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Old 06-23-2008, 10:35 AM   #38
John A Butz
Dojo: Itten Dojo, Enola PA
Location: Carlisle PA
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 45
United_States
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Re: Men and Women and Developing Internal Power

Re: Skills and morality, I have to strongly disagree with you Mary. While an individuals personal practice may be informed by his or her personal morality, the acquisition of physical skill does not inherently improve the quality of a person.

As an example, look at professional athletes, individuals who train at a level that most of us never will, aiming for performance that only a very few can achieve. If disciplined practice somehow made us better people, then we would never have news reports about professional athletes and their various brushes with the law/drugs/whatever.

Of course, pro athletes are not training in internal skills, as defined by Mike/Rob/Dan, but a skillset, any skillset, has NO inherent morality. In fact, if we are referring here to a martial skillset, the whole point of such skills originally was to wage war, on one scale or another. Warriors did not practice internal skills, sword work, or grappling to improve themselves morally. They practiced so that they would have a slightly better chance of coming out of a life or death encounter on the alive side of the equation.

My sensei has said that in over 25 years of training, the total of his moral education derived from martial arts was that 1) in a fight you will probably get hurt, so don't fight and 2) Don't hurt uke, because he will be throwing you next.

This is not to say that the pursuit of budo has no positive side effects. One can become more fit, more self-confident, more sure of oneself, more powerful, and have a large group of like-minded individuals to share a common interest with. But none of these things imply an inherent morality.

In many ways expecting martial arts to make you a more moral person is simply as ridiculous as expecting any other advanced skill set which requires dedicated practice to make you a more moral person. We don't hold engineers, computer programmers, concert pianists or any other profession or discipline to a higher set of morality simply because of the skills they pursue. Why should we do that with martial practice?

I would posit that the acquisition of moral strength is a seperate practice in and of itself, one that requires as much time and discipline as the acquiring of physical skills.

Sincerely,
--John A Butz
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