Practicing martial arts?

Practicing martial arts?

Postby /johnny\ » Thu Jul 26, 2012 9:13 pm

Is it wrong in a Dharma sense?

Specifically what i do, is this wrong?:

I practice Shaolin sets that i learned in a peaceful environment with friends who are also buddhist.

I no longer take classes and now i just practice these sets alone, for energy, health, and mindfulness.
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Re: Practicing martial arts?

Postby Astus » Thu Jul 26, 2012 10:10 pm

There is a thread on Buddhism and Martial Arts you may visit.

From the Brahma Net Sutra, the moral code of bodhisattvas in East Asian Buddhism, the 10th minor precept says,

10. On Storing Deadly Weapons

A disciple of the Buddha should not store weapons such as knives, clubs, bows, arrows, spears, axes or any other weapons, nor may he keep nets, traps or any such devices used in destroying life. (53)

As a disciple of the Buddha, he must not even avenge the death of his parents -- let alone kill sentient beings! (54) He should not store any weapons or devices that can be used to kill sentient beings. If he deliberately does so, he commits a secondary offense.


Regarding committing aggressive acts, see the 1st and 9th major precept.
"There is no such thing as the real mind. Ridding yourself of delusion: that's the real mind."
(Sheng-yen: Getting the Buddha Mind, p 73)

“Don’t rashly seek the true Buddha;
True Buddha can’t be found.
Does marvelous nature and spirit
Need tempering or refinement?
Mind is this mind carefree;
This face, the face at birth."

(Nanyue Mingzan: Enjoying the Way, tr. Jeff Shore; T51n2076, p461b24-26)
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Re: Practicing martial arts?

Postby Blue Garuda » Thu Jul 26, 2012 10:42 pm

Astus wrote:There is a thread on Buddhism and Martial Arts you may visit.

From the Brahma Net Sutra, the moral code of bodhisattvas in East Asian Buddhism, the 10th minor precept says,

10. On Storing Deadly Weapons

A disciple of the Buddha should not store weapons such as knives, clubs, bows, arrows, spears, axes or any other weapons, nor may he keep nets, traps or any such devices used in destroying life. (53)

As a disciple of the Buddha, he must not even avenge the death of his parents -- let alone kill sentient beings! (54) He should not store any weapons or devices that can be used to kill sentient beings. If he deliberately does so, he commits a secondary offense.


Regarding committing aggressive acts, see the 1st and 9th major precept.



An excellent summary.

it's really easy to get bogged down in definitions, and I don't think it matters what label we attach to a skill - martial, defensive, fighting.

What matters most is that a person who uses such a skill does so to prevent or reduce negative karma - with the least possible harm to attacker or attacked.

Learning a martial art and acquiring sufficient skill means that we may have the ability to deal with an attack and minimise damage to the people involved.

I personally think it is OK to cause pain without damage in order to avert damage from an attacker. After all, if we let someone kill us, their karma vipaka is very bad.

How to define weapons? Well, some are intended for only one purpose, whilst others are 'weapons of opportunity' - we use what we have to hand to defend ourselves. In addition, some are obviously 'weapons' when used in the environment for which they were not intended - eg. taking a machette to a night club.

I think 'intention' is the real 'acid test' for a Buddhist.
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Re: Practicing martial arts?

Postby /johnny\ » Thu Jul 26, 2012 11:21 pm

Astus wrote:There is a thread on Buddhism and Martial Arts you may visit.

From the Brahma Net Sutra, the moral code of bodhisattvas in East Asian Buddhism, the 10th minor precept says,

10. On Storing Deadly Weapons

A disciple of the Buddha should not store weapons such as knives, clubs, bows, arrows, spears, axes or any other weapons, nor may he keep nets, traps or any such devices used in destroying life. (53)

As a disciple of the Buddha, he must not even avenge the death of his parents -- let alone kill sentient beings! (54) He should not store any weapons or devices that can be used to kill sentient beings. If he deliberately does so, he commits a secondary offense.


