Buddhism and Martial Arts

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  • paige
    Member
    • Apr 2007
    • 234

    Buddhism and Martial Arts

    What's the connection? Is there one?

    Jundo mentioned a couple of times that his wife is an Aikido instructor, and I remember a few people in the Introductions thread saying that they were very into some martial art.

    Did studying martial arts get you interested in Asian culture and serve as a jumping off point for sitting zazen?

    I heard somewhere that Bodhidharma introduced martial arts to China from India. But I've also heard that his legs and arms atrophied and withered away during his years in the cave. Which leaves me with the mental image of Monty Python's Black Knight bellowing "Come back you yellow bastard, I'll bite your legs off!"

    Come on, does this look like a kung-fu master to you?
  • Jun
    Member
    • Jun 2007
    • 236

    #2
    Vajramushti (Japanese: Kempõ, Chinese: Chuan Fa) is the unarmed combat system of the Indians that was practised in sequences called nata (Japanese: kata) and practised by Buddhist monks as methods of both self-defence and physical exercise.

    Vajramushti travelled together with Buddhism as methods of self-defence and exercise and was introduced into and combined with indigenous methods.

    Supposedly Bodaidaruma was moved to pity when he saw the terrible physical condition of the monks on long meditation retreats. He taught them several complete nata and two pratima (shorter defence sequences) of the Vajramushti school of Astadasajacan. He also taught Snavasjala nidana vijnapti (respiratory yoga).

    The influence of Vajramushti on martial methods is quite evident. Have a look at the mudras of semui-in and segan-in for example. These are the most basic postures of Kempõ and Chuan Fa. Both these mudra are found in the earliest statues representing the Buddha. These are the most fundamental positions for the circular defensive movements upon which all of Kempõ and Chuan Fa motion is based.

    In the Sanskrit text on Parivrttapala it states: "When the mudra (semui-in) is rotated in a circular motion in front of the body, all and every attack against one's body is harmlessly redirected away from it. These mudra represent the ultimate and an unselfish form of defence. The mudra (segan-in) then comes up from below (the peripheral) vison of the attacker to strike at the attacker."
    Gassho
    Jun
    The life and teachings of Suzuki Shõsan Rõshi - http://kongoshin.blogspot.com/

    Comment

    • Blind Ox
      Member
      • Aug 2007
      • 11

      #3
      Good Morning Paige,

      I've practiced Tae Kwon do, Escrima, Jujitsu (weeping style), and basic Wing Chun. Few of the my instructors conveyed any of the philosophy behind what we practiced. It leaves a hole in the whole effort when you get to a level of understanding. Ego is strong in many of the my Instructors therefore no matter how many stripes on their belt I know they too are still not far into their path. The most humble of Instructors, those who get up themselves everyday and practice practice, take the time to learn the native language of the art also convey philosophy behind what they do. This has been my experience.

      My favorite instructor was a 35 year old Phillipian who had studied with a Master Leo (Escrima) and Dan Insantos (Jeet Kune Do). He was the most humble, probably the most dangerous, and funniest person I've ever been around. He was so in the NOW, and no belts needed (what for hold pants up? My pants have elastic you should try elastic, works better than belt). He was conveying a philosophy without the need to expound upon it. I see that now that I have been reading various Zen books, and just sitting.

      Reflecting on it, I see all were conveying a philosophy but only a handful conveyed the philosophy the martial arts were built on.


      Now when I instruct I will have a time for just sitting
      Fallen red blossoms
      from plum trees burst into flame
      among the horse turds ~ Master Buson

      Comment

      • Jun
        Member
        • Jun 2007
        • 236

        #4
        I've practiced Tae Kwon do, Escrima, Jujitsu (weeping style), and basic Wing Chun....
        Sorry to be pedantic, but that's jũjutsu 柔術 - there's no such thing as jujitsu.

        柔 - jũ = pliant; flexible; soft
        術 - jutsu = techniques; methods

        Phillipian? You mean Filipino. Ha ha, that was funny, I spat my breakfast over the table!

        Sorry to be so pedantic.
        Gassho
        Jun
        The life and teachings of Suzuki Shõsan Rõshi - http://kongoshin.blogspot.com/

        Comment

        • Blind Ox
          Member
          • Aug 2007
          • 11

          #5
          What's in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet. ~ William Shakespeare :wink:
          Fallen red blossoms
          from plum trees burst into flame
          among the horse turds ~ Master Buson

          Comment

          • Jundo
            Treeleaf Founder and Priest
            • Apr 2006
            • 39453

            #6
            Hi Blind Ox,

            I did not get a chance to publicly welcome you (only privately).

