Politics, religion, and philosophy

Kacey

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I found the following on another website, the Kido Kwan Martial Art International Forum (I'd post a direct link, but you have to be registered to view posts on the forum), one devoted to ITF/Ch'ang H'on TKD, posted by KEritano, who also posts here occasionally

Two part question:

1. As an instructor and/or owner of a do-jang - do you promote your political, religious and/or personal philosophy within your do-jang, ie during class?

2. As a student and/or parent of a student - are you comfortable when the instructor promotes his/her personal views about politics, religion or philosophy during class time?

My answers:

1. No. I do teach things out of the Moral Culture information in the Encyclopedia, and I do my best to demonstrate to my students what I consider to be appropriate behavior - but I am not their parent, their religious leader, or any similar person. I have had students ask me about religion (I'm Jewish, and none of my students are - and some are curious) - but I always save discussing such questions for outside of class, and such discussions are intended to answer questions asked for information, not to change anyone's opinions. I don't think it's possible to avoid my personal philosophy when it relates to martial arts - appropriate usage of the skills learned in class, for example - but other than that, such discussions should remain outside of the dojang.

2. This has never happened to me in class - but it has happened in other situations, and I find it to be highly inappropriate and extremely uncomfortable. Again, if someone wants to discuss such things, they are welcome to ask me to do so outside of class, but it has no place in the dojang.

What do others do/think about this issue? I'm not asking about religiously-oriented clubs - obviously, those will be different, although those who do are welcome to chime in as well.
 

IcemanSK

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I am a Christian, but I did not promote or talk about my faith in the class I taught at the community center. I had kids who's parents had strong religious views (from Tridentine Catholic to Muslim). I would encourage my to do things with their families. I would say, "if going to worship services is important to your family, then it's good to go." Outside of class I would talk about it with parents when asked.

I think I'd be more upset with an instructor who spewed profanity, who was misogenistic or bashed others race, color or sexual preferences than shared their religious or political beliefs. Sadly, I've heard more of that than politics or religious rhetoric in the dojang.
 

exile

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I'm there to teach my students a certain self-defense system. I would no more impose my own personal view of the world on my studentsexcept where it impinged on the technical material I was trying to teach themthan I would have done when I was a downhill ski instructor.

My objective is to help students learn to execute certain physical techniques in the face of aggression which will give them a good chance to incapacitate an attacker; that's what they're coming to me for. It's not my place to teach them ethics, metaphysics, or anything else of that sort; that's their family's role and responsibility, primarily. Of course I want my students to think clearly and logically about how to use what they know, and how to train, so sometimes there's a necessary detour into what a reasonable, as vs. pointless, application of a particular technique is (a rising block is not a good tech to use against a low kick, for example), but on the whole, it is not my placenor do I have any special competenceto instill, or try to lecture my students on, logic and rationality, let alone ethical matters.

To assume that one possesses some special insight into moral reality that one's position as a fighting-system instructor entitles one to impress upon one's students seems to me to be... let's just say, taking on more than one is entitled to, all other things being equal.
 

tellner

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It's a boundary violation. It's impolite. It can get in the way of learning. After class over a beer is fine. If it's a martial art connected to a particular religious denomination and everyone is a believer that's also cool. But a general martial arts class? Not good. Not good for you, not good for the students, not good for the class, not good for the belief system which you hold.

I've seen it mess up a number of otherwise good schools and whole styles because of the bad feelings.

As Francis Steen-Sensei (ztl) said "Don't do it. It's the Bad Scobies."
 

CuongNhuka

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Cuong Nhu includes a system of philosophies that is probably more importent then the physical matterial. In fact, I would say that Cuong Nhu is nothing with out the philosophy. Some styles of Martial Arts are based on religions (Shaolin with Buddhism, Xin Yi with Daoism), so a degree of religions is going to slip in. Quotes form religions are going to slip in as well (form within formlessness is Daoist in origin, and the basis for Jeet Kune Do). Cuong Nhu begins and ends with Bowing and medition, both could be religious in nature, but with us are not.

So, philosophy and religion in the school are one thing, forcing religion on students is anouther matter (and the reason I don't really like Mormans or Jehova's witnesses)
 

Gordon Nore

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No politics or religion in the dojo. Period.

Any code of ethics or behaviour that a teacher wants to convey to his or her students should be rooted in martial arts and modeled by the teacher. For instance, I don't want my students believing they can take revenge when attacked. Not because a religion teaches that is bad, but because it makes my art look bad.
 

exile

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No politics or religion in the dojo. Period.

Any code of ethics or behaviour that a teacher wants to convey to his or her students should be rooted in martial arts and modeled by the teacher. For instance, I don't want my students believing they can take revenge when attacked. Not because a religion teaches that is bad, but because it makes my art look bad.

Very nicely put, Gordon!
 

matt.m

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I have seen Kenpo and Tae Kwon Do for Christ. I think that is cool. However, just so that everyone is on the "Even, same page" in Moo Sul Kwan, there is no talk of religion or politics.

You go to train not debate.
 

Kodiak61

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As anyone can see by my signature block I am a minister. The Grandmaster and several of the masters and many of us in the association are Christian. We the Grandmaster or some of the master address a testing group they inform the group they are Christian. However, Christianity is not taught as core curriculum. I do try and live my faith in front of everyone, not just students. I tell my congregation that we should educate people of the love of Christ…use words when necessary.
 

Lynne

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In my opinion, religion has no place in the Dojang. Our school is Moo Duk Kwan style and I personally like the philosophy but that may not be for everyone.

Many fundamental Christian churches absolutely do not approve of martial arts by the way. That little bit of meditation we do before class, to still our minds, would be considered straight from hell.
 

