Train MA for self-cultivation

Kung Fu Wang

Sr. Grandmaster
MT Mentor
Joined
Sep 26, 2012
Messages
10,691
Reaction score
2,733
Location
Austin, Tx/Shell Beach, Ca
I thought MA training is as simple as

- fist meet face, and
- head meet earth.

When someone says, "I train MA for self-cultivation", What does he mean?

I have Googled and get this, "Self-cultivation or personal cultivation is the development of one's mind or capacities through one's own efforts."

I understand each and every word, but I have no idea what the whole sentence is talking about (my IQ score is 145).

Your thought?

face_punch.jpg

head_into_ground.jpg
 
Last edited:

Bill Mattocks

Sr. Grandmaster
MTS Alumni
Joined
Feb 8, 2009
Messages
14,778
Reaction score
2,916
Location
Michigan
I train for a variety of reasons. I train for health, it's good exercise. I train for flexibility and balance. I train to keep my mind active. I train because it is a 'do' (), which I have chosen to walk.

I train for self-defense and to push back age. I train so I can help teach others and be a positive influence and a good role model, after a lifetime of being...not those things.

I train in hopes of becoming a better person by confronting my demons and uniting mind, body, and spirit, if I can.

Self-cultivation seems like a reasonable term. I also garden, and as I cultivate my flowers (also a do), I cultivate myself.

I train.
 
OP
Kung Fu Wang

Kung Fu Wang

Sr. Grandmaster
MT Mentor
Joined
Sep 26, 2012
Messages
10,691
Reaction score
2,733
Location
Austin, Tx/Shell Beach, Ca
I train in hopes of becoming a better person by confronting my demons and uniting mind, body, and spirit, if I can.
How? Could you share more of your thought on this?

I still don't understand how can MA training has anything to do with "be a better person".

When I

- throw a groin kick, my opponent drops his arm to block it, I then punch on his face.
- pull my opponent, he resists, I borrow his resistance force, change my pulling into pushing and take him down.
- attack my opponent's leading leg, when he steps back, I attack his other leg.
- throw a jab, when my opponent tries to block it, I pull my jab back, and throw his a cross.
- ...

Before I have trained MA, I was a honest person. After I have trained MA, I like to cheat. The more that I have trained MA, the more that I feel that I just make myself to "be a bad person".
 
Last edited:

MadMartigan

Green Belt
Joined
Apr 28, 2021
Messages
161
Reaction score
170
I still don't understand how can MA training has anything to do with "be a better person".
The type of training may have a large effect on the outcome... and perhaps illustrates my biggest peeve with the 'Affliction/Tapout' MMA mindset (only a portion of the population, I know).

My opinion is this is the TMA's strength. Besides learning the patience to pursue a years long goal of always trying to be a little better at 'x' and keeping the mind and body sharp (calisthenics and memorization) I believe (from my over 20 years in the tradition and modern martial arts) that training to hit and choke has made me a kinder person. Learning violence has given me a greater respect for what happens when it occurs.

I'm obviously not the toughest guy in the world; but I know my experiance and abilities are far beyond the average person on the street. As a result, I'll do almost anything possible to avoid having to engage in violence. I've seen to much of what can go wrong (to either side). Having the ability to hurt puts a greater responsibility on us for how we use that ability.

We should all take a page from that line in the 2nd Avengers movie where a guy is described something to the effect of 'always running from the fight, because he knows he'll win'.
 

_Simon_

Senior Master
Joined
Jan 3, 2018
Messages
3,462
Reaction score
1,768
Location
Australia
I appreciate your honesty on this @Kung Fu Wang , and I remember you've mentioned this in the past.

Very much along the same lines as @Bill Mattocks post, I don't train at all for self defense reasons, and it's very much for what you've called self-cultivation. The "do" in karatedo has made more sense to me the more I earnestly pursue it and try to understand it.

I actually started with a style simply out of curiosity, then my next one I was looking for the 'strongest most effective' style. Then after that burned me out and also getting glimpse that there's more to training than just fighting, I began on a bit of journey into this... and boy it just keeps getting deeper and more fruitful haha.

There are innumerable ways which MA cultivate a 'better person', I prefer to see it as more of a selfaware person. But of course there are many divergent lines of practice and orientation that people can take with MA. Obviously there is a large segment interested in defending the body, and others interested in other aspects, so I think we gravitate towards where our intention is and what we tend to value in life and ourselves.

