Martial Arts Philosophy and the Modern Dojo: How is it Relevant?

With the relatively recent explosion of televised mixed martial arts, disagreements are happening in the martial arts community about what a “real” martial art is. Some say only traditional ones should be counted, as martial arts without traditional philosophy is merely a sport or fighting, while others believe mixed martial arts is as much a martial art as karate or taekwondo.  

No matter your stance, we can all agree that framing martial arts philosophies for a modern audience to understand them better is a positive step forward. Here we break down how martial arts philosophy is relevant for the modern dojo. 


Various Philosophies 

Every traditional martial art has its set of tenets and philosophies that serve as a guide to the martial artists who practice it. For example, taekwondo has courtesy, integrity, perseverance, self-control and indomitable spirit as the five top facets of their martial arts philosophy. These five philosophies guide taekwondo martial artists. Living by a philosophy that revolves around being kind and courteous to others, living life with high moral principles, the will to keep fighting, discipline, mental strength and fortitude is a worthwhile goal. With the power these teachings have – not too mention how they can aid in your martial arts training – they can be applied to other martial arts, including more modern iterations.  


Make it Relevant 

These philosophies will always be relevant but younger students may not fully understand each philosophy. Make sure you give comprehensible analogies. Explore new ways to help teach kids your values. This will make it much easier for your younger students to learn and apply these teachings.  

Your young adult students can be reached differently than previous generations of the same age. Millennials tend to want meaning, look to collaborate, and enjoy their freedom of choice. Taking these aspects into account can help you frame martial arts philosophies in a way they can better internalize. Be sure that your younger students understand these concepts early on and it will set a great foundation for you to build upon, as they progress to higher belt ranks. 


Create the Culture 

The culture created by your martial arts school starts with the master and then trickles down to the instructors and the students. To create a culture based on the martial arts philosophy of your school, you’ll have to guide your instructors towards making sure each class touches on these philosophies, as well as disciplining students who go against the tenets of the school. These mistakes are great opportunities for students and teachers alike to learn the value of your martial arts philosophy. 


Test it 

Testing understanding of martial arts philosophy is a great way for your students to internalize the fundamental teachings of your school. Many governing martial arts bodies like the World Taekwondo Federation have a curriculum for your students to study and apply to both their training and their lives outside of the dojo. This helps you figure out your study materials for each belt level and, with every promotion, your students learn more about your martial arts philosophy. When they internalize these values, students and parents will find positive behavioral changes. Fighting is a last resort; instilling this notion into your students is a lot easier if they have internalized your martial arts philosophy. 


How do you instill the importance of martial arts philosophy to your students? Let us know on our Facebook and follow us on Twitter and Google+, to stay up to date with all of your ChampionsWay news.