Ruminations: Forms, pauses, and continuums
Forms give texture to experience, they formalize it. Life is formless in its essence. Man sees patterns, links, and concocts a form. This is art. As in any art, the martial arts formalizes the experience of its practitioners in forms. To remember. To commemorate. This is kata: a form with pauses and continuum, sometimes imperceptible, sometimes not. Corporal arts like karate traditionally abide by stricter canons, a need for canon is inherent to the art and divergence only begets further canons. Every martial art has its own vocabulary, its own alphabet. Within each, the skeletal form, the origin, is always perceivable within the variations that each practitioner brings.
Any art requires an apprenticeship, a period of observation, copying, learning (beginner, intermediate, advanced). Then, when does one become a martial artist? When is the arc complete? When does one pass from merely fighting to martial combat?
Does combat define the martial arts? Partially. Is winning in combat a validation? Who is to say.