Beating yourself up for strength (iron body)

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Luke
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Re: Beating yourself up for strength (iron body)

Post by Luke » Fri Nov 26, 2010 5:35 pm

BlackBird wrote:While I'm not certain martial arts are in line with the Buddha's teachings, I don't think they're a fruitless exercise Alex. I've met a few black belts and they're more often than not - Very nice, humble and disciplined people. I have thought that taking up a martial art might actually have some benefit on the cushion, or perhaps time on the cushion would have some benefit on the martial art, but there does seem to be a degree of cross over.
I agree that many martial arts practioners are very nice people--hell, I used to be one. Lol. But I think there needs to be a distinction made between the martial arts which are actually effective in combat situations and those that are not.

Ineffective martial arts
I think this is the largest category. Most martial arts have been watered down over the years, were never effective in combat to begin with, or were just plain fabricated to sell to eager consumers during the "dojo boom" of the late 70s and early 80s.

Martial arts can be an introduction to Asian culture and philosophy and to focusing one's mind. In this sense, even ineffective martial arts have some value. They can be like "Preparation for Shamatha 101" from a spiritual standpoint. There is often an emphasis on ethics and an introduction to martial arts folklore.

Perhaps the students at these dojos will enjoy the feelings of peace they get while practicing their katas in the early evening with others. There may or may not be sparring. If so, it will most likely involve no contact or light contact.

Effective martial arts
Some ancient martial arts are still effective: judo, jiu-jitsu, esrkima, silat, etc. And some newly created martial arts are effective: Krav maga, MMA, the US Marine Corps martial arts training, etc. Some of these could care less about Asian culture, peace of mind, or ethics. It's all about simple, destructive techniques done properly, fast, with the intention to totally dominate one's opponent, and with the will to survive at any cost.
************************

I remember devouring the stories in Inside Kung-Fu magazine about wise, ethical, old kung fu masters who effortlessly defeated groups of unethical thugs when attacked, but I think these things rarely happen. There is a reason why you never see Tai Chi or Aikido practioners win in mixed martial arts competitions. Even most guys who practice what look like pretty fierce techniques in the dojo would still probably lose to a soldier who doesn't know any martial arts, but who is extremely aggressive and strong and is used to fighting in life-and-death situations.

So in summary, I think that most martial arts are worthless for self-defense, but are useful for the beginning stages of spiritual development. Other martial arts are great for self-defense, but may not develop such postivie spiritual qualities. Perhaps, some may do both, but I'm not sure. Most western dojos teach ineffective techniques while selling the mystique of Asian inner peace along with a lot of other martial arts paraphenalia (dragon T-shirts, foam nunchucks, etc.).

In my opinion, if someone wants to learn to fight, then he/she should learn judo (people have been inflicting serious bodily harm on each other since the time of the samurai with judo because of judo's very effective use of leverage). If someone wants to develop himself/herself spiritually, then he/she should practice Buddhism. The martial arts done in your average plaza dojo tend to only develop meager amounts of either and may result in developing a false sense of confidence which will very likely be quickly shattered in a real fight.

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Alex123
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Re: Beating yourself up for strength (iron body)

Post by Alex123 » Sat Nov 27, 2010 3:16 am

Very good post Luke.
"Life is a struggle. Life will throw curveballs at you, it will humble you, it will attempt to break you down. And just when you think things are starting to look up, life will smack you back down with ruthless indifference..."

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Annapurna
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Re: Beating yourself up for strength (iron body)

Post by Annapurna » Sat Nov 27, 2010 8:16 am

Ben wrote:Hi Blackbird

Its been my exprience as well when I was a practitioner of Aikido many years ago. The whole ethos was of peace and harmony.

The following comment by Alex:
I've read that whenever a person carries a gun, the psychology changes, and that person is more likely to be aggressive.
Is plain wrong.
kind regards

Ben
That 's interesting.

Why do you think that?

kind regards,

Anna

Luke
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Re: Beating yourself up for strength (iron body)

Post by Luke » Sat Nov 27, 2010 12:04 pm

Annapurna wrote:
Ben wrote:Hi Blackbird

Its been my exprience as well when I was a practitioner of Aikido many years ago. The whole ethos was of peace and harmony.

