The Value Of The Classical Values

NO question about it, the classical/traditional martial arts of Asia do require drastic reform and modification if a trainee’s purpose in studying them is real world self-defense. Although incorrect in much of what he advocated, the late Bruce Lee was quite correct in his dismissal of classical kata practice, and much of the rigid, formalized stance and movement work that accompanies classical/traditional training. For those who simply love the traditional arts and whose objective is mastery of that type of methodology, there is nothing at all wrong in training exactly as was done hundreds or even thousands of years ago. But for the private citizen of the 21st century or the member of a modern armed service, modernization is absolutely mandatory.

Having said this we want to make a point about the moral and character training that was integral to a large number of the classical systems. Considering the disgraceful level of violence-for-violence sake, and the twisted philosophy of “machismo” and tough-guy-ism that pollutes much of the popular mis-training that goes on today, the modern student of modernized self-defense and close combat would do well to remember that dismissing what was the rather excellent character training that accompanied many of the classical arts’ instruction, is a serious omission. In our view when people train in violent combat arts with and without weapons, and when even moderate expertise places in their hands the possibility of killing someone in self-defense or in war, there is a comensurate responsibility to build the character of a moral, decent, self-controlled and restrained member of society who never abuses or misuses that which he has acquired in knowledge and skills.

Doubtless some will shrug off what we say here, and others will laugh . . . imbecillically believing that to follow our counsel means being less than a “real tough hobre”. Okay, good riddance to the jerks and punks and morons and jackasses. We do not write, speak, or teach for them. We are about training and educating decent, intelligent, mature individuals who wish to bear responsibility for their manners, and for that which they do.

Mastering deadly skills of combat and self-defense, to include modern weapons no less than unarmed hand-to-hand battle skills, has become a virtual necessity for the 21st century urban dweller. The daily news will confirm this. However, the person who simply masters combat skills and cultivates the combat mindset may well become ––– wittingly or unwittingly ––– part of the problem of horrific violent crime, instead of becoming a decent member of normal human society who has learned how to defend himself and his loved ones in an unavoidable emergency. There have already been cases where black belt experts in one of the more popular “arts” have literally encouraged violence and got needlessly into physical encounters ––– sometimes involving their students in these unexcusable debacles!

Yes, we urge that you acquire the toughest and most brutally dangerous and effective methods of self-defense and close combat. But we also urge that along with this acquisition you follow the examples of the true warriors of yore, and be a finer, better human being as well as a competent, capable combatives expert. The mental conditioning demanded in this process is no less severe and important than the technical skills; but mental conditioning for violent combat must be, properly, mental conditioning for violent combat that you cannot avoid, because it takes the form of an attack against you! The only exception to this may occasionally be the case of training for war, when military trainees may well be required to be the initiators of the combat that they engage in.

Okay . . . at this point we are certain that we’ve made it clear why we advocate including classical moral values in whatever your training for self-defense is, as we include it when teaching and practicing American Combato. Those who wish not to understand us won’t ––– and they are no concern of ours.

Here are the classical values we insist upon:

  1. While mastering vicious offensive methods of preemption and followup, and emphasizing fiercely destructive reactions to attacks that catch you off-guard, you must never allow yourself to be the initiator of violence, per se. Nor may you allow yourself to agree to fight with anyone, or conduct yourself in a manner that aggravates a potentially hostile situation or that provokes trouble in any way.

  2. Courtesy should charaterize the manner in which you deal with people, in general. Even in cases where you may find yourself dealing with an impolite or downright rude person, you should control yourself, be courteous, and disengage as soon as possible. Strive mightily to avoid that person again ––– and to steer clear, insofar as possible, of this type of individual.

  3. Within reason and feasibility, always do what you can do to defend an innocent person who cannot defend himself. In today’s world of increasing insanity, injustice, and irresponsibility, coupled with outrageous litigiousness (that the damn “legal system” permits and encourages!) this will likely mean calling the police. However, there may be occasions when you are compelled to act. We recommend never interferring with male/female arguments or fights, and never intervenning when two persons are fighting, per se. (This is not the same as one person being beaten by another, while the individual being beaten is clearly noncombative and helpless). Call the police. 

  4. Never, ever, ever discuss your skills with anyone outside your circle of close, trusted friends or family. Keep quiet and private about combat training, your ability with unarmed or/and weapons, etc. Remember, the more private, secretive, and closed-mouth you are about that which you know and can do, the greater your ultimate effectiveness should an emergency ever require that you bring your skills and knowledge into play.

  5. Never fail to maintain a serious, healthy respect for individuals who are violent and troublemaking. This has nothing to do with “liking” them or with respecting them as people. It is the kind of respect you will have ––– if you are sane ––– for a rabid dog’s, a rattlesnake’s, or a poisonous spider’s capacity to be a threat. Certainly you must act to destroy such creatures when you cannot escape or avoid them, and when they attack you. But you do not underestimate their potential for harm, even as you build confidence and skills with which to oppose them.

  6. Do not deny, be ashamed of, attempt to hide, or mistakenly regard fear as being a bad thing. Nor is it a sign of unmanliness or of cowardice. Fear energy is your great ally where and when you must act in unavoidable defense! The coward is the one who initiates trouble while believing that he is doing so with someone who cannot adequately protect himself. Cowards are despicable, reprehensible bullies. The greatest heroes in history were also at times very, very much afraid. The great lesson is not to give into fear but use its power when you must deal with any situation that must be handled and that has provoked a feeling of fear within you. Master fear and its life-saving energy!

  7. Do not under or over estimate yourself. You are and will always remain a human being. But appreciate that, as you gain skills, knowledge, and confidence, you become able to meet whatever challenges you must. Be willing to do so. Do not demand the impossible (i.e. that you be guaranteed victory). With the right mindset, good tactics, and quality techniques, the odds favor you. Most especially if you have the element of surprise, use it, and go full throttle when you must do so. The greatest warriors in world history have never had (and do not have, today) any guarantee of victory. But their healthy appreciation of their own abilities, and their knowing themselves well, as well as their knowledge of their enemies, has always been ––– and will always be ––– a huge advantage.

  8. No one is ever well trained “enough”. Be humble and deadly serious at all times about keeping yourself and your skills sharp and ready. TRAIN. When others boast or brag, just listen politely. But never allow yourself to do the same, or to rest on your laurels!

We can assure all students of combat and defense arts ––– as we assure our own students ––– that these classical values by far outshine “toughguyism”, “machismo”, and all variants of these insane philosophies and paths of behavor. And they go with modern close combat and self-defense like a left hand glove goes with a right hand glove!