"Material martial arts fixate on physical objects. That kind of martial art is a source of endless contention because it is based on the opposition of two forces. A spiritual martial art views things on a higher level. It's base is love, and it looks at things in their totality. It is things in their totality. It is formless, and never seeks to make enemies."
These are the words of wise, Osensei, the founder of Aikido, Ueshiba Morihei. When reading this I am reminded of a great teacher who would mention the differences between martial arts that seemed to be beautiful and harmounious like the internal arts of Tai Chi Chuan and Bagua Zhang, and others meant for overtly violent forms one may see in K1 or UFC. It seemed there was in fact a clear difference between the two, but how could you define it? I've read in some places that through techniques that work practically, art and creation will manifest itself naturally from its successful application. But I've also read that physical domination and inflicting pain upon someone doesn't necessarily make a martial art art.
To me, this quote is most telling on the subject. Perhaps we can get away from just what we call physical pain, or what we call beautiful, and look at what is behind "it" ... what is the reason for an altercation where martial arts are applied? What is the reason to even study martial arts? Philosophically, by giving a reason, one must focus on and address it ... one must contend with it; agree with it, disagree with it, call it conditional. Maybe that contention is where we run into problems. We must solve the problem, classify it with our logic, label it, control it.
When studying martial arts, I believe its inevitable to ask yourself questions like, "when would I consider using my martial art?", "which martial art is the best one to learn?", "how come not everyone like me wants to learn martial arts?" Well, when you finally find an answer that satiates you, can you be content with your answers and move on to the next one? Surely answering these questions to yourself is vital, even asking yourself over and over again to reevaluate, but what about not having an answer?
Is that OK?
Here is one more quote from Ueshiba Sensei that may not be apparently relevant, but it seems to fit.
"You cannot imitate what I do. Each and every technique is a unique, once-and-for-all experience. My techniques emerge, freely, spewing forth like a fountain. Rather than try to copy what I do, listen to what I say. That is where the essence of the technique lies. Someday you will understand."