To many, the notion of combat bringing peace into the world is a paradoxical one. How couldn’t they, with study after study reminding us of the toll the thousands of blows fighters endure in their careers can take? Many in the past have even called out fighting organisations like the UFC for glorifying violence, making it out to be some sort of human cock-fighting.

As a practitioner of martial arts myself, the question of how martial arts was making life for me and those around me a more meaningful one stuck with me from a young age. One of the most intriguing things was the role of martial artists in ancient times, where senseis were pillars of communities. Villagers would seek their help in settling disputes or ask them for guidance in their lives. Being proficient in a martial art showed that an individual was disciplined and confident but at the same time was willing to respect others and fight against injustices. After encountering several accounts of how significant mastership of combat was in the past, I became one of the many advocates for the fact that the stoicism this art instils in a person was just as important in today’s world as it was then, especially with the current generation infamously allowing technology to consume their responsibilities, time and adaptability to hardship .

As I continued to delve further into the question, I began to go further back in time. Sun Tzu, the writer of the legendary book “The Art of War”, lived around 500 BC, a time where martial arts was utilised to train soldiers. In his works, Sun Tzu wrote that the most powerful warriors were those that could resolve conflict without violence. Today, the world regards him as ahead of his time. He explored concepts that are everlastingly relevant, especially in today’s world of WMDs and mechanised warfare, where hand to hand combat is not relied on and yet still must be wielded with responsibility.

In what was now becoming a quest for an answer, I began to focus on more recent history. Muhammad Ali, who is undeniably amongst the greatest in boxing, used his fights as his medium to express his love for Islam or the struggle for civil rights. His flashy dodges, powerful anchor punches and TV charisma spread his message to the world. He even dropped his Olympic gold medal into the Ohio river in 1960 when a white only café refused to serve him. Ali was nothing short of a modern day crusader.

Nowadays, the practice of martial arts provides an easily accessible outlet to develop and express one’s own unique fighting style, something rarely seen in other sports, as well as keep fit and learn to defend yourself. The mental fortitude and strength of character martial arts gives a person makes it an essential force, an art for development of our species and the greater good.