To me my practice cultivates an inner honesty, a type of introspection that many other pursuits haven't quite touched upon or don't actively foster. You can I'm sure, but the ritual, discipline, integrity, respect and sincerity in the arts tend to promote an inquiry into human nature and your own psyche.

And I like that you asked "How does it do this?" It takes a willingness to look past maybe the superficial on-the-surface aspects of do this block, that technique, the shapes and physicality etc, and seeing how you hold yourself during practice is a really significant reflection of how you carry yourself in everyday life. The tensions I carry in my practice show exactly what anxieties are present in my every day, and I can actually work with that while training, working on my posture, alignment, and letting go of tension, and also seeing exactly where my attention is directed, what my predominant THOUGHTS are is also huge (overly critical/judgemental). You can work with this in training and let it all come to the surface to 'work it out' and arrive at epiphanies in training. And it's actually amazing how much more powerful your techniques feel once you've let go of unnecessary tension.

So it goes also into the realm of "feeling" too. No longer caring how a technique looks but how it feels and functions. Learning a type of body intelligence, spontaneity and creativity that allows you to leave excess concern about perfection and form and more into the right-brain realm of creativity, flow, and artistry.

Again, this is just my take on this, not saying this is the only purpose of MA, and it means different things for different people. But I hope any of this helps anyway, and I feel it's an important discussion.

Hotton Sensei speaks a bit on this at the start of this video, he's very much a "do" guy hehe. And the second vid absolutely blew me away too....


 

Bill Mattocks

Sr. Grandmaster
MTS Alumni
Joined
Feb 8, 2009
Messages
14,778
Reaction score
2,916
Location
Michigan
How? Could you share more of your thought on this?

I still don't understand how can MA training has anything to do with "be a better person".

When I

- throw a groin kick, my opponent drops his arm to block it, I then punch on his face.
- pull my opponent, he resists, I borrow his resistance force, change my pulling into pushing and take him down.
- attack my opponent's leading leg, when he steps back, I attack his other leg.
- throw a jab, when my opponent tries to block it, I pull my jab back, and throw his a cross.
- ...

Before I have trained MA, I was a honest person. After I have trained MA, I like to cheat. The more that I have trained MA, the more that I feel that I just make myself to "be a bad person".
Would you agree that tools often have more than one purpose? The same hammer that can be used in war, can be used to build a house. The same knife that can be used to stab, can be used to prepare a meal.

When I attempt to think more deeply about the techniques I am training, it often leads me to thinking about the reasons why a technique works, both the physical and psychological reasons. This can lead me to a better understanding of why we fight, and also how to use that to my advantage both inside and outside of the arena of martial arts.

We have our Codes of Karate, which have been passed down, with mistakes no doubt, over the years. I think about what they mean and how I can apply them, and often find they have more than simply martial aspects; they have universal truths behind them.

Let's take one of them that happens to be my favorite. "A person's unbalance is the same as a weight." What does this mean?

Taken at face value, and only considering martial aspects, it means that if a person is off-balance, they cannot respond quickly or correctly to an attack; it is as if you gave them a bag of sand to carry and then hit them as they struggled to control it.

And this is true. The human animal has an innate desire to remain upright, it's a survival mechanism. If you take away a person's balance, even slightly, the primitive part of their mind takes over and makes regaining balance their highest priority. They will not defend well, nor attack, while their innermost mind screams that they are falling and must do something about it right now. You might as well have set them on fire.

This applies to the larger non-martial world as well, I have found. I do not like to have my psychological equilibrium disturbed; none of us do. If a person disrupts my inner peace, my instincts guard up and try to regain that without regard to whatever else they might be trying to do. By understanding this and addressing it within myself, I can avoid having my equilibrium stolen; recognizing a thing for what it is often takes away its power. For example, riding roller coasters does not produce a thrill for me; I know how they work and how my body is intended to respond, so now it doesn't do that. I may have lost the enjoyment of riding roller coasters, but it was an experiment; I took away the fear, and in that manner, lost the ability to be thrilled by it.

