Sam Harris: What Martial Arts has to do with Atheism
No one's ever accused me of being an optimist, but I think reason and intellectual honesty will win. They're just too useful. -Sam Harris
Skeptic and Rationalist, Sam Harris, is also a Martial Artist. He shared some of his thoughts on the arts, knife fighting, and a certain Japanese Ki "Master" getting punched in the face, in an interview for The Atlantic.
On knife fighting:
The reality of a knife attack is that even if you stop 50% of the thrusts and slashes, you will be taking damage with every other move. And getting cut with a knife of any size is physiologically horrible in a way that few people realize. It is arguably worse than getting shot.
On self defense:
Once you go down the rabbit-hole and admit that certain self-defense skills are worth having, you discover that it can be immensely fun to acquire them. The reality of what you're learning is pretty grim when you look at its possible application in the real world, and a person can certainly become slightly aberrated by spending too much time thinking about violence. But there's nothing morbid about training in the martial arts--or even with guns, knives, and other weapons.
And on this guy, and the relation to religion:
...what's amazing--and this should really worry people of faith--is that, even in the martial arts, a person can persist in delusion for decades, gather students, and become a famous master of his fake discipline without knowing that he has wandered completely out of contact with reality. This madman can't even begin to do what he thinks he can do--and what he is apparently renowned for doing--because the skill he is displaying and that his students are striving to emulate doesn't exist. The whole thing is a collective delusion.
You can read the full interview on The Atlantic here.