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 PorkChop » Sat Mar 16, 2013 6:34 am

gordtheseeker wrote:... Although I worry from a my new Buddhist perspective if that would be good for me or not. When I trained and competed it gave me a bit of an ego as well as attachment to the idea of what I was doing. I tried several times to quit, but couldn't because of the attachment and it was a cause of suffering. I wish I knew back then what I know now. Maybe now I will be better equipped to deal with it.

On another note, I as well never trained or competed with the intention to hurt anyone. Training with your sparring partners was always like friends hanging out, having a good time. Even competing there was mutual respect between opponents. I don't see the 'violence' that Buddhism is against as the same violence we see mostly in martial arts.


I'm probably going to catch flak for this, but I don't think you have anything to worry about.
Rule #1 in training, regardless of the style, is discipline - to push beyond the feelings of wanting to quit, mastering your body, strengthening your mind.
I wouldn't look at training as a form of attachment, it's another way to train your mind.
You've worked hard to harness your baser instincts.
If anything would improve from changes to the way you now view things, it would be disregarding the idea that you need to work from a place of anger.
Competition is a forum for willing participants to test their skills and improve.
It's great that you've never approached it with the mind of wanting to do serious harm to someone.
Competition between willing participants is not the same as acting with the intention to do harm.
You both follow the rules and respect the judges' decision.
You both know that winning doesn't mean perfection that can't be improved upon and that losing doesn't mean that you hate your fellow competitor.
I got knocked out in my first fight, that guy and I were friendly the only other time we've talked afterwards.
He showed me what I needed to work on, we continue to share a special bond even though we haven't talked in almost 9 years.
For me, hard training is kind of another form of meditation.
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Re: Buddhism and Martial Arts

Postby Namgyal » Sat Mar 16, 2013 1:26 pm

PorkChop wrote:It's great that you've never approached it with the mind of wanting to do serious harm to someone.


The Chinese divide attackers into 'friend, no-friend, and ten-man'. A 'friend' is a misguided human who simply needs a gentle reminder to set them right. This is why Buddhist martial artists must train so hard, because they must acquire the advanced skills necessary to defeat an attacker without inflicting lasting harm on them. Ideally you should be able to transform even violent encounters into ones of friendship and happiness. A 'no-friend' is someone who is underhand, dishonourable and vicious (concealed knife, concealed accomplice etc.) Such people may require a memorable demonstration of instant karma, which is to say that you may have to seriously hurt them for their own good. 'Ten-man' is a large group of attackers or a small group with weapons. In such encounters death is very likely so you must assume that they aim to kill you and act accordingly, with little or no restraint. When opposing violence your motivation is simply to protect your own body because you need it to practice the Dharma. Your heart must have only love and compassion for all harmful beings. Of course this can include 'tough love' when necessary. It's worth remembering that in another life, and another place, all these harmful beings could be your best friends.
:namaste:
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Re: Buddhism and Martial Arts

Postby PorkChop » Sun Mar 17, 2013 1:14 am

Namgyal wrote:The Chinese divide attackers into 'friend, no-friend, and ten-man'. A 'friend' is a misguided human who simply needs a gentle reminder to set them right. This is why Buddhist martial artists must train so hard, because they must acquire the advanced skills necessary to defeat an attacker without inflicting lasting harm on them. Ideally you should be able to transform even violent encounters into ones of friendship and happiness. A 'no-friend' is someone who is underhand, dishonourable and vicious (concealed knife, concealed accomplice etc.) Such people may require a memorable demonstration of instant karma, which is to say that you may have to seriously hurt them for their own good. 'Ten-man' is a large group of attackers or a small group with weapons. In such encounters death is very likely so you must assume that they aim to kill you and act accordingly, with little or no restraint. When opposing violence your motivation is simply to protect your own body because you need it to practice the Dharma. Your heart must have only love and compassion for all harmful beings. Of course this can include 'tough love' when necessary. It's worth remembering that in another life, and another place, all these harmful beings could be your best friends.
:namaste:

:good:
In roughly 2 decades of being associated with Chinese martial arts, while the general ideas were presented, I've never seen it put in such an eloquent, succinct, straight-forward manner. Thanks!
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Re: Buddhism and Martial Arts

Postby duffster » Tue Apr 16, 2013 6:15 pm

Here is a Lama that practices martial arts

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KJr2BdUTYkU
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Re: Buddhism and Martial Arts

Postby Sherab Dorje » Tue Apr 16, 2013 6:21 pm

Yes, well... ummmmmm...
"When one is not in accord with the true view
Meditation and conduct become delusion,
One will not attain the real result
One will be like a blind man who has no eyes."
Naropa - Summary of the View from The Eight Doha Treasures
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Re: Buddhism and Martial Arts

Postby duffster1 » Tue Apr 16, 2013 7:02 pm

gregkavarnos wrote:Yes, well... ummmmmm...


I also raise my eyebrow.i posted because earlier in the discussion people were asking if there was any lama that was also a martial artist.
For internal proficiency i could have posted this clip but he is not a lama


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mNyHae3sxuY

so if this Lama is faking it and also his students what implications does this have regarding honesty?
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Re: Buddhism and Martial Arts

Postby Namgyal » Tue Apr 16, 2013 7:19 pm

A word to the wise. A real grandmaster is typically an elderly monk who works as the lowliest sweeper in his temple and lives in a shack. Even if you somehow found out about his real identity he would repeatedly deny it and claim to know nothing. If you offered him fame and fortune he would react the same as if you had offered him a poisonous snake.
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Re: Buddhism and Martial Arts

Postby Sherab Dorje » Tue Apr 16, 2013 7:30 pm

Namgyal wrote:A word to the wise. A real grandmaster is typically an elderly monk who works as the lowliest sweeper in his temple and lives in a shack. Even if you somehow found out about his real identity he would repeatedly deny it and claim to know nothing. If you offered him fame and fortune he would react the same as if you had offered him a poisonous snake.
You have been watching to many episodes of Kung Fu. Why would a real (martial arts) Grand Master have to be a monk and live in a shack???
"When one is not in accord with the true view
Meditation and conduct become delusion,
One will not attain the real result
One will be like a blind man who has no eyes."
Naropa - Summary of the View from The Eight Doha Treasures
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Re: Buddhism and Martial Arts

Postby duffster1 » Tue Apr 16, 2013 7:32 pm

gregkavarnos wrote:
duffster1 wrote:Hi Greg i was going to to mention it in my post that i opened a new account because im having trouble entering my password and no 'forgot password' link is available,is it angainst the forum policy to have 2 accounts?if it is i will not use one of them.
Yes, it is against forum policy. Contact an administrator (use the message function at the top of the page, click on "new messages", then click on "new PM" on the page that will appear and enter the name Tara and Astus in the top text box) and explain your password problem to them.



Thanks Greg.
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Re: Buddhism and Martial Arts

Postby Namgyal » Tue Apr 16, 2013 8:30 pm

gregkavarnos wrote:Why would a...Master have to be a monk and live in a shack?

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Re: Buddhism and Martial Arts

Postby zamotcr » Mon Apr 22, 2013 1:07 am

I practice Tang Soo Do. And it helps me every day, I learn to be respectful, not to be violent, to self control, to discipline. It improved my health, I loose weight and I win flexibility.

Thanks to my first martial arts teacher (shaolin kung fu) I started to learn Mahayana Buddhism.
And since the begining with martial arts, we are always told not to fight: the best fight is the one you avoid.

Basically, is just a sport with a lot of philosophy into it. Violence in traditional martial arts is the same or less as the one in soccer, hockey or football.
When we fight, we do it in tournaments, so really no violence there, unless you say violence is every punch, touch or fast movement even with consent of the other. How can I be violent if, for instance, don't fight vs anyone? How can a kata be violent? I use kata to develop my concentration, I do it controlling my breathing, watching every move, very carefully.

We learn a lot of discipline, self control, we loose fat :lol:, also, martial arts are good to eliminate stress, also, if you do it right, it can work as a concentration tool, basically you're watching all your moves very carefully, so, can work even as a meditation.