Regarding committing aggressive acts, see the 1st and 9th major precept.



well i don't think this violates the above considering i'm only doing empty hand sets. unless one got rid of their hands and feet and did some kind of memory wipe, they are always going too have the latent potential too use the body parts as weapons, so i think the above must mean literal weapons and not just our bodies. even a non martial artist knows how to punch someone or otherwise strike them so this is always true.
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Re: Practicing martial arts?

Postby /johnny\ » Thu Jul 26, 2012 11:22 pm

Blue Garuda wrote:
Astus wrote:There is a thread on Buddhism and Martial Arts you may visit.

From the Brahma Net Sutra, the moral code of bodhisattvas in East Asian Buddhism, the 10th minor precept says,

10. On Storing Deadly Weapons

A disciple of the Buddha should not store weapons such as knives, clubs, bows, arrows, spears, axes or any other weapons, nor may he keep nets, traps or any such devices used in destroying life. (53)

As a disciple of the Buddha, he must not even avenge the death of his parents -- let alone kill sentient beings! (54) He should not store any weapons or devices that can be used to kill sentient beings. If he deliberately does so, he commits a secondary offense.


Regarding committing aggressive acts, see the 1st and 9th major precept.



An excellent summary.



it's really easy to get bogged down in definitions, and I don't think it matters what label we attach to a skill - martial, defensive, fighting.

What matters most is that a person who uses such a skill does so to prevent or reduce negative karma - with the least possible harm to attacker or attacked.

Learning a martial art and acquiring sufficient skill means that we may have the ability to deal with an attack and minimise damage to the people involved.

I personally think it is OK to cause pain without damage in order to avert damage from an attacker. After all, if we let someone kill us, their karma vipaka is very bad.

How to define weapons? Well, some are intended for only one purpose, whilst others are 'weapons of opportunity' - we use what we have to hand to defend ourselves. In addition, some are obviously 'weapons' when used in the environment for which they were not intended - eg. taking a machette to a night club.

I think 'intention' is the real 'acid test' for a Buddhist.


agreed!
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Re: Practicing martial arts?

Postby Meido » Fri Jul 27, 2012 12:00 am

Intention indeed.

It is quite a stretch to say that archaic disciplines from feudal cultures - using skills and tools that have been largely irrelevant to warfare for centuries (e.g. one's empty hands, sticks, swords) - are inherently vehicles of violence. If they are, then so is any sport or art with origins grounded in martial utility: modern Olympic fencing, wrestling, archery, javelin, shot put, the pommel horse and so on. As well as many dance forms which have martial roots.

Leaving aside the question of self-defense and when it is justified, we can say that these sports/arts are cultural artifacts whose practice is generally not undertaken with the intent of harming others. Yet that's what we're talking about much of the time when "martial arts" are brought up. Not to mention the fact that many martial arts openly state that their intent is not the subjugation of others, but rather the conquering of oneself.

People today who desire or have need to become proficient with deadly force undertake training of a type that is usually not the subject of discussion whenever "martial arts" are mentioned. Folks who have not done that sort of training may not always understand the difference.

In other words: practicing something like Kendo or Kyudo for one's own self-refinement, and keeping a bamboo sword or bow in one's home, is really just not a practice of violence and a storing of combat or hunting arms (i.e. objects whose purpose for being kept is to enable the owner to injure other living beings). Which to my mind is what the mentioned precepts seem designed to address.

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Re: Practicing martial arts?

Postby /johnny\ » Fri Jul 27, 2012 12:36 am

Meido wrote:Intention indeed.

It is quite a stretch to say that archaic disciplines from feudal cultures - using skills and tools that have been largely irrelevant to warfare for centuries (e.g. one's empty hands, sticks, swords) - are inherently vehicles of violence. If they are, then so is any sport or art with origins grounded in martial utility: modern Olympic fencing, wrestling, archery, javelin, shot put, the pommel horse and so on. As well as many dance forms which have martial roots.

