Non-Violence in the Martial Arts
Since I searched and there was no direct article about this subject, I wanted to bring up the concept of "Non-Violence" in the Martial Arts.
Many times, we are faced with the concept of “non-violence” in the Martial Arts. Many cultural and social differences lie in the realm of martial arts, the one peeve I have always had when dealing with many “Martial Artists” is conceptualizations of “non-violence” and its implications in fighting and self-defense. Many of the (wo)men we have all come to dislike, such as Ashida Kim, Coda Scott, Dillman, etc, etc hide behind this veil of “compassion” and “caring” when faced with an altercation of any kind, and demand that their style is exempt from violent tendencies in anyway. They throw “Asian” images of serenity and happiness, as well as false and sometimes connection destroying concepts out to people who in reality do not know to question the judgment of the people they are giving their hard earned cash to.
“Monks” from different Chinese Sects come to New York City and make millions, when they somehow forgot take a vow of poverty. Ancient Japanese Styles arise from the ashes of violence and promise you the ultimate self defense, even though its “Soke” has never been to Japan. Koreans promise incredible power and dexterity in their kicks, because of the “mountains of Korea” and their developed legs, when it is geographically less mountainous then Japan in most parts. The list goes on and on, and there is one concept that lies true with all of these “Masters, Sokes, Sifus, Sabunims, etc etc” is the fact that when challenged intellectually with their styles validity they throw up a sandstorm of “virtues in Non-Violence and Non-Fighting”. In a sense there are so many different theories and concepts of non-violence, we forget that the mere mentioning of the concept of what violence is happens to be a moralistic judgment and tends to change from person to person. When dealing with a person who we are dealing with on a consumer/distributor level such as an martial arts instructor/ student, we have to ask if we thoroughly concur with the instructors views on how his/her art is used, and how it is trained, and what the ultimate goal of learning that art is.
A good example of what I mean is this –
If I decided to walked into the Relson Gracie Gym in NYC today, or any of its subordinates, and asked them their views on fighting and the use of the Martial Arts, I would most probably get a very concise and intelligently put explanation of “defend yourself, work out, don’t **** with people, do not being an asshole”.
Now, if I went to the local XYZ dojo in NYC, there would be an explanation more similar to the “Karate Kid” – Never use your skills for violence, only for stopping your opponent, but never too much, you know its JAPANESE culture to not do that. Through training violence we reach NON-VIOLENCE and understanding.
What we have here is a cultural and social dysphasia. We are lead to believe that people from different parts of the world sat around and developed all of these arts for the very fine premise of developing non-violence or self-connection, rather then the obvious reason. The truth of the fact is that the opposite is the valid point. Martial Arts are Martial in nature. The fact that some people find self connection within themselves training a martial art is completely independent of the style or the training itself. The person would have the same potential to find the same level of self-connection and “non-violent” tendencies in playing chess or riding bikes, yet because of how many people place Martial Arts, we tend to believe it is a definite strategy for self empathy and understanding, when it is not..
I have personally seen this example hundreds of times, where schools offer non-violence and self growth as a major aspect of their training, when they is not even involved in any aspect what so ever.
We can remember that in reality there are an infinite number of ways to reach self connection, what is considered the primal drive to avoiding violence by many of the worlds foremost Conflict Resolution and Compassionate Communication Specialists. When a scam artist, or possibly a well meaning person knee deep in Bullshido attempts to force onto you a concept of "non-violence" when you go to a school of Martial Arts, they are forcing a certain strategy or belief, which in itself could one of the most violent and destructive things out there.
When dealing with many people who are potentially planning to take your hard earned money and force you to believe something you may not, we have to ask ourselves several things. –
Am I looking for Non-Violence when I look for a Martial Art, and why?
What does Non-violence mean to me, what does it look like to me, and why?
What does it mean to other people, and why?
Do we agree with their view of the world they are using to sell their art?
Do you agree that the training will be beneficial to your fighting ability, independent of of emotional growth?
Do you agree that the potential for emotional growth is there, but not guaranteed?
Am I fine with the fact that learning a Martial Art and Non-Violence are very loosely connected at best?
In finishing, I would like to express my reason for starting this thread - In all of the counseling training, compassionate communication, and conflict resolution groups I have ever trained with, since these things interest me academically, there was been at least one person there. Vegetarian/Vegan, kung-fu, or something obscure or worthless in fighting, that always demands everyone else train a Martial Art for the fact that it leads to inner peace and understanding, which in theory leads to less violence. These people are always the ones that "stink up" the counseling groups and make it horrible to show up, and I wanted to express my absolute distaste for that kind of understanding in the Martial Arts.
