Making sense in a violent world
The world has always been a violent place. If one studies ancient history, it becomes clear that what the psychologist Freud said about human nature is true. That is, we humans are sexual and aggressive by nature. St. Thomas Aquinas called this the "brute" aspect of human nature. As we civilized, this "brute" nature seemed to vanish. However, as one can see, the aggression and hypersexual aspects of human nature are still alive and well. We cannot turn the cheek and say the "bad guy" was insane or a psychopath and feel that we are above this. We humans are all capable of a break that might find us as the lead story on tonight news. One only needs to look at the recent school shooting, a shooting in a hospital and a mall, and even here in Gonzales, at an 8 year old's birthday party, two "men", and I use this term lightly being kind, fought and one was shot in front of children. All this is lasting negative affects on the human psyche, especially that of young children. We have been to the moon, we have cured diseases, we have made advances in technology, but we can't fix "stupid!" We are all responsible and up to this point, have failed.
So what does this have to do with martial arts philosophy? Everything! The masters of old all agreed that if a fight became physical, no matter what skill one has, then they have already lost , at least in the spiritual sense of the arts. The sport arena of today's martial arts have watered down the "internal" or the higher good of studying the arts. With the ever present potential for violence in human nature, we as martial arts instructors owe it to our students to instruct them to be aware of their environment, the things going on around them (and there is always something going on), and to teach them that if one had to engage in combat to protect self or others, a total committment must be made with clear judgement of the legal consequences of such engagement. A great amount of skill is necessary to work within these parameters with appropriate levels of force and discernment. That is why the World Taekwondo Federation as well as our school, Black Dragon Martial Arts in Prairieville, requires Black Belts to be at least 15 years old. Personally, sometimes I think even that is too young. Ten year old black belts simply cannot grasp the vastness of this nor do they have insight that more matured individuals have due simply to life experiences. However, even at age 6, the Academy of Pediatrics agrees that formation of skills can begin in a child. This formation gives the child not only a foundation of fighting skills, but the wisdom to assess a situation before engaging. This is lacking in most dojo today. If we are to really teach an art that is expected to save a life, it must be seriously done. I have no problem with sport, but sport is not the street. Don't be fooled by a tournament win or a piece of cloth around one's waist that might give false confidence and in the end results in tragedy. On any given day, anyone can get lucky!
We cannot expect government, religion, law enforcement, or any other outside agency to protect us. We must learn to be responsible to take care of ourselves. The agencies are the externals. When we allow government to take away our rights to defend ourselves, then the outlaws will have an open door policy to take what they want from us, even our lives.
It is society as a whole, both individuals and institutions, working in concert with each other, to find ways to make our world, or at least our community a safer place to live and riase our families. Violence will never go away. It is part of human nature. For some people, it is a way of life. It is time for us not to become sheep. It is a time for a sense of self and of community responsibility to become strong through mindfull discernment. This is everyone's responsibility and especially that of the martial arts instructor.