Seems odd perhaps to say that martial arts are about not fighting but its true. Many people don’t understand this including many practitioners of the martial arts. It is a little paradoxical in a way, how can a martial art which on the face of it is about fighting not be about fighting?
To understand we must go back to the origins of the martial arts. The word martial is derived from the roman word Mars who was their ancient god of war. War is run by warlords and princes who built and led armies and armies are both difficult and expensive to run. Every time you send your army out to fight you will lose valuable soldiers, equipment and even your own life. The outcome of a battle is rarely certain and fortune can turn quickly. An army is an asset to a kingdom and apart from the two reasons we have already mentioned there are other reasons why a general doesn’t send them into battle without good cause.
For one, every army is invincible until it loses, reputations are won and lost on the battlefield and a good general only fights when he can win, an army that loses too often becomes a target for invaders. Another reason is that the threat of the army may be enough to get the required result which is the best way to win in combat. A further reason is the effect on the local populace. Damage to them and their property by an army will sour their feelings of support and to maintain a firm rule over a country a general needs the support of the natives. The fifth reason is that the general might get what he wants through diplomacy and negotiation; and in this way everybody wins.
So this is the strategy of an army but how does it apply to the individual? For the same basic reasons as the army: fighting is costly, personal injury, damage to property, arrest by the police, lose your reputation and finally it’s much better to use your martial arts strategies to negotiate an agreement and only fight when you have no other choice.
This thought process and strategy behind the martial arts is what sets martial arts apart from just violence. A martial artist prepares for violence because he knows that it can happen but he never chooses violence as the first resort, only as the last and this is what we know as the art of winning without fighting.