One of the discussions going around in the world of martial arts is whether there is a value in traditional martial arts. Lately the “systems” of Mixed Martial Arts and Ultimate Fighting have become very popular. Students don’t want to go through the long process of traditional learning but would rather start fighting right away.
There are also discussions in the field of education about traditional or “classical” education vs. vocational training (just learning to do a job). On another front, students who are used to texting are having trouble being able to write essays in school or even letters.
In each case there is a devaluing of developing a student as a whole human being. It is a fulfillment of the trend begun in the industrial revolution of turning people into parts of the machine. It seems strange to me that just as we have unparalleled access to information and educational opportunities and as teachers of many styles of martial arts, exercise and healing make their training easily available, we are moving more towards a dumbing down society. The goal is just to make the money or knock out an opponent.
Traditional martial arts training teaches you to live in peace with other people and to feel part of all living things. It teaches you to consider all life to be sacred including the life within your own body so you would strive for a healthy lifestyle.
It teaches you to understand the underlying philosophy of the training and to appreciate education in all its forms. Most importantly, you learn to understand your own behavior and put it in perspective so you can grow as a human being.
This doesn’t mean that you don’t practice fighting. You certainly learn to defend yourself. You also spar as exercise and sport.
Many people recently have asked me to open new martial arts classes, but when they realize that I teach traditionally and expect a well rounded martial arts education, they are less enthusiastic.
I wonder, what is it about this particular time in our society that has changed what people have come to expect of the martial arts or of education in general.