The Martial Arts And Violence

Dennis Street

The Martial Arts And Violence

A good explanation of the Kanji for the Japanese word ‘Budo’, which is ‘Wu Shu’ in Chinese….

“The character bu is constructed from the characters meaning “arms of war” or “violence,” and “to stop, prohibit, or bring to an end.”  Therefore, bu is more accurately translated as “to stop violence,” or perhaps “to bring about peace.”  Thus  budo,  bujutsu and  bugei might more appropriately be  known as the “arts of the peacemaker.”  The warriors of China and Japan saw their skills as tools for maintaining the peace rather than indulgences in a love of war.  And although warfare was sometimes necessary to restore peace, peace was always the ultimate goal.

Sokon Matsumura (1797-1889), revered founder of the Shorin schools of Okinawan karate, described bu as comprising seven virtues:

1. Bu prohibits violence.

2. Bu maintains discipline among soldiers.

3. Bu maintains order among the citizenry.

4. Bu spreads virtue.

5. Bu gives a peaceful heart.

6. Bu helps keep peace between people.

7. Bu makes people and nations prosper. “

Source ––Bu%20and%20Budo.pdf

The ‘Art of the Peacemaker’ is an excellent description of good quality Martial Arts training.  By developing emotional intelligence and the virtues of patience, tolerance, compassion and kindness along with those of resolve, determination and inner strength the Martial Artist becomes a useful and skilful member of society.  This can be seen in the clubs around the world teaching these skills to empower people from infants to those in their dotage, including many with a wide range or abilities and needs.

Violence is the domain of the troubled souls who lack the social skills to function normally in society and feel their only resource is to lash out.  This is often inherited from their parents and/or peers and they lack the resources and skills to pull themselves away from the nature and/or nurture part of their upbringing and sometimes they can be extremely difficult to help because violence and it’s temporary ‘bullying’ power and control over others can be highly addictive.

Martial Artist and author Geoff Thompson talks about his fears and upbringing thus:

“I’ve been scared all my life, but there has never been a moment in my fifty years, from the bullying playgrounds of my adolescence, to the depressing factories of my youth right through to the killing fields of the Coventry nightclubs that saw four of my friends murdered when I did not turn into my fears. Sometimes it took me longer than others. Sometimes I cowered before finding courage and many times I did feel as though I could not live another moment with my crippling anxiety.” 

He goes on to say:

“But I always stepped up. I never gave in. And I will never give up.

You can read the full article here:

This is the heart of how we learn to overcome fear and the fear of violence through Martial Arts training and you can see how Geoff has learned to deal with his own special set of needs and has gone on to now help others with the same or similar problems.

The people that deal with violence on a professional level each day like the Police, Army and Professional Security Personnel are taught to be peacekeepers and how to keep the peace in a professional manner.  I worked in various security companies finishing up as an Operations Manager for a large company with around 500 staff in the ‘80’s and we would recruit personnel on their professionalism and not on their record of violence.

Like most people these professionals were not afraid of violence, they just dealt with it as it came along.  They didn’t have to ‘work themselves up’ for it and didn’t explode into violent psychotic episodes at the drop of a hat.

The problem can be that people that do have that paranoia are attracted to the Martial Arts to resolve their fears but as fear can be contagious can end up passing on that paranoia to others when it wasn’t there in the first place.  The psychotic bullies from the school playground can also in the wrong type of club become instructors and end up bullying the students that came to them to resolve those very issues.

The Martial Arts are an excellent form of self development, they work on making your mind more aware and focussed, they help to increase your emotional intelligence and through good postural alignment, breathing technique and movement, your physical health and skill to be able to deal with problems.

Violence is a result of a failure to be able to deal with a problem intelligently.  You don’t train to be like a tiger to defeat one; an intelligent person would hide behind a tree and shoot it if they have to equal the odds.

Most people that take reasonable precautions never end up in a one to one violent confrontation and certainly don’t want to have to train to be more of a thug than the thug that might want to fight them, that would be really stupid.

My advice is to take care around the scaremongers and the thugs and think hard about what you really want from your training and find the right Instructor and Club to fulfil your needs.  The quest to find the right instruction really can save you a lot of time, effort, money and maybe a lot pain!

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