Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Ethics of Martial Arts...Why we Keep Searching

I have been training in Martial Arts since I was 18.  Being a female in the martial arts world is not easy let alone with the mindset/atmospheres displayed in the martial arts field currently.

I was searching for a martial art school to train at for a very long time…. Why may you ask?  Because I know what I wanted in a martial arts school and more importantly, my Master/Instructor.  My rankings were not as important to me as my personal growth.

Time and time again, I was put up against the same situations.

This is what I encountered:

Students immediately go into techniques that cannot be performed initially.  Why?
  •      The strength was not built to match the needs for the technique.
  •     There is a process to learning techniques.  You must learn basics first before transitioning.  It is like building a house, you start with a base and move your way up.  If you skip any parts, the house falls apart, or in martial arts, you get hurt or can't perform the technique.

Of, course, I left.  I am here to learn, to learn beyond techniques.

  •  I am thankful to say that I have not had many injuries due to my Martial Arts training.  This is because of me personally going with sparring partners that I knew would not intentionally hurt me or did not have an ego and a sense of "I need to win attitude."  Now think of that statement….
    • Should you as a student go to class fearful of getting hurt by your partner? 
    • Should you as a student go to class thinking how you should change the way you train to ensure your safety?

Again, I left, my safety is paramount, but so is having fun and learning.

And this topic leads to the next thing I encountered.

Ethics and Respect in a Martial Arts School

Going to a martial arts school is now conceptualized as the following or have the following characteristics (just to name a few):
  • I want to learn how to fight
  • I challenge you to a fight
  • Ego before learning
  • Talking over Masters, Instructors, Higher Level Students
  • Changing on the mats versus in the bathroom
  • Talking during class
  • Coming late/not asking permission
  •  No structure
     These are just a few things but if this is in a school, it no longer embodies the philosophy and teachings of  Martial Arts.  Martial Arts is a never ending learning process.   It is about awareness but more importantly Martial Arts is about respect.  Respect for the Master, Instructor, and fellow students.  There should not be an ego in a learning atmosphere.  Training in Martial Arts is not learning how to fight.   Also, ethics/norms/guidelines/codes of conduct cannot have the expectation to be followed if the Master/Instructors do not embody it.  Action speaks louder than words. If those at the top don't follow their own guidelines than how can you expect those following you to follow them

`     In addition, codes of conduct, rules, guidelines cannot be put in place with an expectation of a following when it was never present before. One has already created an environment which is not to say that it can't be changed; it is simply to note that it will take a while to change what has become intrinsic in the culture of the school.  Remember, that the codes of conduct, etc, is intrinsic to the martial arts.  If the respect-the ethics are not present, then injuries happen, challenging each other, feelings of being unsafe, etc….

The real question is the Why.  Why aren't these guidelines present.  Why do we have a lack of regard.  Why?

So again, I left.  I don’t need to prove myself on the mats, I want to learn and grow, physically and mentally without worrying about being challenged or feeling the need to challenge others.

THE WHY!!!!!

Martial arts have watered down:
  • Decline of Instructors who have gone through a system to understand an art and be able to teach it.
  • No curricula or not a good one.
  • No growth beyond techniques
  • Misinterpretation of situation reality versus reality
  • Misinterpretation of what Martial Arts is and what to expect

See, Martial Arts is a never-ending study of an art.  It is about constant self-reflection and growth.  That growth is more mental than the physical (the techniques).  The aspiration to achieve a black belt is truly just the tip of the iceberg.  Think of the growth of martial arts like a baby.  See the colored belt rankings are the points where the Instructors are holding you until you are able to crawl/walk.  The Black Belts is where you begin to run and explore! The Mastery level is are where you are on your own, to learn, grow, and to face the world.  To stop at Black Belt continues a watered down Martial Arts.  A 1st Dan Instructors are teaching with little knowledge of how to expand a student’s desires of learning beyond techniques, thereby causing a loss of interest or a curriculum with tons of techniques but with no understanding to application/awareness.  Growing the mind is what the advanced learning involves.  How does it intertwine. 

Now self-defense versus sport.  Situation reality versus reality.  The following sums it up.

Sport requires guidelines.  Sport and the Art are not the same.  Sport and Self-Defense are not the same.  Yet, they are used interchangeably.  Think of this scenario:

A person can knock you out or kill you in 3 seconds.  Why would you attempt to do a butterfly kick, a triangle, a complicated wrist release, or anything that would involve a defensive motion that lasts longer than 3 seconds.  The goal should be run, and if you are in a position that you can’t run, then quick actions to help you escape.  (ie: poke the eyes, hit the groin, pull the ear, hit the ear drums, etc…)  

Remember, martial art sport should always be based on safety and mutual respect. ie sportsmanship. Just because you make a sport more violent doesn't make that sport more realistic to self-defense. Preservation of self against an attacker in life and death situation is another level of being that is not a situation one should ever be in (Master Stout).”
Sadly, techniques are situational-they are not reality.  The mindset of a person who is ready to kill or harm you is not a situation role played in most martial art classes in this day and age.  However, we misinterpret certain arts as a great way to learn self-defense.  What I ask of you is to put yourself in a situation- imagine it and apply that self-defense and see if those techniques/positions are really what you want or should do.

Again, I left, because I cannot be part of something that stipulates that you can protect yourself with these techniques…because when you envision an attack and the technique… it isn’t applicable. 


As a student I don’t just want to learn techniques.  I won’t grow mentally, spiritually, and physically and be balanced.  I want to achieve the highest possible stature in Martial Arts and I don’t need a ranking to prove it, I just need to train under a Master/Instructor who can take me there because he/she has gone through the process themselves.  I don’t want to train at a school where I am challenged all the time.   Lastly, there has to be integrity to what I learn.  Yes, I can learn technique, but I also want to grow mentally.  Yes, I can also learn technique, but it shouldn’t be conveyed as a way to protect me if it really can't.  Yes, I want to learn technique, but I also need the applications, the art behind the technique.

 As an Instructor, I find it my responsibility to help others be aware of what they should look for in a school and what to expect, such that they don’t have to go 10 years searching to be on this beautiful journey, we call martial arts.

1 comment:

  1. I think you stated it very well. I am glad you found a place that you feel comfortable enough to train and learn in.