The Devil in Modern Martial Arts

There is a devil in modern martial arts, a creeping, slithering, and disdainful philosophy that permeates martial arts, and lessens it with farcical sentimentality. That devil is peace.

It is absolutely absurd, to think that the “martial” arts should ever be about peace, and this absurd absolute is vehemently defended by the modern martial arts practitioner.

The idea is pervasive in the west, and even the east, though I should not need to mention that the entire body of martial systems is not in any way exclusive to Japan, China, or even Asia in general.

What has been thoroughly proven in the octagon is this: The philosophy and not the techniques of a martial art is the most important. An aggressive philosophy which is predisposed to council fast and extreme measures during conflict seriously increases the chance of victory.  Even in non-structured confrontation, martial arts like Kali, Krabi Krabong, Krav Maga, Savate, and Hooking which all emphasize violent and immediate action from any and all angles consistently dominate and prove useful in most probable scenarios.

The actual techniques used with any amount of consistent success are fundamentally the same. The only way to triumph in unavoidable conflict is violence, and that right soon.

This of course should be obvious, and I am not the first person to speak these words,  Carl Von Clausewitz wrote:

“Now, philanthropists may easily imagine there is a skillful method of disarming and overcoming an enemy without causing great bloodshed, and that this is the proper tendency of the art of War. However plausible this may appear, still it is an error which must be extirpated; for in such dangerous things as war, the errors which proceed from a spirit of benevolence are just the worst. As the use of physical power to the utmost extent by no means excludes the co-operation of the intelligence, it follows that he who uses force unsparingly, without reference to the quantity of bloodshed, must obtain a superiority if his adversary does not act likewise. By such means the former dictates the law to the latter, and both proceed to extremities, to which the only limitations are those imposed by the amount of counteracting force on each side.”

What we can rightly take away from this is that violence is not uncivilized, it is not barbaric, in the original sense of those words. It is the utmost folly to believe that violence is only something stupid people resort to. This is part of the devil in modern martial arts, the belief that only the uneducated and uncouth resort to violence, and that a person is somehow elevated by their disdain for bloodshed.

A contempt for causing harm MUST come from a deep seeded essence and respect and love for life! What ego is involved in believing that aversion from violence is the mark of a superior intellectual, or spiritual essence! Loving life, your fellow man, and accepting the validity and justifiability of violent confrontation is the mark of a realistic mind. Violence and Intelligence, these things are not mutually exclusive.

What is the source of this farce? This twisted belief that cowardice and squeamishness are in some way lofty attributes. That meekness and subservience to external, and possibly malevolent wills, is in some way desirable? While I am afraid that the profound source of these ideas lies too far within the mind to be properly dug out and inspected, we can look at some of the most influential western philosophical trends, and see in them part source, part symptom of this general malaise.

This idea is best represented in the west by the Christian Bible, Matthew 5:39 “But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.” This ludicrous idea is the source of more ill in the world than any other disease. This is a mental disease. Don’t resist evil? How positively mad!

If a man breaks into your house and is carrying off your television, should you stop to help him with your DVD player too? Shall a father, walking his two daughters home, having one attacked by a rapist, stop a him in mid violation to offer his other daughter?  This idea is a maddening caricature of morality.

Before this, Matthew says: “Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.” How completely mindless. There is, to my mind, only one reasonable explanation for this moral parody, and that is this:

Originally, Christianity was not particularly popular, in fact it was mostly seen as a vile superstition. This was until Constantine, the Roman emperor made it the state religion, and there is certainly some polemic as to how this even came about, nevertheless, it serves best the strong that others are weak, it serves those who wish to control that others wish to be controlled. Meekness, and apathy against evil serve only those who wish to do evil.  The purse snatcher counts on the fact that you’ll let go of the purse, the rapist counts on the fact that you won’t resist, the thief counts on the fact that if you hear him rustling about in your living room, you’ll be too terrified to confront him.

Yellow Kid Weil once pointed out that, of all the cons he had ever run, few ever attempted to retaliate, and none with any real gusto. Most just wrote it off as a mistake and moved on.

From a Henrik Hudson School District model essay: The bystander, however, is the fulcrum. If there are enough notable exceptions, then protest reaches a critical mass. We don’t usually think of history as being shaped by silence, but, as English philosopher Edmund Burke said, ‘The only thing necessary for the triumph [of evil] is for good men to do nothing.’”

That’s just what the bible councils, do nothing. This is a slavish pantomime of morality, a paramorality, that is fundamentally sick, but in saying so, it is difficult to escape the ab jure reaction to violence that we all seem to have. Must I be some kind of monstrous barbarian to suggest that if someone tries to rob, murder, or rape you, you should most certainly, and unequivocally try to beat them senseless?

What is the point of inheriting the earth if you are meek? What difficulties does the victim experience post trauma? Can those who have been criminally violated actually enjoy their lives with the same savor that they did before they were traumatized? I think not.

