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Old 12-18-2013, 09:17 AM   #1
Demetrio Cereijo
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Re: Jukka O. Lampila - Empty Force

But when the endstate is "becoming a better person" (which IMO is both undefinable and a copout for lacking martial skill), how one measure that?

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Old 12-18-2013, 10:26 AM   #2
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Re: Jukka O. Lampila - Empty Force

Haven't we long disproved the notion that martial arts somehow makes you a better person? If anyone's making that claim, I'd expect some verifiable metrics that go along with it.
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Old 12-18-2013, 11:05 AM   #3
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Re: Jukka O. Lampila - Empty Force

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Budd Yuhasz wrote: View Post
Haven't we long disproved the notion that martial arts somehow makes you a better person?
I didn't get the memo.

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Old 12-18-2013, 11:17 AM   #4
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Re: Jukka O. Lampila - Empty Force

Quote:
Demetrio Cereijo wrote: View Post
But when the endstate is "becoming a better person" (which IMO is both undefinable and a copout for lacking martial skill), how one measure that?
I think this is a big part of the issue. It is mostly subjective. Maybe it would be possible to take a population and measure that some how they were less likely to fight, they were arrested less often, and were charged with spouse abuse less often. I think though that you cannot draw that correlation or inference as you could also argue that the individuals self selected themselves out of the pool and would have reached that anyway.

Maybe some of our psychologist friends can shed some light that it can help alleviate stress, I think we've determined that exercise is good for you in general...but that too, doesn't uniquely ID that martial practices are special in this way.

So, i suppose you'd have to do a completely subjective survey of practitioners and ask them if they thought their training made the a better person. Again, though does this really count?

I personally don't care. to eaches own. If they like what they are doing then let them do it!

If you don't like what they are doing, then don't do it. I think it is as simple as that.

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Old 12-18-2013, 11:33 AM   #5
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Re: Jukka O. Lampila - Empty Force

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Demetrio Cereijo wrote: View Post
I didn't get the memo.
Get educated, sheesh. Nobody's going to go out of their way to tell you common sense things.
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Old 12-18-2013, 01:30 PM   #6
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Re: Jukka O. Lampila - Empty Force

Quote:
Budd Yuhasz wrote: View Post
Haven't we long disproved the notion that martial arts somehow makes you a better person? If anyone's making that claim, I'd expect some verifiable metrics that go along with it.
no, we haven't. If it makes someone feel better, live better, whatever. That's the only metric they need.
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Old 12-18-2013, 01:37 PM   #7
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Re: Jukka O. Lampila - Empty Force

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Demetrio Cereijo wrote: View Post
But when the endstate is "becoming a better person" (which IMO is both undefinable and a copout for lacking martial skill), how one measure that?
Do they enjoy what they do? Does that make them happy? does that happiness enrich their life in some way? If so, then it's pretty well defined, for them.
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Old 12-18-2013, 02:42 PM   #8
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Re: Jukka O. Lampila - Empty Force

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Jason Casteel wrote: View Post
no, we haven't. If it makes someone feel better, live better, whatever. That's the only metric they need.
The data guy in me is going to then challenge you to demonstrate that someone feeling, living, whatever better somehow makes them a better person, if that's the point you're making. If you're saying let them do what they enjoy, I won't argue, but anyone making stupid claims (like martial arts makes you a better person, versus martial arts makes you a better YOU) that can't be verified doesn't do much for one's credibility.
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Old 12-18-2013, 03:25 PM   #9
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Re: Jukka O. Lampila - Empty Force

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Jason Casteel wrote: View Post
Do they enjoy what they do? Does that make them happy? does that happiness enrich their life in some way? If so, then it's pretty well defined, for them.
Do you equate 'being happier' with 'being a better person'?

