Buddhism and Martial Arts

No holds barred discussion on the Buddhadharma. Argue about rebirth, karma, commentarial interpretations etc. Be nice to each other.

Re: Buddhism and Martial Arts

Postby MuMun » Fri Apr 13, 2012 4:48 pm

Very interesting discussion.

I have spent some time studying tai chi, kung fu, and aikido. My interest was never in learning how to fight, or even self-defense. It was all about adding physical activity to my zen practice, and observing my behavior (including my thoughts) in the midst of that activity. It was highly illuminating to observe my emotional reactions to competitive situations, to physical stress, to being pushed or knocked over, and so on, even though I consciously understood this was a classroom situation. Practicing martial arts allowed me to notice things about myself that did not come clearly into view just by sitting on a cushion. It was a way of getting more into the muck of my psychology, and it was of course also a very good practice for my body. Karma has numerous ways of expressing itself in how we use our bodies, in ways many people never examine or even notice.

In the previous decade, I joined with two other theatre artists who were authorized teachers of tai chi or yoga, and together we worked on developing a training regimen for actors that merged traditional acting classes with the practice of meditation, yoga, and martial arts. Again, the purpose was not for combat, but it was a way for individuals to address how they personally dealt with conflict and how they used their physical selves in their interactions with others. Very useful knowledge for an actor; useful knowledge for any human being.
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Re: Buddhism and Martial Arts

Postby pemachophel » Fri Apr 13, 2012 7:47 pm

Not Buddhist "Masters," but google Lucjan Shila and Jerry Gardner/Lama Thubten Dorje.
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Re: Buddhism and Martial Arts

Postby Matticus » Sun Apr 15, 2012 12:23 pm

I've always been taught a legit martial arts teaches you how to control yourself before anything. Being mindfull of what you are doing as far as physical training and dieting as well as of your surroundings. Also how to not use more force than is necessary to end a conflict, and only using force after all non violent methods have failed. Just because somebody tries to mug you doesn't automatically give you the right to snap their wrist backwards. Even if it's within your "legal" rights to do so. That would permanently injure somebody elses mobility over a leather flap you carry on your ass cheek. You practice Wisdom to use your skillset appropriatly in all situations. It seems to me like a legit practice of martial arts can't be separated from the whole being mindfull thing that Buddha teaches. Just my thoughts!
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Re: Buddhism and Martial Arts

Postby Jikan » Sun Apr 15, 2012 1:27 pm

pemachophel wrote:Not Buddhist "Masters," but google Lucjan Shila and Jerry Gardner/Lama Thubten Dorje.


I did, and here's what I found.

http://www.redlotusschool.com/

This is an interesting example. Thank you for it!
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Re: Buddhism and Martial Arts

Postby JmarksTheSpot » Mon May 14, 2012 5:32 pm

Grettings all,

It was a great pleasure to read all your thoughts on this matter. My thought is that if in the right mind martial arts can benefit dharma study. If not focusing on the emotions that come with aggression and hatred martial arts can help develop the body and keep the mind focused. Now not all martial arts are the same for instance in karate it is just as important to learn katas as it is to learn the actual act of defending ones self. To me it reminds me of a story of Tibetan monks who would take single grains of sand to create beautiful sand murals but the monks didn't focus on creating the actual artwork as they did the process of creating it. Often after completing the beautiful murals they would simply sweep it away and start again. In my view martial arts can be considered the same with the right teacher. Its not so much the conclusion of the practice but the steps you take to get there for better focus and body development. Of course that is my view and whether right or wrong I will continue to read and consider different points of view.

Thank you!
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Re: Buddhism and Martial Arts

Postby Jikan » Mon May 14, 2012 6:30 pm

Here's an example of a Zen teacher who is also a highly trained aikido master:

viewtopic.php?f=69&t=8006&start=0
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Re: Buddhism and Martial Arts

Postby Blue Garuda » Mon May 14, 2012 7:54 pm

Jikan wrote:Here's an example of a Zen teacher who is also a highly trained aikido master:

viewtopic.php?f=69&t=8006&start=0


I was introduced to Zen via my Aikido club instructor, also a Zen teacher and author.

