Honor in Martial arts philosophy

Discussion in 'Off Topic Area' started by fightinchance, Mar 1, 2009.

  1. fightinchance

    fightinchance New Member

    I think I'm not sure I understand something about this in MA. I would like some help from you all, historically, culturally based, opinion, or what is the 'code' in your particular art.

    Due to some recent events in a school I no longer attended, I would like some help understanding this. Now I preface this by stating I'm not starting this thread to bash anyone, but I would like to know more about this, so I can understand more what happens when you break that code etc.

    Any help?
  2. Southpaw535

    Southpaw535 Well-Known Member Moderator Supporter

    i wouldn't say i use honour so much as respect for others who train.
  3. Patrick Smith

    Patrick Smith Tustom Cuser Uitle

    I guess the code of all martial arts should be like this:

    "Do not use your martial art skills unless it is in defense of yourself or someone else."

    "Do not use your martial arts abilities in unrighteous aggression towards others."

    "Protect the weak, support the strong"

    "Be selfless, give of your time, be calm, self controlled, quietly confident and always aware."

    "Do not look for fights"

    "Always show deep respect for elderly people, your teachers, your fellow students and everyone around you"

    There are definitely more but I think those sound pretty good.
  4. Bruce W Sims

    Bruce W Sims Banned Banned

    I have held (and with apologies to Liam Niessen --see: "Rob Roy")

    "Honor is a gift a man gives himself."

    Nobody can force a person to be "honorable" and one person's definition is often not the same as another's. To be "honorable" is a Life-choice--- a Path, a way-of-being---- that an individual makes regarding his own life.

    If its any help, different cultures view "honor" using different frames of reference and different values. The values can be political, religious, philosophical or ????. If a person decides to be a "man of honor" my suggestion is that they have a pretty good knowlege of their own limitations and what they are willing to lose in the name of following such a Path.

    Its not a cheap decision. And very typically it is a particularly lonely Path at that.

    Best Wishes,

  5. fightinchance

    fightinchance New Member

    I know in many of these cultures, in particular Japan, to bring dishonor to your family etc and the way they deal with that is very different from western culture. Is this the same in Korea and china etc? Now in MA, if you bring Dishonor to your school, to your art...I would think the consequence would be similar to that of how a father would treat a son who brought dishonor to him. Am I off base in this assumption?
  6. koyo

    koyo Passed away, but always remembered. RIP.

    There are many instances of samurai giri which is personal honour conflicting with the loyalty demanded of the daimyo.

    Do you do what you know is right in your heart or follow the dictates of another?.

    regards koyo
  7. Bruce W Sims

    Bruce W Sims Banned Banned

    Mmmmmm..... yes and know. There are a few things at work here if you want to talk about Korean culture.

    First off, the Confucian underpinnings of Korean culture put some things above others. For instance, though popular belief is that patriotism (loyalty to one's country) trumps all in reality its is filial piety or "respect due one's parents" that is actually the high card in any game. In like manner, "loyalty to one's friends" (as in the case of "never retreat in battle") can be trumped by "respect for one's elder" and is routinely, most notably in business.

    A second thing to consider is the nature of the organization. Most clubs or associations where a person pays for membership, signs a paper and gets a card don't carry much in the way of a moral mandate regarding behavior. If however, one belongs to a traditional Korean KWAN, the interplay regarding loyalty and support to fellow members and the solidarity of the group takes on an almost quasi-religious regard, something like various fraternies and benevolent societies here in the States. Masonic lodges are probably the closest thing to this in Western society. Is any of this helping?

    Best Wishes,

  8. Polar Bear

    Polar Bear Moved on

    I think it could be argued that masonic lodges are far from benevolent.

    Honour is such a complex thing that can mean different things to different people that is becomes very hard to define clearly. For example many people exhalt the medieval European code of chivalry. However, the code actually isn't as warm and fuzzy as people think. For example if a lady was travelling with a knight and another knight defeated the first then the knight was within his right to "have" the woman. The code only extended to knights so a common soldier was not covered so summary execution or torture was acceptible. Not exactly honourable.

    For me my personal honour is:
    - Defend my family and friends from all threats.
    - Do not take pre-emptive action against anyone except when family or friends are threatened.
    - Never harm children regardless of further consquences.
    - Actively Defend children from all threats.
    - Never harm non-combatants unless to enforce one of the above rules.
    - Defend my country against threats as long as is doesn't violate the above rules.

    The Bear.
  9. Fire-quan

    Fire-quan Banned Banned

    Approach your own training with honesty, courage and integrity. That alone is enough to inform you as to everything you need to know about honour in martial arts.