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Old 12-18-2013, 03:35 PM   #10
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Re: Jukka O. Lampila - Empty Force

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Budd Yuhasz wrote: View Post
The data guy in me is going to then challenge you to demonstrate that someone feeling, living, whatever better somehow makes them a better person, if that's the point you're making. If you're saying let them do what they enjoy, I won't argue, but anyone making stupid claims (like martial arts makes you a better person, versus martial arts makes you a better YOU) that can't be verified doesn't do much for one's credibility.
How do you demonstrate it either way? If doing things that make us happy in life doesn't make us better people, what does? I'm pretty sure that whomever first said "marital arts makes us better people" didn't simply mean the act of punching, kicking and throwing makes us better people. It's finding something that we enjoy doing, maybe even passionately and hopefully with people we also enjoy, that brings us happiness and ultimately makes us better people. While martial arts may not be any better at that than any other activity, it certainly isn't any worse either.
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Old 12-18-2013, 03:38 PM   #11
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Re: Jukka O. Lampila - Empty Force

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Do you equate 'being happier' with 'being a better person'?
short of someone who draws happiness from the misery of others, how do you not equate those things?
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Old 12-18-2013, 04:04 PM   #12
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Re: Measuring if/how martial arts helps one become a better person

I think we'd have to spend some time defining happiness.

I think it helps make me a better person in a number of ways. one, it alleviates stress for me. I feel that my training over the years has been a great outlet for me to deal with my PTSD issues.

It increased my legitimacy as an instructor in the Army. My practice has introduced me to some amazing people.

I recently went to Senegal and met some awesome and motivated folks there that want to learn ne waza/BJJ. I think making new friends has been a big part of my happiness.

It keeps me in shape for the most part when I am not doing stupid stuff and getting hurt like I do all the time these days.

Budo is such a part of my life and it has been life changing for me in ways I could never have imagined.

When I roll with someone and I am in the zone and I am just doing it without regard to past or future...I think that is a pretty good example of happiness.

So, overall yes.

Now if you want to talk about individual practices, techniques, chanting, feeling the heart, punching, kicking etc...well not in the individual acts.

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Old 12-18-2013, 04:46 PM   #13
Peter Goldsbury
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Re: Measuring if/how martial arts helps one become a better person

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Kevin Leavitt wrote: View Post
I think we'd have to spend some time defining happiness.

I think it helps make me a better person in a number of ways. one, it alleviates stress for me. I feel that my training over the years has been a great outlet for me to deal with my PTSD issues.

It increased my legitimacy as an instructor in the Army. My practice has introduced me to some amazing people.

I recently went to Senegal and met some awesome and motivated folks there that want to learn ne waza/BJJ. I think making new friends has been a big part of my happiness.

It keeps me in shape for the most part when I am not doing stupid stuff and getting hurt like I do all the time these days.

Budo is such a part of my life and it has been life changing for me in ways I could never have imagined.

When I roll with someone and I am in the zone and I am just doing it without regard to past or future...I think that is a pretty good example of happiness.

So, overall yes.

Now if you want to talk about individual practices, techniques, chanting, feeling the heart, punching, kicking etc...well not in the individual acts.
Hello Kevin,

I think your comments could apply to any art or sport, though perhaps in different ways. Recently, I gave a paper in St Petersburg and the organizers (mainly from sports) suggested the title of 'Values of Aikido as a Demonstration Sport'. So I discussed the values of sports. There is the same fuzziness of definition with 'sport' as well as with 'art', similarly with what counts as being a 'better person'. I have argued elsewhere that Morihei Ueshiba conceived what he was doing as primarily a 'religious' activity, so this adds another fuzzy concept to the mix.

The question of the value of an art has been around for a very long time and some, like Aristotle, have suggested that practicing the art is its own justification. It does not intrinsically add any further value. It might do, but this is because you already have a value system in which you include practicing the art.

Best wishes,

Last edited by Peter Goldsbury : 12-18-2013 at 04:48 PM.