We had a building with a Zendo upstairs and a Dojo downstairs.

Then every one of us moved away to work elsewhere. LOL :)

Mushin and Fudoshin are easily integrated to martial arts - maybe I should express that the other way around.
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Re: Buddhism and Martial Arts

Postby Nemo » Tue May 15, 2012 12:47 am

MA habituates the mind to think of violence. It is mixing poison with Bodhicitta. If your goal is Dharma and helping beings MA is at best a total waste of time and mildly counter productive. At worst you have a mind full of violence, bad memories and paranoia.To say it teaches you useful things is a ridiculous. It is merely a side effect of learning to hurt beings. Like how my medical anatomy training would come in handy in a knife fight or torturing prisoners.
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Re: Buddhism and Martial Arts

Postby Lhug-Pa » Tue May 15, 2012 2:18 am

Namdrol wrote:I find that learning martial arts, even Tai Chi, promotes basic aggressive behavior and certain way of thinking about others that involves imagining how to harm them in hypothetical situations.

Yoga has all the benefits of martial arts and none of the downsides.

My personal top pick of yoga traditions:

http://vinyasakramayoga.blogspot.com/
Nemo wrote:MA habituates the mind to think of violence. It is mixing poison with Bodhicitta. If your goal is Dharma and helping beings MA is at best a total waste of time and mildly counter productive. At worst you have a mind full of violence, bad memories and paranoia.To say it teaches you useful things is a ridiculous. It is merely a side effect of learning to hurt beings. Like how my medical anatomy training would come in handy in a knife fight or torturing prisoners.


Tai-Chi, Judo, and Aikido are meant to disarm attackers without harming them from what I understand. And also to protect others. This considered they're potentially more conducive to Bodhicitta than not, because they are supposed to be practiced with all of this in mind and therefore could actually facilitate Bodhicitta.

Many Karate, Kung-Fu, and Ju-Jutsu styles are perhaps another story, because they are clearly meant to do damage.

Anyhow, the Siddhis that Yantra Yoga are said to produce, however, trumps all other Hatha Yoga and martial arts anyway; because with such Siddhis, any physical techniques would not be necessary. Although some would argue that the same could be said of Tai-Chi and Aikido, but since they're not associated with he the Highest Yana like Yantra Yoga is, it would probably take much longer for most to develop Siddhis through martial arts.
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Re: Buddhism and Martial Arts

Postby Lhug-Pa » Tue May 15, 2012 3:51 am

Of course Hatha Yoga can be a good alternative to Yantra Yoga if the latter is currently not easy to come by for some; because Hatha Yoga could produce Siddhis indirectly by helping one's meditation. But with the publicly-available books and DVD's now available, one could get a good start on Yantra Yoga.
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Re: Buddhism and Martial Arts

Postby Mr. G » Tue May 15, 2012 11:35 am

Lhug-Pa wrote:Tai-Chi, Judo, and Aikido are meant to disarm attackers without harming them from what I understand. And also to protect others. This considered they're potentially more conducive to Bodhicitta than not, because they are supposed to be practiced with all of this in mind and therefore could actually facilitate Bodhicitta.


This is absolutely not correct. Yang Lu Chan was one of the most formidable martial artists of his time who travelled around China challenging people. Morihei Ueshiba was considered the best martial artist of his generation in Japan, where Judokas and Karatekas were even sent to train with him. Make no mistake, Tai Chi, Aikido and Judo are fighting arts. Granted, one will be hard pressed to find "fighters" in Tai Chi or Aikido in this day and age because it's been watered down, but they are out there. I studied (currently study Qigong) with one Xing Yi, Ba Gua and Tai Chi master who is over 70 and is the real deal and can display "internal" abilities. More importantly, from a martial arts perspective, he can do something most internal "masters" can't do - fight with Tai Chi. In general though, the idea that Tai Chi, Aikido and Judo were meant to defend oneself and not hurt others is a myth perpetuated by new agers.

Anyhow, the Siddhis that Yantra Yoga are said to produce, however, trumps all other Hatha Yoga and martial arts anyway; because with such Siddhis, any physical techniques would not be necessary. Although some would argue that the same could be said of Tai-Chi and Aikido, but since they're not associated with he the Highest Yana like Yantra Yoga is, it would probably take much longer for most to develop Siddhis through martial arts.


