Although it may never be known when or where fighting arts and their traditions first took form, the history of people serves as evidence that there has always been a need for civil and martial means to protect ourselves and others. While the nuances and semantics of each generation’s mores may never be fully understood without losing some degree of the original or intended meanings, they serve as an effective method from which to record, preserve and convey the wisdoms of discovery and subsistence.
Since it is the nature of mores to form and evolve through time from an amalgamation of cultural and cross-cultural origins and sources, the transmission of their essence ultimately become dependent on the perceptions, preferences, ability and intent of their proponents. As each generation moves farther from the originations of their predecessor’s beliefs and methods, it becomes important to consider the motives for which they were created and substantiate the ways in which they continue to be passed on.
While there will always be speculation and contention as to the origins and authenticity of martial arts, their traditions and lineages, it is natural for methods to change and adapt through the influences, resources and circumstances of environment, era and technology. It should be considered that the real essence of martial arts, their traditions and lineages manifest through the utility of their underlying precepts, notions that transcend beyond the attributes and interpretations of any one time, cause or conviction.
If we are to honor, preserve and build upon the mores of our predecessors, we must become capable and responsible for empowering ourselves and others to move beyond learning and teaching through the rote of mimic and meme, the views of popular consensus, and the confines of institutional authority and personal agendas. Without the ability to identify, define and develop training and teaching methods that effectively demonstrate and evaluate skill progression and prowess, we become dependent on the perceptions, preferences, ability and intent of others.