Martial Arts Violence


(January ‘96/#17)

I began the martial arts in 1967. The fellow who took me down to my first school, interestingly enough, stopped studying because of the martial arts violence. He stopped after he had achieved 1st degree brown belt, while I went on to black belt, pursued other systems and arts and so on.

As the years passed and we got together it seemed that the first thing out of his mouth was always, ‘You know, I just couldn’t go on. It was just too violent.’

After some years of this single sentence, a justification for his quitting, I had had enough. ‘The reason you quit,’ I snapped, ‘Was because it was you that was too violent. The art just is, the violence was coming out of you, and you couldn’t just confront you and go on.’


But it’s true. Without the human factor there is no art. And if you can’t get through the violence in your soul you can’t achieve the art.

Want to hear something really funny?

I was watching a tape of the Ultimate Fighting Championships on TV. My wife wandered in and watched the action for a moment.

I have to tell you how non-violent my wife is. She teaches young children, has done so for years, and she is the picture of patience and grace. (She must be to have put up with me all these years!)  Through our life together she has insisted that I be gentle with our children, and suffered through my martial arts obsession in silence.

And here she was watching the Ultimate Fighting Championship. Bare knuckle. Knockout or submission. Participants can knee each other in the face, kick each other in the nuts, break bones, and commit, without hindrance of such silly things as laws, deliberate mayhem upon each other.

Two fellows rushed at each other like ravening beasts.

She grabbed the chair. “They can’t do that!”

“This isn’t boxing, dear. Virtually no rules.”

Body slam.

“He can’t….but…that’s evil!” Fingers digging into the chair back.

“It’s martial arts, they’re just…” I tried to explain but the action on the screen was getting more brutal.

The fellow in the mount position began slamming the other fellow in the face. Pow! Pow! Pow!

“He’s evil! Stop him! Stop him!”

Pow! Pow! Pow! Blood spurted! Mouthpiece fell out on the floor! Body limbs twitching as unconsciousness was forced on the fellow on the bottom!

“He’s evil! He’s so _______ evil! I’d kill him! I’d kill him! He’s so evil!” My wife was shrieking as she picked up the chair and threw it across the kitchen.

In shock I stared up at her.

This sweet, demure thing had been hiding, deep within her soul, a savageness that I could not hope to equal!

The violence within.

I don’t normally get mad because I use karate to ‘cleanse’ myself of such things.

Other people don’t have that blessing.

On this matter of Martial Arts Violence, I rest my Case History.

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