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Thread: Where did the "humble martial artist" myth came from??

  1. #1

    Where did the "humble martial artist" myth came from??

    I mean,i guess we all have enough experience to know that some martial arts practioners are anything BUT humble. And,if you look at history and martial arts legends and tales,its not something recent. So,when did people started to associate martial artists with "higher moral and spiritual values" considering that,more often than not,that was not the case?
    Last edited by Zui Quan; 07-17-2017 at 04:19 PM.

  2. #2
    In the west it is about a chivalric ideal. I suspect that overlayed the perception of eastern martial folklore.
    I mean, the bandits of the water margin were all sorts of types. Mostly just that, bandits. Some of them cannibals. It's really confusing what qualifies them as heroes. There were however martial scholars and gentlemen (as in gentry) with refined manners among them. It's complicated.

    In all cultures and times martial arts attract the nerds. Kids who obsess about technicalities and tend to be bullied. Those kids grow up and sometimes train hard and become decent fighters. Et voila, your humble martial artist type.

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    There were periods (in certain places) where it wouldn't have been wise (for certain citizens) to flaunt the fact that they were MAists.

    I've been training MAs for more than 40 years, and have met/interacted with a lot of different practitioners and teachers during that time. I can honestly estimate the number of truly 'humble', yet capable MAists I've actually met in person at less than 5 or 6. Keep in mind, 'humble' does not necessarily imply passive or weak, but confident in themselves and their abilities without having to be snooty or boastful, or even just very outspoken about it. I'm not saying that all those who weren't humble were bad people; they just weren't humble or modest about themselves, their methods/systems/lineages, and their abilities (or in some cases, 'alleged' abilities).

    I certainly wasn't humble when I was younger, but time and maturity have changed me. Another reason is I really don't care what people think anymore, so I don't care if anyone thinks that I'm great or thinks I suck, or thinks nothing of me at all. I know myself. I rarely even discuss this stuff anymore, especially in person. However, MANY MAists never outgrow their need to feel validated, no matter how old they get.
    Last edited by Jimbo; 07-17-2017 at 02:46 PM.

  4. #4
    compare russian prison to american prison. humbleness changes with time and environment

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  5. #5
    All of the martial virtue stuff is to balance the practitioner out.
    Real training is desensitizing. In times when it was associated with real warfare it was even worse.
    You promote and pedestalize those ideals so you don't create psychopaths.

    It's not much different in fight gyms today where they talk about only fighting in the ring, getting kids off the street, wanting to be seen as a productive part of the community...
    Quote Originally Posted by YouKnowWho View Post
    This is 100% TCMA principle. It may be used in non-TCMA also. Since I did learn it from TCMA, I have to say it's TCMA principle.
    Quote Originally Posted by YouKnowWho View Post
    We should not use "TCMA is more than combat" as excuse for not "evolving".

    You can have Kung Fu in cooking, it really has nothing to do with fighting!

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    As above, for balance.

    Going back to texts 2000 years old people are talking about studying WenWu, Culture and Martial Arts. The two must always go together as Yin and Yang.

    Martial artists should be cultured for sure as stated above to avoid losing inhibition to violence. But what is more important and often understated is that those who first value culture should in turn come to value martial strength.

    Culture is far greater than any individual or any generation could create alone, so it relies on being inherited. But it is also very delicate. If you are not strong enough to defend your culture then it will merely be usurped. It will not last until the next generation and you will have failed all of your ancestors who maintained it until you. So culture and strength must develop together. To have just Wu (Martial) and no Wen (Culture) one would have the ability to act but no purpose to act for and become a monster. If one had all Wen and no Wu one would have the purpose but not the strength to carry it through. Potency and Act require each other.

    Strength and strife ground us in reality, they remind us of our material nature. Imagine a nation where the cultured forgot how to be strong? Where they thought virtue was just being nice to each other and not hurting anyones feelings. Where their politics, ungrounded by reality, would rely on the idea of a utopia of infinite resources like the foolish imaginings of a child. Why if such a thing happened the world would turn upside down, people would value what a person says more than the actual things they have done, criminals would have their rights considered before victims and students would rebel against their teachers. News would be replaced with propaganda, good people would turn against one another and genuine art would be overtaken by perversity. It would become a crime to have a 'problematic' opinion but violence and riot would go unpunished, even be encouraged. Sounds hellish.

    Prudence, Temperance, JUSTICE, FORTITUDE
    Last edited by RenDaHai; 07-17-2017 at 09:38 PM.
    問「武」。曰:「克。」未達。曰:「勝己之私之謂克。」

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    In many instances nowadays, criminals DO have more rights and considerations in the law and the courts than victims do. And in many places (not just in the West), loud obnoxiousness is rewarded. And often what people say is considered more believable and more important than what their actions show.

    Humbleness can be a part of ethical behavior, but they are not necessarily the same thing. Someone can behave ethically in life and not necessarily be humble, and vice versa.

    I might also point out that "nerdy" types are not necessarily humble, either. Some of the most arrogant, obnoxious *****s I ever met were nerds. Some walk around with a giant-sized chip on their shoulder. If such a type took up MA, became decent at it but kept the same attitude, they would not be humble; their attitudes might even become worse.

    OTOH, there are some people out there you would genuinely NOT want to mess with, that are fully self-confident and aware, yet behave in a humble manner. They are not necessarily formally trained in any specific MA, either, but they have been through the **** and could handle a good percentage of the MA practitioners out there in an actual fight. They know real violence but would rather not deal with it or draw unwanted attention to themselves. Real humbleness as it relates to MA is not about being timid and fearful, but an awareness of the consequences of violence and reckless behavior. And maybe also respecting and valuing other things in life more than self-adulation.
    Last edited by Jimbo; 07-18-2017 at 12:58 AM.