The following comment by Alex:
I've read that whenever a person carries a gun, the psychology changes, and that person is more likely to be aggressive.
Is plain wrong.
kind regards

Ben
That 's interesting.

Why do you think that?
I can only talk about my own experience.

When I have fired guns at targets in the past to see what it felt like, I was more concerned about the safety of the people around me, not less!

Some people don't mind if people stand right next to them while they shoot at targets, but I don't like it. I want people well behind me. Holding a gun in my hand doesn't make me yearn to shoot people. On the contrary, it makes me very careful not to point it at anyone and not to point it in a direction where anyone might go.

If I were holding a gun in my hand right now, I would think, "This is terrible! I'm holding a gun!" And if no ethical person rightfully owned it, I would unload it, disassemble it, and destroy it. It's much better to use the weapon of meditation to destroy negative emotions at their roots. :buddha2:

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Digger
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Re: Beating yourself up for strength (iron body)

Post by Digger » Sat Nov 27, 2010 2:17 pm

I’d like to add to Luke’s excellent post (only problem I saw was that Judo is relatively modern from 1882, maybe he meant Jiu-Jistu as being ancient).

I have many years experience in martial arts. I started in the early 1970’s when Bruce Lee movies were first coming out and the Kung Fu TV show started. I continued through the time of the UFC, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and MMA (mixed martial arts).

I saw it all – high ranking black belts doing unscrupulous things, high ranking karate point tournament fighters getting destroyed by average boxers and street fighters, people claiming that they can knock someone out with their super ninja magic touch or claiming they can knock someone off their feet from across the room (I guess they shoot a ball of Chi out of their forehead at them), etc.

On the other side (reality), I saw smaller Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu fighters beating much larger and stronger street fighters, boxers, kickboxers, kung fu and karate experts, etc. Many years ago (long before even knowing what Buddhism was) I got in an actual fight and a year of training in a mostly useless karate style did actually help me somewhat.

There is a strange phenomenon that occurs in martial arts and other followings – people in general will follow ridiculous nonsense and put a leader on a pedestal and worship him, even when there is plain evidence in front of them showing that something is wrong. This is true for martial arts and many other things in life.

There is benefit from many martial arts styles – builds confidence, good exercise, way to meet good people and may be a gate to introduce people to the path. If you get good enough you can fend off an attacker without hurting him. There are styles that are realistic and useful.

I don't think that being trained in any martial art will make you more likely to hurt someone if you are a peaceful person. If you are a person who wants to fight others but you don't because you are afraid you will lose, training might give you enough "bad" confidence to do it. And I've seen "less developed" people intentionally hurting others during practice and tournaments.

Good to talk about all this with others here.
He is different. He thinks.

Luke
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Re: Beating yourself up for strength (iron body)

Post by Luke » Sat Nov 27, 2010 11:51 pm

Digger wrote:I’d like to add to Luke’s excellent post (only problem I saw was that Judo is relatively modern from 1882, maybe he meant Jiu-Jistu as being ancient).
Whoops! I guess I meant the techniques in Jiu-Jitsu which were later used in Judo.

I think one negative aspect of the way most westerners do martial arts is that they are basically reinforcing and enlarging their egos: They want to dress up in exotic, Asian outfits and use cool, flashy techniques to have power over other people or to impress them. It can often be just a lot of vanity and shallowness.

I think it's also important to realize that the authentic martial arts were at one time martial arts, that is techniques which were used on the battlefield or in life-and-death street duels. Chinese soldiers in the 5th century didn't use polearms and swords because they wanted to fight in some fancy, schmancy, exoticly Asian way: they used them because they were the most deadly weapons which were available to them at that time. If M-16s had existed back then, I'm sure they would have used those instead.

I often think that modern soldiers understand more about the mindset of ancient Asian soldiers than historians or modern "martial arts enthusiasts" do. I don't think there's much difference between the mindset of a Chinese soldier stepping onto the battefield while carrying a deadly weapon and the mindset of a modern western soldier stepping onto the battlefield while carrying a deadly weapon. Effective methods of killing are effective methods of killing, whether they look exotic or not. Fear of death is fear of death.

