“The warrior who conquers a thousand times a thousand men in battle is not as great as the man who conquers himself. That man is the greatest of warriors.” ÔÇô Buddha
Martial arts, in all its categories, be it karate, kung fu/wushu, ninjitsu and many other have for a long time existed as fighting arts. As a result of this misinformation, many a parents have always dissuaded their kids from practicing martial arts on the belief that they are learning to be aggressors or undisciplined street brawlers.
But, what exactly do martial arts teach?
Throughout their existence, martial arts have been used more as a way for people to conquer themselves and to defend themselves. The knowledge hitherto was to be used as a last resort ‘when and if there is no alternative to fight.
‘Learn the ways to preserve, rather than destroy, Avoid rather than harm, Harm rather than hurt, Hurt rather than maim, Maim rather than kill, Kill rather than be killed, For life is precious and can never be replaced,’ so reads the Shaolin Creed.
According to local karate instructor, Sensei Mpho Bakwadi, martial arts is a disciplined sport that encourages self discipline and physical fitness rather than fighting.
“The arts teach you not to go around fighting or causing fights. Rather, they are to be used only in self defence and this is only when there is no other alternative but to fight,” Bakwadi told Standard Sport.
Sensei Bakwadi says as such, martial arts not only teaches exponents how to control their tempers and emotions but also teaches them respect. “I have in my life as an instructor seen kids who were deemed troublesome or unruly change once they took to studying Karate. The sport helped them understand life,” Sensei Bakwadi said.
His sentiments were echoed by Botswana Karate Association (BOKA) president Gift Nkwe who described martial arts as a ‘character building’ sport.
“If you take karate, for instance, it does not allow any of its exponents to instigate fights. Rather, they should avoid fights in any way possible,” said Nkwe.
The BOKA president says the sport rather helps mould children on self control and etiquette. Both Bakwadi and Nkwe say that martial arts also encourage hard work and cleanliness among exponents. They say as such, in karate, learners are clothed in white so that they can take good care of their ‘gear,’ teaching them in the process the values of cleanliness.
For his part, Kung Fu exponent and trainer, Wadah Marumo, concurred with both Bakwadi and Nkwe, adding that continued practice and perfection of martial arts instils discipline and self belief ‘and, as such, a person is well trained to avoid fights as he has nothing to prove against anyone.’
He says while the martial arts equip exponents with the ability to defend themselves, it also at the same time helps them to always be in control of their actions and feelings.
“True martial artists desist from fighting and only those who are not well trained go around instigating fights,” Marumo said. “Kung Fu teaches one to have inner peace and to be balanced in his judgement,” he added.
He further said that the term Kung Fu means ‘hard work,’ instilling in practitioners the value of working hard, which leads to perfection.
He described martial arts and, in particular, the art of Kung Fu as ‘a way of life.’