  8. #8
    Those self-serious "nerdy" types are usually just wannabes. Blatancy drops sharply with competence in any field, from my experience.

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    Why would you need to be humble if you sucked?
    Psalms 144:1
    Praise be my Lord my Rock,
    He trains my hands for war, my fingers for battle !

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    The origin of martial humility

    Some of it is also an artifact western translation - the Bible exalts humility (Toward the scorners he is scornful, but to the humble he gives favor. Proverbs 3:34) and the humility is often a characteristic of chivalry in Knights. There's also the Confucian subservience to the ruler, which feeds directly into Bushido - this is the gateway for what most Western practitioners take as the 'warrior's code' because wude in CMA isn't as explicitly described in a single treatise.

    What most mistake for humility in the martial arts, is really just prudence.

    Quote Originally Posted by sanjuro_ronin View Post
    Why would you need to be humble if you sucked?
    All the more reason. It's those sucky boastful types that lead so many astray.
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    Quote Originally Posted by GeneChing View Post
    Some of it is also an artifact western translation - the Bible exalts humility (Toward the scorners he is scornful, but to the humble he gives favor. Proverbs 3:34) and the humility is often a characteristic of chivalry in Knights. There's also the Confucian subservience to the ruler, which feeds directly into Bushido - this is the gateway for what most Western practitioners take as the 'warrior's code' because wude in CMA isn't as explicitly described in a single treatise.

    What most mistake for humility in the martial arts, is really just prudence.

    All the more reason. It's those sucky boastful types that lead so many astray.
    Gene is quite correct.
    There is a lot of western chivalry read back into ancient texts.
    Anyone that has studied Bushido knows that the humility expressed had ulterior motives.
    Sort of the difference between being polite and being nice.
    Psalms 144:1
    Praise be my Lord my Rock,
    He trains my hands for war, my fingers for battle !

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    Quote Originally Posted by GeneChing View Post
    Some of it is also an artifact western translation - the Bible exalts humility (Toward the scorners he is scornful, but to the humble he gives favor. Proverbs 3:34) and the humility is often a characteristic of chivalry in Knights. There's also the Confucian subservience to the ruler, which feeds directly into Bushido - this is the gateway for what most Western practitioners take as the 'warrior's code' because wude in CMA isn't as explicitly described in a single treatise.

    What most mistake for humility in the martial arts, is really just prudence.

    All the more reason. It's those sucky boastful types that lead so many astray.
    I wonder if it is the term "humility" in western languages. Is it the same term in Chinese or Classical Chinese? As you mentioned 武德 isn't 德 the virtue and inner power distinctive in Chinese culture and used in Daoism?

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    Is Humility directly related to classical Chinese Virtue?



    Well, first we must understand what humility is. We all know it as not having too high an estimation of ones capacity. But if it is a virtuous trait then surely it cannot be the same as having too LOW an estimation of ones capacity either as such a thing would not be virtuous at all.

    Wherefore a twofold virtue is necessary with regard to the difficult good: one, to temper and restrain the mind, lest it tend to high things immoderately; and this belongs to the virtue of humility: and another to strengthen the mind against despair, and urge it on to the pursuit of great things according to right reason; and this is magnanimity.--- Saint Thomas Aquinas


    Humility restrains the appetite from aiming at great things against right reason: while magnanimity urges the mind to great things in accord with right reason. Hence it is clear that magnanimity is not opposed to humility: indeed they concur in this, that each is according to right reason. Therefore it belongs to humility to restrain not the desire of difficult things but the estimate thereof.
    --- Saint Thomas Aquinas

    For this purpose he must know his disproportion to that which surpasses his capacity. Hence knowledge of one's own deficiency belongs to humility--- Saint Thomas Aquinas

    Aquinas is certainly a respectable source for classical virtue in the western christian tradition.

    But how does this relate to Chinese Philosophy? Well clearly from the above Humility is part of having an accurate estimation of ones place in the cosmos. This is arguably the central goal of Confucianism, to be Authentic, to know ones proper place in the Cosmos. To be reverent of nature in Confucianism is surely similar to being humble before God.

    The Virtue 敬 -Jing 'Reverence' in Confucianism encompasses humility. Its fair to say Confucianism had a concrete syllabus of study and was what the cultured studied in China. There is no need to have a separate school of WuDe as opposed to the classical virtues. Those who studied Wen Wu culture and martial arts would certainly have studied virtue from a classical Confucian perspective. The Zhong-Yong, the 'doctrine of the mean' would be the classical beginning text.

    Indeed the term GongFu is used extensively in Confucianism as 'the work' of pursuing sage learning. In summary I think I would argue that humility is central to 功夫 in its spiritual sense. Jing 敬 is even arguably the central virtue of Confucianism. So something that would have been very much present in the mind of the martial scholar.
    Last edited by RenDaHai; 07-23-2017 at 03:16 AM.
    問「武」。曰:「克。」未達。曰:「勝己之私之謂克。」

  14. #14
    I believe the virtue humility is inherent to Daoism as well.

    Dao De Jing, #61: The Attribute of Humility
    http://cookdingskitchen.blogspot.de/...-humility.html

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cataphract View Post
    I believe the virtue humility is inherent to Daoism as well.

    Dao De Jing, #61: The Attribute of Humility
    http://cookdingskitchen.blogspot.de/...-humility.html
    Right,
    that very part (section 61) contains the phrase 各得其所, 'each finds its proper place' still used today, which (to me) would accord with Aquinas above, 'correct estimation of capacity' as an integral aspect of humility.
    Last edited by RenDaHai; 07-23-2017 at 04:30 AM.
    問「武」。曰:「克。」未達。曰:「勝己之私之謂克。」

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