View Full Version : the dark side

24th September 2003, 13:49
The other night I watched a Korean film called Musa(kor) or Bushi(jap) or Warriors(eng). I don't think it is available outside of Korea or China yet. Set 400 years ago, it is the story of a group of Koreans fighting their way across China. It had some incredible fight scenes and realistic scenes of war. But more important, it had very well drawn characters (one of whom was played by Zhang Ziyi), who you grow to care about.

Strangely, I had a hard time sleeping after watching it. Now, I have seen hundreds of kung fu films, and personally train almost daily, in traditional weapons such as the sword, bow, and naginata.
In the dojo, despite the seriousness, I have a great time. Yet for some bizarre reason, this film served as a strong reminder that these things were made to kill.

I feel like I looked deep within and found a dark place. Is it bad to take delight in studying these systems which were originally created as a way to better take human life? Has anyone else felt this way? How do justify it to yourself?

Joel Simmons
27th September 2003, 02:54
Aloha Ted,

That movie played down here about a year ago. I didn't get a chance to see it, but I was told that it was very well made.

As for your other questions...no I have never felt bad for taking delight in studying a martial art. I suppose it depends on which martial art you study and its own particular history, but most martial arts are not purely martial. Hence, the addition of the word art in the phrase martial arts. In the past, as well as in the 21st century, the practitioners of these arts have acknowledged that its not all about finding an easier way to make somone else push-up the posies.

If you feel that all you are learning is how to dismember and maim other people more efficiently, then I wouldn't call what you are learning a martial art, I would call it learning to be a thug. Without sounding too cliche or romantic, I would say that if you're not improving yourself as a person on another level besides just physical technique, you're not a martial artist.

30th September 2003, 19:36
Hi Ted,

Have you read Ellis Amdur's books and essays generally? Duelling With O-Sensei is particularly interesting in the way in which he addresses the dark side of martial art(ists). It is quite fascinating to me, for example, how it is in aikido (ostensibly about peace and harmoniousness) dojos in particular that he has seen and experienced some of the most outrageous abuses of power. Perhaps you know his books and his website www.ellisamdur.com
If not, I suggest you check them out. He is in fact the only person I know of to breach this subject deeply.

Interesting questions in this regard:
a) How does one go about entering a particular martial tradition when each tradition is regarded as suitable to a certain character and also is regarded as developing a certain character.

b) Is this dark side endemic to the particular artist, the art, or both?


Chuck Clark
1st October 2003, 05:02
It seems to me that it's quite impossible to weild the "sword that gives life" without first possessing the "sword that takes life." Until we have access to "killing mind" in its deepest sense we can't decide to "not" take life or use other varying levels of force.

Great responsibility goes along with skill in any martial art. With time we may even develop the compassion and wisdom to solve our problems by uplifting our fellow man and doing as little harm as possible.

1st October 2003, 05:36
Originally posted by cybermaai
The other night I watched a Korean film called Musa(kor) or Bushi(jap) or Warriors(eng). I don't think it is available outside of Korea or China yet
Ted, FYI, the latest release of ER videos is carrying trailers for this (Called "Musa" in Japanese, so they're keeping the Korean title), which will be released on video in Korean with Japanese subtitles starting this Friday (3 October).

Ben Bartlett
1st October 2003, 05:44
That's been out in the States for a while. I saw it a few months ago; can't remember exactly when. Pretty decent flick, I must say.