            As a translator of Japanese, I could not help but check with Zen Master Wiki on the origin of "Ju-jitsu"

            Jujutsu, the current standard spelling, is derived using the Hepburn romanization system. Before the first half of the 20th century, however, jiu-jitsu and then jujitsu were preferred, even though the romanization of the second kanji as jitsu is unfaithful to the standard Japanese pronunciation. Since Japanese martial arts first became widely known of in the West in that time period, these earlier spellings are still common in many places. Ju-Jitsu is still the standard spelling in France, Canada and the United States. The martial art is known as Jiu-Jitsu in Germany and Brazil.
            Gassho [Also Hepburn romanization, I believe], Jundo [this too]
            ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

            Comment

            • Bansho
              Member
              • Apr 2007
              • 532

              #7
              Hi,

              I used to practice Sim Do Kwon and Tae Kwon Do when I was a teenager (in the latter I ascended to the lofty heights of those endowed with the illustrious yellow belt, which is, ehm, the rank just above the white belt of the absolute beginner :roll: ). Unfortunately, there were no associations with Buddhism at all, which I suspect is probably the case in many (if not most) martial arts studios in the western world.

              Gassho
              Kenneth
              ??

              Comment

              • paige
                Member
                • Apr 2007
                • 234

                #8
                Thanks for your insights guys!

                What really prompted me to ask about this, is that I've been taking Qi Gong and T'ai Chi classes at the Chinese monastery. Haven't gone lately because my epilepsy's been bashing me up pretty good.

                I was surprised how seriously these practices are taken there - most everyone at the temple is ethnic Chinese. I'd taken T'ai Chi before, but only in high school and university (my high school English teacher was a qualified instructor, and we talked him into starting an after-school club). Regardless, it wasn't treated as a spiritual practice at all.

                The classes at the monastery have piqued my interest, but the instructor doesn't speak English, so he didn't understand any of my questions.

                Comment

                • Blind Ox
                  Member
                  • Aug 2007
                  • 11

                  #9
                  Originally posted by Jundo
                  Hi Blind Ox,

                  I did not get a chance to publicly welcome you (only privately).

                  As a translator of Japanese, I could not help but check with Zen Master Wiki on the origin of "Ju-jitsu"

                  Jujutsu, the current standard spelling, is derived using the Hepburn romanization system. Before the first half of the 20th century, however, jiu-jitsu and then jujitsu were preferred, even though the romanization of the second kanji as jitsu is unfaithful to the standard Japanese pronunciation. Since Japanese martial arts first became widely known of in the West in that time period, these earlier spellings are still common in many places. Ju-Jitsu is still the standard spelling in France, Canada and the United States. The martial art is known as Jiu-Jitsu in Germany and Brazil.
                  Gassho [Also Hepburn romanization, I believe], Jundo [this too]

                  That's insightful Jundo! I ran a spell check before the posting because I am a terrible speller. I will add the spelling Jun graciously provided to my dictionary because I mean no disrespect to the art.

                  Kenneth That's awesome that you delved into the Korean arts. I've been granted several black belts through the years but maintain the white belt mentality. The systems are vast and many have practiced their whole lives and have told me they are still learning . That's what I love about the arts, you can learn from anybody. Once I taught an intro to a 10 year old boy. Mind you, I have taught hundreds of introductory classes in Tae Kwon Do but to this day I am still blown away remembering that 10 year old. His technique was flawless and coming from a small community out in the country his parents swore he had never attended a class before. He was alert, focused, and humble. With in half an hour he was performing the same techniques the advanced classes were doing the prior day without much effort. That's white belt mind. What I have heard to be beginner mind. I learned a lot from him.

