Buddhism and Martial Arts

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Buddhism and Martial Arts

Postby Jikan » Tue Apr 26, 2011 11:04 am

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

Thoughts?
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Re: Buddhism and Martial Arts

Postby Mr. G » Tue Apr 26, 2011 11:48 am

Jikan wrote: How do these practices inform each other for people who engage in both?


I was a former assistant Wing Chun instructor who cross trained in BJJ, JKD, Pekiti-Tirsia....also dabbled in other styles. I stopped about 10 years ago because I thought it aggravated my Buddhist practice. I know others may disagree and say otherwise, but if one is training on a daily basis to seriously to deal with a violent street encounter, it will affect your mentality. I think it is a myth that martial arts and Buddhism complement one another. However, I will say that one should learn some basic self-defense as this is generally helpful.
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Re: Buddhism and Martial Arts

Postby Jikan » Tue Apr 26, 2011 1:29 pm

I practiced Aikido for a while and enjoyed it. Felt more like dancing with sticks than grappling or striking.

I'm more concerned about the marketing of Buddhism as part of a meaningful Ninja lifestyle, which to my mind misrepresents Buddha Dharma and assumes the teacher of said lifestyle techniques to be qualified to give transmission of esoteric practices (as in the link above), or at least to teach Dharma properly. Big assumptions.
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Re: Buddhism and Martial Arts

Postby Seishin » Tue Apr 26, 2011 4:57 pm

I guess you can call me a martial artist. Had been doing martial arts for about 9 or 10 years now, although I'm really quite rubbish! Started out in JuJitsu, then onto Shaolin, Wing Chun, Tai Chi Chuan, Capoeira, Aikido and now I study Iaido on and off. I've had a bit of a love-hate relationship with martial arts if I'm honest. I'm not competative in the slightest, no violent tendencies (never even hit my brothers), and being a tiny weeny man I was never strong, so I found martial arts empowering. (Take that mister six-foot muscular man!! :guns: ) It was great fitness and I enjoyed how my self confidence grew with each passing week. Martial Arts also made me want to look into Buddhism properly, as I'd only skimmed over a book or two in my teens. A couple of years ago I was attacked by a complete stranger on my door-setp, but thatnks to martial arts, I was able to evade my attacker and throw him and his mate out the door. Had I not been trained, I would have had a black-eye, or worse, as it turns out they were high on drugs and carrying knives.
So I have a lot to thank martial arts. However...

Like Mr.G, as I progressed with my Buddhist practice, my martial practice never sit well with me. Meditation helped my martial arts practice, and the Buddhist teachings and practice helped me to not get angry too much and treat my fellow martial artists better (anger can quite easily arise when you are fighting with someone). So in that regard, I can understand how Buddhism can benefit the martial artist. But I don't believe (anymore) that Martial arts can benefit the Buddhist. I'm having more and more problems with this and I know there will be many who disagree and I can respect that. I wonder whether it won't be long before I give it up altogether. But I am still greatful for the experience and all it brought me. :smile:

Gassho,
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Re: Buddhism and Martial Arts

Postby rudybro » Wed Jul 13, 2011 9:21 am

I really want to learn martial arts, does anyone know a training center?
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Re: Buddhism and Martial Arts

Postby Indrajala » Wed Jul 13, 2011 1:01 pm

Buddhism teaches ahimsa or non-violence, so learning how to fight is inappropriate. Spend that time eradicating your negative emotions and greed.
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Re: Buddhism and Martial Arts

Postby ronnewmexico » Wed Jul 13, 2011 2:14 pm

Correctly practiced and employeed...the martial artist of the greatest accomplishment is the one who never ever has to fight anyone.
If you don't understand that your martial arts training, all of it, is for naught.

As to the initial.....the study of awareness has commonality in both buddhism and correctly practiced martial arts. Putting oneself in a situation of generating least harm is always the preferred path. Though a inferior teacher teaches not this...running away is a simple and very effective martial arts tactic. Not putting oneself in a situation where one has to run away is the prefered tactic, always. Awareness of oneself and our surroundings is the best intial tactic always for protection and least suffering. This is basic to buddhism as well as martial arts.
Ideally no harm is generated. Preferentially least harm. The employment of tactics addresses this specific as well. If one by occupation or necessity does engage least harm is incurrred for the opponant and for oneself.

Finding a correct teacher who knows these things and how to apply them...impossible it seems today.

Me personally....a ham and egger. Some training, a bit. Some in martial arts some in other fighting technique No accomplishment, not a bit. I am fairly certain mainly due to employment back in the day.... I have had more violent physical encounters then most any here on this board. Real encounters not in a ring nor in a dojo.
Never hurting anyone permenantly and never being hurt suchly.
So those are my qualifications to expound upon this subject.

