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Martial Arts Diversity and Animal Rights Strategy

Martial arts teach us to embrace multiple strategies to defeat opponents. Animal righton activists can do the exact same.

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As a martial artist, I used to wonder if there was one ultimate way to focus one's combat skills, if a style could be developed that took out all the stylistic frills and utilized scientific principles to form a perfect combat system. My reasoning was, if most human bodies are essentially the same, surely there's one specific method of fighting that's superior, and the plethora of styles within martial arts are just culturally-influenced deviations from this hypothetical one-true-way.

There is some degree to which the cultural and geographic background of martial arts contribute to their variation for practical purposes. For example, Capoeira was developed in Brazil by slaves as a rhythmic dance to disguise its combative purpose (since such practice was forbidden for obvious reasons), and its development helped contribute to a successful slave rebellion. In the Phillipines, the various forms of its native martial art of Eskrima differ from one island of origin to the next depending on the landscape, since some terrain requires higher or lower stances for stability purposes.

But the truth is that martial arts are arts for a reason. No "martial science" can ever be fully developed for the simple reason that combat contains so many potential variables in circumstance that no one singular way could ever account for all possible conflict scenarios. The evolution of martial arts thrives on its own diversity and differences in order to account for an infinite variety of situations.

In the application of any martial technique, one item of particular importance is the ability to catch one's opponent off-guard, and to avoid being caught off-guard oneself, since most any attack that can be predicted can be quite easily defended against. Accomplishing this combination of spontaneity and preparedness is something that may require more than one approach, since if one's opponent is familiar with one's martial style, they are much less likely to be taken by the element of surprise. So while it can be beneficial to dedicate oneself to developing a specific set of skills, for those opponents who have developed an immunity to one's tactics, it may become necessary to either develop a new skill set or recruit the assistance of someone who already has in order to defeat them.

There are some instances in which a showy, visual art like Capoeira can be impractical, but there are also cases where its exotic movements can catch people off-guard to great effect. Sometimes the receptiveness of Aikido can be beneficial for containing an attacker while minimizing damage, while at other times initiating the attack with an overwhelming offense, as is done in Tiger Kung Fu, can prove more effective.

This is where is the parallels between martial arts theory and animal righton activism come into play, as they often do. In the AR movement, there are those who claim that anything but demanding total abolition of animal abuse is treachery to the cause, while others insist that abolition is too distant a goal to even start fighting for yet. There are those who feel that a compassionate, caring approach and living by positive example is the only way to sway the masses toward a vegan lifestyle, while others feel that it's necessary that we confront and challenge as many people as we can with great fervor until they get the point.

Yet all of these people share the same ultimate goal, that of animal liberation, and despite the infighting amongst them as to which approach is superior, different circumstances will inevitably necessitate varying approaches, and in the instances where one method fails to succeed, the others ought to follow up immediately to hit the issue from a different angle until any combination of strategies manages to succeed. In this way, animal righton activists can work side-by-side, without necessarily working hand-in-hand.

Valid comparisons to biological evolution and ecology and open-source software development can be drawn here as well. In evolution, subspecies variation provides additional bulletproofing for the species as a whole, helping to ensure that the weakness of one specimen does not lead to the downfall of all of them in the event of disease, scarcity, predators, pollution, and so on. Biodiversity reinforces the likelihood of an ecosystem's ability to thrive for similar reasons, offering a great range of species within itself in order to prevent a macro-level cataclysm spiraling from the loss of one species, such as a key member of a particular food chain for example. In open-source software, a vast plethora of developers from a great variety of backgrounds contribute ideas and modifications freely, working toward a common cause of cybernetic advancement through different methods to create an ocean of ever- improving opportunities for software users to choose from.

But simply because we rely on a diversity of approaches to accomplish our ends does not mean that we must always exhaust every possible strategy available in every situation, as this would be far too great a waste of resources. Despite the unpredictability of conflict, martial arts can be methodical, and animal righton can as well. The general strategy is simple: implement what you have practiced the most until it becomes evident that that approach has fully used up its usefulness in that situation, then switch to a different approach to catch the opposition off-guard. Once a weakness is discovered, drive the attack forward until victory is attained, or the opponent catches on, at which point switch to yet another strategy and continue onward.

This is easier said than done though, and requires great persistence as well as creativity. If you're creative enough (and with persistence you can develop that skill too), you will find yourself innovating new approaches to surprise and overwhelm the opposition with. And when others use approaches you're not fond of, it is often best to leave them to it, provided they are not causing unnecessary harm in the process. Should their efforts fail, the results will urge them to stop, and the movement will be able to grow from the future avoidance of such efforts. And should they succeed, as long as they are pushing for the benefit of the animals, their efforts will become an example to emulate, as well as get us closer toward our final goal.

As long as we keep driving on for the betterment of all animals, our disagreements will not be a weakness of division, but a strength of diversity.