                  Paige I'm sorry to hear about the health issue. I hope you can practice soon.
                  Fallen red blossoms
                  from plum trees burst into flame
                  among the horse turds ~ Master Buson

                  Comment

                  • Jun
                    Member
                    • Jun 2007
                    • 236

                    #10
                    Kenneth That's awesome that you delved into the Korean arts.
                    Tae Kwon Do isn't Korean actually. It is just Shotokan Karate. The originator of Tae Kwon Do (or Tang Soo Do) was Lee Won Kuk who studied Shotokan Karate under Gichin Funakoshi.
                    Gassho
                    Jun
                    The life and teachings of Suzuki Shõsan Rõshi - http://kongoshin.blogspot.com/

                    Comment

                    • Blind Ox
                      Member
                      • Aug 2007
                      • 11

                      #11
                      Originally posted by Jun
                      Kenneth That's awesome that you delved into the Korean arts.
                      Tae Kwon Do isn't Korean actually. It is just Shotokan Karate. The originator of Tae Kwon Do (or Tang Soo Do) was Lee Won Kuk who studied Shotokan Karate under Gichin Funakoshi.
                      Oh what a can of worms! For those not familiar with the martial arts let me state that there has been and will continue to be a debate about the origins of the various martial arts. Korean martial artist maintain the arts came from China and were present in the form known as Soo Bak-Gi or Taek Kyon during the Silla and Koryo Dynasties.

                      " During the reign of Chin Heung, Twenty-fourth King of Silla, the young aristocrats and warrior class formed an elite officers corps called Hwa Rangdo. This warrior corps-in addition to ordinary training in spear, bow, sword and hook- also trained themselves by practicing mental physical discipline, and various forms of hand and foot fighting. " ~ Encyclopedia of Taekwon-do The KOREAN Art of Self-Defence, p.28, First Edition 1983, by Gen. Choi Hong Hi

                      I was invited to train in Shotokan. The style is dramatically different than the form of Tae Kwon do I practice. There is for instance in Shotokan the need to keep the head level at all times. Maintaining the same center of gravity continuously when moving through techniques. This is just the opposite in Tae Kwon do. All forms of Tae Kwon Do have a natural bounce during the moment of impact of the technique. This "bounce" is your center of gravity raised and lowered at the moment of impact. You can watch Tae Kwon Do practitioners and characterize what Federation they are a member of by the extent the "bounce" is emphasized. But in all forms of Tae Kwon Do it is there.

                      Lee Won Kuk was not the originator of Tae Kwon Do. He is associated with the Tae Kwon Do movement but not the originator.
                      Fallen red blossoms
                      from plum trees burst into flame
                      among the horse turds ~ Master Buson

                      Comment

                      • Jun
                        Member
                        • Jun 2007
                        • 236

                        #12
                        Korean martial artist maintain the arts came from China and were present in the form known as Soo Bak-Gi or Taek Kyon during the Silla and Koryo Dynasties.
                        Yes they were. But that is not what is practised today as Tae Kwon Do.

                        From Wiki -

                        During the Japanese occupation (1910-1945), the practice of taekyon was banned. Although practice of the art nearly vanished, Taekyon survived through underground teaching and folk custom. As the Japanese colonization established a firm foothold in Korea, the few Koreans who were able to attend Japanese universities were exposed to Okinawan and Japanese martial arts with some even receiving black belts under Gichin Funakoshi. Koreans in China were also exposed to Chinese martial arts. By 1945, when the Korean peninsula was liberated from Japanese colonization, many martial arts schools were formed and developed under various names such as Tang Soo Do reflecting foreign influence.

                        At the end of World War II, several Kwans arose. They were: Chung Do Kwan, Moo Duk Kwan, Jidokwan (or Yun Moo Kwan), Chang Moo Kwan, Han Moo Kwan, Oh Do Kwan, Jung Do Kwan, Kang Duk Won, and Song Moo Kwan.
                        Encyclopedia of Taekwon-do The KOREAN Art of Self-Defence, p.28, First Edition 1983, by Gen. Choi Hong Hi
                        Not biased at all then is it, seeing as it is Korean!

                        Lee Won Kuk was not the originator of Tae Kwon Do. He is associated with the Tae Kwon Do movement but not the originator.
                        Perhaps this is more correct then, from "The Martial Arts of the Orient" -

                        Tae Kwon Do - (Korean: "art of kicking and punching"), Korean art of unarmed combat that is based on Shotokan Karate. The name Tae Kwon Do was officially adopted for this martial art in 1959 after that name had been submitted by the South Korean general Choi Hong Hi, the principal founder of Tae Kwon Do.