Leaving aside the question of self-defense and when it is justified, we can say that these sports/arts are cultural artifacts whose practice is generally not undertaken with the intent of harming others. Yet that's what we're talking about much of the time when "martial arts" are brought up. Not to mention the fact that many martial arts openly state that their intent is not the subjugation of others, but rather the conquering of oneself.

People today who desire or have need to become proficient with deadly force undertake training of a type that is usually not the subject of discussion whenever "martial arts" are mentioned. Folks who have not done that sort of training may not always understand the difference.

In other words: practicing something like Kendo or Kyudo for one's own self-refinement, and keeping a bamboo sword or bow in one's home, is really just not a practice of violence and a storing of combat or hunting arms (i.e. objects whose purpose for being kept is to enable the owner to injure other living beings). Which to my mind is what the mentioned precepts seem designed to address.

~ Meido


thanks! that's illuminating.
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Re: Practicing martial arts?

Postby Astus » Fri Jul 27, 2012 9:58 am

The one I quoted is a minor precept and it is about storing weapons, it is not about their use, but the fact that one possesses such tools. That makes it clear how even the potential of aggression should be removed. Regarding the acts of any form of aggression, it is covered by the major precepts. The acts of anger by the ninth, acts of harming and killing by the very first.

If one wants to do training for fitness, there are many forms of sports. It is true that what matters is intention, so theoretically practising martial arts is no problem. Problem is, however, that as we easily identify with our body and acts have deep impact on our mentality, martial training generates a martial attitude. By learning defensive techniques you also learn to expect attack, you learn feeling insecure and afraid. Of course, if you can put that all down and maintain a peaceful and compassionate mind, there can be no problem. But then, why practice self defence?
"There is no such thing as the real mind. Ridding yourself of delusion: that's the real mind."
(Sheng-yen: Getting the Buddha Mind, p 73)

“Don’t rashly seek the true Buddha;
True Buddha can’t be found.
Does marvelous nature and spirit
Need tempering or refinement?
Mind is this mind carefree;
This face, the face at birth."

(Nanyue Mingzan: Enjoying the Way, tr. Jeff Shore; T51n2076, p461b24-26)
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Re: Practicing martial arts?

Postby Fruitzilla » Fri Jul 27, 2012 10:18 am

Astus wrote:The one I quoted is a minor precept and it is about storing weapons, it is not about their use, but the fact that one possesses such tools. That makes it clear how even the potential of aggression should be removed. Regarding the acts of any form of aggression, it is covered by the major precepts. The acts of anger by the ninth, acts of harming and killing by the very first.

If one wants to do training for fitness, there are many forms of sports. It is true that what matters is intention, so theoretically practising martial arts is no problem. Problem is, however, that as we easily identify with our body and acts have deep impact on our mentality, martial training generates a martial attitude. By learning defensive techniques you also learn to expect attack, you learn feeling insecure and afraid. Of course, if you can put that all down and maintain a peaceful and compassionate mind, there can be no problem. But then, why practice self defence?


I used to practice Aikido and now practice Tai Chi. Never noticed much about a martial attitude in both myself and fellow practitioners, and to say you learn to feel insecure and afraid is rather funny, if a bit offensive.
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Re: Practicing martial arts?

Postby Meido » Fri Jul 27, 2012 12:56 pm

Astus wrote:The one I quoted is a minor precept and it is about storing weapons, it is not about their use, but the fact that one possesses such tools. That makes it clear how even the potential of aggression should be removed. Regarding the acts of any form of aggression, it is covered by the major precepts. The acts of anger by the ninth, acts of harming and killing by the very first.


Hi Astus,

Yes, I understand that. That is why my point was that something like a kendo sword, or a kyudo bow, or a shotput, or a discus, etc. could be considered a "weapon" in the sense of the precept only through a tremendous stretch of imagination. These things are just no longer relevant in that manner, or taken up with any mind of harming others. Similarly, there are ritual implements that are originally (or in the form of) weapons as well...and one would not say that possessing these is an infraction, since they are not kept or used as weapons for injuring beings. If we divorce "potential for aggression" from an object's actual use and the owner's intention for it, then kitchen knives, baseball bats, lengths of rope and anything else possibly useful for harming others would need to be abandoned.

