Buddhism and Martial Arts

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Re: Buddhism and Martial Arts

Postby Sherab Dorje » Fri Aug 16, 2013 10:52 pm

Some of the worst marial arts injuries I have ever seen (and experienced) are from Aikido, and that's coming from a Muay Thai instructor!
"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 Johnny Dangerous » Sat Aug 17, 2013 1:27 am

gregkavarnos wrote:Some of the worst marial arts injuries I have ever seen (and experienced) are from Aikido, and that's coming from a Muay Thai instructor!



Yeah, honestly anything where you take falls is harder on the body long term than striking arts I think..maybe exceptions for people who bang full contact all the time, all I know is that virtually all the Karateka etc. I know train well into their 60s and beyond, whereas Judoka and Jujutsu guys I know ALL have to heavily modify stuff like taking falls.

I starting learning Jujutsu (closer to Judo than BJJ in this case) in my mid 30's, already just into my late 30's I do not want to take falls anymore, especially for big people it will wreck your body faster than anything.

I worked as an injury treatment massage therapist for a few years, interestingly, the only consistently injured martial artists I worked on were AIkidoka!

Not to say you can't do all this stuff in old age, you can..but man, taking falls is worse than anything long term IMO.
"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 » Sat Aug 17, 2013 1:04 pm

Qing Tian (晴天) wrote:In this regard I personally believe that practicing martial arts can be very beneficial. As a long time practitioner myself I can say that it has helped to deepen my concentration, find the peaceful centre of my existence, and deal with others equitably and without resort to anger. Closing in on 50 years of age I feel physically healthy, mentally acute, and (dare I say it) spiritually uncompromised.

The best piece of advice I was ever given: Intention is everything.

Yes, from an exercise standpoint, martial arts can be great. I no longer practice martial arts, but I lift weights which also kind of goes against the stereotype of what a Buddhist should be, as well ("Oh, it's just for vanity... Isn't that kind of 'harsh and tense'?... It's weird that you like Buddhism, too... Why don't you just do yoga?" lol).

Buddhas don't have any negative feelings which they need to "let out" and they probably don't care if they ever exercise, but many of us non-buddhas benefit a great deal both mentally and physically from intense exercise of one form or another.
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Re: Buddhism and Martial Arts

Postby Appareo » Sat Aug 17, 2013 7:19 pm

I never stated anything about the degree of damage possible or probable. So why do you quote me and rant about something irrelevant to the quote? Did you perhaps mis-read something or am I being daft? :tongue:

Also, one does not have to take in those techniques and philosophies of Aikido or anything else that one does not agree with because one considers them too harmful or demanding.
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Re: Buddhism and Martial Arts

Postby Johnny Dangerous » Sat Aug 17, 2013 10:15 pm

It sounded like the usual "AIkido is a peaceful martial art" stuff that i've heard from many AIkidoka in my 25 or so years of martial arts.

It's nonsensical, as Aikido has some of the most injurious techniques you can imagine, and is derived in part from battlefield Jujutsu...no matter how flamboyant or non harming it may look in demonstrations.

Moreihei Ueshiba was an interesting fellow in terms in terms of his spirituality, and that had a huge effect on how he formulated and taught Aikido, and presumably why. The art itself though, is modified Jujutsu and is designed to do things like spiral break forearms and dislocate shoulders..hardly "peaceful" stuff.

I imagine Qing Tian is also familiar with this tired argument (it's a really common one from martial arts new people that think there is some "peaceful" method of dealing with someone who is trying to bodily end you). The fact is though, as far as violence goes, you can run and escape (by FAR the preferable option 99.9999999999999999% of the time), or you can endeavor to put someone down, if you decide on the latter there is no real "peaceful" way to do it..they all involve something nasty.

So to do martial arts in a Buddhist context, I think it's a bigger deal to figure out what you are and are not willing to do in terms of violence against sentient beings..and why, and also to decided what are the goals of your martial arts training then it is to figure out which style is "peaceful", because none of them really are on a physical level.

The exception to this is environments where one has to have a set of skills for subduing semi-compliant people, things like being a bouncer, law enforcement officer, or someone that works with violent mentally disturbed folks..but that is a different deal than interpersonal violence of the various kind that most martial arts sprang from, and is a specialized skill set.
"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 Qing Tian » Sat Aug 17, 2013 10:19 pm

EDIT: :good:

In your own words, you're being daft. You (Appareo) wrote:

I think Aikido is the most apt form of fighting, if one must. It is focused on exerting the least amount of energy, to the extent that one is able to use the assailant's negative energy against them with minimal effort. It is like you can, embody the principle that one who seeks to hurt others may hurt him/herself most of all.


