As a young boy, I was a drawer. Of all the childhood activities that were scattered through my time, it was putting a pencil to blank white paper where I practiced with the most enthusiasm. I remember it well: the complete freedom of a blank page, that one simple instrument. I didn't erase much. If I did, the previous line would be replaced by a better one, and I would move on. I would draw a picture for maybe thirty minutes to an hour, then put it somewhere never to be seen or thought of again.
I am still like that, I think. My life is largely determined by physical motion. The difference is that it started in organized team sports and has evolved into practicing Japanese martial arts; namely aikido and kyudo. (One interesting constant though has been board sports, skateboarding when I was in middle and high school, and snowboarding now in Japan). I said "Japanese martial arts", because it's a very specific practice within the umbrella of "martial arts" as a whole: its differences greatly affect my experience of martial arts. One of the most intelligible differences can be found in the suffix "dou" (karate-do, aiki-do, kyu-do, etc). But that is a topic worthy of another post to come. What is relevant to this discussion is the image of Japanese martial arts, and the feelings produced from those images and its practice. I express my tendency to images by being interested in the image of Japanese martial arts, and by most of all being the image by participating. By participating in the art, I am using my physical body in motion, and the combination of my imagination working with the images and my body with the physical world, a certain feeling arises and exists. Kind of like the kokyu that arises from correct form in aikido, or a clean hanare (release) built from proper form in kyudo. Everything together is the picture of art that I make, each segment playing its respective part, yet totally inseperable from each other as the whole. This is my art. I practice for a couple hours at a time, consciously making corrections by the guidance of my peers, and forget the experience after I'm finished.
My personal expression of art needs this kind of purpose. If any of my writing could be called art, or skilled in a kind of art, that is other than just relaying facts, it is not of conscious design but merely an effect of the overall mission to write. If there is beauty or art in my movement of martial arts, it is not for that purpose, but merely an effect of that specific technique. This truth is not built by thought, but an effect from my life. This is very important, and it finds its way snaking deep down in the depths towards some kind of core from which the roots of other arts blossom.
I don't really know what it is like to create art for the sake of beauty; I wonder how much I can relate to painters or practitioners of ikebana. I think of music as well, an art designed for creating sounds. That is very different as well. That is very interesting to me. That is all.
The "art" in martial "arts"; it's real.