It is true that martial arts means arts of war, however, combat is only part of war. If you focus on the combat techniques that is part of martial arts from Aikido to Wing Chun, you may not only lose the battle but also the war. One of the stories in the Bible is how Cain killed his brother Abel. That is a reference to a combat technique that could lose you a war.
If you follow the theory of evolution, the first monkey that yanking the tail of another monkey engaged in combat. The same monkey yanking the tail of a tree climbing Jaguar did not live to tell the tale.
In recorded human history of Egyptian painting dating several thousand years, wrestling came into the scene which makes it the most ancient of recorded martial arts you could teach and learn.
Understanding that martial arts has a violent combative side is important to dispel any illusions about its training. Every punch, every form of kick, every grappling and throwing technique is designed to be harmful and even deadly.
If you plan to learn self-defense and you struggle within yourself with the potential harm you could cause you need to resolve that internal conflict. In a fight for self-defense that unresolved inner conflict will impact your ability to think and execute your techniques.
You cannot look to be a peaceful warrior because martial arts is the art of war. However, you can be a detached warrior who does not seek combat and does not mind it either. He or she uses combat as means to an end.
The end in many forms of marital arts is not physical and has a mystical appeal. The possibility that you can, through martial arts training reach something beyond war is intriguing and attractive.
The training becomes like a hot forge that provides you an opportunity to create a delicate glass sculpture or a deadly sword. A detached warrior can do both according to the objective.
Lives of contemporary masters of Martial arts including Mas Oyama, Ip Man, General Choi Hong Hi and Bruce Lee reveals how they struggled to share a path to internal transformation.
Many martial arts styles have clear training for the spirit and the mind separate from the physical aspects. I remember one of my childhood favorite TV series, Kung Fu starring David Carradine. In each episode there was a merging of the present struggles of the hero-teacher and his past. The solutions were often reliance on an inner aspect of life with a touch of combat.
I wonder how the series would have been if Bruce Lee had a chance to play the role instead of David Carradine since it the series was Bruce Lees idea.
As they said in the series, Grasshopper, you have choice.
In finding the martial arts training that is most suitable to you, you can reflect on your inner struggles, understand your motivations and your goals. Or focus on the explosive exhibition of combat training that is most appealing to you.
What is appealing to your mind may not be in harmony with what is in your heart. Your physical training will suffer if there is too much of a disconnect between what is in your mind and what is in your heart.