Astus wrote:Problem is, however, that as we easily identify with our body and acts have deep impact on our mentality, martial training generates a martial attitude. By learning defensive techniques you also learn to expect attack, you learn feeling insecure and afraid. Of course, if you can put that all down and maintain a peaceful and compassionate mind, there can be no problem.


"Martial attitude" as you seem to be expressing it here does not equate to how it is understood in martial arts, in my experience.

The result of learning defensive techniques, I have observed over many years, is not at all that one expects violent attack but rather that one de-mystifies and de-glamorizes human violence for oneself. Insecurity and fear are not commonly results of martial art practice, but rather the most common motivations for beginning it. In practice one learns to relax and let these dissolve, not to engender or reify them...thereby ensuring that one's actions are never reflexively driven by them.

The most common result I have seen in accomplished martial artists is a greatly increased disgust with the idea of violent encounters, and a desire to resolve them - should they arise in one's presence - skillfully and with as little harm as possible to all parties (remembering also that the individual needing defense could well be someone else, not oneself).

Astus wrote:Of course, if you can put that all down and maintain a peaceful and compassionate mind, there can be no problem. But then, why practice self defence?


Why? For the reasons I've mentioned.

I've practiced martial arts for 26 years. Every teacher I've had has said that the purpose of practice is to develop a peaceful and compassionate mind...and crucially, one that remains so in situations of duress that test it.

To sum up: I am not saying that there are not martial-type activities out there that engender violent expression and should be avoided. There are. As I mentioned, there are also modern training methods for becoming proficient in the application of deadly force, and I'd stress again that we're not talking about those when using the words "martial arts".

But to make a broad generalization that "martial arts" are inappropriate for Buddhist practitioners is really just not useful. It may discourage some folks from taking up an activity that could really complement their practice rather than hinder it. There are many examples of practitioners who used martial arts positively in that manner. And in Buddhist practice there are certainly other examples of physical activities that would normally be considered infractions of the precepts being done, or simulated, or visualized in ways which support the intent of Buddhism...thereby transforming them into dharma assets. If martial arts can be used in such a way to transform violent mind, fear and attachment to the body - and at the same time cultivate energy, concentration, breath and posture - then who wouldn't benefit from them?

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Re: Practicing martial arts?

Postby Seishin » Fri Jul 27, 2012 2:13 pm

Although I've given up martial arts these days, I found Tai Chi, Aikido, Iaido & Capoeira to be less aggressive than football.
Sutras aside I think there are non-martial art sports out there that are just as or more so aggressive and dangerous. But there are also martial arts which to me seem to be violence for the sake of sport. If we are putting things into boxes and calling them "bad" or "non-buddhist" or whatever then a lot of other things should be thrown out with the bath water too.

As for weapons, I think it's clear what the sutra says and it's up to the individual to decide whether to own a weapon or not. What's the intention??

Gassho,
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Re: Practicing martial arts?

Postby /johnny\ » Fri Jul 27, 2012 6:04 pm

Seishin wrote:Although I've given up martial arts these days, I found Tai Chi, Aikido, Iaido & Capoeira to be less aggressive than football.
Sutras aside I think there are non-martial art sports out there that are just as or more so aggressive and dangerous. But there are also martial arts which to me seem to be violence for the sake of sport. If we are putting things into boxes and calling them "bad" or "non-buddhist" or whatever then a lot of other things should be thrown out with the bath water too.

As for weapons, I think it's clear what the sutra says and it's up to the individual to decide whether to own a weapon or not. What's the intention??

