Martial artists and ethics?

Langenschwert

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Pankration anyone?

Indeed. The grandfather of European Martial Arts, and perhaps some of those in Asia as well... Alexander the Great and all that. And let's not forget the wrestling moves carved into walls from ancient Egypt. No culture has a monopoly on Martial Arts.

@ Tez: probably the most prolific culture with regards to MA manuals were the Germans. In fact, the Manuscript I.33 is likely the oldest extant treatise on personal combat in the world, and without doubt the oldest in Europe. It's a German manuscript dated to about 1290, detailing the use of sword & buckler. Interestingly, the combatants are priests/monks. Combative monks were not merely an Eastern phenomenon, and many were known as expert wrestlers. I have a copy of I.33 with an English translation... it's a very interesting read.

Best regards,

-Mark
 

Tez3

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I think Exile's post touches on a point made by others that in view of Japan's history it is tactless at the very least to say that Bushido, a very Japanese concept, is the only way for martial arts to be acceptable as martial arts. This view negates the validity of martial arts from any other country.
 

Xue Sheng

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Funakoshi was a very gung-ho booster of Japanese colonial expansionism, which included the well-documented horrors visited upon the inhabitants of Korea, China, the Philipines and other parts of Asia forin some casesmany decades before the war. Given his wholehearted support for one of the most evil and destructive regimes of the modern era, the possibility that he might have told people what he thought would be good for them to hear hardly seems particularly noteworthy, eh?

Ahh yes and they referred to the Chinese as logs because they were thought of in the same way they thought about logs thrown on a fire. Just about as useful and equally expendable.
 

Flying Crane

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Interestingly, the combatants are priests/monks. Combative monks were not merely an Eastern phenomenon, and many were known as expert wrestlers. I have a copy of I.33 with an English translation... it's a very interesting read.

Best regards,

-Mark

Templars in the crusades. Warrior monks.
 
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exile

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Ahh yes and they referred to the Chinese as logs because they were thought of in the same way they thought about logs thrown on a fire. Just about as useful and equally expendable.

And Gichin Funakoshi, from all accounts, would have had no problem with that; prior to and during the war, he was, as I said, an all-out booster and cheerleader for Japanese military expansion; indeed you might have concluded that he was native Japanese, instead of an Okinawan expatriate who made it big in colonial headquarters.

Now one of the odd things about LF's post, as I noted, is that he seems to be accusing me of an unthinkable slander in suggesting that Funakoshi told people what he thought they ought to hear—that I was accusing GF of actually.... lying (with all kinds of exclamation points). The irony here is that after all the lectures about Westerners (`Americans') getting Asian points of view wrong, LF himself seems to have fallen into the very cultural trap he describes, for GF's behavior in this respect—and don't worry, I have the documentation of the point somewhere and I will supply it as soon as I can—was entirely in accord with familiar norms of Japanese social behavior. Bruce Clayton, whose detailed 2004 historical study, Shotokan's Secret: the Hidden Truth Behind Shotokan's Fighting Origins is one of the best general overviews of the early history of karate and the social conditions under which it developed, stresses the following point:

one eventually realizes that Japanese writers and karate masters enjoy a very special relationship with the truth. It confounds the na簿ve Western reader to discover that respected Japanese sense casually conceal, distort or fabricate stories about karate's historical origins for their own purposes. In Japanese culture this is the normal thing to do, and it would not occur to them to do otherwise. In Japan, the official story is more important than the actual truth. In fact they consider the official story to be another kind of truth, even if the story is completely inaccurate and deliberately misleading. For a person to question the official story is shockigly rude. People who insist on digging for verifiable facts are derided as rikutsuppoi, or `reason freaks' [footnote supplying substantial documentation omitted]


...The Tokugawa edicts forced the Japanese people to adopt a double standard of truth. Every person had their private opinion, their secret

honne,... [but] all staunchly supported the official government story, the tatemae. ... The distinction between honne and tatemae appears again and again in karate history, right down to the present day....Tatemae means the cover story, and is written with kanji that mean `to build' and `in front'. In other words tatemae is the screen we erect to hide the truth...
Funakoshi and his friend, Shito-ryu maser Kenwa Mabuni, developed the story that hard-style karate was an ancient Chinese art, not a recent Okinawan invention.[footnote supplying substantial documentation omitted] This was their tatemae, their official story, intended to make karate more acceptable to the average Japanese citizen.
[emphasis added]

(Shotokan's Secret, pp. 31-33.) And he gives many, many other examples of this. Now, not once does Clayton use the word `lie'. Neither did I in anything I posted. LF, however, simply plunges in and assumes that an official falsehood has a status which corresponds to `lie' in English, and professes horror that I would suggest something absolutely consistent with what we know about Funakoshi and many other apologists, in the technical sense, for karate, according to the facts that Clayton reports, and documents.