Siddhi development actually exists in the Internal arts as well.
    How foolish you are,
    grasping the letter of the text and ignoring its intention!
    - Vasubandhu
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Re: Buddhism and Martial Arts

Postby Mr. G » Tue May 15, 2012 11:36 am

Nemo wrote:MA habituates the mind to think of violence. It is mixing poison with Bodhicitta. If your goal is Dharma and helping beings MA is at best a total waste of time and mildly counter productive.
    How foolish you are,
    grasping the letter of the text and ignoring its intention!
    - Vasubandhu
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Re: Buddhism and Martial Arts

Postby Lhug-Pa » Tue May 15, 2012 12:23 pm

I don't doubt at all that Tai Chi, Judo, and Aikido could be very effective if someone wanted to use them to harm people. So in regard to this, I agree with you (Judo does very well in MMA for example, even though Jigoro Kano would have frowned upon its use within MMA).

Nevertheless, by the very words of the founders of Judo and Aikido themselves, neither martial art is meant to be a military art like their predecessors (Jujutsu and Aikijujutsu, respectively) were. Judo is meant as a mind-discipline, a sort of physical chess so to speak. This is why in creating Judo, Jigoro Kano removed from it the Jujutsu techniques that are specifically meant to kill. Same with Aikido. If you read the very words of Morihei Ueshiba, Aikido is not meant for war and harming like Aikijujutsu is. So I'm going by their words, not those of 'new agers' (if anyone doubts this, I could provide quotes).

And I'm not trying to promote martial arts here either. That's why I referred to Yantra Yoga, which we could say is the root of all physical disciplines. In other words, why spend time on martial arts, when we can go directly to the source and possibly attain Siddhis for protecting others more rapidly.
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Re: Buddhism and Martial Arts

Postby Mr. G » Tue May 15, 2012 12:58 pm

Lhug-Pa wrote:Nevertheless, by the very words of the founders of Judo and Aikido themselves, neither martial art is meant to be a military art like their predecessors (Jujutsu and Aikijujutsu, respectively) were. Judo is meant as a mind-discipline, a sort of physical chess so to speak. This is why in creating Judo, Jigoro Kano removed from it the Jujutsu techniques that are specifically meant to kill. Same with Aikido. If you read the very words of Morihei Ueshiba, Aikido is not meant for war and harming like Aikijujutsu is. So I'm going by their words, not those of 'new agers' (if anyone doubts this, I could provide quotes).


The problem is the words of an older Ueshiba and Kano stress self-perfection - but the way they got there has only been duplicated by a handful of men. They were warriors that walked the Budo path and came to that conclusion. About 1 percent attempt to walk the same Budo path that Ueshiba and Kano did. The issue is everyone who doesn't walk that same path think they can duplicate it - and they can't. There are no more Ueshiba's, no more Gozo Shioda's. The art is still there, but for the most part it is empty. The idea that one can defend oneself without harming the attacker is fantasy - joint locking withstanding.

You can understand more by reading the works of Pranin and Amdur.
    How foolish you are,
    grasping the letter of the text and ignoring its intention!
    - Vasubandhu
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Re: Buddhism and Martial Arts

Postby Blue Garuda » Tue May 15, 2012 2:09 pm

Mr. G wrote:
Lhug-Pa wrote:Nevertheless, by the very words of the founders of Judo and Aikido themselves, neither martial art is meant to be a military art like their predecessors (Jujutsu and Aikijujutsu, respectively) were. Judo is meant as a mind-discipline, a sort of physical chess so to speak. This is why in creating Judo, Jigoro Kano removed from it the Jujutsu techniques that are specifically meant to kill. Same with Aikido. If you read the very words of Morihei Ueshiba, Aikido is not meant for war and harming like Aikijujutsu is. So I'm going by their words, not those of 'new agers' (if anyone doubts this, I could provide quotes).


