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Japanese Martial Arts and Compassion

When you think about compassion, you won’t associate it with something as aggressive and physical as martial arts. However, many people believe that empathy is a significant part of martial arts. After all, martial arts involves attacking other human beings, which results in injury or even death. You will usually think of compassion as something you shouldn’t be applying when you’re defending yourself in real life. You might think that there’s no time to be compassionate when someone is actively trying to harm you. It isn’t like that at all. Compassion, when you’re in a fight, doesn’t mean not trying to fight your best. It means that you have to control yourself not to kill your attacker, and making sure you don’t do more damage than you have to towards them.

Japanese Martial Arts and Compassion

Japanese Martial Arts and Compassion

Wrongly Justified Violence

Brutal martial artists will usually think of a confrontation as an all or nothing situation. If they get confronted by an attacker, the martial artist will not care about the circumstances or how violent the attacker was to them. They assume they’re entitled to brutally fight the attacker to teach them a lesson for doing something as wrong as that. The martial artist didn’t strike the attacker first, so he has followed the saying in karate where “there is no first strike”. The adage applies in that situation, so he isn’t in the wrong for brutalizing the attacker. There is another reason, which is revenge. The person may attack someone for something that has happened in the past. Each of these reasons for committing acts of violence isn’t true to the purpose of training in martial arts. The goal of martial arts isn’t defending yourself or others, but it’s protecting life itself.

The Protection of Life

When martial artists go through proper training and reach the top of their skill level, they’ll have to bear heavy burdens. If the situation calls for it, the martial artist must be capable of inflicting swift destruction to their opponents. But they must know when to lower their level of violence if they don’t have to go all out. They are responsible for protecting the lives of the people around them, including the attackers and themselves. That’s why if they have to, they need to show the compassion needed and keep the life of their attackers preserved. It is the reason that traditional martial arts seem to be overly complicated. The martial arts masters from back then wanted to be able to be swift and control their opponents or knock them out without killing them.

When it comes to self-defence in the real world, there are no adverse effects when you show compassion. It doesn’t hinder or slow down technique. You’ll still be able to do what you have to, even if you have to do your worst to the attackers. It’s wise to show compassion from a philosophical standpoint and a legal one too. Life protection is a heavy burden. Most people would simplify self-defence into a simple statement like “if someone attacks me, I’ll kill them since you never know how far they’ll go”. But that isn’t how the old masters of martial arts thought. Follow the martial arts masters from back then, and you’ll become as compassionate as them.

Posted In Japanese Culture

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