CoryKS

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I think all talk of politics, religion, and philosophy should be kept out of the doj[o/ang] and kept where it belongs: on a martial arts forum. ;)
 

exile

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I think all talk of politics, religion, and philosophy should be kept out of the doj[o/ang] and kept where it belongs: on a martial arts forum. ;)

Now that is brilliant!! :roflmao:
 

Tez3

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Being primarily a military club we follow the mess rules of no talk about work, religion or politics. We also leave military rank outside the club. I do however find myself inadvertantly teaching the children good manners, ie to say please, thank you, hand over mouth when coughing, not interrupting others etc but I don't think that constitutes philosophy.
A lot of the guys know I'm Jewish and although I keep telling them we don't do converting people they will keep looking nervous when we do anything with sharp blades.
 

terryl965

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I'm there to teach my students a certain self-defense system. I would no more impose my own personal view of the world on my studentsexcept where it impinged on the technical material I was trying to teach themthan I would have done when I was a downhill ski instructor.

My objective is to help students learn to execute certain physical techniques in the face of aggression which will give them a good chance to incapacitate an attacker; that's what they're coming to me for. It's not my place to teach them ethics, metaphysics, or anything else of that sort; that's their family's role and responsibility, primarily. Of course I want my students to think clearly and logically about how to use what they know, and how to train, so sometimes there's a necessary detour into what a reasonable, as vs. pointless, application of a particular technique is (a rising block is not a good tech to use against a low kick, for example), but on the whole, it is not my placenor do I have any special competenceto instill, or try to lecture my students on, logic and rationality, let alone ethical matters.

To assume that one possesses some special insight into moral reality that one's position as a fighting-system instructor entitles one to impress upon one's students seems to me to be... let's just say, taking on more than one is entitled to, all other things being equal.


Great reply, this is exactly how I feel about it.
 

tellner

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We the Grandmaster or some of the master address a testing group they inform the group they are Christian.

Why? It's not relevant to the testing material. It creates distinctions between the Christians and the non-Christians in the group. It almost inevitably leads to favoritism even if it's very subtle and unconscious. How does telling everyone what you believe improve the martial arts class or your own standing with the Creator?

Suppose you were in, oh just for instance, a Silat class run by Muslims where the teacher said "Bismillah ir Rahman ir Rahim. In the the name of Allah, the Merciful, the Compassionate. I'm a Muslim. I'm an Imam. These other teachers are also Muslim. The head of the system is a Muslim. Now let's see if you guys know your stuff. Islam isn't a core part of the curriculum, but I want you to know that I'm one of the Faithful. We can only spread Islam by our good example. And while 'there is no compulsion in religion' I want to share the True Faith with you."

Would it help you learn? Would it make you more comfortable, more likely to trust the teacher? Would you feel as welcome in the class and organization as you would if it were never explicitly brought up? Would it help foster unity and camaraderie between you and your fellow students or you and the teachers?

Just at a guess, one of those "dollars to horse apples and I'll hold the stakes in my mouth" sort of guesses, I'd say the honest answer to all those questions would be "No". That being the case why do you inflict the same discomfort on your students?
 

Gordon Nore

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When the Grandmaster or some of the masters address a testing group they inform the group they are Christian.

Why? Announcing ones religious beliefs publicly sounds to me like a request for special attention. How are candidates expected to treat this information?

However, Christianity is not taught as core curriculum. I do try and live my faith in front of everyone, not just students. I tell my congregation that we should educate people of the love of Christuse words when necessary.

I would have to ask, "When is it necessary?"
 

tellner

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Being primarily a military club we follow the mess rules of no talk about work, religion or politics. We also leave military rank outside the club. I do however find myself inadvertantly teaching the children good manners, ie to say please, thank you, hand over mouth when coughing, not interrupting others etc but I don't think that constitutes philosophy.
A lot of the guys know I'm Jewish and although I keep telling them we don't do converting people they will keep looking nervous when we do anything with sharp blades.

I keep hearing that soldiers (and sailors, Marines, airmen, etc.) keep politics and religion out of the mess. But I've yet to meet one who wouldn't give you his or her opinion on how the world should be run after a beer or two :)

Here in the States there are several lawsuits by active duty servicepeople ( :eek: ) against the Army on the grounds that chaplains are being given orders to proselytize the unaffiliated and that there is active discrimination on the part of superiors to those under their command who are not evangelical Protestants. It's gotten so bad that the US Air Force Academy has a policy of singling out and punishing non-Evangelical cadets.

Now, when you work with knives there's a couple things you can do to make your goyische friends more comfortable....

  • Tell them that you can get them 10% off.
  • Insist that they refer to you as "Mohel".
  • If there are any German students come up to them and whisper so that only they can hear "Ich bin Jude".
  • Announce "I don't want to hurt you. I just want to make you kosher."
 

TKDmel

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No politics or religion in the dojo. Period.

Any code of ethics or behaviour that a teacher wants to convey to his or her students should be rooted in martial arts and modeled by the teacher. For instance, I don't want my students believing they can take revenge when attacked. Not because a religion teaches that is bad, but because it makes my art look bad.

Absolutly right!
 
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Kacey

Kacey

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As anyone can see by my signature block I am a minister. The Grandmaster and several of the masters and many of us in the association are Christian. We the Grandmaster or some of the master address a testing group they inform the group they are Christian. However, Christianity is not taught as core curriculum. I do try and live my faith in front of everyone, not just students. I tell my congregation that we should educate people of the love of Christuse words when necessary.

If you are a Christian martial arts group, I can understand the above - but if you're not, I have to ask why you feel your religion is relevant when addressing a testing group (or anyone else)?
 

Cirdan

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I wonder a bit why the religious martial arts clubs are so special.. you don`t see many hindu chess clubs or satanist water polo teams do you?
 

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