The problem is the words of an older Ueshiba and Kano stress self-perfection - but the way they got there has only been duplicated by a handful of men. They were warriors that walked the Budo path and came to that conclusion. About 1 percent attempt to walk the same Budo path that Ueshiba and Kano did. The issue is everyone who doesn't walk that same path think they can duplicate it - and they can't. There are no more Ueshiba's, no more Gozo Shioda's. The art is still there, but for the most part it is empty. The idea that one can defend oneself without harming the attacker is fantasy - joint locking withstanding.

You can understand more by reading the works of Pranin and Amdur.


There is an additional problem which Ueshiba identified himself - so many styles of Aikido developed, from slo-mo wafting the air to smash and crash hard styles, from training with rubber sausages to sharp steel tanto. 'Sport' also diluted both Judo and Aikido and people stopped training in the 'jutsu' techniques. Over 40 years ago I trained with a Judo instructor from Japan and there were still plenty of 'jutsu' techniques being taught, but the BJA approach to grading and competition eventually became established.

I draw a distinction between pain and damage, and it is quite possible to subdue a violent person with pain alone if they are still responsive. It is, however, pretty rare, and I think that many Aikidoka kid themselves that 'distraction' by waving a floppy wrist at someone is going to enable joint locks. The missing element from much modern Aikido is effective striking (atemi) which many of Ueshiba's original students would already have possessed.

As you point out, Ueshiba was an exceptional person. Most of us have bodies which break and fail us, and few can last into their 70's or 80's after decades of training.

It's a balance for each of us in terms of Compassion. We would all, I hope, have the intention of causing as little pain and damage as possible. Beyond that, it is a matter of either not defending oneself (or another person) or putting up an ineffective defence, or making an effective defence. You may have minutes to make up your mind or a split second, so how you are trained to respond is also part of that decision, as your reflex actions will reflect that training.

I like to think that martial arts training is not all about fighting skills, but is about learning to spot potential conflict and avoiding it.
It's a matter of 'zanshin' - awareness.

Here are two guys giving a slow demonstration of steel tanto attacks. They have practised for quite a few years and rarely get cut. However, their teacher (and mine, a student of Shioda's) was very very clear that the dojo is a safe place and that in a street defence all that training is unlikely to prevent you getting badly cut, but it may keep you alive. And the first action 'on the street' would be powerful atemi - unlike in the flowing demo shown. Apologies if I've posted this before. You may need Facebook to see it:

http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=103 ... =2&theater
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Re: Buddhism and Martial Arts

Postby Jikan » Tue May 15, 2012 10:20 pm

MuMun wrote:Very interesting discussion.

I have spent some time studying tai chi, kung fu, and aikido. My interest was never in learning how to fight, or even self-defense. It was all about adding physical activity to my zen practice, and observing my behavior (including my thoughts) in the midst of that activity. It was highly illuminating to observe my emotional reactions to competitive situations, to physical stress, to being pushed or knocked over, and so on, even though I consciously understood this was a classroom situation. Practicing martial arts allowed me to notice things about myself that did not come clearly into view just by sitting on a cushion. It was a way of getting more into the muck of my psychology, and it was of course also a very good practice for my body. Karma has numerous ways of expressing itself in how we use our bodies, in ways many people never examine or even notice.

In the previous decade, I joined with two other theatre artists who were authorized teachers of tai chi or yoga, and together we worked on developing a training regimen for actors that merged traditional acting classes with the practice of meditation, yoga, and martial arts. Again, the purpose was not for combat, but it was a way for individuals to address how they personally dealt with conflict and how they used their physical selves in their interactions with others. Very useful knowledge for an actor; useful knowledge for any human being.


So far (and to my poor mind), this approach is the best argument in favor of engaging with martial arts practice... for some Dharma students. If someone is already fearless, and already neck-deep in the muck (to use MuMun's expression), then it may not function this way.

There's a passage in the Lotus Sutra that strongly advises against attending things like boxing or wrestling matches: violent entertainments. I think that's very good advice on the whole.