                        From Wiki -

                        In spite of Korea's rich history of ancient and traditional martial arts, Korean martial arts faded into obscurity during the Joseon Dynasty. Korean society became highly centralized under Korean Confucianism and martial arts were lowly regarded in a society whose ideals were epitomized by its scholar-kings. Remnants of traditional martial arts such as Subak and Taekyon were banned from practice by the general populace and reserved for sanctioned military uses although folk practice by the common populace still persisted into the 19th century. During the Japanese occupation (1910-1945), the practice of taekyon was banned. Although practice of the art nearly vanished, Taekyon survived through underground teaching and folk custom. As the Japanese colonization established a firm foothold in Korea, the few Koreans who were able to attend Japanese universities were exposed to Okinawan and Japanese martial arts with some even receiving black belts under Gichin Funakoshi. Koreans in China were also exposed to Chinese martial arts. By 1945, when the Korean peninsula was liberated from Japanese colonization, many martial arts schools were formed and developed under various names such as Tang Soo Do reflecting foreign influence.

                        At the end of World War II, several Kwans arose. They were: Chung Do Kwan, Moo Duk Kwan, Jidokwan (or Yun Moo Kwan), Chang Moo Kwan, Han Moo Kwan, Oh Do Kwan, Jung Do Kwan, Kang Duk Won, and Song Moo Kwan.
                        From Donn Draeger -
                        Tae Kwon Do can hardly be considered even remotely related to the ancient martial arts of Korea which were twice banned for extremely extended periods of time. From 1909 to 1945, the Japanese suppressed Korean culture and martial arts, and introduced Japanese culture and martial arts. Hapkido (Aikido), Kumdo (Kendo), and Tae Kwon Do (Shotokan Karate) are simply restyled Japanese martial arts that were enforced upon the Korean populace. All that truly remains of the Korean traditional arts is Cireum, a form of wrestling not unlike Sumo.
                        From an article in Budo magazine -

                        It is claimed that Tae Kwon Do is an ancient art from 50BC - FALSE - It was formed by "unifying" the Kwans (mini-styles) that originated from 1945 to 1960 (the Kwan instructors studied Shotokan Karate or Judo in Japan and then formed their kwan) in Korea. Between 1945 to 1960 there were 40 different kwan that had sprung up all over korea. All the kwan were competing with one another and this was preventing the idea of Tae Kwon Do becoming a unified national sport. It was more or less forced on the Kwan heads to unify to form one National sport. Unifying all the kwans and developing Tae kwon Do into a National sport became the agreed objective for the "leaders & pioneers " in this movement. It was not developed from the Ancient lost Martial art called Taek Kyon. Alhough the name Tae Kwon Do is similiar. The leaders used this name purposefully because it resembled the name Taek kyon.
                        By the way, if it was formed in 50BC then it would make it the worlds oldest surviving martial art.

                        Many Martial artists are much like religious cultists, they will stick by the stories of their traditions no matter what history shows.

                        Some good unbiased resources about the origins of Tae Kwon Do -

                        Capener, SD, "Problems in the Identity and Philosophy of Taekwondo and Their Historical Causes," Korea Journal, (Winter, 1995).

                        Dohrenwend, Robert, "The Truth About Taekwondo - An Historical Appraisal Part 1 and Part 2," Dragon Times, Volume 22 & 23.

                        Madis, Eric, "The Evolution of Taekwondo from Japanese Karate," Koryu Journal, (4th Quarter, 2002).
                        Gassho
                        Jun
                        The life and teachings of Suzuki Shõsan Rõshi - http://kongoshin.blogspot.com/

                        Comment

                        • Blind Ox
                          Member
                          • Aug 2007
                          • 11

                          #13
                          Hello Jun,

                          Thanks for the articles. Japanese Karate influences are without a doubt noticeable in Tae Kwon Do. Still Tae Kwon do was a unification of several systems and Karate. To say that Tae kwon do is Shotokan Karate leaves a false impression.

                          The article states "nearly" vanished, and even goes on to say "Taekyon survived."



                          From Wiki -

                          Quote:
                          In spite of Korea's rich history of ancient and traditional martial arts, Korean martial arts faded into obscurity during the Joseon Dynasty. Korean society became highly centralized under Korean Confucianism and martial arts were lowly regarded in a society whose ideals were epitomized by its scholar-kings. Remnants of traditional martial arts such as Subak and Taekyon were banned from practice by the general populace and reserved for sanctioned military uses although folk practice by the common populace still persisted into the 19th century. During the Japanese occupation (1910-1945), the practice of taekyon was banned. Although practice of the art nearly vanished, Taekyon survived through underground teaching and folk custom. As the Japanese colonization established a firm foothold in Korea, the few Koreans who were able to attend Japanese universities were exposed to Okinawan and Japanese martial arts with some even receiving black belts under Gichin Funakoshi. Koreans in China were also exposed to Chinese martial arts. By 1945, when the Korean peninsula was liberated from Japanese colonization, many martial arts schools were formed and developed under various names such as Tang Soo Do reflecting foreign influence.

