What is Martial Arts?

It is answer for 21 century education system – character education

Martial Arts Character EducationThe martial arts are a great thing! They can and will change the 21st century education system. That is my vision. How so? Here is the answer.

The word martial comes from “Mars”, the ancient Roman god of war and agriculture, identified with Greek god of war, Ares. Therefore, martial arts means fighting skills combined with art form.

Fighting (combat) skills or defense systems are absolutely necessary for the survival of individuals, tribes, and nations. Therefore they have existed across the world throughout time, regardless of East or West, old or new.
Then, why did the martial arts originate from the East? Why is the history of martial arts in the Western hemisphere so short, only arising since WW II and the Korean War?

These are interesting questions and show several deep philosophical differences between Eastern and Western practices.

Western Eastern
Analytic Holistic
Objectification Personification
After rise of the gunpowder, combat skills went in different direction
Turns into Sports Transform into Martial Arts
Compete with others Compete within
Winning is everything Being is everything
Focus on Tangibles Focus on Intangibles

As you can see from the table, all the fighting skills turned into sports in the West. Ask yourself: fencing, boxing, wrestling, and gymnastics- are those sports or martial arts? Did you know that gymnastics originated from gladiators’ fighting skills? But, the East has developed the special style, martial arts. What is the difference between sports and martial arts? The term martial arts demonstrates how this is inherently an art form. Therefore, the martial arts serve three branches, self-defense, fitness, and mental training. Then the following questions will be ‘what is art?’ and ‘how can Martial Arts help in 21st century education?’

What is art?

This is a complex question!  but simply put, art is an expression of an individual or human, which means living. However, through living, we express such style that turns into originality, beauty, and unique culture. It will help us to find the self and become the self, which ties in with “Autonomy” (please refer to “Meaning of Life” ). Based on Maslow’s term, this will be self-actualization.
Also, beautiful art touches others’ affections, which turn into influence, communication, empathy, union, and love (other pole of principle of life #1). It promotes everyone’s imagination and creativity. (This is what 21st century education is looking for, right?). How wonderful is this? It is all the matter we must combine, all our activities with mind. We are doing this every single second of our lives anyway. However, Westerners are too analytic so they separate body activities and mind activities. We must combine the body and mind activities together and bring forth better understanding, as well as apply this in daily living. That is what martial arts can do for you! Sports can not- history has proven this point already!

My second point is people’s interest. This is one of most important points, because people want martial arts not by preference but rather by instinct. Because it is self defense, martial arts offer emotional security as well stability, which promotes  high self-esteem and intrinsic motivation. This point has huge psychological effects for all individuals. That is why we have so many cases of healing throughout the martial arts industry.

The third point is character education. What builds character better than art? Isn’t the lack of character building an issue for the current education system? If you think about martial arts, what comes to your mind? Discipline, Focus, Power, Respect, Confidence, and mystical.

But, my concern is that martial arts is turning into martial sports, and the public can’t tell the difference. There are a few reasons for that. One of the biggest reasons is that there is no clear answer for “What is mind, and how to train the mind?”.  With the base of Western thought, it is almost impossible, because of analytical and object orientation. Yet, Joonbi Taekwondo and the Human EngineerⓇ have the answers for you, because I, Master JH Lee, have background of both the East and West. When the West meets with the East, it becomes Master Lee’s Joonbi Taekwondo and Human EngineerⓇ. Another reason for the misunderstanding is lack of understanding of the effects of sports. Sports have a good side, however, there is also a bad side, also. But this is not recognized by entire society.

What is bad about sports, then?
1. Life must be balanced and harmonized. Winning is good, but winning promotes a comparison value system that is fatal for communities.
2. Winning promotes myopic perspectives on life and relationships.
3. Winning against others promotes superiority as well as inferiority for the opponent. Both are vices.
Please refer to the excellent study by Daniel H. Pink on page 59 in his book “Drive”.

Carrots and sticks: The seven deadly flows:
1. They can extinguish intrinsic motivation.
2. They can diminish performance.
3. They can crush creativity.
4. They can crowd out good behavior.
5. They can encourage cheating, shortcuts, and unethical behavior.
6. They can become addictive.
7. They can foster short-term thinking.

Now, you can see why it is a gigantic problem that martial arts cannot be confused with martial sports. However, most of the studios in the USA exercise martial sports because of a lack of a philosophical and spiritual backup system. Yes, physical activities have similarities, but what about mental training that should be embedded within? Does public knowledge have the ability to differentiate that? No, it severely lacks this ability! If you are paying money for instruction (that is all about this business), who you choose as your teacher or master is the most important factor to consider, not the price, convenience, or your misguided opinion. Practice doesn’t make you better, it only builds habits. Are you building bad habits with the all of the time and money you spend? Please refer to the “Misunderstanding of Practice” video blog.

Next reason is a lack of public knowledge about the Eastern and Western philosophical differences and how that influences our daily lives and produces culture. Remember that, “Value System” of individuals and society will determine direction of lifestyle and create social culture. In other words, people continually place monetary gain as a higher value than character value (research Erich Fromm’s “To Have or To Be”). This great book offers us two modes of life style: “Having mode” and “Being mode”. Here is what he said – “If I am what I have and if what I have is lost, who then am I?”

Please refer to “Principle of Life #1” post lesson #5. Which one has permanent value? Tangible or Intangible? Trophy or Character, which can’t be lost forever.  “So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal” 2Co 4:18 [NIV]

Great living is an example of the martial arts lifestyle. That is why many people answer “way of life” if asked “What is Martial Arts?”. That is the direction of future education. The current education system lacks “character education”. This is why the Human Engineer is needed! Joonbi Taekwondo has created an innovative style of Martial Arts.

Ⓒ 2014 By Jeeho Lee, Human EngineerⓇ