Honor Through Martial Arts

Discussion in 'Korean Martial Arts - General' started by Millennial Martial Artist, May 9, 2017.

  1. Millennial Martial Artist

    Millennial Martial Artist White Belt

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    Whenever I watch those old martial arts movies, usually one of the things I always hear is honor; bringing honor to one's family, honor to one's loved one, or honor to their senior, style or dojo/dojang. It really seems like a common connection with martial arts and honor to go hand in hand. But I'm curious as to why? In my years of training in Taekwondo, I hear it talked about a lot, and I constantly see it through martial arts culture. Honor is one of those things that you want to build, and it seems to hold more weight through martial arts. I know that it is found in everything, and it is something that everyone looks for in all cultures, but it seems very influential through martial arts. Especially when it comes to our leaders, I know people look to them to see that they are honorable. My instructor even talked about it a lot, and kept revolving around leaders, and how important honor was to have as a leader. He stated that "Honor is simply one easy word to sum up a few valuable characteristics of a great leader. Those characteristics are honesty, fairness, integrity, and credibility" (The Characteristics of Honor: a Mastership Thesis by Master Travis Dillow). So now I open the floor; tell me about what your thoughts are on honor. How do you look at it in your training, and how do you look at it when it involves your leaders?
     
  2. Bill Mattocks

    Bill Mattocks Sr. Grandmaster

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    I consider it from a historical perspective. In times past, when communities were smaller and more closely-knit, where it was sometimes literally true that "everybody knows everybody," it was a person's reputation that defined them. By association, a person's family's reputation could then be lauded or torn down by the reputation or behavior of one of the members of that family.

    In those times, a son or daughter could certainly bring disgrace upon his family if they behaved badly, and respect if they behaved well. These were days before things like online criminal background checks or credit checks or such things. A bank, for example, might be more willing to lend money at a favorable rate to a family that had an established good reputation than one which was known to produce bad actors.

    This is all in a basket with 'honor' I think. And that's not even considering religious connotations in cultures that practice ancestor worship or veneration, where 'honor' can affect not just those living but those who have left this mortal plane.

    In the dojo where I am a student, I hear more about 'respect' than I do about 'honor', but I feel they are tied up with one another.

    With particular regard to martial arts, one is teaching and learning among people who, when trained, can hurt you badly, pretty much at will. Trust is essential, is it not? And a person's honor, the way they comport themselves inside and outside the dojo, give us some level of assurance that the people we train with are training for reasons which we would agree with. Not to hurt each other, not to bully others, not to take advantage of innocent people, but to defend ourselves, to protect our loved ones. These are things honorable people do, and so we look for those qualities in each other.

    Just some thoughts. It's an interesting concept.
     
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  3. drop bear

    drop bear Sr. Grandmaster

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    It is like being Spiderman.

    With great power comes great responsibility.
     
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  4. CB Jones

    CB Jones 2nd Black Belt

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    I'm more of a Deadpool person myself.
     
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  5. CB Jones

    CB Jones 2nd Black Belt

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    In all seriousness....all you need is integrity.

    If you maintain integrity everything else works itself out.
     
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  6. JowGaWolf

    JowGaWolf Senior Master

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    Honor plays more of an important role outside of martial arts for me. For me honor represents the quality of a person. A person with no honor is one of low quality. Honor is never a social rank or a representation of wealth. Someone poor can have more honor than someone rich. With honor comes true respect even if the person is considered an enemy. This is for enemies who have done no wrong directly or indirectly to me, but are enemies by association. Honor is the one thing that no one can take from you. For me martial arts has very little if any influence on how I see honor.
     
  7. thanson02

    thanson02 Green Belt

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    I am in agreement with this. The only thing I would add is that many of these older cultures saw honor as something that provided a sense of safety and security to a chaotic world. If you had a good reputation of someone that could keep the community safe, handle situations well, and excel in achieving what you work to get, you were considered honorable. If you faltered in any of these, you were dishonored, or your reputation was tarnished and people were not sure if they could rely on you. As time went on, the idea of honor changed. Much of what we view today as honor is a weird mix of Victorian ideals and social developments through the 20th century.

    My personal view about honor today is more about being responsible for your actions, treat people well and with respect, know how to handle yourself in a way that doesn't cause more damage then doing nothing, and above all things, walk your talk.
     
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  8. hoshin1600

    hoshin1600 Master Black Belt

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    i do not remember where i heard this (might have been a TED talk) but honor was a cultural concept. that if someone were to verbally slander you it was your duty to protect your honor and challenge that person to a duel to the death. in modern times we no longer hold this concept and feel , "sticks and stones can break my bones but names can never hurt me". what anyone says does not determine who i am and they can say what they want. how would the internet survive if we needed to kill anyone and everyone who said something bad about us? honor was replaced with self dignity and self respect. i think its linked to individualism VS group culture. Asia still has strong group identity culture. as we become more individual honor holds less meaning. respect becomes more important.
    in martial arts i believe its a cultural "cling on". there really is no need for the concept of honor, respect yes but honor not so much. we tend to use the terms interchangably but i dont think they mean the same thing.
     
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  9. CB Jones

    CB Jones 2nd Black Belt

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    Honor is respect.

    Too honor someone is to respect them. Verb

    Or your honor is the respect people have for you. Noun

    Honor as a noun can become a problem. Throughout history wrongs have been committed in the name of honor and also loyalty.

    I don't put much into honor and loyalty because they can and have been used for wrong. I believe that if you live your life with integrity it all works itself out.

    I make the choices in my life not because of loyalty or honor....but because I believe them to be the right things to do.
     
  10. oftheherd1

    oftheherd1 Senior Master

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    Honor, respect, integrity, all are considered synonyms of each other. There are other words as well. It is hard to pick one word or even one concept as the definition of honor.
     
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  11. Buka

    Buka Grandmaster

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    That right there.

    I've always taught Martial Arts for the development of character, to be a gentleman or a lady, through rigorous training. Might sound old fashioned to some, might sound foolish to others. I don't really care.
    It's the only way I know how, it's the only way I ever wanted to know how.

    As for the last part of the OP. Our "leaders". There has never been an honorable man in Washington D.C., not in my lifetime. If one ever went there, they would eat him alive and spit him out. It's just not allowed.
     
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  12. Millennial Martial Artist

    Millennial Martial Artist White Belt

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    I like how you summed things up with a pretty simple standard. [honorable people do not train]"...to hurt each other, not to bully others, not to take advantage of innocent people, but to defend ourselves, to protect our loved ones." People do train for confidence and discipline and plenty of other things, but those come through that confidence to defend ourselves and our loved ones, being able to walk tall knowing we may never have to use it, but have the ability to should a situation arise that can't be avoided.
     
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  13. Millennial Martial Artist

    Millennial Martial Artist White Belt

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    Fair point about our "leaders" in D.C. It is a shame that the title and positions tear their honor down, if they had any to begin with in getting to that position. Perhaps a false sense of honor; a ruse they put on for us, but I agree, not many TRULY honorable people make it to D.C. and I don't think their honor ever stays in tact...
     
  14. JP3

    JP3 2nd Black Belt

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    I think I can get behind that. As long as there is an active component to it.
     
  15. Bill Mattocks

    Bill Mattocks Sr. Grandmaster

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    "The difference between a moral man and a man of honor is that the latter regrets a discreditable act, even when it has worked and he has not been caught."
    -- H. L. Mencken
     

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