    There again, I would add that a noble part of that is to take full and total responsibility for your actions - and that includes your decisions, such as, to train with certain people, and any false expectations you built up about those people.
  10. fightinchance

    fightinchance New Member

    Was there an ancient literal set of codes with in martial arts as there was in Medieval times?

    2nd how does that translate to us today...(some of that you have all said already and thank you. This IS deffo helping.)
  11. Bruce W Sims

    Bruce W Sims Banned Banned

    Gee, Bear...... and I half expected something like

    "...To crush your enemies,
    see them driven before you,
    and to hear the lamentations of their women. "

    (with apologies to Arnold Schwartzeneger) :)

    Best Wishes,

  12. Axelator

    Axelator Not called Alex.

    Historically there's been an idea of honor or things similar to it in many cultures. Normally it seems to put duty before the needs of yourself. You might want to look at Bushido and chivalry. They're the only ones I can think of. My club is a sports club so has no real code, however if I got in the news for beating people up I don't think I would be welcomed back.

    Personally I think things like codes of honour are far to complex to put into words in the modern day so I place my faith in what my parents taught me and try and always do what I see as right.
  13. Polar Bear

    Polar Bear Moved on

    Bruce, that's what is best in life.
    Anyone threatens my friends or family I get to enjoy myself.

    The Bear.
  14. koyo

    koyo Passed away, but always remembered. RIP.

    Sometimes his honour demands that..like if you steal his raw fish.

    regards koyo
  15. aikiwolfie

    aikiwolfie ... Supporter

    Personally I think honor is a bogus concept used to control people. Personal honor is simple good conscience and manners. Be polite to the people around you. Even the ones you don't like and listen to your conscience and you won't go far wrong in life.

    Loyalty is something else entirely. That is what the teachers who are busy building their own little empires are after. They want loyal students because loyal students will do as they are told without question and simply accept their teaching. Should you raise a hand and question the way things are done your disloyal and dishonorable. It's nothing more than a guilt trip. A bullying tactic to knock you back into line.

    Your first loyalty should always be to yourself. Keep yourself on the right path and you'll always be in a better position to help those people that matter to you in life.
  16. Langenschwert

    Langenschwert Molon Labe

    "Young knight learn,
    to love God and revere women,
    so that your honour grows.
    Practice knighthood and learn
    the Art that dignifies you,
    and brings you honour in wars.
    Wrestle well and wield lance,
    spear, sword and dagger manfully;
    whose use in others’ hands is wasted."

    That's how Johannes Liectenauer's verses are started. It's pretty straight forward. Now, as Bear pointed out, the reality is much more down and dirty than that, just like anywhere else.

    One of Talhoffer's manuals dictates "causes for killing", IIRC.

    Codes of Honour are all fine and dandy. As long as you don't use one as an excuse to do something that you know is wrong.

    Best regards,

  17. Bruce W Sims

    Bruce W Sims Banned Banned

    I think you would be right if Honor were something that was bestowed by the community. But as far as I know Honor is an agreement a person makes with themselves. From what I understand a person selects a standard of performance than shoots to abide by that standard. Such things a "honor among thieves" seems to suggest a standardized code that is imposed, but there is no real consequence other than ostracism.

    I think a person chooses for themselves what being honorable is and how much they abide by it. After all it always sounds pretencious when someone describes themselves as honorable, right? Thoughts?

    Best Wishes,

  18. fightinchance

    fightinchance New Member

    Aikiwolfie, I agee with the what you are saying, loyalty is definitely a tool of control within martial arts. The need for power and the love of power can do ugly things to greater men.

    On the other hand, is it not "honor" as opposed to loyalty that was meant to keep just that kind of instance in check? Was it not the teachers responsibility to act in accordance with with that "code of honor", and if that code was broken...was held to the same standard as the student?

    Perhaps I have romantic notions of this chivalrous culture in my mind that never really existed - and likewise does not exist now? Too idealistic I suppose.
  19. Langenschwert

    Langenschwert Molon Labe

    We can't really know for certain how well EVERYONE followed Chivalric ideals. I'm sure that there were some who were the model of knighthood, virtuous to the end. But you know what? They're all dead, and have been for hundreds of years. What matters is the way in which you comport yourself. Your actions are the only things you control. Might as well make the most of them, since we're all dead in the end anyway.

    Best regards,


    GSHAMBROOKE Thats Tarm Sarm


    I dont see the difference of being honorable in martial arts and being honorable in everyday life.

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