Saturday, May 10, 2008

There is sport, and then there is something else...

My latest posting on tournaments brought up some thoughts about different philosophies while training in Martial Arts. I am grateful to Steve for planting the seed of this discussion in one of his comments.

As one trains in a Martial art they will find themselves attracted to the various avenues that is provided by this time consuming activity.

Some center themselves in life and death applications that could save them in a violent encounter. Their own lives depend on how well that they know their Martial art. Usually we'd see these as soldiers, or police, but there are others who chose to focus their training in this direction. This kind of training could never be performed at a tournament as the main rule is that there are no rules, and that all actions are fair in the heat of battle. These people seek to turn themselves into effective weapons of quick decisive destruction as is a necessary skill in the demands of their lives. I would call this as "survival" oriented.

Others enjoy the thrill of competition. They train in order to become the most skilled at their Art. They improve themselves with the goal of winning the most medals, trophies, and acknowledgement for their abilities. Each new challenge motivates them to look for better ways of expressing their Art at a higher level. I would call this kind of philosophy as "sports" oriented.

Some train in Martial Arts because they have noticed that it helps their bodies to stay in shape. They've noticed that training in the Arts has had a positive effect on their flexibility, stamina, strength, and even their ability to think. They faithfully come to the dojo each class knowing that they are investing into their future. I would call this kind of philosophy as "health" oriented.

Then, there are people like me. I understand, and appreciate all of the philosophies that I've listed so far, but my focus is different than that.
How can I describe this in words???

I am "spirit" oriented. I look towards the development of my character into a more positive me. I use the tools that Karate training offers to help me learn patience, perseverence, humility, courage, wisdom, etc. Through my efforts to improve myself, I find that I gain the benefits of learning self defense skills, expressing my art at a higher level, and increasing my health. The benefits are not my focus, they are like a wonderful by-product. Karate is part of "me". My lifestyle, my spirituality, my daily work, my mothering, my interactions with others, etc. all of these things fuel my journey in the Way of Karate. Street effectiveness of a movement is not as important to me as the performance, and understanding of the movement. Winning medals is not as important to me as how the person wins. Health improvement is not beneficial ( in my eyes) if the person treats others with disdain, and disrespect. For me, Martial arts are centered on courtesy, and respect for oneself, and for our neighbour. I see that it is the lack of courtesy, and respect for others that has been the cause of every single confrontation, war, and negative event in the history of humanity.

Is one philosophy better than the others? Well.. obviously, I prefer the one that I am walking upon or I wouldn't be so involved into it, but that doesn't mean that there isn't goodness in the other paths. I know what I want from myself, and my training, and I seek my goals. This is what I'd desire for everyone else.


Chris | Martial Development said...

Suppose a martial artist had the goal of becoming the next Genghis Khan, murdering anyone who stood in his way. Would you support that goal?

What if this person merely wished to dominate everyone else in his dojo? Would you support that?

It takes courage to condemn misbehavior, but as martial artists we should not shrink from it. Not all human goals and desires deserve our praise and support. In my opinion.

supergroup7 said...

You make a good point Chris, I was assuming that those who train in Martial Arts would have an ethical base of some sort. This isn't always true in our world.

No.. I wouldn't support abusive, and cruel behavior inside or outside of the dojo... not in the slightest.

Lizzie said...

Like my old dojo. ;)