The world has more than one, surface, aspect. If a coworker says something to me that I find objectionable, it may not be what he or she said that matters, but what their intent was in saying it. I learn to not react to strong words immediately, but rather to try to understand why it is being said, and what the problem actually is. Very often, I find an accusation is actually a request for assistance, born of frustration, and said in panic. If I take the words at their surface meaning, I lose the ability to discover and help fix the problem, and merely contribute to rancor.

I learned this from studying kata. Kata has so many more than one layer, as many know. We perform a particular movement in a kata, and we have a 'surface' understanding of what it is intended to do. This is a block, this is a punch. But over time, we are taught or discover that there are other applications which work (also many which do not, but this is something we learn by testing). The bottom line, however, is that things are not always what they seem on the surface, that there are layers to the onion that we do not discern if we do not study the kata deeply and with a probing mind and willingness to learn. Some call these 'secret teachings', which they are not. If they are occulted, it is merely because the student hasn't reached the level to see them. Some students never do, and that's OK. I do not think you ever get to the core of the onion, there are just more layers.

You think a lot about your martial arts patterns and movements; you post about them all the time. You have good insights and observations. What if you also thought about why these work, and what they might affect in the greater world outside of martial arts? Good martial arts practice depend upon balance, speed, power, breathing, timing, understanding tactics, correctly interpreting attacks, anticipating attacks, working towards a goal, and so much more. These sound like good things to work on my every day life as well.

I am not a philosophy-spouting TV martial arts character or a master at anything, let alone martial arts. I am an old, slow, fat man who is getting older and slower as time passes. I simply enjoy thinking about the why of karate, and then trying to see how that fits my inner life, my interaction with people as a whole, and figuring out where I fit into it all. Layers of the onion. A hammer is more than one thing.
 

JowGaWolf

Sr. Grandmaster
MT Mentor
Joined
Aug 3, 2015
Messages
10,402
Reaction score
3,439
I thought MA training is as simple as

- fist meet face, and
- head meet earth.

When someone says, "I train MA for self-cultivation", What does he mean?

I have Googled and get this, "Self-cultivation or personal cultivation is the development of one's mind or capacities through one's own efforts."

I understand each and every word, but I have no idea what the whole sentence is talking about (my IQ score is 145).

Your thought?

View attachment 26892
View attachment 26893
Forms allow for "Self-cultivation" There are various things that can be brought into focus or mindfulness when doing forms / kata. It doesn't always have to be focused on fighting. It's that part of the training that people are often referring to when they speak of "Self-Cultivation."

I still don't understand how can MA training has anything to do with "be a better person".
I never make this connection as well. I think this is why there is a separate religious component to Martial Arts. That's the part that makes people "A Better Person" Martial Arts in concept is the opposite of "A Better Person" Martial Arts = Make War One's Spiritual / Moral Beliefs = "A Better Person" (In theory). The two should balance out the person, so that person isn't always making war because the Moral Values keep it in check.

I actually get really irritated when someone tells me to take Martial Arts to be a better person.
 

Urban Trekker

Brown Belt
Joined
Apr 20, 2021
Messages
445
Reaction score
142
Location
Hampton, VA
If self-defense is your main concern, then purchase a firearm, get your conceal carry permit, and call it a day. You can get all of this for the price of three months of martial arts training or less.

I think I may have said this before on MT, but if self-defense is your motive for martial arts training; you're soon going to realize that you're spending time in the dojo away from friends and family several times a week, all to reduce the likelihood of losing a fist fight. That's not worth it, if you don't enjoy your time at the dojo. If you don't, you're better off spending that time with family and friends, and just taking a loss on the streets. Or just carry a firearm. Going to the range once every other week is enough.
 

Dirty Dog

MT Senior Moderator
Staff member
Lifetime Supporting Member
Joined
Sep 3, 2009
Messages
18,029
Reaction score
4,877
Location
Pueblo West, CO
If self-defense is your main concern, then purchase a firearm, get your conceal carry permit, and call it a day. You can get all of this for the price of three months of martial arts training or less.

I think I may have said this before on MT, but if self-defense is your motive for martial arts training; you're soon going to realize that you're spending time in the dojo away from friends and family several times a week, all to reduce the likelihood of losing a fist fight. That's not worth it, if you don't enjoy your time at the dojo. If you don't, you're better off spending that time with family and friends, and just taking a loss on the streets. Or just carry a firearm. Going to the range once every other week is enough.
This assumes that a firearm is always the answer. It is not. For some, it's not even an option. Sometimes for legal reasons. Sometimes for personal reasons - I've known plenty of people who said flat out that they didn't think they could ever kill another person, even in self defense.

