practitioner is subject to collapse.

The mind must assimilate knowledge, and the ability to evaluate and conclude. And if a person cannot use their mind proficiently, there follows an inability to apply. The practitioner goes up levels of conditioning and skill. (If the body is not in proper condition, it will be prone to deterioration – and an inability to learn techniques). The spirit equals life essence. It is the desire for finding truth, to gain enlightenment. (A person changes when they discover truth—and becomes more aware of themselves and life itself).

One must have a code of honor to reach success in an activity. This code must comprise integrity, honor, and ethics. Integrity means maintaining the purity of something by an individual calling it as one sees it (truth). Honor means keeping one's loyalty, and not degrading the truth. Ethics is inherent to every being - and it represents a personal matter in which a person reaches conclusions based on "the greatest good."

One can see that Martial Arts goes beyond just "punching and kicking". If a person is really going to become a true practitioner, they must learn the true meaning. And anyone trying to train without such understanding will be building on a ‘house of cards' -- and this will eventually be self-sabotaging.

Complete yourself so that the light of truth will always shine upon you – and will remind you of who you are and what you are doing.