A lot of myths and legends and romanticizations have been mixed up with martial arts since ancient times, though. How can somebody possibly understand "the way of the warrior" who has never fought in a real battle? Going to the dojo three times a week and reading Black Belt magazine won't do it. In my opinion, if somebody wants to be a warrior, he should just become a soldier (which of course, is generally a very bad thing from a Buddhist point of view, and people should question why they find the idea of being warriors so romantic in the first place).

However, I think one example of martial arts being both effective and ethical is when jiu-jitsu is used by police officers to subdue criminals using the minimum necessary force. That's a Buddhist use of martial arts.

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Guy
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Re: Beating yourself up for strength (iron body)

Post by Guy » Sun Nov 28, 2010 7:04 am

Luke wrote:However, I think one example of martial arts being both effective and ethical is when jiu-jitsu is used by police officers to subdue criminals using the minimum necessary force. That's a Buddhist use of martial arts.
Agreed.

Also, the body conditioning methods used in martial arts are useful outside of martial arts even in our modern times. If the body has been well conditioned then it becomes less susceptible to being damaged from any impact (e.g. car accidents). People who practice Aikido or Jiu Jitsu will learn proper techniques for falling which will also minimize damage.

Some martial arts teach about the anatomy and how to manipulate the body's energies which has potential to be used for wholesome aims.

Martial arts are not just about killing people (though I admit that the effective ones can be used in this capacity) they are (to me) about keeping the practitioner out of harm and ideally not harming others either. In this sense (as well as being good for health), I think martial arts can be used in a complimentary and supportive way to Buddhist practice.
Four types of letting go:

1) Giving; expecting nothing back in return
2) Throwing things away
3) Contentment; wanting to be here, not wanting to be anywhere else
4) "Teflon Mind"; having a mind which doesn't accumulate things

- Ajahn Brahm

Luke
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Re: Beating yourself up for strength (iron body)

Post by Luke » Sun Nov 28, 2010 2:08 pm

Guy wrote: Martial arts are not just about killing people (though I admit that the effective ones can be used in this capacity) they are (to me) about keeping the practitioner out of harm and ideally not harming others either. In this sense (as well as being good for health), I think martial arts can be used in a complimentary and supportive way to Buddhist practice.
If we're talking about how martial arts are usually practiced in modern times, then yes, I agree with you.

Earlier I was talking about the original purpose of martial arts. There are many martial arts in the world and perhaps some of them were indeed originally created for self-defense. However, the samurai were soldiers, so anything they practiced they did so they could kill the enemies of their master as quickly and efficiently as possible. The samurai sword's original purpose was to kill another human being.

I don't think most modern martial arts are any more spiritual activities than being an Elvis impersonator. I mean, dedicated Elvis impersonators may dress up in special outfits three times a week and develop their concentration by focusing on their Elvis-like dancing and mannerisms (which are probably about as useful in combat as many modern martial arts). Perhaps an Elvis impersonator moves his chi around while dancing.

I think it's a mistake to think that just because something has an Asian appearance that it's more spiritual. A samurai sword is no more spiritual than a medieval knight's sword--more beautiful and better-made yes, but more spiritual no. Implements of war are implements of war. It's a mistake to equate beauty with spirituality.

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Guy
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Re: Beating yourself up for strength (iron body)

Post by Guy » Sun Nov 28, 2010 10:38 pm

Luke wrote:I don't think most modern martial arts are any more spiritual activities than being an Elvis impersonator. I mean, dedicated Elvis impersonators may dress up in special outfits three times a week and develop their concentration by focusing on their Elvis-like dancing and mannerisms (which are probably about as useful in combat as many modern martial arts). Perhaps an Elvis impersonator moves his chi around while dancing.
:rofl:
I think there are more effective ways of practicing and developing Chi Kung than elvis impersonation, but I see your point.
Luke wrote:I think it's a mistake to think that just because something has an Asian appearance that it's more spiritual. A samurai sword is no more spiritual than a medieval knight's sword--more beautiful and better-made yes, but more spiritual no. Implements of war are implements of war. It's a mistake to equate beauty with spirituality.
Agreed. But it is my experience that the benefits of chi kung and nei kung which come through certain "martial arts" (or perhaps a better term is "self defence, health and wellbeing systems") are a beautiful thing and certainly have the potential to be used to support spiritual practice. As it says in the title of this forum: "a fit body makes for a fit mind" (and at higher levels of internal martial arts training the mind becomes more peaceful and discerning anyway). This is why practices such as yoga and chi kung are practiced by some monastics.