By the way, Clayton, giving a summary of Chotoku Kyan's life—a life of gratuitous violence, hostility and debauchery, as well as superb karate—casually refers to him as `the most overtrained martial artist in history' (p.87; emphasis added). Dr. Clayton is a fifth dan in Shotokan, and a careful historian of karate. But given that he identifies Kyan as a martial artist, I suppose, going by LF's method of reasoning, that we have to regard him as (in LF's words) an `amateur and wannabe'. Dang! :)
 

Xue Sheng

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And Gichin Funakoshi, from all accounts, would have had no problem with that; prior to and during the war, he was, as I said, an all-out booster and cheerleader for Japanese military expansion; indeed you might have concluded that he was native Japanese, instead of an Okinawan expatriate who made it big in colonial headquarters.

Now one of the odd things about LF's post, as I noted, is that he seems to be accusing me of an unthinkable slander in suggesting that Funakoshi told people what he thought they ought to hear—that I was accusing GF of actually.... lying (with all kinds of exclamation points). The irony here is that after all the lectures about Westerners (`Americans') getting Asian points of view wrong, LF himself seems to have fallen into the very cultural trap he describes, for GF's behavior in this respect—and don't worry, I have the documentation of the point somewhere and I will supply it as soon as I can—was entirely in accord with familiar norms of Japanese social behavior. Bruce Clayton, whose detailed 2004 historical study, Shotokan's Secret: the Hidden Truth Behind Shotokan's Fighting Origins is one of the best general overviews of the early history of karate and the social conditions under which it developed, stresses the following point:

one eventually realizes that Japanese writers and karate masters enjoy a very special relationship with the truth. It confounds the na簿ve Western reader to discover that respected Japanese sense casually conceal, distort or fabricate stories about karate's historical origins for their own purposes. In Japanese culture this is the normal thing to do, and it would not occur to them to do otherwise. In Japan, the official story is more important than the actual truth. In fact they consider the official story to be another kind of truth, even if the story is completely inaccurate and deliberately misleading. For a person to question the official story is shockigly rude. People who insist on digging for verifiable facts are derided as rikutsuppoi, or `reason freaks' [footnote supplying substantial documentation omitted]


...The Tokugawa edicts forced the Japanese people to adopt a double standard of truth. Every person had their private opinion, their secret
honne,... [but] all staunchly supported the official government story, the tatemae. ... The distinction between honne and tatemae appears again and again in karate history, right down to the present day....Tatemae means the cover story, and is written with kanji that mean `to build' and `in front'. In other words tatemae is the screen we erect to hide the truth...
Funakoshi and his friend, Shito-ryu maser Kenwa Mabuni, developed the story that hard-style karate was an ancient Chinese art, not a recent Okinawan invention.[footnote supplying substantial documentation omitted] This was their tatemae, their official story, intended to make karate more acceptable to the average Japanese citizen. [emphasis added]

(Shotokan's Secret, pp. 31-33.) And he gives many, many other examples of this. Now, not once does Clayton use the word `lie'. Neither did I in anything I posted. LF, however, simply plunges in and assumes that an official falsehood has a status which corresponds to `lie' in English, and professes horror that I would suggest something absolutely consistent with what we know about Funakoshi and many other apologists, in the technical sense, for karate, according to the facts that Clayton reports, and documents.

By the way, Clayton, giving a summary of Chotoku Kyan's life—a life of gratuitous violence, hostility and debauchery, as well as superb karate—casually refers to him as `the most overtrained martial artist in history' [emphasis added]. Dr. Clayton is a fifth dan in Shotokan, and a careful historian of karate. But given that he identifies Kyan as a martial artist, I suppose, going by LF's method of reasoning, that we have to regard him as (in LF's words) an `amateur and wannabe'. Dang! :)

WOW!!! You know your history
icon14.gif
I am impressed. One of these days I will get more into the Japanese side of things, it is also of intrest to me. But being CMA I tend to know much more about China.

This post has given me an idea for a much less exciting post that is basically History as we know it that will likely get far fewer responses. The truth is simply not as exciting. But I will start with links and see where it goes, if anywhere.

