Does chivalry belong in martial arts?
Several times in the SCA Combat thread someone has said "Chivalry is BS." It has been pointed out that martial arts is about killing each other and that anyone who has conquered and overcome has been pretty much an asshole in order to do so.
On the other hand, popular culture and the history of literature is filled with martial artists and warriors who used their skill to defend the weak, protect what was important to them, and serve the cause of justice and right. It has also been held up as a heroic ideal to give your opponent every fair opportunity to defeat you so as to honestly test one's skill.
So, should a practitioner of martial arts adhere to any sort of code of chivalry or behavior or work to defend what is right, just, and good, or should we simply learn how to attack, kill, maim, and slay without any regard for other people so that we can take what we want and be happy that no one can take it from us?
Chivalry is a mixed bag. On the one hand it is the origin of what we consider today to be a gentleman. On the other hand in its original use it rarely was extended to include those that were of a lesser stature than the chivalrous warrior.
Personally I think there is a place for gentlemanly behaviour at almost all times. Respect, mercy and honesty are important character traits and I think they can transfer to the martial arts with the understanding that you must be willing to suspend them at times. When in the ring showing respect to your opponent win or lose is admirable. In the street if you knock a man out it could be considered chivalry to not continue the attack but just as easily if that same man had a knife or gun on you than you may need to suspend ideas of fairplay and cripple him.
Learn to attack, kill, maim, and slay with regard for other people so that we can protect what we are charged with protecting and scrape out a relatively peaceful existence with our neighbors, and never base our happiness on holding on to what can be taken from us.
Originally Posted by captainzorikh
Every ancient culture has had a term for its honor-bound warrior code, Bushido in Japan, Chivalry in Europe, Mo Duk Pai, etc. In every case, "adherents" to those philosophies wiped out innocents, political opponents, and so on in the name of the state, their sovereign, a political ideology, or just plain old bloodlust. In many ways use/abuse of a warrior code is no different than use/abuse of a religious one.
Martial arts in warfare is about one of two things : using force to protect people (including yourself), or using that force to dominate them.
Would you kill to protect your loved ones? In that respect, would intending to kill them to protect your loved ones violate an honor code, or reinforce it?
Would you allow a helpless enemy to limp off the battlefield or would you utterly annihilate them to avoid future trouble? Some defeated enemies in turn, become great strategic allies. The US and Great Britain are a prime example of old enemies turned compatriots, after a horrible period of "gentlemanly warfare".
I take it from the Lawful Evil stand point. I will be nice to you because I might need something from you later. I should'nt beat you down because it would be a waste of my time. I will manipulate you in order to get what I need because it's more fun watching people jump through the hoops like trained dogs as they dance on my Machiavelli strings like puppets.
(Why's everybody looking at me that way?)
Chivalry was never truly codified until the later stories detailing King Arthur and his Knights, if I recall correctly.
During the actual medieval period, I think it was considered more important to kill people and rape peasants than to save damsels from dragons.
In history, warrior honor codes tend to be observed more in the breach than in the observance. Why should this age be any different? Although I think we tend to do a pretty good job in our culture about keeping our white hats on, even if they do get a little muddy sometimes.
Author Peter S. Beagle wrote a fantasy novel called The Folf of the Air --which is in part a critique of his experience with the Society for Creative Anachronism. The plot concerns what happens in a California college town when a young girl who is part of the college's SCA-like club manages to learn real magic.
The main character is a musician, Farrell, in his late twenties who returns to the town after many years away. At one point, Farrell goes to visit a training session given by John Erne, the club's Master of Combat, an expert on medieval fighting forms who teaches the "warriors" how to use their play swords and shields. He sees this as his true vocation, and he enters into a discussion with Farrell about all martial arts and their place in the modern world. This is the passage about chivalry:
"This is my time." He leaned forward and patted Farrell's knee hard. "This is the time of weapons. It isn't so much the fact that everyone has a gun -- it's that everyone wants to be one. People want to turn themselves into guns, knives, plastic bombs, big dogs. This is the time when ten new karate studios open every day, when they teach you Kung Fu in the third grade, and Whistler's mother has a black belt in aikido. I know one fellow on a little side street who's making a fortune with savate, that French kick-boxing." Farrell watched the combat master's face, still trying to determine how old he was. he appeared most youthful when he moved or spoke, oldest when he smiled.
