There are some opinions being expressed here that do not agree with some written publications.
A brownie point goes to the first person who can tell me where this comes from.
P.S. No brownie points go to professionals, Van.
Mystery Writer wrote:
Tradition. Often we don't respect the environment that spawned the old combat arts. There is, in my opinion, a persistent myth that we live in the most dangerous and lethal era in human history. Surely our weapons and delivery systems are more powerful, but our perception of the value of life has far outstripped our destructive abilities. For generations raised like I was on the myth of the destructive, wanton Killer Man, this will be a hard sell.
For 2002, the Bureau of Justice statistics put the murder rate at six per 100,000, the lowest rate seen in at least thirty years. Overall violent crime was 25.9 incidents per 1,000. This has shown a steady drop since 1996 (as far back as I was willing to go with some slow-loading tables on their Web sites).
I don't know whether those numbers seem low or high to you.
In early 1945, the Battle of Iwo Jima lasted 35 days and resulted in 26,000 dead, combining both sides. The combatants used artillery, bombs, naval guns, and the most sophisticated personal weapons available at the time: rifles, machineguns, flamethrowers, and grenades.
In 1600, the Battle of Sekigahara resulted in about 40,000 dead in six hours. The battle was fought with horses and the most sophisticated personal weapons of the day: swords, spears, bows, and muskets.
It is estimated that the total civilian and military deaths of World War II would be around 50 million people. This was a war where the major industrial nations of the earth fought a war of attrition to the bitter end, a war where nuclear weapons were developed and used.
It is also estimated that using bow and spear and sword, the Mongols conquered Northern China between 1210 ad 1240 at the cost of 40 million lives...but they also conquered Russia and the Middle East, another 10 million (perhaps a million in the sack of Baghdad alone) and another five million conquering Southern China from 1250-1280.
Do we really believe that the serial killer is a modern phenomenon? Modern serial killers don't approach the body counts of Elizabeth Bathory who may have killed and bathed in the blood of 600 young women or Gilles de Rais who was eventually executed for the torture, rape, and murder of 200 (more or less) young boys.
What is different today? A countess could not hide behind her nobility and it is difficult and rare to say that peasants don't "count." We have a computer network that helps us know if a murder is part of a larger pattern. We have a media that reports what happens. At the turn of the last century, if someone were killed in your town, no one outside of your country and the relatives would even know - unless it made excellent news, like the Lindbergh baby or the Lizzy Borden ax murders.
We also have the police. The idea was a new concept in the 18th century, The U.S. Marshals Service was founded in 1789. Scotland Yard was founded in 1829. Think about the implications: If you were killed, unless your friends or family sought vengeance, there would be no investigation, no search for justice. You would be forgotten. The killer would move on. Many of these killers lived and worked in bands, sometimes gangs, but somtimes agents of authority. The press gangs beat and kidnapped citizens to "recruit" for the British Navy. The soldiers of the Hundred Years War, the Thirty Years War, and much of the Napoleonic era roamed the countryside supplying themselves, which means robbing, raping, and killing for anything that they wanted or needed. The largely unarmed citizenry had no recourse to any higher authority.
This is the environment and the context in which the older martial arts arose. It was an answer to a primal understanding of violence, something we often miss without the experience to understand and evaluate it.