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Defensive Technology Leads to Art

People and societies spanning all historic periods have needed to defend themselves effectively or die. Beside the need for air, water, food and shelter, people need to protect themselves from extinction so they trained to fight, hunt and form alliances. Warriors trained for war to protect themselves and their families, and formed alliances because a gang survives better than individuals do. Such alliances of individuals are villages, and villages form cultures that have traditions of martial expertise.

Once the martial masters made the village safe, they were able to pursue happiness. When the defense of the culture was assured through fighting (destruction) people were free to create, and since martial art serves the first, most vital, indispensable need (survival) martial art must have been the first of the arts.

Before an individual can evolve he needs to feel safe. Self-defense and the defense of society are primary needs that must be met before the "wants" can be pursued. After the needs are met and security is assured, people are free to create philosophy and art, the foundations of culture. The warriors were the first to feel secure, so the warriors must have been the first to philosophize and create art.

The first objects of art were cave paintings invoking the animal powers to provide food. A knife (a weapon needed for hunting and fighting) carved in the shape of a horse, is one of the first objects valued for purely aestheitc or artistic value. The first dances were fighting simulations. The first rituals concerned hunting and fighting. The first prayers to supernatural beings were for security and food, the procurement of which was the job of the warriors.

Besides serving security needs, the power of a master warrior made him the most logical canditate for "magical" inspiration. Warriors entered altered states of consciousness for their supernatural inspiration in order to mediate between the common world shared by all life and the mystical world. They were the pioneers of spirituality.

Self-defense and defensive technology evolved into the martial arts where poetry, painting, and calligraphy are common skills of martial artists. The routines of serving tea, arranging flowers and gardens, furniture making, and even cleaning the floor wer inserted into the list of arts thanks to the Zen belief that the most mundane acts such as chopping wood and carrying water are seen as spiritual acts.

Copyright 2004 by Jack Livingston

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