Even if a firearm is an option (I've carried for longer than some of our users have been alive) it is not always the answer.

I'm involved in physical confrontations far more than I would like. It's unavoidable in the ER. The LEOs in our family have often pointed our that they're involved in use of force situations less often than I am.

But shooting the person isn't really an option.

This sort of simplistic, black & white answer is just not realistic. Or reasonable.
 

Urban Trekker

Brown Belt
Joined
Apr 20, 2021
Messages
445
Reaction score
142
Location
Hampton, VA
This assumes that a firearm is always the answer. It is not. For some, it's not even an option. Sometimes for legal reasons. Sometimes for personal reasons - I've known plenty of people who said flat out that they didn't think they could ever kill another person, even in self defense.

Even if a firearm is an option (I've carried for longer than some of our users have been alive) it is not always the answer.

I'm involved in physical confrontations far more than I would like. It's unavoidable in the ER. The LEOs in our family have often pointed our that they're involved in use of force situations less often than I am.

But shooting the person isn't really an option.

This sort of simplistic, black & white answer is just not realistic. Or reasonable.
The person carrying the firearm will have to make that choice. Just because they're carrying it doesn't mean they have to use it, and it doesn't mean that being assaulted will be a life or death situation that requires the use of the firearm. In that case, they could always fight untrained - just like the person who is assaulting them, more likely than not.

In any case, I think that my main point is a hard one to argue against: the amount of time that one has to put into martial arts training on weekly basis isn't worth winning a non-lethal fist fight. In a situation that would necessitate a firearm (i.e., the other person is armed), martial arts training isn't going to do much for you. Your motive for training in the martial arts has to be something dealing with self improvement or development.
 

Dirty Dog

MT Senior Moderator
Staff member
Lifetime Supporting Member
Joined
Sep 3, 2009
Messages
18,029
Reaction score
4,877
Location
Pueblo West, CO
The person carrying the firearm will have to make that choice. Just because they're carrying it doesn't mean they have to use it, and it doesn't mean that being assaulted will be a life or death situation that requires the use of the firearm. In that case, they could always fight untrained - just like the person who is assaulting them, more likely than not.
But better to fight trained.
In any case, I think that my main point is a hard one to argue against: the amount of time that one has to put into martial arts training on weekly basis isn't worth winning a non-lethal fist fight. In a situation that would necessitate a firearm (i.e., the other person is armed), martial arts training isn't going to do much for you. Your motive for training in the martial arts has to be something dealing with self improvement or development.
No it doesn't. It doesn't take years to learn the basics, and those basics are what you will use far more often than the complex stuff.
As for martial arts training not being useful when confronted with a weapon...
I've had a knife pulled on me three times. The first time, I was wounded. The other two times, I was completely unharmed.
So apparently MA training can actually be useful.
 

JowGaWolf

Sr. Grandmaster
MT Mentor
Joined
Aug 3, 2015
Messages
10,402
Reaction score
3,439
Would you agree that tools often have more than one purpose? The same hammer that can be used in war, can be used to build a house. The same knife that can be used to stab, can be used to prepare a meal.
This depends on your focus. This is an Italian War Hammer. It's focus is war. It will never be good at building a house. If your training focuses only on fighting then it will be good at hurting people but not so good at making someone "A better person"

1623338858363.png


I think Kung fu wang's focus looks like this. To be honest my training looks like this as well. I teach people how to make a fist and how to use it to inflict the most effective pain and damage to someone who is attacking them or to someone they will attack. If I think a person is already "Not a good person." Then I won't teach them. But other things decide that and not Martial Arts. Will my lessons help teach someone to be a better person? It depends. If learning how to push through and not give up = "A better person" then yes. Will my lessons teach a person how to be kind and nice to others? Definitely not through direct lessons, maybe through conversation. The lessons are like this hammer. It may teach some moral value but it won't be good at it.

Every conversation I've had about moral values had nothing to do with martial arts. For me the Art of Hurting someone doesn't rise to the status of "A better person" or "A bad person." To me it's just a skill set that may or may not be used according to a person's moral values.