As a aside I live not and frequent not academic circles. I employ what I consider martial arts tactic in my daily activities when ever around peoples. Peoples tent to be unstable and highly excitable. Standing not to close to one suchly is a martial arts tactic. Knowing when to look,when to look directly and when not to look is a martial arts tactic. A study once was done on those who were most able to gain knowledge/notice facial characteristics and body language/change...the reading of a person....those with the highest marks....your meditators and secret service agents.
That is no coincidence or accident. It is a common discipline.
"This order considers that progress can be achieved more rapidly during a single month of self-transformation through terrifying conditions in rough terrain and in "the abode of harmful forces" than through meditating for a period of three years in towns and monasteries"....Takpo Tashi Namgyal.
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Re: Buddhism and Martial Arts

Postby gnegirl » Sun Jul 17, 2011 9:06 pm

Huseng wrote:Buddhism teaches ahimsa or non-violence, so learning how to fight is inappropriate. Spend that time eradicating your negative emotions and greed.


Nothing wrong with martial arts. I've done Tae Kwon Do, Karate, Akido, kickboxing and boxing. Its your attitude when doing said martial out, i was never out to hurt anyone, it was just a really fun sport. Only had one sparring partner who scared me, he was one of those guys threatened by a female with more skill than he had.
"Things are not what they appear to be: nor are they otherwise." --Surangama Sutra

Phenomenon, vast as space, dharmata is your base, arising and falling like ocean tide cycles, why do i cling to your illusion of unceasing changlessness?
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Re: Buddhism and Martial Arts

Postby Josef » Mon Jul 18, 2011 12:03 am

Huseng wrote:Buddhism teaches ahimsa or non-violence, so learning how to fight is inappropriate. Spend that time eradicating your negative emotions and greed.

I used Brazilian jiu jitsu as a means to support my eradication of negative emotions. It was pretty damn helpful too.
Physical discipline learned through martial arts can be a large benefit on the path.
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Re: Buddhism and Martial Arts

Postby Silent Forest » Sun Jul 24, 2011 1:37 pm

I practiced an Indonesian martial art which actually doesn´t stand in direct contact to Buddhism for eight years. I believe that it can (but doesn´t necessarily have to) help in different ways. First, many martial arts contain some meditation practices and train the mind to keep focused on the moment and on the energy. Then one can also learn that negative emotions such as fear, aggression, lack of self-confidence etc. block the mind, which can lead to a more peaceful and calm mind. Depending on the master he could even be able to adjust parts of the training (eg. the exams) to give a special lesson.
Then again I knew people from the national team shotokan karate which never really got in contact with meditation and were more focused on just executing the moves technically (mechanically) correct. I guess I was lucky with my teacher.
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Re: Buddhism and Martial Arts

Postby Mr. G » Sun Jul 24, 2011 1:43 pm

Silent Forest wrote:I practiced an Indonesian martial art...


Silat?
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    grasping the letter of the text and ignoring its intention!
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Re: Buddhism and Martial Arts

Postby Silent Forest » Sun Jul 24, 2011 1:57 pm

mr. gordo wrote:
Silent Forest wrote:I practiced an Indonesian martial art...


Silat?

Yes :-) My teacher was Haka Tahir.
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Re: Buddhism and Martial Arts

Postby Mr. G » Mon Aug 01, 2011 12:29 pm

Huseng wrote:Buddhism teaches ahimsa or non-violence, so learning how to fight is inappropriate. Spend that time eradicating your negative emotions and greed.


Huseng, do you think learning self-defense is to be completely excluded for Mahayana / Vajrayana lay people?
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Re: Buddhism and Martial Arts

Postby Indrajala » Mon Aug 01, 2011 1:18 pm

mr. gordo wrote:
Huseng wrote:Buddhism teaches ahimsa or non-violence, so learning how to fight is inappropriate. Spend that time eradicating your negative emotions and greed.


Huseng, do you think learning self-defense is to be completely excluded for Mahayana / Vajrayana lay people?



I won't say it is or it isn't. My opinion is just that it is inappropriate. That is merely just my opinion.
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Re: Buddhism and Martial Arts

Postby Malcolm » Mon Aug 01, 2011 2:51 pm

mr. gordo wrote:
Huseng wrote:Buddhism teaches ahimsa or non-violence, so learning how to fight is inappropriate. Spend that time eradicating your negative emotions and greed.


Huseng, do you think learning self-defense is to be completely excluded for Mahayana / Vajrayana lay people?