                          At the end of World War II, several Kwans arose. They were: Chung Do Kwan, Moo Duk Kwan, Jidokwan (or Yun Moo Kwan), Chang Moo Kwan, Han Moo Kwan, Oh Do Kwan, Jung Do Kwan, Kang Duk Won, and Song Moo Kwan.
                          Donn Draeger was a incredible martial artist and did much to spread the Japanese arts to the States. Biased? It's Donn Draegar for crying out loud! First Caucasian to receive teaching credentials in a 400 year old Japanese system.
                          The late Draeger-s. attempted to force-fit categories in his studies of the various martial styles; this is in conflict with the Japanese notion of classifying each style on a “case-by-case” basis. Although he was a pioneer (we all should be eternally grateful for his efforts) and certainly a product of his times, he was a mortal like the rest of us, and did not get absolutely everything correct. For the opinions of a well-known martial artist, author and pioneer in his own right, who knew Donn Draeger, read Robert Smith’s (1999) Martial Musings

                          From Donn Draeger -
                          Quote:

                          Tae Kwon Do can hardly be considered even remotely related to the ancient martial arts of Korea which were twice banned for extremely extended periods of time. From 1909 to 1945, the Japanese suppressed Korean culture and martial arts, and introduced Japanese culture and martial arts. Hapkido (Aikido), Kumdo (Kendo), and Tae Kwon Do (Shotokan Karate) are simply restyled Japanese martial arts that were enforced upon the Korean populace. All that truly remains of the Korean traditional arts is Cireum, a form of wrestling not unlike Sumo.

                          From wiki Karate http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Karate

                          Japan's occupation of Korea lasted from 1910 until 1945. Economic and social hardships of colonial Korea caused waves of migration of Koreans to mainland Japan[17] and the few Koreans who were able to receive education in Japan were often exposed to Japanese martial arts. Early taekwondo masters such as Choi Hong Hi had studied Shotokan karate under Funakoshi Gichin. After independence from Japanese occupation, many of the martial arts schools in Korea were started by masters with varying degrees of training in Japanese (including karate), Chinese and Korean martial arts. In 1955, at the behest of President Syngman Rhee, the dozens of Korean martial arts schools were standardized and the resulting construction became Taekwondo. Although major techniques of taekwondo differ from Japanese Karate and reflect influence from indigenous Korean martial arts such as taekyon, karate provided an important comparative model for the early founders of taekwondo in their formalization of a standard Korean martial art. Taekwondo also inherited from karate the concept of linear striking to generate power as well as early karate "kata" and the belt and degree system.
                          Shotokan is not the same as Tae Kwon Do. The IOC (International Olympic Committee) separately addresses them. If they were the same they would be competing together.
                          Fallen red blossoms
                          from plum trees burst into flame
                          among the horse turds ~ Master Buson

                          Comment

                          • FeMonky
                            Member
                            • May 2007
                            • 50

                            #14
                            Originally posted by renfield
                            I study Mugairyu Iaihyodo, a Japanese sword art founded in 1693 by Tsuji Gettan Sukemochi, a man equally reknowned for his skill with both sword and whisk. He studied at Kyukoji in Azabu for several decades and named his school of swordsmanship using a line from a poem from his zen teacher.
                            More info here:
                            http://www.mugairyu.com
                            Oh, MY! I've actaully heard of this art! Its mentioned in Iai: Drawing the Sword, by Darrell Craig
                            To answer the original question, My study of the martial arts was a conduit to get me interested in Zen... And my LOVE of Kung Fu & Samurai movies.

                            Comment

                            • Kyotai

                              #15
                              thought I would pull out this old thread from the archive. I am going to my first introductory Karate class this Tuesday night. I have wanted to try martial arts for the past decade..and finally at 29..im going for it. Has anyone else tried or practice Karate? Any advice? Is it at all complimentary to your practice? Sorry of this belongs in the all of life forum...but zazen is where I found it.


                              Gassho

                              Shawn

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