In ancient times martial arts was a specialized skill used to protect homes and defend our country. But because weapons change with every passing day martial arts lost its function in modern war. For instance, now you can’t even see your enemy before a cruise missile bombs your house so how can we use martial arts against a missile? Guns are everywhere so even if you want to use martial arts for self-defence to go against a gun you need luck as well as skill so you don’t get shot. Although the “martial” part of martial arts is in decline the “arts” part can still be promoted in this modern age.

Below are my views about the value of martial arts in the modern age:
1. The value of doing martial arts exercise. Its value comes from keeping the body and mind fit. It also combats the speed of modern life. Many people are living with high stress and little physical activity every day. Through martial arts exercise you can keep your body fit and when you do punching or kicking it also can help you burn off the stress from your work.
2. The value of martial arts philosophy (spirit). Every martial art should have its own philosophy behind it. If it doesn’t it will make its practitioners into ferocious beast who only know to attack. He or she will only know how to hurt other people and destroy his or her own life. I think of “Jr, Ren, Yong”, the Three Virtues: wisdom, benevolence and courage. With “Jr” a wise man is never confused; with “Ren” a compassionate person never worries; with “Yong” a brave man never fears. Also known as “the Samurai Spirit” in the West, these philosophies are still worth promoting.
3. Martial arts training will develop and strengthen your will. Martial arts training emphasizes, “Exert yourself and strive hard without stop.” So every time you train you make your will get stronger. Sometimes we need to have strong willpower to overcome crisis in our life.
4. Martial arts training makes you know more about yourself. Regardless of its use in war or contests, if you want to win you must know yourself and know your enemy. Then you won’t fight a hopeless battle.
5. The value of martial arts as entertainment. Beginning with Bruce Lee’s groundbreaking Kung Fu movies, martial arts movies continue to grow in popularity in Western countries. One reason is the many different kinds of martial art forms to choose from. Through its movements some forms give you the feeling of great vitality, like the tough and strong action of karate. Some make you feel like you’re watching moving clouds and flowing water, like Tai Chi Chu’an. Watching martial arts is as enjoyable and has as much merit as any other art.

Yoga began as an ancient way for spiritual people for cultivate their hearts. Now Yoga and martial arts are popular with modern people as a fashionable exercise. Most people now doing yoga do it as one kind of exercise for health with no intention towards becoming a yogi. Similarly some martial arts have also become one kind of aerobic sport. Many people practice Tai Chi also just for the health benefits. They don’t care about the martial art part. I think everything, including martial arts, needs to transmutate along with its era. Then it doesn’t get eliminated because it can’t compete (i.e. guns) or when a more fashionable choice (i.e. aerobics) comes along.