My point - or 'rant' to use your offensive label - was that people see aikido performed under controlled conditions and are led to believe that it is an art that allows perfect control of a determined aggressor. This is simply not true. In violent situations, regardless of one's skill level, you have to accept that you are likely to get hurt, and maybe badly. Add in a knife to the mix and it is a certainty. It would be exceptionally naif and extremely dangerous to think otherwise.

There is no 'most apt' form of fighting. This is a myth. All fighting is concerned with preservation of the self and destruction of the enemy. Aikido, like many other martial practices, is an efficient system to help achieve this end.

However, rather than taking the word of internet strangers, why don't you (Appareo) go and join some classes and find out first hand?
“Not till your thoughts cease all their branching here and there, not till you abandon all thoughts of seeking for something, not till your mind is motionless as wood or stone, will you be on the right road to the Gate.”
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Re: Buddhism and Martial Arts

Postby Johnny Dangerous » Sat Aug 17, 2013 10:26 pm

QT You keep saying exactly what's in my head, dude!

Anyway, as to the violence question in martial arts and how it relates to Buddhism my own inclination is that if someone has few violent impulses, and is not attracted to martial arts..there is nothing beneficial there whatsoever for Dharma practice, and it might even be harmful. In this sense, I see where people are coming from that believe it is a negative thing for Buddhist practice, and should be renounced..but that is one way of viewing these things, and renunciation isn't the only way to deal with our neuroses and pain, for some people i earnestly believe that black and white renunciation of this kind creates new layers of neuroses, guilt, and confusion. I am sure that many people will find that objectionable, or consider it justification for unwholesome hobbies..and that is certainly their right.

I think for some people (i'd count myself as one) that have a strong inclination towards violence, and often people whose neuroses might be partially tied up with violent experiences, martial arts can serve a somewhat transformative role, and can eventually lead to the reigning in and mastery of one's violent impulses. In fact I know this is so, because I have both experienced it and seen it.

That is not to say I think they are Dharma, they aren't..but long term mindful study of them, especially can bring about a dispassionate attitude and understanding of the seriousness of human violence..with the right teachers etc. of course, which are not easy to find. A huge amount of martial arts training is out and out fantasy anyway though, and from that perspective it's more important to shop for teachers who are responsible and decent people than it is to look for styles.

As I said earlier though, they can also mess people up too..i've seen training bring out the worst and best in folks..so it ain't something to mess around with in terms of caring for one's mind.
"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 Aug 18, 2013 6:46 pm

Johnny Dangerous wrote:I think for some people (i'd count myself as one) that have a strong inclination towards violence, and often people whose neuroses might be partially tied up with violent experiences, martial arts can serve a somewhat transformative role, and can eventually lead to the reigning in and mastery of one's violent impulses. In fact I know this is so, because I have both experienced it and seen it.

...As I said earlier though, they can also mess people up too..i've seen training bring out the worst and best in folks..so it ain't something to mess around with in terms of caring for one's mind.

I agree with both points. Different people are affected differently by different martial arts and by different martial arts teachers. There are many variables involved.

Buddhist should just be always watching the state of their own minds and take note of how different activities are influencing them.

As for me, I found that practicing Muay Thai and Krav Maga was making my mindset more angry and violent, so I stopped doing them. But other people might not be so negatively affected by these martial arts.

Lifting weights is the perfect stress release for my personality because I can do it in an aggressive way, but it's a nonviolent activity.
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Re: Buddhism and Martial Arts

Postby qwerty13 » Mon Aug 26, 2013 9:05 pm

Hi all,
I`m new to this forum and this is my first post here so dont eat me alive! i`m just fulfilling my childish desire to contribute.

Buddhism has found its way in to my heart and i could say that i`m somewhat serious practitioner.I`m also practising BJJ (gi and no-gi) and MMA. And i also watch UFC regulary, so i quess that i`m the biggest and most violent sinner here. :smile:
HOWEVER, to me buddhism and MMA/BJJ practise have nothing to do with each other.To me there is really no point in thinking am i breaking ethical rules of buddhism by practising martial arts because its really not just the action but its the context and mindset behind your actions that might violate buddhist ethics (just like someone wrote allready in this thread).
I personally have no problem with cultivating compassion and bodhichitta and train BJJ/MMA.

