And by “outside the dojo” I don’t mean fighting in the street to test your skills.
I find numerous debates and Youtube comments on “Which style is more effective?” futile and counter-productive. For the purpose of martial arts is not just prepare you for fighting, but prepare you for life.
Make you focused, determined, and driven. Build up your character. Unleash your human potential. Give the courage to fight for your dreams.
Let’s say you train taekwon-do and recite the tenets of taekwon-do before each class. And forget about them once the class ends. One of the tenets is integrity, for instance, which means to “walk your talk”. So the class ends, and you return to your “normal” life breaking commitments.
Or you practice aikido, “the art of peace”, and learn to never cause violence to anyone. And then you commit emotional or mental violence to the people around.
I can take a radical stance by claiming that martial arts turn an “animal-human being” into a “human-human being”. Contrary to the common misperception, all martial arts build peace both within and outside, rather than incite violence.
And if that’s the case, what’s the point of training if you become an “animal” again after leaving the training hall?
Jigoro Kano put it very nicely by saying there are three levels of judo.
The quintessential story comes down to this apex: the real test of you as a martial artist is outside the dojo.
In one of the posts I touched upon the commonality between seemingly divergent fields of political science and martial arts.
I re-iterate the idea in the current post.
What is common between political (social) science(s) and martial arts?
In a fascinating academic article (these two adjectivies don’t always go together) “Security and Emancipation” Ken Booth argues that the basis of security and peace in the new times is that governments, concerned individuals, NGOs and global civil society in general act as “local agents of the world common good” (phrase borrowed from another notable scholar Hedley Bull).
In other words – act local, think global.
The highest goal of any martial art is to generate peace both within and outside. This has been claimed by many accomplished martial artists, and by the founding fathers themselves (I am sure diligent practitioners will agree with this proposition).
Just as two quick examples, consider the taekwon-do oath (“I shall build a more peaceful world. I shall be a champion of freedom and justice.”) or read “The Art of Peace” by the aikido’s founder Morihei Ueshiba.
Both traditions – those of social science and martial arts – put peace as a critical issue on the agenda. Both offer their unique ways to promote it, and strive for it.
I find this extremely interesting, inspiring, and worthwhile to walk on both ways simultaneously.
According to Calos Castaneda, man must become a warrior before he becomes a man of knowledge.
A scholar warrior has a trained body and spirit, as well as a sharp analytical mind.
Two obvious spheres for developing such properties are martial arts and academia, or science in general.
And what really interesting is this.
When I look at the academic discipline I am currently engaged in (political science), and the martial arts I practice (taekwon-do and aikido), I can see a subtle yet profound unity in purpose.
What is that?
- Part of the taekwon-do oath says: “I shall build a more peaceful world”.
- The main goal of aikido is to pacify an opponent, according to Tsuneo Ando sensei.
- It can be also claimed that the purpose of political science – at least how this discipline was originally conceived – is to make this world a place void of conflicts and full of cooperation among nations.
So on the one hand political science – whether directly or indirectly – strives to reinforce peace, or at least understand how it can be achieved. On the other hand, the highest purpose of martial arts is to create peace both within ourselves and outside.
Does this mean every academic should now put on a kimono and start kicking some ass? Or an aikido-ka should start digging in the theories of international relations?
Not at all.
What this simply reveals is that there are several paths towards the same direction. Yet while it may seen reasonable to choose only one of them, it is ultimately more efficient to embrace both a warrior’s and a scholar’s way.
Efficient both for ourselves and the world.
As already mentioned in previous posts, martial arts are not restricted merely to fighting and self-defense techniques.
Every kind of budo develops tons of other useful skills and qualities, such as perseverance, determination, responsibility, confidence, and discipline, to name a few.
Yet when speaking about “the highest goal” of martial arts, different styles – whether it is taekwon-do, karate, judo or aikido – agree on the common: the quintessence of the way of the warrior is peace.
As the founder of aikido Morihei Ueshiba put it in The Art of Peace:
The Art of Peace begins with you. Work on yourself and your appointed task in the Art of Peace. Everyone has a spirit that can be refined, a body that can be trained in some manner, a suitable path to follow. You are here for no other purpose than to realize your inner divinity and manifest your innate enlightenment. Foster peace in your own life and then apply the Art to all that you encounter.
Other posts on the essence of martial arts:
Tsuneo Ando on the Main Goal of Aikido
Keiji Tomiyama on the Essence of Martial Arts
What Is The Way of The Marital Arts? (Part 3)
What Is The Way of The Marital Arts? (Part 2)
What Is The Way of The Marital Arts? (Part 1)
Sensei Tsuneo Ando is an 8th dan master of Yoshinkan aikido. His views on the goal of aikido reflect the philosophy of peace and love embedded in this Japanese martial art by its founder O-Sensei Morihei Ueshiba.
Interestingly – but not surprisingly – the words of Ando Sensei on the essence of aikido have a lot in common with the views of other masters on the purpose of their respective martial arts.
The main goal of aikido is not just to learn how to fight or defend yourself, but to learn how to pacify an opponent so that he loses his intention to attack you. The purpose of learning aikido is to replace desire to attack with joy and surprise with the mastery of an aikidoka. That is why by training we not only practice techniques, but also create an atmosphere of harmony and joy.
Aikido aims to make a person stronger, teach him to act, take decisions and hold responsibility for his deeds. Today martial arts are not used to wage wars. Their main purpose is to educate robust individuals capable to become mature members of society.
Sensei Keiji Tomiyama 7th Dan is a well-known and accomplished Karate master.
In one of his interviews in the Russian Dan Test TV program Sensei Tomiyama was asked about “the highest goal of martial arts”.
His answer is worth to be heard by every martial arts practitioner who strives not only for fighting well, but also for personal growth and self-development.
In japan there is a notion of budoku – the warrior’s virtue. This is the highest level we need to reach for – display virtue while training. A person who practices marital arts must be peaceful and create a peaceful aura around himself. Not showing aggression, not fighting for money or for some awards and prizes. Create peace inside yourself and around yourself – that is the highest purpose of martial arts practice.
By the way, this echoes with the Jigoro Kano’s idea about the highest level of judo – bringing positive contributions to the society.
And by no surprise it is also the concluding sentence of the taekwon-do oath:
I shall build a more peaceful world.
It really does. And so do human beings.
Morning dawn is the time when the Universe gives birth to a new day. It is an extremely powerful moment full of energy. And you could have that energy too by getting up to witness the sunrise.
Ali Muhammad would wake up very early and run 6 miles a day, 6 days a week. You don’t have to be that fanatic, but Ali is a very inspiring example of appreciating early hours.
I love waking up early. It is true that I don’t always manage to do so, especially after long dark winter nights. Yet this is an amazing feeling to be one-to-one with the world. I have time to do what I want. Do my morning exercises. Make a blog post. Stay clam for a few moments before a brand new day kicks in.
Early morning is the most powerful time of the day, in my opinion. It tunes you up for the whole day. And even if the sunrise can’t be seen because of the clouds, the sun is still out there.
Good morning, and enjoy your day!