Tai-chi violent, said someone... :quoteunquote: violent :quoteunquote: you're loosing all the benefits then, you are throwing the baby out with the bathwater :namaste:

A knife can be used to prepare your food or to kill someone.You make it a weapon, the knife it self is empty :anjali:

Great masters practiced martial arts. Master Sheng Yen practiced Kung Fu. In Master Hsing Yun temples, martial artists make presentations, etc.

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Re: Buddhism and Martial Arts

Postby Cloudrider » Tue Apr 23, 2013 3:43 pm

I don't believe martial arts is incompatible with Buddhism at all! I do admit however that i am not an expert on Buddhism by any means so my opinion may be incorrect. Anyhow, Buddhist should know how to defend themselves from harm. They supposedly teach this mentally but shouldn't the physical mimic or follow suit? I imagine that it is a process.

There is a famous statement that says something like, if you see Buddha on the side of the road kill him! Let this be the reason any Buddhist should learn to defend themselves. :rolling:
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Re: Buddhism and Martial Arts

Postby Sherab Dorje » Tue Apr 23, 2013 6:07 pm

So Namgyal, your opinions on martial arts are based on the words and actions of a fictional character in a popular 1970's tv series? Well if it is going to be like that then:
"When one is not in accord with the true view
Meditation and conduct become delusion,
One will not attain the real result
One will be like a blind man who has no eyes."
Naropa - Summary of the View from The Eight Doha Treasures
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Re: Buddhism and Martial Arts

Postby Sara H » Tue Apr 23, 2013 11:58 pm

I saw a line in the introduction to the English translation of the novel Musashi, which helps clarify my opinion on this.

For me I think the difference is on whether one is doing it to practice a martial art, or to develop martial skill.

The first definition of "martial" is
mar·tial
[mahr-shuhl]
adjective
1.
inclined or disposed to war; warlike: The ancient Romans were a martial people.
(emphasis mine)

From a Buddhist perspective, we are not training to be inclined or disposed to war.

All of these skills, were and are derived from military combat techniques that evolved and advanced over time.

They were meant for soldiers, to kill each other.

In Japan, these skills began shifting to martial arts when the period of the Tokugawa Shogunate's began, and the end of constant civil war, and the samurai began shifting from a class of warriors, to a class of bureaucrats, with greater emphasis on management skill.

Along with that, the old military skills began taking a new meaning of "inner warrior" and as techniques to hone self-discipline, and self-control, etc, etc.

In Buddhism, we have meditation practices that calm our minds and to develop mindfulness.

So one has to ask oneself, what the need is for these things to be practiced?

If it's for self-defense in the city, that may just be being responsible.

If it's for a sport, for fun, to let out steam and aggression in a safe manner, like with fencing, that's one thing too.

If you're leaning techniques to seriously injure or kill someone, that's another thing entirely.

I think a lot depends on how you are doing it, and why. What the reason and intention is behind it.

Generally speaking, Buddhists do not support the sale of weapons. I think that would include some martial arts or martial skills that are purely designed for killing or injuring.
And obviously, some are not, and some are in between. Archery can be a target sport, or something people use to hunt and kill with.
It all depends.

In Gassho,

Sara H.
"Life is full of suffering. AND Life is full of the Eternal
IT IS OUR CHOICE
We can stand in our shadow, and wallow in the darkness,
OR
We can turn around.
It is OUR choice." -Rev. Basil

" ...out of fear, even the good harm one another. " -Rev. Dazui MacPhillamy
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Re: Buddhism and Martial Arts

Postby PorkChop » Wed Apr 24, 2013 4:44 am

No offense, but martial arts is an English word.
The traditional Chinese and Japanese terms include:
武術 (Simplified Chinese: 武术) - "bujutsu/wushu". First character also means "bravery & heroic" in addition to "martial". A breakdown of the radicals of the first character 戈 and 止 depict "stopping an invader's spear", and has a defensive connotation. The second character is "discipline, skill, or method". So the nuance is slightly different.
The more popular term for Chinese arts 功夫 - "kung fu" has a normal definition of "skill gained through hard work over time". The "hard work" character 功 is the same character for "merit" as is used in Buddhism.
In Japanese, the term is 空手 - "karate" and literally means "empty hand".
Another popular term in the past was 拳法 - "kenpo/chuan fa". Literally "fist law", the second character 法 is also the character for "dharma" (as seen in "Namu Myou Hou Renge Kyo" 南無妙法蓮華経).