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Old 12-18-2013, 04:52 PM   #14
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Re: Jukka O. Lampila - Empty Force

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Jason Casteel wrote: View Post
How do you demonstrate it either way? If doing things that make us happy in life doesn't make us better people, what does? I'm pretty sure that whomever first said "marital arts makes us better people" didn't simply mean the act of punching, kicking and throwing makes us better people. It's finding something that we enjoy doing, maybe even passionately and hopefully with people we also enjoy, that brings us happiness and ultimately makes us better people. While martial arts may not be any better at that than any other activity, it certainly isn't any worse either.
Great, so you're stating a belief rather than demonstrating anything.
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Old 12-18-2013, 04:55 PM   #15
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Re: Measuring if/how martial arts helps one become a better person

Aristotle works for me - there's value in the activity for a person. But that doesn't equate to martial arts making one a better person.
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Old 12-18-2013, 05:07 PM   #16
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Re: Measuring if/how martial arts helps one become a better person

For many years I think martial arts made me a better person...at least based on my own definition of what being better means. I was less stressed, usually in a better mood, and in better physical shape.

Then at some point I got burned out and had to force my self to go to class. During that time I don't think it made me any better, and maybe made me worse, because I really didn't want to be there even thought I thought I had to be there.

Now I'm back in the I love going to class stage so things seem better again.

So I believe martial arts can make your own life better but I don't know if it is possible to quantify it and I don't really think you can claim it will make someone else a better person. Also, if martial arts can make your life better because you are doing something you enjoy then so can knitting, basketball, reading, painting or many other activities. I love martial arts but I honestly don't think they have some special power to make us all great people.
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Old 12-18-2013, 05:39 PM   #17
Demetrio Cereijo
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Re: Jukka O. Lampila - Empty Force

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Jason Casteel wrote: View Post
short of someone who draws happiness from the misery of others, how do you not equate those things?
I consider happiness as a by-product of becoming a better person, a more virtuous (i.e. in an Aristotelian sense) person, but not as the same thing.

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Old 12-18-2013, 06:09 PM   #18
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Re: Jukka O. Lampila - Empty Force

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Demetrio Cereijo wrote: View Post
I consider happiness as a by-product of becoming a better person, a more virtuous (i.e. in an Aristotelian sense) person, but not as the same thing.
Dear Kevin, Demetrio,
Do not ask me how to define 'HAPPINESS".Why not look for a video of Ken Dodd, the man with the chucklestick and the chief of the Diddy Men. He will tell you exactly what HAPPINESS is.
Cheers, Joe.
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Old 12-18-2013, 06:14 PM   #19
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Re: Jukka O. Lampila - Empty Force

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Budd Yuhasz wrote: View Post
Great, so you're stating a belief rather than demonstrating anything.
as I said, how do you demonstrate it from either side? You can't demonstrate your opinion any more than I can demonstrate mine, though I at least gave a pretty solid example of how martial arts, or any activity, can make someone a better person.
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Old 12-18-2013, 06:17 PM   #20
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Re: Jukka O. Lampila - Empty Force

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Demetrio Cereijo wrote: View Post
I consider happiness as a by-product of becoming a better person, a more virtuous (i.e. in an Aristotelian sense) person, but not as the same thing.
fair enough, but you can't be happy, or more happy, until you somehow become a better person, more virtuous person?
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Old 12-18-2013, 06:19 PM   #21
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Re: Measuring if/how martial arts helps one become a better person

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Budd Yuhasz wrote: View Post
Aristotle works for me - there's value in the activity for a person. But that doesn't equate to martial arts making one a better person.
if that activity brings them happiness, lowers their stress, insert any positive benefit here, how does it not contribute to making them a better person?
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Old 12-18-2013, 06:37 PM   #22
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Re: Jukka O. Lampila - Empty Force

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fair enough, but you can't be happy, or more happy, until you somehow become a better person, more virtuous person?
Sure there are people who feel they're happy while lacking virtue.