Personal Growth on the other hand there's a lot of that. I just don't know if it rises to the levels of "a better person" Even bad people have personal growth and then they use it to do bad things.
 

Urban Trekker

Brown Belt
Joined
Apr 20, 2021
Messages
445
Reaction score
142
Location
Hampton, VA
But better to fight trained.
Of course it is. But if the only thing hanging in the balance is the ability to walk away the bigger badass, then spending several hours per week away from family and friends isn't going to be worth it.

No it doesn't. It doesn't take years to learn the basics, and those basics are what you will use far more often than the complex stuff.
As for martial arts training not being useful when confronted with a weapon...
I've had a knife pulled on me three times. The first time, I was wounded. The other two times, I was completely unharmed.
So apparently MA training can actually be useful.
There are plenty of untrained people who can give you similar stories.

In any case, a firearm doesn't require anywhere near as much time or money.

Like I said, if you're going there in order to win fights; it's not worth the time or money. You need a bigger motivation than that.
 

Dirty Dog

MT Senior Moderator
Staff member
Lifetime Supporting Member
Joined
Sep 3, 2009
Messages
18,029
Reaction score
4,877
Location
Pueblo West, CO
Like I said, if you're going there in order to win fights; it's not worth the time or money. You need a bigger motivation than that.
For you, this may be true. The problem is that you apparently feel that you get to decide what reasons other people "must" have. And that is just arrogance.
 

Bill Mattocks

Sr. Grandmaster
MTS Alumni
Joined
Feb 8, 2009
Messages
14,778
Reaction score
2,916
Location
Michigan
Kenshiro Abbe was the soke of the Kyushindo philosophical system. He questioned the why and looked for deeper answers in the Judo, Aikido, and Kendo that he held high ranks in. He reportedly eventually became dejected because he was unable to make anyone understand what he was trying to say and stopped trying.

I am not comparing myself to him, not in any way. However, having found a path that works for me, I find myself utterly unable to explain it to anyone else, especially martial artists who see punch and kick but nothing more in martial arts. If that is all you see, that is all there is, for you. I see something else, and I pursue it. I cannot make you see what I see.
 

JowGaWolf

Sr. Grandmaster
MT Mentor
Joined
Aug 3, 2015
Messages
10,402
Reaction score
3,439
But if the only thing hanging in the balance is the ability to walk away the bigger badass, then spending several hours per week away from family and friends isn't going to be worth it.
Maybe knowing how to fights allows a person to carry themselves in a way that makes them less likely to be a victim in a street fight?
 

JowGaWolf

Sr. Grandmaster
MT Mentor
Joined
Aug 3, 2015
Messages
10,402
Reaction score
3,439
However, having found a path that works for me, I find myself utterly unable to explain it to anyone else, especially martial artists who see punch and kick but nothing more in martial arts. If that is all you see, that is all there is, for you. I see something else, and I pursue it. I cannot make you see what I see.
This is normal. Everything depends on one's focus. I understand what you were saying, we may not see it as the same thing, and that's fine too. The one thing Martial Arts teachers has always stated. "Make the system your own." that way it will serve your needs and will be useful to you.
 

Yokozuna514

Black Belt
Joined
Oct 2, 2018
Messages
675
Reaction score
468
Kenshiro Abbe was the soke of the Kyushindo philosophical system. He questioned the why and looked for deeper answers in the Judo, Aikido, and Kendo that he held high ranks in. He reportedly eventually became dejected because he was unable to make anyone understand what he was trying to say and stopped trying.

I am not comparing myself to him, not in any way. However, having found a path that works for me, I find myself utterly unable to explain it to anyone else, especially martial artists who see punch and kick but nothing more in martial arts. If that is all you see, that is all there is, for you. I see something else, and I pursue it. I cannot make you see what I see.
I can agree with this sentiment. I believe that MA's beauty is in the eye of the beholder. The individual sees what they want to see and learns what they want to learn. Some MA's have more to offer than teaching you the physical aspects of the MA. Some MA's have a mottos for students to subscribe to and often these mottos are based on the idea that MA is for self improvement in not only fitness but for building character. Sure not every student will subscribe to these beliefs but that doesn't negate that they are there and can be used for self improvement.
 
Top