Philosophy and the Martial Arts
by Susan Pogmore
Philosophy & Martial Arts
a) What, if any, is the relationship between philosophy and Martial Arts in today’s society?
b) What do you think the intention of the ‘old masters’ was with the philosophical aspects of their practice?
c) People like Funakoshi are attributed to writing things like ‘The 20 precepts’ relating to Martial Arts. What would be a modern day equivalent?
d) Karate is often said to be ‘Moving Zen’. Why?
Admin’s Note:- As part of the Black Belt grading requirements in 2013, candidates will have to complete and publish a given research project where they have to justify and prove all conclusions that they arrive at.
The aim of this is to challenge the individual on a personal basis to broaden and deepen their knowledge base over a longer period of time and ultimately with the goal to significantly improve their physical and non-physical skills.
Definition of PHILOSOPHY from Collins Concise Dictionary of the English Language
1: the academic discipline concerned with making explicit the nature and significance of ordinary and scientific beliefs and investigating the intelligibility of the concepts by means of rational argument concerning their presuppositions, implications, and interrelationships.
2: the particular doctrines relating to these issues of a specific individual or school
3: the basic principles of a discipline: the philosophy of law
4: any system of belief, values or tenets
5: a personal outlook or viewpoint
6: serenity of temper
Definition of MARTIAL ART
1: any of various philosophies of self defence and techniques of single combat, such as judo or karate, originating in the Far East
The word “philosophy” comes from the Ancient Greek φιλοσοφία (philosophia), which literally means “love of wisdom”.
Documented philosophy dates back to the Ancient Greeks, but I suspect that man has been philosophising for as long as he has been able to express himself. And despite the enormous length of time that has passed, Philosophers are still not in complete agreement about the nature and methods of philosophy; what philosophy and its methods are, or should be, itself a philosophical question.
I really like Vincent A. Cruz’s conclusion that philosophy is most appropriately described as “unusually persistent attempts to think things out”.
So for the purposes of this project, I will attempt to understand other people’s views of the Philosophies of Karate-do. Entering the minds of some of the greatest Karateka the world has ever known and the minds of those whom are yet to be recognised as great, maybe….
My research will take two forms. Firstly; copious amounts of reading about the ‘old masters’ and the greats. Their personal journeys & the lessons they valued. The second; talking to modern day Karateka about what karate means to them.
I also need to discover the meaning of ‘Moving Zen’. I have briefly touched upon it in my initial investigations and believe this to be more of an intangible concept than an actual practice or process.
Proving my research is going to be challenging. I will be able to list literature I’ve read and there will be proof of interviews I’ve conducted. I hope to be able to provide rational arguments to support my theories, but as this is philosophy, I shall leave it to the reader to decide whether I have ‘proved’ anything at all.
I strongly believe that the fundamentals of life haven’t changed over the years just the dressing that they are packaged in. Once I have discovered the principals of the ‘old masters’ then I will need to put together a ‘modern day’ equivalent and uncover the commonalities of our lives, decades apart.
I intend to provide a report at the end of March, April, May, June, July and August, and then a short summary of findings and conclusions and a 60 minute lesson plan for the beginning of November, in preparation for a class.
25th February 2013