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Old 12-18-2013, 06:37 PM   #23
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Re: Measuring if/how martial arts helps one become a better person

Well, on some level of course most any activity can be personally fulfilling and beneficial. In that respect most anything can make you a "better" person. That said, there is a general conception among *some* that martial arts are also about improving the person in many ways. Heck, as Dr. Goldsbury has already pointed out O-Sensei approached it much like a religion, which is obviously quite an extreme compared to, say, playing tennis for fun and fulfillment. Not the same thing on any level.

And of course there is all the stuff about the so-called Warrior Sage, Warrior Monk, or the enlightened guru that permeates many of these arts. Sometimes it's downplayed or not there at all. But at other times you cannot deny that there is a strong undercurrent of influence. Heck, Ueshiba's doka are great examples of exactly the sort of "enlightened" proclamations going clearly in to philosophical and religious concepts. And we've had entire discussions here of things like "katsujinken" that often go much further than just describing different ideas of proper sword strategy in to areas of moral worth and ethical action.

So all that said I think these questions are asked and answered quite differently depending on the person, style and context involved. And there is no doubt that what I may get out of my practice is most likely quite different from what everyone else gets out of it in the larger scheme of things.

But once we start drilling down and being specific about what exactly we're talking about, be it one-on-one fighting efficiency, martial effectiveness of sword use, grappling, atemi, etc. there are objective criterion by which to judge the value of those things. I.e., it works or it doesn't to use a very simplified description. Of course things get hazy when we get more nuanced, but on *those* issues there can be objective statements made that are fairly straightforward in evaluation. So a guy doing no-touch ki throws that don't work on anyone other than his or her students is probably not demonstrating something that will work on anyone *other* than those students. That said it might be fun, enlightening, enriching practice for those involved working on increasing their sensitivity and awareness (or whatever --- I'm reaching here since it's not really my bag either).

Anyway, saying studying martial arts does not guarantee becoming a good person is an obvious statement to me. That said, sometimes it is taught with that as an express, specific and important goal for that particular group. Whether it works or not... Well... Let's reference scandals in the Catholic Church, terrorist activities carried out by many religious groups, terrorist activities done by "patriots" who believe they're being oppressed, etc. That's a really big, muddy area...

Me, I just train to try to get better at the body skills I find so interesting in Aikido. And what those skills imply about body mechanics, about psychology, etc.

Carry on...

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Old 12-19-2013, 01:09 AM   #24
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Re: Measuring if/how martial arts helps one become a better person

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Peter A Goldsbury wrote: View Post
Hello Kevin,

I think your comments could apply to any art or sport, though perhaps in different ways. Recently, I gave a paper in St Petersburg and the organizers (mainly from sports) suggested the title of 'Values of Aikido as a Demonstration Sport'. So I discussed the values of sports. There is the same fuzziness of definition with 'sport' as well as with 'art', similarly with what counts as being a 'better person'. I have argued elsewhere that Morihei Ueshiba conceived what he was doing as primarily a 'religious' activity, so this adds another fuzzy concept to the mix.

The question of the value of an art has been around for a very long time and some, like Aristotle, have suggested that practicing the art is its own justification. It does not intrinsically add any further value. It might do, but this is because you already have a value system in which you include practicing the art.

Best wishes,
I agree. I think there is a big difference between doing stuff that makes you happy and receiving happiness from the stuff. I HUGE difference. For example, I have no expectations that my happiness will be derived from a particular kata. I love to ski and mountain climb as well. I LOVE it. I am no happier than "in the moment" of a great climb. However, the event, place, or time does not in itself produce happiness.

I just finished listening to a bunch of lectures by Joseph Campbell who makes a very solid case for the need of myth, rituals, and practices and why they are important for people and society. So, yes, these things do have a place if kept in the right perspective and we do not place a level of expectation on the practices that is perverse.

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Old 12-19-2013, 01:10 AM   #25
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Re: Jukka O. Lampila - Empty Force

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Demetrio Cereijo wrote: View Post
Sure there are people who feel they're happy while lacking virtue.
I've met some of the most passive aggressive people in the aikido dojo! just saying!

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