In Chinese martial arts, the concept of "Wude" 武德 or "martial morality" is a very big deal. It's pretty much what you're describing about intent. It's broken up into "morality of deed" and "morality of mind". The "morality of deed" includes: humility, sincerity, courtesy, morality, and trust. The "morality of mind" includes: courage, patience, endurance/constancy, perseverance/ability to overcome, and will/intention. I'm sure there are parallels in Japanese arts as well.

In many east asian martial arts, forms: "kata" 型/"taolu" 套路 are a major part of the training that is often criticized for not having applicability in combat.

Also the idea of martial art as a non-warfare-oriented discipline or art predates Tokugawa by a LONG stretch (like 1000 years in the case of Shaolin martial arts alone, not to mention Taoist sources).
EDIT: this is in China obviously. In Japan, JuJutsu would've been around the time of Tokugawa, slightly earlier. Okinawa's first taste of martial arts was almost 300 years earlier.
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Re: Buddhism and Martial Arts

Postby Meido » Wed Apr 24, 2013 5:47 am

Some nice information there, and good point about the term "martial arts". A few observations from the Japanese tradition side:

Karate (空手), "empty hand", is a modern name dating from the 1920's. The original word, unacceptable in Japan at the time, was Karate as 唐手, i.e. "Chinese hand". In any case, the word refers to the art originating in Okinawa, not to a Japanese art (though of course it was introduced in Japan and has become widely practiced there). Karate in either form of the word does not refer to any art in Japan proper before the early 20th century that I am aware of.

Perhaps the most common general words used now to refer to martial arts in Japan are bujutsu (武術: "martial method/technique") and budo (武道: "martial way"). You may also run into traditions using words like bugei ("martial art"), heiho ("strategy"), and so on. Of course specific categories of bujutsu can be named: kenjutsu, jujutsu, sojutsu, and a host of others, some more obscure than others.

Jujutsu is a name for a general category of Japanese martial arts, not entirely unarmed. It is not the name of a specific art. There are many lineages of so-called jujutsu (some of which do not use the name jujutsu, actually). However, some lineages of training containing what we call jujutsu technique began well before the Tokugawa period. The earliest organization of martial practice into "styles" in Japan may have occurred in the 10th century, according to some researchers. The oldest verifiable tradition still active today (Katori Shinto-ryu) began in the 1400's. Of course there are some arts still existing today which claim roots older than that (I have a particular jujutsu style in mind that claims to have been founded by a Tendai monk in the 11th century) but I suppose these haven't yet been researched, or can't be due to a lack of sources.

PorkChop wrote:In many east asian martial arts, forms: "kata" 型/"taolu" 套路 are a major part of the training that is often criticized for not having applicability in combat.


Kata-keiko is indeed the primary form of training in traditional Japanese martial arts. I believe the criticism you mention comes from the fact that some modern practitioners misunderstand the purpose of such practice, thinking it to be primarily the imparting of a compendium of techniques...rather than a comprehensive transformation of mind/body functioning through forms which encode and impart particular principles.

A final interesting bit: "kung fu" is pronounced kufu in Japanese, and is one word used to refer to practice in Zen. For example, koan kufu refers to practice centered on koans, and to the manner in which one must grapple or work with a koan in order to penetrate the insight to which it points.

So, I like to tell folks that all those practitioners lined up quietly on cushions are actually doing a type of kung fu :)

Though the intersection of Buddhism (particularly Zen) and martial arts in Japan has been overstated and sensationalized in many popular but inaccurate works, there are a lot of interesting writings and historical personages that someone interested in this topic could examine.