But with that said I will end with this

The historical origin of Japanese martial arts can be found in the warrior traditions of the samurai and the caste system that restricted the use of weapons by members of the non-warrior classes

That is one heck of a way to reduce threat form those of lower class now isn't it and of course incredibly honorable too..... well not really
 

tellner

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And the saintly worshipped-as-a-g-d Ueshiba was a leg-breaker for a jingoistic cult. Later he taught killing to spooks and spies. The sweetness and light and love for all creatures came after Japan was defeated.
 

tellner

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LF, let's cut out all the intermediate steps and get right down to the essentials. "Martial Art" refers to a very small set of Asian empty hand systems. Nothing practiced by guards, soldiers, samurai, ninja, Chinese stylists other than a few Buddhist monks, regular people for self defense, duelists, Southeast Asian villagers, Persian knights, Dayak pirates, Western masters of defense, prize fighters or pretty much anyone else who ever picked up a sword or punched someone qualifies. All of the above-mentioned (and many many more) don't fit your peculiarly romanticized pacifist standard. That includes, of course, all of the followers of "Bushido" which sort of tears your argument apart from inside.

Of what use, then, is your definition? I contend that it is to make the circle of "martial arts" and "martial artists" cozily small so that it includes you, your friends, your students, your teachers and precisely those people with whom you are comfortable. As such it may be good for your ego, but it is a pretty worthless perspective for anyone else.
 

Sukerkin

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Sorry to blunder in late to what is obviously a well developed thread but I have a fairly pertinent observation.

Assuming that this hived off from another thread and was prompted by some statements Last Ferner made, has it been noted that said worthy has not made any further comments?

It is a unfortunate truth that when people who feel passionately about something meet in an annonymous environment and when 'conversation' is non-synchronous, then the minority opinion can get shouted down, or at best drowned out.

MartialTalk suffers from it less than most fora but I have to confess that this thread has me stumped as there are a number of people in it who I respect very highly and yet the impression I garner (from skip reading I admit) is that LF is getting beaten up.

Can someone direct me to where this started so that I can grab a handle? I don't want to start shooting off opinions in the wrong direction, so to speak :D.
 

MJS

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In case anyone is wondering where this thread generated from, these posts were split from this thread, as the discussion seemed to be going in two different directions.

Mike
 
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exile

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Sorry to blunder in late to what is obviously a well developed thread but I have a fairly pertinent observation.

Assuming that this hived off from another thread and was prompted by some statements Last Ferner made, has it been noted that said worthy has not made any further comments?

It is a unfortunate truth that when people who feel passionately about something meet in an annonymous environment and when 'conversation' is non-synchronous, then the minority opinion can get shouted down, or at best drowned out.

MartialTalk suffers from it less than most fora but I have to confess that this thread has me stumped as there are a number of people in it who I respect very highly and yet the impression I garner (from skip reading I admit) is that LF is getting beaten up.

Can someone direct me to where this started so that I can grab a handle? I don't want to start shooting off opinions in the wrong direction, so to speak :D.

Sukerkin, if you read from the begining what you'll see is that LF basically has claimed that you are not a martial artist unless you have a built-in ethic of virtuous application; that the fact that this is not reflected in the way the term is used in ordinary English is of no interest to him because, as he puts it, only the usage of `enlightened masters and reknowned experts' or something like that count so far as the definition of the English noun phrase `martial artist' is concerned, that the general usage reported in dictionary definitions, reflecting English speaker's knowledge of the word-building rules and semantic interpretation principles for complex expressions for their language, basically reflects American's ignorance of Asian cultures, and that if a bunch of `amateurs and wannabes' happen to use the expression `martial artist' in such a way that there is no built-in criterion of `virtuous application', that's just a consequence of the fact that they're `amateurs and wannabes' in whose use of the term he has no interest, no matter how common it is. Several people have found this presumption to superior knowledge of what the term means offensive and insulting, so I think that's where the response you're seeing is coming from. This dismissal of common usage on grounds that we just don't know any better... well, it's bound to provoke a reaction, I'd think.

I myself don't feel so much insulted as bemused by all the many and various forms of fallacious and circular reasoning involved in LF's posts, as per some of my earlier posts; given how many of these there are, I've just tried to point out a representative sample. But beyond the errors of reasoning (and fact as well), it's pretty hard to have a discussion—which assumes some kind of common ground amongst the discussants—when one of the parties insists that the others are wrong a priori, that he simply knows better, and that—as he puts it—there's nothing else to say. Given all that, it's not surprising that people have had the response you've noticed, I suppose....
 