"The myriad arts of self-defense," John Erne said. "They're all just in it because of the muggers, you understand, or the police, or the Zen of it all. But no new weapon ever goes unused for long. Pretty soon the streets will be charged with people, millions of them, all loaded and cocked and frantically waiting for somebody to pull the trigger. And one man will do it -- bump into another man or look at him sideways and set it all off." He opened one hand and blew across his palm as if he were scattering dandelion fluff. "The air will be so full of killer reflexes and ancient disabling techniques there'll be a blue haze over everything, You won't hear a single sound, except the entire population of the United States chopping at one another with the edges of their hands."
Farrell asked quitely, "Where does that leave chivalry?"
Matteo dei Servi and another student had begun to work out with their swords and shield, circling each other with the peculiar hitching stride that the combat master had employed. They carried the rattan blades well back and almost horizontal, at helmet height, and they struck over the tops of their shield in the rhythm of fencers, turn and turn about. John Erne snapped his fingernails sharply against his own sword as he watched them.
"A dead art form," he said, "like lute music. As unnatural to the animal as opera or ballet, and yet no body who puts on even cardboard armor can quite escape it -- any more than you can escape the fact that your music believes in God and hell and the king. You and I are what they use to call witnesses, vouching with our lives for something we never saw. The bitch of it is, all we ever wanted to be was experts."
Martial prowess, loyalty and to a lesser extent 'honour' were the core parts of chivalry. The rest varied from time to time and place to place and was for the most part made up by the clergy in an attempt to bring some order and peace in the christianitas. So all that bullshit about not kicking a man who's down, or protecting the weak, women and children: bullshit.
Chivalry in the traditional sense just comes from the French knighthood, not the British, and is more relevant to warfare (see? chivalry = cavalry) than romanticism. The romanticism is merely a modern perspective on what is essentially the same type of protector/warrior-code, but the ideas in chivalry/bushido are as as much as three thousand years older, from Mesopotamia.
Originally Posted by helmutlvx
King Arthur legends are from the early Middle age (600AD), the Bushido concept is about as old, Chivalry is from 1200AD and comes from France's military establishment, but you can find honor-bound warrior codes older than both. The Code of Hammurai is from almost 2000 BC and after a short preamble verse begins the set of Laws, with this pronunciation:
And so on. The Code of Hammurabi actually has a number of rules of warfare in it meant to protect the innocent/oppressed..
When Marduk sent me to rule over men, to give the protection of right to the land, I did right and righteousness in . . . , and brought about the well-being of the oppressed.
If any one ensnare another, putting a ban upon him, but he can not prove it, then he that ensnared him shall be put to death...
The code of Hammurai predates all of the modern, popular warrior codes.
May Ishtar, the goddess of fighting and war, who unfetters my weapons, my gracious protecting spirit, who loves my dominion, curse his kingdom in her angry heart; in her great wrath, change his grace into evil, and shatter his weapons on the place of fighting and war. May she create disorder and sedition for him, strike down his warriors, that the earth may drink their blood, and throw down the piles of corpses of his warriors on the field; may she not grant him a life of mercy, deliver him into the hands of his enemies, and imprison him in the land of his enemies.
Last edited by W. Rabbit; 8/02/2010 4:09pm at .
Originally Posted by Styygens
Robert E. Lee
It is good that war is so horrible, or we might grow to like it.
I remember all that **** from history class, but it was kind of informative nonetheless.
In any case, I think the whole problem with this topic is where to broaden or widen your scope? Do we examine all codes of conduct relating to warfare in general? Codes of conducts when relating to unarmed fighting styles?
Certain countries? Certain time periods?
It's a clusterfuck that I would rather pass up and use that time to go punch something.
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