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Here's a short piece from our methodology and pedagogy notebook:
The Fencing Master:
Seven Principles of the Profession of Armes
1. The Fencing Master must be the living embodiment of swordsmanship; an example
of the highest standards of impeccable integrity and courtesy, as well as knowledge
2. The Fencing Master is a perfect model of truthfulness, courage and loyalty.
3. The Fencing Master believes in the innate dignity and worth of every human
being and that the proper study and practice of fencing will enhance that dignity
4. The Fencing Master believes in the limitless potential for excellence that
lies within every person and is committed to students' development, not only
as fencers, but as complete human beings and citizens of the world.
5. The Fencing Master protects the physical and emotional welfare of every student.
The Master does everything possible to ensure the students' safety and well-being.
6. The Fencing Master respects the uniqueness of each and every person and assesses
every student on that student's own merits without bias or prejudice.
7. Because the practice of fencing is based on the exercise of lethal force,
it is the responsibility of the fencing master to teach about the consequences
and ramifications of using such force from a variety of perspectives: physical,
psychological, social, philosophical and legal.
Thoughts? Comments? Anything you'd like to add? Why?
Do you have anything similar that you share with students, or that you've seen elsewhere?
I have a question about number 3, actually. Now I am not a master by any stretch of the imagination so I am just curious as to what this implies in a broad academic sense. It is a hard concept for me to understand because I tend to have a somewhat gloomy outlook of humanity. ;)
My first thought would be that since classical fencing, or any martial art, is based on "the exercise of lethal force", there should be some precidence as to why it exists. That is, it did not become into being spontaneiously,...people needed to learn this for protection, survival, etc. If that is true, then this leaves the potential open for people who do not have or have surrendered this innate dignity and worth.
My question is, how is "dignity and worth of every human being" interpreted and reconsiled with martial styles that, by their very nature, inflict injury on another person who in turn is trying to injure you? Also, is there room for the "blank slate" concept where a person does not have an inate leaning to anything?
Felix, this could be the start of a very long conversation.
But here's my view of it.
By "innate worth" I mean the value of life, itself. That innate worth cannot be relinquished. It has nothing to do with what a person does or how they behave. Therefore there are and can be none without it.
No, not even GWB.
The question behind "the exercise of lethal force" is WHY? For what reason. Here, fortunately, the laws concerning self-defense and such have spelled it out pretty well, in my opinion. You may use lethal force to avoid grave bodily injury or death from a criminal attack that is imminent and otherwise unavoidable. You may also use that force to protect innocent persons.
What we translate as "martial art" is a rather unfortunate term, if not well-understood.
The definition with which I agree is "the cultivation of fearlessness." (see Shambala: the sacred way of the warrior). I'm told that the original meaning of the Chinese "martal art" was "to turn aside a spear" ie, illustrating it's essentially defensive nature.
Ah! Innate worth is not equal to human's actions. I was interpreting worth, very differently. Rather than looking at behavior and decisions, the worth lies in the very fact that it exists in the first place. The behavior of a person as to whether that worth is used or not is a separate matter. O.K. I think I see what you are saying.
"Martial Art",... yea, it seems to assume a lot and leaves out even more. I was not aware of the "spear" definition. I will have to check out that book you referenced. It makes sense especially when trying -not to be hit-.
There is also the word "Qung-Fu", which orginally translates to "hard work" according to The Essence of Shaolin White Crane-Martial Power and Qigong(Dr. Yang, Jwing-Ming). I only mention it because it seems to have undergone a similar transformation as "martial art". Transmuting from something balanced and focused on the practitioner, to something more outward and attack based.
With the exception of number seven I do not see how these principles are any different for the fencing master than for any other fencer. Is this a statement of intent, that a fencing master must _maintain_ such principles? Perhaps taken out of context (the corpus of your "methodology and pedagogy notebook") this differentiation is unclear.
Why are these principles regarded to be "of the Profession of Armes" and not "of fencing" in general?
Extraordinary knowledge and skill bring extraordinary responsibilities.
The master is in a position to do great harm unless committed to certain moral imperatives.
The same fiduciary relationship that exists between master and student does NOT exist between two random fencers.