Why are there martial arts styles?
Why are there so many styles of martial arts when one will do? Martial arts and fighting in general have been with us for as long as there have been people on this planet, so why are there different styles to the way the job gets done? As far back as ancient Egypt men and to a lesser extent women have had disputes and one clear way of settling these disputes was to fight, it could have been over land, food, women, men, or even children all these reasons have been used to pit one human against another.
Ancient Greek Wrestlers
The early days of fighting would have been purely for survival and the winner would live and the loser could quite likely die. Fighting from the beginning was seen by the public as a form of entertainment, for some reason many people are fascinated with how one person can beat or overcome another, as time passed civilized people still have a fascination with combat, but some people found that fighting to the death was maybe a bit too far when the argument or dispute didn’t warrant the death penalty.
This did not stop people wanting to watch the actual fight they just wanted the loser to be able to fight again, there is nothing that gets people as excited as watching two people in combat in must be a basic evolutionary trait that we are all born with, survival of the fittest. This can be seen in the way that small children argue and then fight, and this is without encouragement from anyone, it is as natural as breathing, brothers fight brothers sisters fight sisters and teenagers argue with parents in an attempt to become their own person, in our civilized society we try to control this instinct to fight.
This wanting to fight can be seen between countries as well as between individuals, the reasons can vary from one country to another but one thing is for certain there will be disputes between humans of all types big small young and old , it could start with something as simple as one person not hearing or not understanding what someone meant to say, it happens in pubs clubs on football terraces, ion fact anywhere there are people.
So why are there different Martial Arts styles ?
Martial arts styles most likely came about when one fighter beat more than one opponent and showed that they were worthy winners. By winning fights they proved that what they were doing worked. By winning in fights the winner would have built up a following of loyal supporters, this would most likely have come from parents brothers sisters aunts uncles and anyone who may have had a need to have this person continue to win in battle.
It is easy to see that if an enemy were about to steal your families food or belongings and your top fighter were to see them off this would benefit the whole family, and in doing so may put off others trying to do you wrong.
The first successful fighters would have not been that great at communicating how they were able to win in the fights that they did so it ios quite possible that someone who was watching the fights had the foresight to write or somehow record the stages and skills and techniques that the winner of the fight would have instinctively used, and this would most probably be the beginning of what we today would call a trainer, someone who has good recording skills but may not be the best at the actual fighting. A modern example of this could be Manny Pacquiao’s trainer Freddie Roach, great trainer who took Manny Paquiao to the top of the boxing world but was not a world champion himself, this can be seen with Floyd Mayweather and his father who also trained first class world champions yet was not classed as the greatest himself.
Early Martial arts styles
The early martial arts styles were family styles and this can be seen in the titles of martial arts like Tai Chi and styles of Karate Tai Chi style names like Yang and Chen and also Wu these styles are all named after the originator of the styles, as with boxing and other martial arts the best fighter may not always be the one with their name to the style,he may just be the marketing genius that has found a way to make the style popular, this could be for ego or it could be for financial reasons, it is not until they have to face combat that you will find out for sure. This is where some styles just become an illusion.
Other reasons that styles become styles could be political as in the case of Chinese Kung Fu, the government would not permit fighting so the fights were either underground or they were changed as with Capoeira to resemble a native dance, it could be that some styles such as Judo had the dangerous moves of Jujitsu taken out and thus turning Jujitsu from a killing art into a sport called Judo, this would make sport fighting more palatable for the general public who like watching fighting but may not like to see death.
It is clear to see that there are many reasons why there are so many different styles of martial arts, the reasons are different in each period of time from the early fighters to the fighters of today, they are from financial to political to having the need for secrecy, each reason is as valid as the next and each master will have their reason for doing what they do, it could be that the student loses faith with their master and thinks that their way is better or that the student wants what the master has, which takes us back to conflict again whether with words or with combat.