Sukerkin

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Ahh!

Well it is certainly true that the term 'martial artist' is fairly clear in English useage, I agree. It's hard to argue against the meaning of the words, after all :).

It is also true that phrasing an argument in such a way as to belittle the position of those that disagree is not guaranteed to provide a smooth ride - perhaps that makes the 'rock throwing' nature of the thread a touch more clear.

I'm surprised that such emotiveness sprang from such small beginnings tho', especially as, after all, the idealised image of a martial artist is of one that can wreck havoc if he so chooses but restrains those impulses.

It is true, sadly, that the gulf between the ideal and the actuality has historically varied quite a bit (and who happened to be watching seems to have had a bearing on occaision too :D).

I feel I'd better go and absorb more of the background to this fracas before I say much else - I was simply surprised that a relatively established 'member of the club' looked (on the surface) as if he'd been flamed like a troll.
 
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exile

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Ahh!

Well it is certainly true that the term 'martial artist' is fairly clear in English useage, I agree. It's hard to argue against the meaning of the words, after all :).

It is also true that phrasing an argument in such a way as to belittle the position of those that disagree is not guaranteed to provide a smooth ride - perhaps that makes the 'rock throwing' nature of the thread a touch more clear.

I'm surprised that such emotiveness sprang from such small beginnings tho', especially as, after all, the idealised image of a martial artist is of one that can wreck havoc if he so chooses but restrains those impulses.

It is true, sadly, that the gulf between the ideal and the actuality has historically varied quite a bit (and who happened to be watching seems to have had a bearing on occaision too :D).

I feel I'd better go and absorb more of the background to this fracas before I say much else - I was simply surprised that a relatively established 'member of the club' looked (on the surface) as if he'd been flamed like a troll.

The thing is... not one person in this debate, not one, believes that a martial artist should behave in an uncontrolled way with respect to his/her ability to inflict damage on someone else. The problem is this one whereby the very words `martial artist' become a grandiose title that only someone worthy of a vision of the Holy Grail is entitled to. Compare this utter mystification of the martial artistthis denial of documented historywith what Clayton has to say:

The unspoken truth is tha the great Okinawan masters were just people like ourselves. They had strengths and weaknesses. With the insights of modern psychology we can see that they became masters BECAUSE of their weaknesses. Funakoshi, Kyan and Higaona were all very small men, for instance. Karate helped them compensate for their size. Sakugawa was haunted by the terrible death of his father... these people all had psychological issues that karate helped them alleviate.

(p.58). Instead of the plaster sainthood that we've seen demanded of the great masters of the past to warrant qualifying as a martial artistChoki Motobu has to first satisfy someone's ethical litmus test for him to qualify as a martial artist???!Clayton's far more generous, realistic and genuinely humble view is so much closer to the way we talk about martial artistry that there's no comparison...
 

Last Fearner

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First of all, I would like to begin this post by apologizing to anyone whom I might have offended thus far. It was not my intention to insult or offend any of the members here at MT, nor any serious Martial Art practitioners.

I believe some of my comments have been misunderstood, and conclusions have been drawn in a direction that does not match my original meaning. For these misunderstandings - - I am sorry!
For those who are confused as to how this got started, here is a brief update:

As to the origin of this discussion, it seem to have moved around a bit. The first part of the conversation began with a thread started by tellner where he quotes some common phrases repeated too often to serious questions on these threads:
http://martialtalk.com/forum/showthread.php?t=48334

"The best way to fight is by not fighting."
"My greatest (weapon|technique) is my (mind|mouth|running shoes|calmness|selective resemblance to a bull elephant)."
"Martial arts isn't just about fighting."
"De-escalation."

Those of us who've been at this game for a little while all know and understand these things. It's just a tool, you're the weapon. Don't get into any fights you don't have to. The man who fights and runs away lives to sneak up behind his enemies when they don't expect it and bushwack them another day. Those who haven't will not appreciate the pearls of wisdom.
I tend to agree with the above statement, which is part of the basis for my stubborn opinion about how Martial Artist should behave.
tellner goes on to say:

There's nothing wrong with a disclaimer or two. There's also nothing wrong with giving a straight answer to an honest question. You don't learn how to talk or emotionally de-escalate in almost any martial arts class. You don't practice running technique or E&E either. What people learn in martial arts classes is how to fight and how to deal with the aftermath of the fight if you have a particularly good teacher. So why do people insist on doing this?
In the course of this thread, Steel Tiger wrote the following comment:

Unfortunately, I think that a lot of martial artists have bought into the nonsense spouted by Hollywood about martial arts. "the True Warrior is a pacifist" Tellner wrote, but look at the men who founded the various arts. They were not pacifists! The sought combat to test and hone their skills.
So as not to “hijack” the thread, I split off and started the following thread entitled “Martial Artist Classification,” and linked to Steel Tiger's comment:
http://martialtalk.com/forum/showthread.php?t=48833

In my post, I made comments that exile disagreed with. One such point of conflict was when I suggested that Martial Artist are required (by the nature of what the Martial Art is) to have certain values, ethics, and behave in a way that does not misuse the Martial Art skills. I go so far as to state that if a person misuses their Martial Art skill to hurt people without just cause is not (in my opinion) a “true Martial Artist.”

Exile compared this conclusion to musicians, painters, and other artists who can behave however they want, and still be "artists." I simply consider the Martial Art to be something more special than those other “fine arts,” and I further asserted that ethics and values are a part of the training. I, personally, feel that those who misuse the knowledge of the Martial Art are not worthy of calling themselves “Martial Artists” (my personal opinion).

Exile disputed that, and asked me for “external authority” which I took as meaning outside of the fact that “its true just because Master Eisenhart says its true.” So, I offered quotes from books by authors that I consider to be “experts” in this field of study, as example of “external authority.” Exile reduced each of their bits of testimony to mere “opinions” and that it held no weight because they don't speak English fluently, or that their occupation is not in the field of linguistics.

During the flow of replies (only 3 on that thread) I did not even realize that exile had moved the discussion to a new thread entitled “Martial Arts and Ethics.” Since then, my replies have basically been responding to exiles questions, comments and counter-claims to my opinions, and the quotations by the “experts” I offered as an “external authority.”
Now, to clear up some misunderstandings:

"It is critical that you think everything is an opportunity to kill."
I agree with the above statement as a philosophy for training and being prepared. I just don't believe that Martial Artists should take up that opportunity unless it is warranted.

Incidentally in Wado I was taught a first strike move so saying karateka don't strike first is not exactly true.
I am familiar with the “strike first” concept, and I am not opposed to it. I don't believe I stated that Karateka don't strike first. When confronted with a life or death situation, you move when you feel it is best to move to survive, if that means to move first. However, I believe there is a clear difference between the necessary implementation of “first strike” and simply beating up innocent people because it makes you better. For the most part, I do not believe in “starting fights” that you could avoid with non-violent methods. These two schools of thought do not conflict, in my opinion.

The thing is...in the time it would take to read such an epic post as Last Fearners I could have done a fair bit of training which in my mind a Martial Artist would have done as opposed to pontificating over semantics.
You know, I am posting this thread to apologize, and clear up some misunderstandings, but at the same time, I don't care to be criticized for openly expressing my opinion on a topic. I have been a member here for about 16 months and have only posted 470 times as of this post (average of about 1 post per day), and it might be my last. Others have been here for much less time and have posted much more - so I guess their time in training as opposed to time spent on the internet is not that important. Some have time to post thousands of times, but I don't point fingers at them, nor should anyone at me. Some of my posts are long (sorry about that), but there are fewer of them, and I find it necessary to write longer answers to those who question my points of view.

I love the expression "noble art" - for crying out loud,noble art? it's bashing people! Okay it's very good bashing people but that's what it is! I gave someone a thick lip the other night, it wa a good move but not noble!
It's people who can be noble, they may do noble things,they may fight for a noble cause, they may practise a martial art but don't kid on that what we do is noble.What we do is fighting. The simple philosophy behind fighting is to win.
The work is the 16th Century English rapier manual entitled "Pallas Armata" which refers to the "Noble Martial Art of Fencing".
I guess others use the term “Noble” when speaking of this concept.

Terrific points, Tez, Kempojj and XS. It's remarkable how much sense amateurs and wannabes can come up with, in spite of their lack of reknown and enlightenment!

Dr. Clayton is a fifth dan in Shotokan, and a careful historian of karate. But given that he identifies Kyan as a martial artist, I suppose, going by LF's method of reasoning, that we have to regard him as (in LF's words) an `amateur and wannabe'. Dang!