:namaste:
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Re: Buddhism and Martial Arts

Postby Meido » Mon May 21, 2012 10:38 pm

Our Zen line happened to include teachers who stressed the value of martial art training (as well as fine arts) as complements to Zen practice. Below is how it's described on one of our websites, FWIW:

-----

Martial Arts : Realizing the Truth of "No Enemy"

Zen without the accompanying physical experience is nothing but empty discussion. The martial Way without truly realizing the Mind is nothing but beastly behavior. We agree to undertake all of this as the essence of our training.
- Omori Sogen Roshi (1904-1994)


In Japan beginning in the Kamakura period, the practice of Zen by members of the samurai class led to a distinct tradition of "warrior Zen". In response to their unique needs, both native Japanese and immigrant Chinese Zen masters devised spontaneous, and at times extraordinary, means to guide these warrior trainees. Historical figures like Hojo Tokimune and Yamaoka Tesshu are famous examples of those who mastered this kind of Zen.

The encounter between Zen and the warrior class over the centuries also revealed an interesting fact: certain bujutsu (martial arts), if practiced properly, serve as psycho-physical disciplines with the power to cut through physical, mental and energetic obstacles to Zen realization. Described in a non-Zen context within the Jikishinkage Ryu, an ancient school of swordsmanship, the deeper purpose of swordsmanship is to "remove all bad habits and addictions acquired since birth and to restore the original pure and bright permanent body." A Buddhist way of saying this would be that such practices cut through the student's jikke ("habit energy"), or karmic obstructions.

Today, we can still say that many qualities needed in spiritual practice are indeed similar to those needed by the warriors of the past. The same fearlessness, energy and focus are needed in Zen as they are in the midst of a conflict. But there is a crucial difference, and this is where Zen goes beyond: in Buddhism the true enemy is not another person, but the ignorance and delusion that lie within our own selves. The greatest battlefield is within our own hearts. Victory is not the vanquishing of another, but rather the fulfillment of one's vows to benefit all beings.

When practiced with this rationale, the deepest meaning of the martial arts from a Buddhist standpoint may thus be revealed: this is the realization of muteki, the state of "no enemy". When the dualistic separation of "self" and "other" is transcended through the forging of deep mind-body training, it is seen that no one is an enemy. The finest and sharpest sword is not forged of steel and is not for harming others, but is the sword of wisdom we all have within us. Viewing martial arts in this light, we can understand how they may be truly beneficial "Ways" of self-realization, and even tools to establish peace.

Much has been written in popular, inaccurate books concerning connections between Zen and martial arts. Though there are few individuals today who actually undertake the extremely severe combined practice of both paths, we encourage such training for those to whom it is suited.

-----

I should add that the last paragraph is important. The meeting of Buddhism (particularly Ch'an and Zen) and martial arts has, I think, been much overstated and misunderstood...to the point of conflation, if you believe some of the books out there. But still, there was a meeting and there are people today who practice in a manner that reflects that.

For anyone interested in exploring this on the Japanese Zen side, Legget's book "The Warrior Koans" has some good background and source material dealing with the encounter between the warrior class and Zen teachers in the Kamakura period. I would also strongly recommend Takuan Soho's Fudochi Shimmyo Roku, available in several English translations. Written by that well-known Rinzai monk to Yagyu Munenori, a famous swordsman, it discusses Zen practice with reference to situations familiar to someone practicing swordsmanship.

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Re: Buddhism and Martial Arts

Postby Luke » Thu May 24, 2012 11:19 pm

I have a question for those of you familiar with grappling arts: What happens if you are attacked on the street and you successfully defend yourself and you end up getting your attacker in a submission hold/joint lock which does not involve a choke? Say you have your opponent in some kind of shoulder lock, for example...

Now how can you resolve this situation while keeping yourself safe? You obviously need to let go of the lock at some point so you can leave. If you let go of the lock out of sympathy for your attacker's pain, he might very well just attack you again. On the other hand, if you seriously break/dislocate your attacker's shoulder, that seems excessive and sadistic to me. Is there a more ethical way to resolve the situation?
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Re: Buddhism and Martial Arts