Matthew, again adds in 26:52: “Then said Jesus unto him, Put up again thy sword into his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword.” In 5:40 he says “And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well.” Luke reiterates this nonsense in 6:7 with “If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also. If someone takes your cloak, do not stop him from taking your tunic.” And in Luke 6:30 “Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back.” And finally, I Corinthians “The very fact that you have lawsuits among you means you have been completely defeated already. Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be cheated?” In Romans 13:2 we learn: “Whoever therefore resists the power, resists the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.”

Did you stop for a moment and think just who was writing this fludgecoe? It is in the interests of the strong that others are weak, it is in the interests of those who control that others are willing to be controlled, it is in the interest of evil men, it is in the interests of victimizers, it is in the interests of predators, that people act as sheep act, that they do not resist, that they do not complain, that they do not risk.

Christianity is a composite religion and the Bible assuredly is a political document, for the purpose of political control, whatever Christianity that may have existed before its being adopted, whatever reality to Jesus there may have been, whatever he might have said and done is not the question here, but whether or not any responsible loving parent would council his children to sacrifice themselves to the perverse anti-social desires of the criminals that inhabit this world, would ever say these things. The answer is no. No good God would say this. No loving God would say this. No right God would say this.

If you need proof, proof of what a parent would tell a child, then look to yourselves, or your family and ask, would you tell your son, or daughter to lie down and be robbed? To lie down and be swindled. To lie down and be raped.  The answer is of course no.

We don’t really live by these ideals anyway, look at the War of Terror from Bush and America, look back into history, to fighting the Germans, look further back into history to the Revolutionary War, and you will see that we do not actually practice these things, yet we still pay lip service to the antipathy of violence, and in our daily lives, we, as a people, are marked not by our strength, or will or character or purpose, we are marked by our cowardice and meekness.

In order to meet the harsh reality of violence, we have built up a military system that admittedly has to brainwash and desensitize recruits to do violence. I do not use that term negatively, boot camp in the military is brainwashing, and needed. You are put under constant physical strain, constant psychological strain, while a loud drill sergeant yells over and over: “It’s you or him soldier, end it now. It’s you or him.”

This pandemic hauteur to violence is not an exclusively Christian ideal, and how it became an ideal is suspicious at best. Some might claim that Japanese and Chinese society does have similar movements, not necessarily informed by Christian dogmas. The misconception here is that almost all such philosophies, which have a somewhat stoic character with an emphasis on slavish duty to society and state, serve a predominantly political purpose. Of course they tell you to bend over and take it.

The true and cosmic shame of our race is that so many brilliant minds find themselves chained permanently to such cowardly hearts and weak flesh.

All of the above topics have actually been covered ad nauseum by scholars far more qualified than me, I only segued into that for the purposes of addressing in part the lunacy of these ideas. Now, let’s return to martial arts, and reality.

The truth of the situation is that, after a certain point, almost anyone will become violent, thus chucking this meek shall inherit the earth B.S. Unfortunately, because they spend so much time paying lip service to this fraudulent ideal, they are entirely inept at violence. The source of so many good Samaritans getting stabbed, shot, or robbed is not that it’s a bad idea to interfere, just that if you don’t know how to be violent, then you won’t succeed very often. Where can one learn to be violent when the need arises? Why a martial arts school, and here is where we come full circle.

The martial arts irresponsibly subscribe to a peaceful, sporting, “this is just for fun” attitude, but still call what they do martial arts, or self-defense. They teach elaborate disarming techniques, those ones that Clausewitz warned against, and they try to marry the ideals of martial arts with the ideals of a slave religion, or slave philosophy, one of subservience, bowing and scraping before an omnipotent master.

The ideals of martial arts are simple, strength, speed, victory. Violent conflict is a conflict of wills made manifest through physical blows and strategems.  It is a simplistic world, him or you.

Now of course, I have said all this in order to come to this: Violence is not the answer. I know, you think I am backing down, or reversing direction, but I am not. What I am saying is that, violence is rarely a good solution, or even the best solution, it is simply that sometimes it is the ONLY solution.

Because of this truth, so many martial artists feel justified in their beliefs that peace and war have something to talk to each other about, when they don’t.  But I maintain that it is better to believe wrongly for the right reasons, than rightly for the wrong reasons. Understanding that violence is gambling, and that eventually you can and will lose does not expose it as unnecessary, it simply disqualifies it from being a good first response unless absolutely called for.

The very idea that one can engage consciously in violent acts when all training in such matters is purely a priori is an offensive thought.

Disdaining violence and focusing on elaborate non-violent approaches is to my mind, the Devil in Modern Martial Arts.

About Jason

I am a 31 year old programmer living in the south of France. I currently work actively in the fields of Ruby/PHP/Javascript and server/website administration.
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