What is a Great Martial Artist?

How would you say someone qualifies as a great Martial Artist?

Is it a great fighter?

A great Movie Actor?

I suppose like most things, a definition of great is a bit subjective anyway.

Here is how I look at it.

To me a great Martial Artist is someone who has a deep and thorough understanding of his Art and how it can be applied in various situations.

To qualify that further? I know some amazingly skilled Martial Artists in their chosen field.

They “appear” to have a deep and thorough understanding of their Art.

However, when it comes to applying their Art in various situations, they come up short.

They don’t understand how to apply their Art.

This does not mean for one minute that they can’t fight? that would be missing my point entirely.

It is this extra level of understanding that to me, separates the great from the excellent.

You may well have your own ideas of who is great and why.

I would never try and change your opinion on that.

All I ask is that you consider my interpretation of a great Martial Artist and see how it compares to yours.

Why do I consider some people great and others ONLY Excellent?

What a fantastic problem to have for the recipient of either opinion!

Great MA’s are also innovators, mavericks, they question the established “norm”.

They are not willing to accept “this is the way we do it, because this is the way we have always done it”

They are prepared to experiment, prepared to fail, prepared to dare to try.

They want to understand how and why a technique works.

They want to be able to apply principles to what they are doing.

More than that.. they want YOU to have that knowledge and expertise.

They want their students to be better than they are.

They want to share this information, they think that YOU DESERVE to know this information.

It is this constant desire to improve, to question, to experiment and to encourage others to the same that inspires me to use the word great.

I have been privileged in my MA Career to meet some amazing characters. Martial Artists who were quite simply amazing in their ability and fighting prowess. Some of which had absolutely no idea how or why they were any good. They had no idea how to pass this information on, they never questioned it.

They were and indeed still are, superb at what they do. I have the utmost respect for them as people and their abilities. However, they can’t explain what they are doing or teach it any effective way, so, to me, they are ONLY EXCELLENT and not great!

I have also met a select few that are not only excellent, but they can teach too. They question everything (not in the annoying method chosen by those with ”pretend” knowledge).

They understand exactly how and why technique work. They can share this information. They can teach it. They WANT others to learn it. They want their Art to evolve. And more than all of this, they are prepared to step out there and let people know.

They do not worry about the naysayers, the ”but that is not strictly (insert trad art name here)” brigade.

These are true greats.

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5 Responses

  1. Hi Russell , I am currently recovering from radio surgery for an accustic neuro brain tumour, this tumour has badly affected my balance due to how it affected the accustic nerve , I am desperate to recover as quickly as possible and was wondering if you could recommend a particular method of training that would assist me
    Kind regards , Rob Shaw

  2. I my find the art of your path is in the satisfaction of not only in the physical or spiritual path it is finding that you have also helped another to find their way as well. I am Shoalin as you my gathered. All the best .Sifu Brian Rushby

  3. I agree,you have to truly understand your art to be able to apply it correctly. don’t be stagnant in your art,open your mind,take what works and use it.

  4. I think you are absolutely correct on your opinion of a “great” Martial Artists. I have watched for years and seen people write articles about “warriors” claiming to be the best. This is not HUMBLE and does not meet my definition of a GREAT Martial Artist.

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