You know, exile, during the course of our discussion, our opinions may differ but I really did not intend to show you, or anyone else here any disrespect by explaining my points of view on this topic (after all you did pose various questions for me to elaborate upon). However, I find your methods of twisting my words, taking quotes out of context, and intentionally labeling others here as though I called them “amateurs and wannabes” to be rude and offensive.

To clear up, once and for all, my use of these terms, I am not referring to anyone here at MT, or to those who simply disagree with me, but to the real problem that we all have experienced. Most of us here at MT have, at one time or another, commented on the problem of “McDojos,” trolls on the internet, and “wannabe” people who lack any credible knowledge of the Martial Art, but act as though they are Masters. I did not make up these terms, and they are a real problem in our field of study.

The reason I used these terms was in seeking a clear explanation as to who you, exile, meant by an “external authority,” and a “social consensus.” You suggest that the term “Martial Art” be defined by a “social consensus,” but I simply asked who would be in this kind of opinion poll to define something that most (if not all) of us feel is a bit more complex then is revealed in Martial Art movies.

All I was asking was for you to narrow the field of the members of a “social consenus” to not include those who are amateurs, and generally admit they do not yet fully understand the Martial Art, and “wannabes” who we all know would like to think they understand it. When considering a serious discussion on an advanced understanding of this field of study, I don't believe any of us would put much weight on the input from those two groups. I have never said that anyone here is part of those groups, so please stop implying that I have done so.

If you were to debate the terms used in brain surgery, or crime scene investigation, you would probably want to seek out brain surgeons and criminologists; established “experts” in those fields rather than those who simply watch ER and CSI on TV.

When debating war strategies, there are thousands of “arm-chair Generals” who have never been in the military, or who served their time in non-leadership rolls. The over-all “social consensus” from these individuals might show an overwhelming majority opinion, but I would not put much stock in it. (mind you, this is purely for an analogy. I am not calling anyone here an “arm-chair General!!!")

I think Exile's post touches on a point made by others that in view of Japan's history it is tactless at the very least to say that Bushido, a very Japanese concept, is the only way for martial arts to be acceptable as martial arts. This view negates the validity of martial arts from any other country.
Ok, I am not saying that Japan is the origin of all Martial Art (those who know me from the Taekwondo threads know better), nor am I suggesting that Bushido is the only example of this type of training and philosophy. I have been using the “Bushi / Bushido” example because I believe more people are familiar with it, and there are more written definitions and documentation about it.

Although the term “Martial Art” might have been used in some context for other weaponry, and fighting skills, the Western application came into play from our exposure to this unique concept for the first time, in any real detail, through our exposure to the Chinese and Japanese systems. Warriors and fighters from around the world may very well have the same concept and principles, and may have had it longer. However, the Western (specifically American) awareness to these things came to be more prevalent in much more recent times.

Perhaps I am wrong (and I'm open to new knowledge), but I believe that the mainstream of population that began to adopt this “common term” of Martial Art were doing so in specific reference to the Japanese and Chinese systems that they first came in contact with during the 19th and 20th centuries.

This does not mean that what other countries and cultures did throughout history, and still do, are not Martial Arts. I was not intending to imply that, so no need to be offended.

The thing is... not one person in this debate, not one, believes that a martial artist should behave in an uncontrolled way with respect to his/her ability to inflict damage on someone else.
This is not the impression I got from your exalting those who behave this way.

`each time Itosu taught him a new technique, Motobu would rush down to Naha's red-light district and try it out on someone... when Itosu found out about these experiments, he publically humiliated Motobu by expelling him from the class.' (Shotokan's Secret, p. 59), There is not a single great karate master of the era, however—Egami, Mibuni, Toyama—who did not regard Motobu as a martial artist of the highest caliber.
And there are far worse stories about Chotoku Kyan, about whom Clayon notes in admiration that `half of the Okinawan Shorin styles are based on the teachings of Kyan, Kyan provoked many fights, and using his apparently unparalleled agility and evasive skills along with the pitiless version of Shuri-te he developed, killed a number of attackers, including several whom he himself provoked to attack. It should be noted that in spite of this extreme aggressiveness and almost gratuitous love of violence, there is not a single accomplished student of Okinawan karate who regards Kyan as anything but a supremely accomplished martial artist.
Look again at what I said: that people like Motobu and Kyan, and many other besides, who used their arts aggressively and fought for the sake of fighting (and as `fieldwork' to develop their arts, um, experimentally) were nonetheless martial artists—aggressive, sometimes brutal and ethically challenged, let's say, but MAists nonetheless. You argued that no, they were not martial artists because they did not live and behave in a virtuous fashion.

