To Fight or not to Fight
The following is a guest editorial from Alaric Dailey
Being a student of traditional Karate-Do, when I make mention to a school owner or martial artist or parent of a child taking classes somewhere that “martial arts is more than punching and kicking, there is more to being a martial artist than simply being a fighter” I get a blank stare. At this point, I have to explain the following.
These days, tradition is often poo-pooed with some comment like “if it doesn’t make me a better fighter than I don’t care”. But being a fighter doesn’t make you a good person, in fact, simply knowing how to fight can make you arrogant, or worse, a bully.
This is often evidenced in “fighter” gyms, people walking around with bad attitudes, all about testosterone and ego, injuries abound because people are always trying to prove they are the king of the mountain.
The way of the warrior, Bushido, is about being a gentle soul, learning not only to punch and kick, but to help others, to be calm and humble.
In other words, learning all those “useless” things, like the language, the manners, the meditation, the discipline, reciting Dojo-kun are not useless, they are about expanding your mind, and making you more than a fighter.
In my original dojo, my sensei not only give us the meditation and such, but would also tell us stories of the Samurai, and give us pieces of Bushido that most westerners never hear. “Ikebana (flower arranging) is a great way to clear your mind”, and “self-defense is not just about punching and kicking, it is about avoiding and defusing danger in the first place” were words of wisdom that we often heard from sensei.
When the Japanese would teach an art, they would distinguish whether or not it included only fighting techniques, or would give you “the way”. If you have “the way” it is a Do, Karate-Do, Ju-Do, Aiki-Do, etc. If it is purely fighting techniques it was Jitsu, Karate-jitsu, Ju-jitsu, Aiki-jitsu, and Nin-jitsu.
As a side note here, you will notice there is no such thing as a “Do” for Ninja fighting techniques. This is because the ninja weren’t fighters, they were assassins, their skills included, poisons, escape, evasion, not being seen, killing techniques etc. Being a hired killer, and being a better person have nothing to do with each other.
There are 7 virtues
Rectitude (義 gi)
Courage (勇 yū)
Benevolence (仁 jin)
Respect (禮 rei)
Honesty (誠 makoto)
Honour (名誉 meiyo)
Loyalty (忠義 chūgi)
and 3 more associated virtues
Filial piety (孝 kō)
Wisdom (智 chi)
Care for the aged (悌 tei)
I see it as a great loss that so many have thrown away history and tradition, the Do, in favor of the more testosterone fueled (and MMA fanned) jitsu. It is a sad state of affairs that our children grow up idolizing real and fictional people who push the ideas “might makes right” and “the ends justifies the means”, never once mentioning justice and mercy.
I highly recommend “The Hagakure”.
Check out the Karate Katas that work.