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/
http://www.bhaisajya.net
http://atikosha.org
འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔

" The one who teaches the benefits of peace,
he is said to be a ṛṣī; the others are the opposite of him."

-- Uttaratantra
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Re: Buddhism and Martial Arts

Postby Mr. G » Mon Aug 01, 2011 3:54 pm

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.


Yup, I completely I agree and commented the same very early in this thread. I guess I was wondering if the general reasoning for at least learning basic self-defense would be allowed. Like in the Jataka tales (Ja.V.109), it says

"...Always protect those who live justly."

Or the Mahaparinibbana sutta:

"What have you heard, Ananda: do the Vajjis duly protect and guard the arahats, so that those who have not come to the realm yet might do so, and those who have already come might live there in peace?"
"I have heard, Lord, that they do."
"So long, Ananda, as this is the case, the growth of the Vajjis is to be expected, not their decline."

Or in the Vibhaṅga, there is no offense for a bhikkhu who, trapped in a difficult situation, gives a blow "desiring freedom."

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

My personal top pick of yoga traditions:

http://vinyasakramayoga.blogspot.com/


You recommended me to study at Yoga Sutra, and I'll be going for private
lessons later this year to have a personalized daily practice taught to me.
I'm pretty excited. Also read the Krishnamacharya bio by Mohan a couple
of weeks ago and it was quite inspiring.
    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 Sherab Dorje » Mon Aug 01, 2011 3:57 pm

My first martial arts teacher taught us Buddhist (Zen) meditation and yoga too!

Actually he was one of the main reasons I got into Dharma.

I am a Muay Thai Kru (I am also a Kick Boxing teacher and a Combat Jiu Jitsu teacher but do not teach these) and the truth is that if I could find a way to finance my rent (my teaching pays for my rent), so i could devote all my afternoons to Dharma practice, then I would have stopped teaching ages ago.
:namaste:
PS Namdrol, why do you reccomend this style of yoga over, for example, Satyananda yoga?
"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 Mr. G » Mon Aug 01, 2011 4:12 pm

gregkavarnos wrote:I am a Muay Thai Kru (I am also a Kick Boxing teacher and a Combat Jiu Jitsu teacher but do not teach these) and the truth is that if I could find a way to finance my rent (my teaching pays for my rent), so i could devote all my afternoons to Dharma practice, then I would have stopped teaching ages ago.


I hear ya greg. I was a former assistant Wing Chun instructor who cross trained in BJJ, JKD, Pekiti-Tirsia....also dabbled in other styles. I haven't trained in over 10 years and have stopped. I'm right there with you, but you and I have aquired basic self-defense skills. A person who doesn't know who to defend themselves though.....seems like learning basic self-defense shouldn't be an issue...though clarification from sutras, teachers would be helpful in understanding this further..
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    grasping the letter of the text and ignoring its intention!
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Re: Buddhism and Martial Arts

Postby Malcolm » Mon Aug 01, 2011 4:15 pm

Most people have no reason to learn martial arts. We do not live in a country inhabited by bandits, though in some places they still exist.

It is easy to avoid personal confrontations.

That being said, of course one has the basic right to defend oneself and to defend others is need arises.

N


mr. gordo wrote:
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.


Yup, I completely I agree and commented the same very early in this thread. I guess I was wondering if the general reasoning for at least learning basic self-defense would be allowed. Like in the Jataka tales (Ja.V.109), it says

"...Always protect those who live justly."

Or the Mahaparinibbana sutta:

"What have you heard, Ananda: do the Vajjis duly protect and guard the arahats, so that those who have not come to the realm yet might do so, and those who have already come might live there in peace?"
"I have heard, Lord, that they do."
"So long, Ananda, as this is the case, the growth of the Vajjis is to be expected, not their decline."

Or in the Vibhaṅga, there is no offense for a bhikkhu who, trapped in a difficult situation, gives a blow "desiring freedom."

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

My personal top pick of yoga traditions:

http://vinyasakramayoga.blogspot.com/


You recommended me to study at Yoga Sutra, and I'll be going for private
lessons later this year to have a personalized daily practice taught to me.
I'm pretty excited. Also read the Krishnamacharya bio by Mohan a couple
of weeks ago and it was quite inspiring.
http://www.bhaisajya.net
http://atikosha.org
འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔

" The one who teaches the benefits of peace,
he is said to be a ṛṣī; the others are the opposite of him."

-- Uttaratantra
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Re: Buddhism and Martial Arts

Postby Josef » Mon Aug 01, 2011 4:46 pm

Namdrol wrote:
My personal top pick of yoga traditions:

http://vinyasakramayoga.blogspot.com/


Those sequence posters are really useful.
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