—Clayton's far more generous, realistic and genuinely humble view is so much closer to the way we talk about martial artistry that there's no comparison...
I gather that your chosen expert author whom you quote should go unchallenged as an “external authority” - - unlike those that I offered. Well - so be it.

The problem is this one whereby the very words `martial artist' become a grandiose title that only someone worthy of a vision of the Holy Grail is entitled to. Compare this utter mystification of the martial artist—
Instead of the plaster sainthood that we've seen demanded of the great masters of the past to warrant qualifying as a martial artist—Choki Motobu has to first satisfy someone's ethical litmus test for him to qualify as a martial artist???!
Ok, my final comment. I am not suggesting that anyone be chastised for making mistakes, or for not being perfect saints. I believe that having a set of values, ethics, and moral compass by which to guide our actions is a good thing. I don't think that most of us here disagree with that. I happen to believe that this concept is an inherent part of “Martial Art” education, and it is what separates the Martial Art from mere fighting skills. It's just my personal opinion, and I believe others who have written on the subject have a similar view.

If two people are walking down the street, and are surrounded by a group of thugs who are obviously intending them harm, I have no disagreement if one of them steps up and defends himself, even if he strikes first in a preemptive manner.

However, if further down the street, one of them sees a guy waiting at a bus stop and says to his buddy, “watch this!” Then he proceeds to go over and beat the guy into the ground for no reason but to prove he can (or to “hone his skills"), then I have no problem standing a firm ground that this person has misused the Martial Art. It is my own personal opinion that anyone who does this is not a true Martial Artist. Beat me down if you disagree, be angry, flame me, give me negative reputation points (as someone has), and call me egotistical or whatever. This is my personal belief because I hold the teachings of the “Martial Art” and the title of a “Martial Artist” to be more special than the actions of a common criminal.

I am not imposing my standards on anyone, but I believe there is a time when all civilized, intelligent people can decide right from wrong. Some cultures believe in corporal punishment for children, some do not. Some believe women should cover their skin, some do not. Debates rage on. However, to molest a child is wrong. To rape a women is wrong. I don't believe anyone here would justify those actions, but I go so far as to say a person who studies to fight, yet rapes women is not a Martial Artist.

If you disagree - - fine! So be it! But I am proud to say that Martial Artist must live up to a civilized standard of moral conduct or loose the claim to be called such.

When I finished my last post by saying “nothing more needs to be said,” I was wrong. What I meant was that I felt I had presented enough credible “external authority” (including English speaking ones) that I did not need to say any more to validate my position. I was not implying that no one else needs to say anything, or that my word was final and no one had any business responding. Those who read such things into other people's words are going a bit too far, in my opinion.

What apparently did need to be said was that I am truly sorry I offended anyone here!

Now this is all that I need to say as I have lost my taste for this.
Enjoy the debate if you wish, but do so without me. I am done.

Take care
Chief Master Eisenhart
 

Tez3

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Sukerkin, I think LF's posts hit a nerve in a few of us in that he was posting in such a way that made us feel he was belittling us and/or the martial arts we did. He posted his arguments up which is a reasonable thing to do but when questioned on his posts, again a reasonable thing to expect, he said he didn't want opinions from amateurs or wannabes only established masters he named. I think people should be passionate about their beliefs and defend what they think is right. The disagreements or debate though should be respectful.There were several points made by LF that were not, there were some sweeping statements made that begged answering. I don't think he was treated like a troll rather as one who was high handed in his assumptions of us... the amatuers and wannabees.
 

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Sukerkin, if you read from the begining what you'll see is that LF basically has claimed that you are not a martial artist unless you have a built-in ethic of virtuous application; that the fact that this is not reflected in the way the term is used in ordinary English is of no interest to him because, as he puts it, only the usage of `enlightened masters and reknowned experts' or something like that count so far as the definition of the English noun phrase `martial artist' is concerned, that the general usage reported in dictionary definitions, reflecting English speaker's knowledge of the word-building rules and semantic interpretation principles for complex expressions for their language, basically reflects American's ignorance of Asian cultures, and that if a bunch of `amateurs and wannabes' happen to use the expression `martial artist' in such a way that there is no built-in criterion of `virtuous application', that's just a consequence of the fact that they're `amateurs and wannabes' in whose use of the term he has no interest, no matter how common it is. Several people have found this presumption to superior knowledge of what the term means offensive and insulting, so I think that's where the response you're seeing is coming from. This dismissal of common usage on grounds that we just don't know any better... well, it's bound to provoke a reaction, I'd think.

