In no-contact free-sparring, the true test of the martial artist’s ability is to place an attack precisely in front of a target without harming the opponent. The ultimate result of an attack, injuring or killing the opponent, is not realized. Thus, the form, control, and focus of the attack have become more important than the result.
Since the method of performance has become more important than the result, the method may now be polished and refined into art. In the martial arts, the beauty of a technique has become more important than its utility, and the martial arts have become a creative force, rather than a destructive one—and creation is the essence of the art. This does not mean that art is useless. Benefits may be gained from practicing a martial art, such as self-control, increased fitness, and character building, and, if an attack must be used to achieve a result, such as in self-defense, it may protect the martial artist’s life. When this occurs, the art is lost and the technique becomes purely martial. Even though the martial artist lives, he or she sees the result as a failure since the goal of a martial art is to create rather than to destroy.
Martial art competition imitates the life and death struggle between two warriors. The object of a sparring competition is the creation of movements that will symbolically “kill” an opponent. No one dies in a competition, but the original intention is retained through the symbolic and ritualistic nature of the art. When martial artists concentrate on the ritualistic and formal aspects of their art, they become unmindful of the result. Thus, through the practice of their arts, martial artists learn to overcome their fear of death and become true warriors.