Martial Arts, Morals, and Ethics

a forum for the discussion of philosophical approaches to training and the resultant effect on concept and instruction.
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Cause and effect

Post by monjet »

The purpose of the martial arts is to teach people how to fight. If you want to learn how to fight well you need to understand the principles involved in what you are doing. One of the prime principles is cause and effect. If I move this way or that, what will be the consequence of doing so. How will the other person respond, how will I respond, what can I respond with.

The reason why you are learning how to fight will guide how you evaluate the consequences. If you are wanting just to hurt people, then you will look for the actions which cause the most hurt. If you are looking more for self defense, then you will look for those actions which will promote that.

If a teacher is interested in teaching self defense, especially in the US, then that teacher will be most likely to promote the idea of causing the least amount of harm necessary to defend oneself. Part of the reason for this is because of the legal ramifications of defending oneself. If you use excessive force to defend yourself, then the attacker could go after you legally and sue you for damages. This would be counter productive to the idea of self defense, because while you may have protected yourself physically, you opened yourself for another type of attack which could be just, if not more damaging. Plus the teacher could become liable as well depending on how he taught his students and if he advocated violence.

So in response, I do not think that the teacher is obligated to teach morality and ethics to the students. But this does not remove the responsibility of the consequences of that choice. Not only that, but you have to consider the purpose of the teacher in teaching just as you have to consider the student's purpose for wanting to fight.
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Post by lorene »

When you choose to teach/become a teacher of martial arts (or anything) you bring to teaching your own values and beliefs and you share those with your students consciously or unconsciously- I can not think of a time that it is not true. Therefore, what moral education is shared or moral atmosphere is created depends on the teacher. I wonder how it is possible to teach martial arts without expressing moral views on fighting, relationships, care of the body, etc. When a person chooses to teach a fighting system, a way that can seriously injure or even kill another person, I think it is a requirement to share that carefully, screening what you teach based on a student?s overall character and demanding that your students adhere to a strict level of standards. Although, martial arts can be approached only from the physical (tangible) aspect, at a certain point there are more eastern, less tangible concepts that are hard to understand being raised outside of that culture which require a certain ?leap of faith?. Additionally, training in martial arts requires belief that doing as your teacher says, training as told, will lead to experiences and abilities you can not know until you meet them through your training. That seems to me to be spiritual in nature. So while I think that martial arts instructors are responsible for their students and how the arts they teach are used on others, the students themselves are also responsible for their actions. Taking on students is a tremendous responsibility. Furthermore, as a student, I would not want to learn from anyone who did not live responsibly, care for themselves and others, strive to be a better person and understand the world around them, and uphold a ?moral and ethical? nature. For me, martial arts are about learning to live this way, not just learning to fight.