A long time ago, but not as long ago as the Stone Age (some two and a half million years ago), Martial Arts was known as The Arts of Mars, derived from Latin and referring to the Roman God of War. It referenced a system of combat, where the word ART was used to describe a method of moves vs. the art of movement we modern-day humans practice today.
Why is this significant? Because it speaks to evolution through time toward consciousness.
As in the development of Kata’s, Hyungs, or Forms, there are essential stages of human evolution as they relate to how we practice martial arts today. It’s a stretch for our forward-thinking brains to reflect on concepts like “millions of years ago.” But, we have the keen ability as modern-day sapiens to be able to reflect and self-reflect, and so we must for the sake of our species and all others.
The 5 main human-types
- Australopithecus (four to approximately two million years ago). We owe our veryexistence to these guys, the original warriors who developed the first tools for survival. And guess what? The sticks we use today in martial arts are not that different from our meat-eating Australopithecus ancestors.
- Homo Habilis (two and a half to one and a half million years ago). Of course, there are human debates over which came first, Australopithecus or Habilis, but that is what we do best, analyze, argue, and hopefully agree.
- Home Erectus (two million to about one hundred thousand years ago), these guys and gals had our human-like body proportions (shorter arms, longer legs, you know the deal).
- Homo Sapiens Neanderthalensis (four hundred thousand to forty thousand years ago) Disclaimer: despite a biological divergence about six hundred and fifty thousand years ago, humans have approximately .02-2% of Neanderthal DNA within our genome to date. These relatives of ours, like us, buried their dead thoughtfully.
- Home Sapiens Sapiens (YOU). (Approximately forty thousand years ago to the present). We combine symbolic thinking with complex planning, and this symbolic thought gives us the unique ability to remember the past, visualize the present, and decide to come back to the present moment-our life’s task and the root of many mindful practices that aid in relieving depression and anxiety. We also thoughtfully bury our dead (unless we are brutal dictators in war.) This is one evident trait that makes us human: thoughtful ceremonial burials. This thoughtfulness around burials is a critical sign of understanding the evolution of our species, so if some of us are still not engaging in this symbolic act, we can say, for sure, that these individuals are de-evolving as a species and we arearound long enough, we might see a new divergence of human beings: peace, love, comradery, and a way of living. But that is a much larger discussion for a campfire with Kahn.
Back to the point:
Forty thousand or so years of us is a concise time frame in evolution, especially when we think of Martial Arts as ancient. In fact, I often use the term “ancient” when I describe the roots of stances and strikes within JungshinFitness. But if we look at the first stone tools and spears being used, we are, wait for it, not the creators! Our use of weapons dates back to our Australapicus ancestors.
So I ask you to join me as a fellow martial artist and human in looking back to the roots of what our actual ancient ancestors built and taught us. We may find a path towards a new frontier by understanding the origins of Martial Arts and how to live the way of a peaceful warrior.
I see it now-this world is swiftly passing. -the warrior Karna, in the Mahabharata