I myself don't feel so much insulted as bemused by all the many and various forms of fallacious and circular reasoning involved in LF's posts, as per some of my earlier posts; given how many of these there are, I've just tried to point out a representative sample. But beyond the errors of reasoning (and fact as well), it's pretty hard to have a discussionwhich assumes some kind of common ground amongst the discussantswhen one of the parties insists that the others are wrong a priori, that he simply knows better, and thatas he puts itthere's nothing else to say. Given all that, it's not surprising that people have had the response you've noticed, I suppose....

I agree and I do not much to add here except that I feel I should point out that the argument that was stating the "American's ignorance of Asian cultures" was based solely on Japan, a rather idealistic view of Japan, but still Japan, which is part of Asian but certainly not representative of all of Asia and its culture and quite different from the culture of another BIG country in Asia that is also a major contributor to Martial arts China.
 

Tez3

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I believe the mods moved the thread not Exile?

One of the problems when discussing any subject 'by forum' as opposed to orally is that you can't stop and say "wait a minute, what did you mean by saying...." the discussion has moved on by the time you get to ask and taken other directions quite often.
My response to the fact that it was a long post difficult to understand was in direct answer to the fact LF had said he didn't want the views of amateurs (which I am, I'm not a master of anything) and wannabees (which I am - I want to be very much the best martial I can be) I accept that if he is apologising for this remark then that's is the end of that part of the discussion. I have posted on here perhaps more than he only because I am recovering from illness and have been unable to train as much as I would have like. In fact I would say MT has saved my sanity over what was, for me, a dark time.
Rereading LF's posts I still find myself upset at some of the things he's written and no I didn't give negative rep. I say things out in the open. I'm not going to get into a "he said, she said" argument, the posts are there to be read by everyone to make their own minds up. I accept totally that LF's posts weren't intended to hurt anyone.
 

Sukerkin

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Thanks to everyone for helping me grasp a little better what happened {bows to all}.

My personal opinion is that there was a little bit of grabbing-the-wrong-end-of-the-stick and that a small initial misconstruing (have I just made a new word :)) lead to more hurtful things ... ?

Also, kudos to LF for trying to clear things up.

Don't abandon MT because something 'brewed up' my friend. That sort of thing happens sometimes. I made a right fool of myself on Netsword the other week and have not ventured to post there since ... but I will once my blushes fade. Perhaps that's a slightly different case because it was more obviously my 'fault' but the principle remains. Plus, noone gets two-stars in less than 500 posts if what they've got to say isn't worth hearing :tup:.
 
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exile

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I believe the mods moved the thread not Exile?

That's correct, Tez. I have no control as a Mod over any thread I'm involved in as a discussant, and since I'm up to my neck in this one, I can't move it, split it off or anything else.

One of the problems when discussing any subject 'by forum' as opposed to orally is that you can't stop and say "wait a minute, what did you mean by saying...." the discussion has moved on by the time you get to ask and taken other directions quite often.
My response to the fact that it was a long post difficult to understand was in direct answer to the fact LF had said he didn't want the views of amateurs (which I am, I'm not a master of anything) and wannabees (which I am - I want to be very much the best martial I can be) I accept that if he is apologising for this remark then that's is the end of that part of the discussion. I have posted on here perhaps more than he only because I am recovering from illness and have been unable to train as much as I would have like. In fact I would say MT has saved my sanity over what was, for me, a dark time.

Tez, I'm very sorry to hear that. But you used the past tense, so I can take it that things are now much better...


Rereading LF's posts I still find myself upset at some of the things he's written and no I didn't give negative rep.

Was there negative rep given? It didn't come from me; I have yet to give neg rep to anyone, and actually, given my druthers, there wouldn't be such a beast. I can't see neg repping someone you disagree with, even as polar opposites; and if someone is being consistently bigoted, hostile, nasty, or anything along those lines... well, they're gonna be banned soon enough, so neg rep isn't really necessary in those cases. So I myself don't see it playing a useful role.

I say things out in the open. I'm not going to get into a "he said, she said" argument, the posts are there to be read by everyone to make their own minds up. I accept totally that LF's posts weren't intended to hurt anyone.

Hear, hear, Tez. I've spent the last 24 hours gardening, it feels like—we've had two glorious days of perfect weather, so haven't had a chance to log in too frequently—so I'd better catch up on this thread and see what the state of the discussion is....
 

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