Digger wrote:I’d like to add to Luke’s excellent post (only problem I saw was that Judo is relatively modern from 1882, maybe he meant Jiu-Jistu as being ancient).
Whoops! I guess I meant the techniques in Jiu-Jitsu which were later used in Judo.
I think one negative aspect of the way most westerners do martial arts is that they are basically reinforcing and enlarging their egos: They want to dress up in exotic, Asian outfits and use cool, flashy techniques to have power over other people or to impress them. It can often be just a lot of vanity and shallowness.
I think it's also important to realize that the authentic martial arts were at one time martial arts, that is techniques which were used on the battlefield or in life-and-death street duels. Chinese soldiers in the 5th century didn't use polearms and swords because they wanted to fight in some fancy, schmancy, exoticly Asian way: they used them because they were the most deadly weapons which were available to them at that time. If M-16s had existed back then, I'm sure they would have used those instead.
I often think that modern soldiers understand more about the mindset of ancient Asian soldiers than historians or modern "martial arts enthusiasts" do. I don't think there's much difference between the mindset of a Chinese soldier stepping onto the battefield while carrying a deadly weapon and the mindset of a modern western soldier stepping onto the battlefield while carrying a deadly weapon. Effective methods of killing are effective methods of killing, whether they look exotic or not. Fear of death is fear of death.
A lot of myths and legends and romanticizations have been mixed up with martial arts since ancient times, though. How can somebody possibly understand "the way of the warrior" who has never fought in a real battle? Going to the dojo three times a week and reading Black Belt magazine won't do it. In my opinion, if somebody wants to be a warrior, he should just become a soldier (which of course, is generally a very bad thing from a Buddhist point of view, and people should question why they find the idea of being warriors so romantic in the first place).
However, I think one example of martial arts being both effective and ethical is when jiu-jitsu is used by police officers to subdue criminals using the minimum necessary force. That's a Buddhist use of martial arts.