Actually i feel that my MMA/BJJ training helps me to bring compassionate attitude in my life. I am not training out of aggression and when we are training, we take care out of each other by not hurting anyone. The point in sparring (especially in MMA) is not to knock your partner to ground but to keep the level of force in punches and kicks tolerable. And if you cant handle your it, you can just say it. Its important that skill-levels meet each other.

And when its about competition it is just a sport. No personal feelings are involved. Of course there are those who take it personally, and give bad name for the sport, but this either is no problem if you are able to keep your heart compassionate.
Besides, if i meet someone in my training how takes things a bit too personally, this is to me an opportunity to put that compassion in a test. Surely we all feel compassion when we are alone, but if we never test it and keep avoiding "negative people" we are just pretending in my opinion. Like Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche puts it, not only we should feel indebt for people who have been kind to us, but also for those who say "frak you". "Negative people" give us as much reason to practise buddhism as bodhisattvas and buddhas do.

And dont think that i am seeing myself as somehow special, and completely free of ill-will and anger and so on. I know that i have problems with people sometimes and that sometimes compassion just seems to diminish. Acltually i have somewhat bad temper with some people.But that just shows the REAL level of my realization.
We need ALL KINDS of people and stressors in our life, not just those in our Sangha no matter how beautiful,realized and compassionate our fellow practitioners may be.
Coz the life itself is the real test.

Om mani padme hum
People love emotional confusion. Just look at the film posters in front of the cinema: nothing but emotional confusion on their faces. Buddha-dharma means not putting yourself at the mercy of emotional confusion. In the world, on the other hand, a big fuss is made over nothing.

-Kodo Sawaki
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Re: Buddhism and Martial Arts

Postby Jikan » Mon Sep 23, 2013 7:49 pm

Here's a recent article that may be of interest here:

http://chinesemartialstudies.com/2013/0 ... ng-fu-tea/

the author is a reputable scholar (I have corresponded with him for years now), traveling in Bhutan, so you can imagine some of the directions this goes.
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Re: Buddhism and Martial Arts

Postby tigerh98 » Tue Oct 22, 2013 4:55 am

Well martial arts is usefull in buddhism becouse like if someones trying kill you your know how to defend yourself = you dont die if you dont know martial arts = someone can easily kill you and if the enemy kills you well you riencarnate and probably in that next life you wont learn buddhism
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Re: Buddhism and Martial Arts

Postby Lindama » Tue Oct 22, 2013 6:36 am

Johnny Dangerous wrote:It sounded like the usual "AIkido is a peaceful martial art" stuff that i've heard from many AIkidoka in my 25 or so years of martial arts.

It's nonsensical, as Aikido has some of the most injurious techniques you can imagine, and is derived in part from battlefield Jujutsu...no matter how flamboyant or non harming it may look in demonstrations.

Moreihei Ueshiba was an interesting fellow in terms in terms of his spirituality, and that had a huge effect on how he formulated and taught Aikido, and presumably why. The art itself though, is modified Jujutsu and is designed to do things like spiral break forearms and dislocate shoulders..hardly "peaceful" stuff.

I imagine Qing Tian is also familiar with this tired argument (it's a really common one from martial arts new people that think there is some "peaceful" method of dealing with someone who is trying to bodily end you). The fact is though, as far as violence goes, you can run and escape (by FAR the preferable option 99.9999999999999999% of the time), or you can endeavor to put someone down, if you decide on the latter there is no real "peaceful" way to do it..they all involve something nasty.

So to do martial arts in a Buddhist context, I think it's a bigger deal to figure out what you are and are not willing to do in terms of violence against sentient beings..and why, and also to decided what are the goals of your martial arts training then it is to figure out which style is "peaceful", because none of them really are on a physical level.

The exception to this is environments where one has to have a set of skills for subduing semi-compliant people, things like being a bouncer, law enforcement officer, or someone that works with violent mentally disturbed folks..but that is a different deal than interpersonal violence of the various kind that most martial arts sprang from, and is a specialized skill set.


wow, it just depends.... I took Aidido for two years in graduate school, required course, with a black belt who trained with Moreihei Ueshiba in Japan. I was female in my forties at the time... it was taught as a form of love, this is what I was told Ueshiba called it ... it make connection with the opositon first, then do what you need to... throw them if necessary. It taught me to be centered in the face of adversity where I could have gone to panic... ofc, this was not male centered competition... it was the language of going with the flow and then protecting yourself. It often stressed, first connecting with the opposition (which transformed fear into right action), connecting from the hara (belly) to the opposition, person to person, then throwing them over... pretty much what we learn by being present to any threat coming at us. A few times I went to a real "jock" dojo and found it to be the same... I know that BRuce Willis type approach is deadly, very deadly ... that is not what I was taught. It had nothing to do with violence. It just depends.
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Re: Buddhism and Martial Arts

Postby Lindama » Tue Oct 22, 2013 7:51 am

PS the only person who I felt safe with throwing me was my instructor, who did it with neutrality... all my fellow students were too involved with what they were doing and whether it was right and if it would hurt.... it felt like false intention to me and could have produced injury with all the indecision.

