Journal of Martial Arts Anthropology

Abstract - General canon of the philosophy of karate and taekwondo

Background. The broad humanistic and socio-cultural theoretical perspectives applied in this study provide a foundation for the Humanistic Theory of Martial Arts, the General Theory of Fighting Arts, and a philosophical-anthropological approach to martial arts. Hence, conceptual language has been adopted for this investigation.
Problem. The aim is to assess and identify the ethical values and axiology that create a general canon of karate and taekwondo philosophy. Specifically, this paper seeks to identify the values which are most often emphasised and prioritised.
Method. The discussion is based on an analysis of a comprehensive review of scientific and specialist literature. The author here uses the method of long-term (over 40 years) participant observation in the karate and other martial arts environment, and a method of qualitative analysis of the content of the related literature. The analysis also uses a deduction method and a comparative method.
Results. Values for trainees vary significantly. While young people are interested in sport as a way to compete, for some individuals the practice of karate or taekwondo mainly means a search for values transcending the world of sport. In the multiform ways of karate and taekwondo, which continue to change in a number of directions (trends), it is not easy to determine a common or basic axiological canon. The essential values presumably include utilitarian gains, i.e. combat skills, and – indirectly – a sense of security. There are also social gains: the teacher’s authority, an attitude of respect for tradition and for another human being, courage and responsibility; self-realisation gains: self-discipline and perseverance, emotional self-control, humility and perfectionism; vital gains: development of positive health potential and psychophysical competence.
Conclusions. The ethical values and ‘symbolic security’ are specific within the cultural tradition of Confucian civilisation. Together they are a set of generally accepted universal values.