Gassho,
Seishin


lol good point! in kung fu school i found caring, compassionate people who would feel so bad if they hit too hard or something! we laughed and joked throughout class and never did any of it in mean spirit or with anger. in fact if someone seemed angry during practice they would get a lecture from the teacher for having the wrong attitude. in football you slam each other too the ground as hard as you can, that's the goal! and no one feels bad for doing it.

then again, if you fight competitively, same thing. you literally beat someone else. i was doing non competitive, shaolin based martial arts with lots of qigong and what not spun in and no actual full contact fighting, just light sparring that involved lots of laughter and smiles (most of this is due too having a wonderful teacher!). so i guess it's what kind of thing you do as opposed too a blanket statement that "all are bad".
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Re: Practicing martial arts?

Postby rory » Sun Jul 29, 2012 4:34 am

I practiced kendo in my 20's & being the hot tempered type found it very good for self-control and refinement. Additionally being small and female, my normal state was hyper-aware and anxious. We women constantly have to monitor where we are, is it too dark, late, lonely..etc. Finally I took a rape and assault self-defense course, the result being I feel calmer. I think any type of activity that teaches males mastery of their emotions and passions is a good thing.
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Re: Practicing martial arts?

Postby Wesley1982 » Thu Aug 30, 2012 10:59 pm

Martial Arts good for stretching & body flexibility discipline and exercise.
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Re: Practicing martial arts?

Postby PorkChop » Thu Sep 20, 2012 4:10 pm

/johnny\ wrote:Is it wrong in a Dharma sense?
Specifically what i do, is this wrong?:
I practice Shaolin sets that i learned in a peaceful environment with friends who are also buddhist.
I no longer take classes and now i just practice these sets alone, for energy, health, and mindfulness.


Why would a martial art created by Chan Buddhist monks be against the Dharma?
I guess it might make a difference if you were doing traditional vs modern wushu.
Traditional Shaolin tends not to use bladed weapons; opting mainly for staff & monk spade.
The modern wushu variant tends to implement rope darts, tin foil broadswords, spears, etc.
Even if you're doing the modern wushu variant, you can take solace in the fact that it was designed to be a performance sport and not intended for killing.
For traditional Shaolin, there's an old movie from the 80s, early 90s about Bodhidharma that does a decent job of explaining the origin legend of the martial art as well as the temple (think it's just called Da-Mo).

BTW- I'm assuming Northern Shaolin stuff in this post; Southern Shaolin is a totally different thing.

Martial arts and Buddhism have a long history together: Shaolin Kung Fu, muay thai, Kyudo, Kendo, Shorinji (Japanese Shaolin)...
I think I agree with Blue Garuda, that intent is going to be a big determining factor as far as write & wrong...
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Re: Practicing martial arts?

Postby lobster » Fri Sep 21, 2012 2:54 pm

Is it wrong in a Dharma sense?


It is a good thing to do.

http://youtu.be/kwjpzltiW5A

Especially when you understand the forms as ritualistic
mind/body loops.

I used to practice a Buddhist martial art, traditionally handed down in part from Shaolin and Bodhidharma (the well known mythical bringer of dharma to China).
Now I prefer a style of seated 'Lotus Kung Fu' that is designed to be practiced from a seated position. It is completely passive . . .

There are ways of practicing that are meditative. For example slowing down the forms.
Practicing some of the disciplines or kungs.

You will find Tai Chi is taught at many Dharma Centres.
Thai boxers (Muay Thai) frequently take robes and train in Buddhist temples.
Even my local Thai temple in Wimbledon has on occasion a sand bag for visiting martial artists in the grounds . . .

. . . come to think of it I knew one monk whose interests in martial arts was the impetus for him eventually taking robes . . .

May the Dharma be with you
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Re: Practicing martial arts?

Postby Kaji » Mon Sep 24, 2012 11:16 am

lobster wrote:. . . come to think of it I knew one monk whose interests in martial arts was the impetus for him eventually taking robes . . .

My interest, practice and study in martial arts were the impetus for me learning about Buddhism and eventually becoming a Buddhist, as far as I know anyway.
Namas triya-dhvikānāṃ sarva tathāgatānām!
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