Postby poyntersteve » Thu May 31, 2012 2:13 am

I am currently training for Nidan in Shito Ryu Karate. I teach my students the 3 Ds- DETECT/DIFFUSE/DEFEND, which I got from someone online and then incorporated into my teaching.
I tell my students that in any potentially dangerous situation they DETECT, if they are aware of things around them, aware of what their mind is doing at the time, and if they do not separate from the situation but be completely present, they can- and will- then figure out a way to DIFFUSE the situation. Because they are in the present moment and not wondering what they should do next, they will have the confidence to simply talk their way out of that particular situation. Talking seems to calm down even the angriest of people- because they don't expect it. I tell them that the other person is simply suffering in some way, has reached a point of desperation and knows no other way to handle the situation except to become violent. I ask them not to see the person as the enemy, but as a person just like them. Then, if the person persists, they know that they may have to DEFEND themselves, and if they have trained hard and long and have developed the skills of the Karateka they can tap into their compassion for the person and determine how to utilize their skills to defend without inflicting serious injury or death.
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Re: Buddhism and Martial Arts

Postby Johnny Dangerous » Fri Feb 01, 2013 1:28 am

Jikan wrote:I know some DW members are both committed Buddhists and martial arts practitioners, and I'd like their views (as well as everyone else's!) on the relation between them. Not so much as a historical matter (did Bodhidharma really teach Kung Fu at Shaolin Temple?) but at the levels of practice and contemporary culture. How do these practices inform each other for people who engage in both?

A related question: how did martial arts centers become sites where Dharma is presumed to be transmitted? I can see ways in which this might be a positive development, but business like this (see link below) is a cause for serious concern.

http://www.ninjutsustore.com/store/home.php?cat=108" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

Thoughts?


Hope no one minds me necroing this, here's my two cents:

Anyway, I have done martial arts for most of my life, mainly Okinawan Karate but a smattering of experience in other stuff as well. I teach Karate to others as well and have a small school.

I don't consider it Dharma connected by any means, but when practiced well it does encourage some qualities that I think are beneficial.

The trouble is, it can go either way. It can encourage some awful stuff too. Among other considerations, training in the "martial" aspect of things (as opposed to a class that is really about fitness, aesthetics, meditation etc. - which truthfully is many of them) is teaching people to access a mindset that society does not find acceptable outside of it's armed forces, probably for good reason. It's not for everyone to access this and some people are better off not touching it.

Many people have no real idea of what violence is like, and have a set of ethics regarding it that are completely removed from hac ing to make decisions about it based on any real experience. Combine this with the wrong type of person, or without the proper context in teaching, in terms of purpose, limitations, and motivations.. and I think martial arts can be very unhealthy - across a wide spectrum, MMA, Traditional arts, Reality-Based Self Defense..whatever. In addition to this, it CAN go any of these directions because it is no longer a needed skill for anyone outside those needing it for a vocation, living in a society where physical self defense is unlikely to be commonly necessary for many folks makes proper context difficult to find sometimes.

This is also a question of personality, oddly i've found that some of the greatest success cases were those that got involved with the arts due to lack of ability in controlling and dealing with anger. The thing is it can be something transformative, or something completely poisonous..it really takes vigilance on the part of the teacher to make sure that it does not become a poison, and to make sure that the wrong people simply aren't taught. This actually involves getting to know people a bit, you cannot possibly know which direction things are going in for people if you teach a class of 30 transient strangers. Of course in today's age anyone can learn whatever they want anyway, but on a personal level if one teaches you do your best to make sure these people get weeded out. People laugh about the fact that the arts were always taught with these goofy sounding moral codes in the past, but however imperfect, they are there for a reason.

From a Buddhist point of view for me it is just like sex, thoughts and training centered around violence aren't something to mess around with without a real clear idea of what you are doing, and a teacher that can push that energy in a healthy direction. For stuff that isn't this, stuff like Tai Chi just as movement form or something, there really is no big consideration because most of the time it's not really martial training anymore anyway. It's when you are actually learning something that is meant for breaking other human beings that the context and motivation behind the practice become indispensable to having something beneficial rather than something horrible.
"Just as a lotus does not grow out of a well-levelled soil but from the mire, in the same way the awakening mind
is not born in the hearts of disciples in whom the moisture of attachment has dried up. It grows instead in the hearts of ordinary sentient beings who possess in full the fetters of bondage." -Se Chilbu Choki Gyaltsen
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