~ Meido
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Re: Buddhism and Martial Arts

Postby PorkChop » Wed Apr 24, 2013 11:10 pm

Meido wrote:
PorkChop wrote:In many east asian martial arts, forms: "kata" 型/"taolu" 套路 are a major part of the training that is often criticized for not having applicability in combat.


Kata-keiko is indeed the primary form of training in traditional Japanese martial arts. I believe the criticism you mention comes from the fact that some modern practitioners misunderstand the purpose of such practice, thinking it to be primarily the imparting of a compendium of techniques...rather than a comprehensive transformation of mind/body functioning through forms which encode and impart particular principles.


Yeah, kinda where I was going with that was stressing the "not killing people" side to martial arts.
I think there's this image in most people's heads of the angry martial artist who trains hard, thinking the whole time about horrendous things they'd like to do to somebody. I can honestly say that even in fight sports I spend most of my mental energy trying to stay calm, loose, relaxed, and focused on my mechanics. In traditional martial arts I was always way more concerned with proper stance or faht ging / fah jing / 發勁 - proper mechanics for power generation as opposed to imagining hurting someone. My practice has always had a lot more in common with a golfer perfecting their golf swing or even a triathlete than the image of a foot soldier obsessed with violence.
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Re: Buddhism and Martial Arts

Postby Johnny Dangerous » Wed Apr 24, 2013 11:55 pm

The word for Karate or more accurately the term for the indigenous clump of martial stuff prior to "Karate" (either Tang hand denoting the Chinese influence or empty hand denoting modern Japanese Budo) was just "Te" or Ti - hand. You can still find a bit of it's influence in older styles of Karate, I don't know how to describe it other than a sort of internal method, the closest thing I have seen to it is Xingyi.

Kata are only applicable on other people when you know how to apply them on other people ;)
"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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Re: Buddhism and Martial Arts

Postby Luke » Sun May 05, 2013 1:15 pm

Indrajala wrote:Buddhism teaches ahimsa or non-violence, so learning how to fight is inappropriate.

No doubt, non-violence is usually the best option, but Buddhism is not Jainism, and Buddhism also has stories about bodhisattvas who used violence and even killed people. One lama told me once, "Sometimes it is necessary to kill."

So it's not unreasonable for Buddhists to learn a few violent self-defense techniques.

Another interesting question is whether being a martial arts instructor is "right livelihood" according to Buddhism or not. It's not manufacturing objects which are weapons, but in some sense (when it's effective), it is turning people into weapons.

And then there is the question "Which martial arts instructor is more ethical: the one who teaches violent self-defense techniques that will actually help people defend themselves in real fights or the instructor who gives his students a peaceful, pseudo-spiritual, orientalist fantasy as they dance around in front of pretty Asian inkbrush paintings?"

I feel that the first one is more ethical. He says he teaches effective self-defense and this is what he teaches. He is honest.

The second type makes a person neither very spiritual nor very good at self-defense. It is just BS from every angle, even though it is pleasant. A lot of martial arts teachers sell the concept of "self-defense" but don't teach very effective techniques. This is just deception (although perhaps it's not always intentional because the instructors themselves may have begun to believe their own unrealistic fantasies) and is, in my opinion, unethical.

Building guns may be unethical from a Buddhist viewpoint, but buildings guns that don't work properly and then selling them to soldier by lying and saying that they actually work wonderfully is even more unethical, in my opinion.

Lately, I've been practicing Krav Maga. I like it because it's direct and effective without any extra BS.
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Re: Buddhism and Martial Arts

Postby Johnny Dangerous » Sun May 05, 2013 10:16 pm

Couldn't agree more. In addition, part of being a good martial arts instructor is teaching people what will be their likely relationship to violence, and the hugely sobering consequences of being involved in it at all. As you said this is 100x more honest and IMO more conducive to good conduct than the schools that teach basically recreation, but give people who already have a hollywood-induced fantasy of violence a false sense of being super-deadly - which truthfully is alot of places.
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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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