Meanwhile, my instructor threw me down quite forcefully and I went along joyfully.... WAP!!! I knew how to fall... and I loved the sound on the tan. I just rolled down and over quite easily. (this was not on concrete were it would have been deadly!)

so, engage with someone you trust to put you down!

So many lessons with the right teacher!
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Re: Buddhism and Martial Arts

Postby Sherab Dorje » Tue Oct 22, 2013 9:12 am

Luke wrote:As for me, I found that practicing Muay Thai and Krav Maga was making my mindset more angry and violent, so I stopped doing them. But other people might not be so negatively affected by these martial arts.
Were you learning traditional Muay Thai (ie as a martial art) or Muay Thai as a combat sport? Lots of people pretend they are teaching Muay Thai ,when in fact they are just teaching Kick Boxing with a couple of knees thrown in (K1/Oriental rules) and selling it as Muay Thai.
"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 Jikan » Tue Feb 04, 2014 11:31 pm

I'd like to know what those in-the-know think of this. Mikhail Ryabko, Beyond the Physical:




Ryabko calls his system Systema (meaning... system).
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Re: Buddhism and Martial Arts

Postby PorkChop » Sun Feb 09, 2014 6:37 am

My Sambo friends are not fans of Systema.
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Re: Buddhism and Martial Arts

Postby Johnny Dangerous » Sun Feb 09, 2014 7:18 am

There are some good systema practitioners..like any somewhat "internal" set of skills though, it can be questionable in areas. I think there is a lot of nonsense in the "Russian Martial" scene.

I've done seminars where I partnered with Systema guys and there was a wide range, there are definitely some good ones. Honestly it is a somewhat vague set of skills though, so the range of interpretation of what "systema" actually is is enormous.

I've always thought Ryabko looks terrible, it looks like bad, crazy AIkido demos to me, having done a little internal stuff..the videos look like someone trying to demonstrate internal stuff they don't actually know how to do, some fo the things in the video are possible..but they are parlor tricks for the most part, things done to illustrate a certain principle, or just to look cool, and he is not actually doing them anyway, his students are just playing along. The other big Systema guy..Vasilev I think, always looks much better on video.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KU0U7QkXb-Q

As an example this is something that often looks impossible to people who've never tried it, but it actually "works" on a base physical level without needing a partner to "play" along, other than being dead weight (actually gaining the skill to use it practically is a whole other question though, I don't consider it practical training per se..it is a lesson in body mechanics more than anything else), this is not what is in the Ryabko video I don't think though, the Ryabko video demonstrates no physical skills of this sort, IMO of course.

For a non-style version of the same sort of skills, which IMHO is more legit and seems more consistent, Aunkai is something to look into.
"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 Motova » Sun Feb 09, 2014 7:18 am

Last edited by Motova on Sun Feb 09, 2014 7:35 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Buddhism and Martial Arts

Postby Lindama » Sun Feb 09, 2014 7:31 am

You can read my comments above.

I think that it's essential to find a teacher who integrates the physical and spiritual aspects of the art. It is, in the end, an energy that is cultivated in the body, and at the same time, cultivates the body. I found this in Aikido, I can't speak for any other form. With Aikido, just a half step back with a peaceful mind averted danger/death. Just a half step forward to meet your opponent did the same. In the language of neurobiology, it reprogrammed my brain. Sensing that energy coming at me was not a whole lot diff from how I carried fear about simple and harmless situations in life interacting with other ppl.

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Re: Buddhism and Martial Arts

Postby Sherab Dorje » Sun Feb 09, 2014 11:43 am

At one point, from a kneeling position, he stops an oncoming assailant (without getting out of the way) using two fingers. And then he throws him. Using two fingers.

Plain and simple? HOGWASH! If somebody was coming at you with the intent to cause you harm, even if the two fingers could possibly effect him by hitting a pressure point, their momentum (by itself) will make them fall on you. Aikido can be effective because, at the very least, it teaches you to get out of the way.
"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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