So, to this extent, I would say that some "martial arts" do have a spiritual side. As a general rule, usually these are the ones which place emphasis on generating power from the dan tien rather than those which primarily rely on creating tension in the large muscle groups. Tense muscles tend to be linked with a tense mind which is not useful for developing samatha or vipassana.
Four types of letting go:

1) Giving; expecting nothing back in return
2) Throwing things away
3) Contentment; wanting to be here, not wanting to be anywhere else
4) "Teflon Mind"; having a mind which doesn't accumulate things

- Ajahn Brahm

lojong1
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Re: Beating yourself up for strength (iron body)

Post by lojong1 » Thu Dec 02, 2010 10:07 pm

This is the way to real peace. Training yesterday left me with a black eye, bleeding toe, right arm covered in beautifully colored bruises, mushy knuckles and shins, big lump just above the temple, cauliflower ear, and no cash left to indulge in other vices. I'm in no condition to fight anyone--all I can do now is sit.
Image

morgan
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Re: Beating yourself up for strength (iron body)

Post by morgan » Wed Jan 19, 2011 11:58 am

Luke wrote:
I often think that modern soldiers understand more about the mindset of ancient Asian soldiers than historians or modern "martial arts enthusiasts" do. I don't think there's much difference between the mindset of a Chinese soldier stepping onto the battefield while carrying a deadly weapon and the mindset of a modern western soldier stepping onto the battlefield while carrying a deadly weapon. Effective methods of killing are effective methods of killing, whether they look exotic or not. Fear of death is fear of death.
In your own opinion? what is the most deadliest weapon so far?

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Guy
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Re: Beating yourself up for strength (iron body)

Post by Guy » Wed Jan 19, 2011 12:24 pm

morgan wrote:In your own opinion? what is the most deadliest weapon so far?
From a Buddhist perspective the answer would be "delusion".
Four types of letting go:

1) Giving; expecting nothing back in return
2) Throwing things away
3) Contentment; wanting to be here, not wanting to be anywhere else
4) "Teflon Mind"; having a mind which doesn't accumulate things

- Ajahn Brahm

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andre9999
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Re: Beating yourself up for strength (iron body)

Post by andre9999 » Wed Jan 19, 2011 4:32 pm

Guy wrote:
morgan wrote:In your own opinion? what is the most deadliest weapon so far?
From a Buddhist perspective the answer would be "delusion".
That probably wouldn't be very effective over a rifle in the short term.

Individual
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Re: Beating yourself up for strength (iron body)

Post by Individual » Wed Jan 19, 2011 4:44 pm

But it is only delusion that would cause a person to use the rifle anyway.
The best things in life aren't things.

The Diamond Sutra

vanquisher91
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Re: Beating yourself up for strength (iron body)

Post by vanquisher91 » Thu Jan 20, 2011 8:30 pm

In my opinion, martial arts (under a respectful master) are not in conflict with lay Buddhist practice. Lets face it, peaceful words and avoidance don't work all the time and sometimes it comes to a physical altercation, some people are just out for blood and to cause problems no matter what the other person says or does. I know from my years in Tae Kwon Do, we are always taught never to fight, but to defend when all else fails. Our skills were taught and practiced in the spirit of defense of ourselves and others who are defenseless. If it comes to physical altercations, the goal is to defend and disarm your attacker, and never to maim or permanently injure. Though it takes practice, we learn to cause the least amount of harm as possible, but it is sometimes necessary to harm in order to defend. I say that is the khamma of the aggressor if he/she gets hurt. If your intent is to defend it is not unskillful practice, if the intent is to harm it is unskillful and should be abandoned. Just think, how much compassion is needed to put yourself in harms way to defend the defenseless?

Not to mention the myriad health benefits that come from practicing martial arts. Ask any good teacher and they will tell you that although physical in part, it takes mental clarity and insight to perfect and master the movements. I would say it definitely counts as a form of meditation.

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