I really don't think nonviolence should be stressed in the martial arts- they are MARTIAL arts. Arts of war. I think the proper idea would be non-aggression. You do not instigate a fight, but when one comes your way, there's no way you can back down. You do want to control yourself, and prevent yourself from using more force than is necessary, but that does not imply limiting yourself to the point of inefficiency- if the only way you can prevent yourself from being harmed is by rendering your opponent unconscious, or dead, then so be it.
In summary, I agree with the views you feel the Gracie schools would hold- don't **** with people. But if they **** with you, **** them up.
Now, what does Martial Arts training have to do at all with your views of "do not start fights" or "prevent yourself from using more force then necessary"?
Originally Posted by Melkolmr
While I enjoy some of the things you state, I do not believe Martial Arts directly teach any of those things, unless the person teaching sits you down and says "Do this in this situation". How does kicking and punching teach you how to understand yourself better or to know how to defuse a situation without conflict? The Gracie/Dojo example was more to illustrate the ludicrous amount of "forced non-violence learning" in arts that never actually teach you conflict resolution or communication skills, but you somehow "magically" just become more non-violent.
This actually came up a little while back in a Backbelt Mag article (I don't get the mag meself but the Shotokan guys do) and so waiting for Judo I see Fighting Karate or Karate Fighting or Fighting in Karate or something like that. New to Kyokushin I go straight to that one.
Uh-oh. Okay here's the story. College Karate class of unspecified style, I'm assuming kata-heavy from the following. The Sensei is writing about how he now only accepts the "right" students, or students who are not inclined to violence and have the "karate spirit". This is because he recently had a student who had been a kickboxer of some sort just join his class (the kid was a college first-year) but had a very un-Zen vibe about him. (Maybe it's because he preffered the bag to kata)
Anyhoo, the Sensei strove to "Change this troubled young man" in which he apparently failed very bad at because one night the student was at a bar and two large men from the surrounding town hit on and tried to assault his girlfriend. The kid went to work breaking one of their jaws and causing many bruises and lacerations on the other. For his Un-Karate-like actions he was kicked out of karate class.
Now, being kicked out of class for defending your girlfriend from two men assaulting her? Wow. It's as if this guy didn't want his karate (though I think the kid pro'lly used his former kickbox experience) to be effective at all. If not then, when the **** IS a good time to use it? It just made me angry that I used to be one of these loosers and glad I'm out.
Originally Posted by WorldWarCheese
See! This is why i dislike Non-Violence and the Martial Arts being mixed. HOW DARE THAT MAN DEFEND HIS GIRLFRIEND FROM BEING RAPED!!!!111!!!!
Seriously, I wonder if any of the students involved in that (Washin Ryu) unspecified style even thought about if they were learning about non-violence or if the teacher was just choosing the biggest suckers for the learning? Also, the teacher probably gloated about the student he had for ONE WEEK "being an effective fighter" and "proving he was right" for a while, and also as an excuse for not fighting.
There is no specific teaching of that kind of philosophy, that is correct. I'm sorry if I implied that martial arts intrinsically taught that. A martial art is an art of fighting, and can be implimented under any circumstances. That being said I don't think it's wrong for a teacher to stress not to attack people, for moral and liability reasons. Is it by default their place to do so? No, it is not.
Originally Posted by polishillusion
I definately think non-violence vs avioding violence. That guy should have broken their jaws
or maybe I'm a dick
Originally Posted by Melkolmr
It is not philosophy so much as proven, critical conflict resolution being taught. A Karateka can go and cry his eyes to sleep in happiness about Non-Violence and "When to and when to not fight" IF he has a certification in Conflict Resolution or a P.hd in it or something similar. While I value the fact that they have opinions and ideals about fighting, they have no place to be teaching any philosophy whatsoever unless they are versed in something that gives them the right to, which a martial art doesn't. They can say "I wish you guys wouldn't mess with people and this is why i think why" all they want, but they can never provide that as undeniable ultimate truth, especially to people who do not know better. That is what leads to the mentality of "this guy is bad for protecting his girlfriend from being raped".
Originally Posted by The Villain
I would not say that so quickly. Everyone wants Non-Violence in one sense or another; and you just have your way of getting it. BJJ COULD be a path to non-violence when mixed with other things, like conflict resolution training.
Until about two years ago I was an ontological pacifist. Why I changed my mind isn't really relevant to this discussion. I will say, however, that when I decided to start a martial art, the first thing I promised myself was that I wouldn't take something that espoused an incongrous philosophy of nonviolence. I did not then, and do not now, have any interest in being lectured to about pacifism by people who don't understand it.
I think self-examination is valuable. I think a nonviolent (though not necessarily pacifistic) philosophy is valuable. I think that the kind of crap they teach you at a strip mall karate dojo is more harmful to the moral development of the student than nothing at all. If you teach somebody crap philosophy, they're going to figure out it's crap, and all that nonviolence is going right out the window.