First of all, to say why shooting should be a martial art, we should first define what a martial art is. “Martial” in this context refers to “military”. Martial art therefore refers to the military arts or any combative discipline that can be utilized in military applications during times of war. However, during times of peace, it was found that the study of these arts could lead to the spiritual development of the practitioner. This is where the “art” comes from. The art makes the embrace of the discipline into a way of life that is able to make the practitioner a better person through training.

When we think of traditional martial arts, we think of arts like karate, kung fu, kendo, iaido, kyudo, etc. These were the martial arts developed in their day as the premiere means of self-defense utilizing the human body as a weapon as well as any number of hand held weapons such as the bow and arrow, the sword, and the staff.

The gun is the natural historic progression of martial arts. Take the best weapon of the times, study it, perfect the technique and tactics to utilize it, and bond a philosophy to it to make it a true martial art.

But what makes the way of the gun (Hojutsu-Do) a martial art? All of the things that make the old established martial arts valid apply to Hojutsu. Here are a few of them:

1. The practice in the use of the weapon never ends. Perfection in form and application is strived for but true perfection can never truly be attained, hence, the practice is one that is never-ending. The discipline of training strengthens the mind and continually improves the skill of the practitioner (Hojutsu-Ka). Training over time will therefore improve the character of the practitioner and the practice becomes a means of self-improvement. Consider the draw of the pistol similar to the draw of the samurai sword. Simple in appearance, it takes a minute to learn, but a lifetime to master.

2. Hojutsu, like its martial predecessors has a well-defined structure and training methodology. This enables one to gauge their progress in the art, but more importantly, gives the art a framework whereby the art can be taught to future generations. The art then becomes a living entity in that it is not static. Each new generation can contribute to the art with better techniques and make changes in the art that enable it to conform to the latest advances in weaponry as well as the changing norms of society.

3. Hojutsu has an established history and lineage that builds on the technique and reputation of its creators. It is not the work of one man, but rather a historic accumulation of knowledge and techniques by many masters that have been passed down to the future generations of martial artists. Hojutsu requires the student to learn about the history of the gun and its development. By learning about the history, you can better understand the current day weapon. By studying the history of the application of the weapon and the conflicts it has been used in, it will help you understand the capabilities and limits of the modern weapons.

4. Hojutsu has certain basic fundamental movements that are the building blocks for the techniques. Without attention to the basics, the techniques lose their effectiveness. The basics also become the building blocks that enable tactics to be developed.

5. Hojutsu has a very quantifiable testing method as opposed to most martial arts which use a very subjective method of testing. In Hojutsu, techniques are timed AND are judged for correct movement and accuracy. At the higher levels, testing requirements are so stringent that they can only be passed unless an unconscious level of proficiency has been obtained. This can only be obtained through countless hours of training. Proficiency is measured by the accuracy of shot placement on the target AND by meeting the time requirement AND by demonstrating correct movement. Of the three criteria two of them are quantifiable and only one of them are subjective. The subjective criteria being "correct movement" has a direct impact on the accuracy and time criteria. Therefore, the accuracy and time criteria are check points for the only criteria that is subjective, that  being "correct movement" .The accuracy and time requirement are easily quantifiable which differ considerably from other martial arts which are very subjective, based only on the judgement and knowledge of the examiner. This flexible standard in other martial arts has led to a wide variation in the martial arts as to what constitutes a black belt or master level of proficiency. In Hojutsu, proficiency is demonstrable and cannot be disputed.

5. Martial arts have become a brotherhood whereby people with like minds and goals can work together and help one another to become better people through training. It is not about being able to beat your fellow student or teacher. It is about making one another the best you can be, hence the group as a whole becomes stronger both mentally and physically as well. This bond unites the group as a family. Each student and teacher owes their help to one another. This insures the survival and propagation of the art and the group.

6.  The weapon is to be used only in self-defense. It is used primarily for defense and only for offense to prevent an immediate, inevitable attack

7. Martial arts goal for military actions have always been to make the man the best and most effective fighting force that he can be. By not embracing the modern weapons, you greatly limit the capabilities of the group or individual as a fighting force. The enemy will always embrace the technology of the superior weapon. If you do not do the same, you have no chance against the enemy and hence the capability of the fighting force is diminished. What is the point of ONLY training with a sword if you are going to be confronted by a group at 100 yards armed with rifles? What is the purpose of only training for a knife attack when the terrorists are training with guns? Without the embrace of the modern technology, the martial art can still be used as a vehicle for spiritual development, but without the practical application of utilizing the modern weapons, its applications become limited. The true purpose of martial arts was to make the man the best and most effective weapon he can be. By embracing the gun into the martial arts, the man continues to be effective against modern as well as ancient weapons. Modern martial arts MUST embrace modern weapons or else the arts become static as far as making man an effective weapon. All martial arts are developed upon their predecessors. For martial arts to continue and to be effective, the gun must be incorporated.

These are just a few reasons why I feel the gun should be incorporated into martial arts. As modern day warriors it is mandatory that we continue to train in the warrior ways of yesterday as well as tomorrow. The defensive of our beliefs and our way of life depends on the few that choose to embrace the way of the warrior. The few then can always be called on to train the many in times of trouble. This insures that future generations will have the freedom that we in the United States have embraced. The second amendment was created by our founding fathers for a reason and it had little to do with “sporting” purposes. The gun has always had its place on the history of our military. By making it an art, it can become much more than a means to kill. It can give birth to a philosophy for self-improvement and at the same time continue the further development of the gun for wartime and self-defense. It can then be used not only to improve ourselves, but also to protect our country from our enemies, and our homes and loved ones from the criminal element of our society.

“Teach your children the art of war, so that they may teach their children math and science, and their children can study art and literature.”       - John Adams, 2nd President of the United States

Why Shooting (Hojutsu) is A Martial Art   by Rod Kuratomi