An aikiblog post
commented on a much more famous (apparently) martial arts blog by karateka Rob Redmond, 24 Fighting Chickens, covering posts about why karate practice is not noble
and why martial arts do not make people more moral
While I sort-of agree, I mainly disagree quite pointedly. Karate isn't a noble pursuit? I don't think it's quite as simple as that. Redmond mentions earning a living for your family as being more noble, but personally I think that's more of a biological imperative (I'm feeling very sceptical of free will these days, apologies). Maybe I'm deluding myself (it's happened before), but when participating in a martial art, you're helping to propagate it, extend its lifespan. You don't have to get to black belt to do this, you can be a lowly talentless idiot and yet your going will suck in other people, directly and indirectly. People who would otherwise leave, or try it once and not come back, will stay, partly because of you. You're spending your time/effort/money, which could be spent on many other things, participating in a form of physical education which I daresay every human being on the planet should have (not necessarily karate, I just think it would be better if everyone knew the basics of a martial art, for self-defence if nothing else) but which none of your descendants will necessarily participate in. It will benefit other people, even if you go there for purely selfish reasons.
And what of aikido, for which one of the main goals is preventing the attacker
from being injured? I can't help thinking that's a step well beyond the vast majority of martial arts in terms of nobility. Is it attainable for your average aikidoka? I doubt it, but nevertheless it's an ideal to be strived for.
As for martial arts making people more moral. I do agree mostly with Redmond here. I think if you're a bad person, you can learn a martial art and it won't make you good. However, (and to be fair Redmond mentions this) we have no way to measure morality, self-confidence, maturity, etc. So saying "I think", "I believe" and so on is of limited usefulness, because you can think and believe all you like, someone else may believe the exact opposite and will be just as correct because there's no proof one way or the other.
The aikiblog post mentions Seagal's recurring infidelity and an aikido instructor who became involved with an under-age student. But, we have no way to gauge morality, so perhaps these people were really really bad before they did aikido and aikido made them more moral? Perhaps they would have behaved even worse had they not done aikido? No way to tell, unfortunately. And just to round off my argument, a sample of two is far too small to have any kind of meaning for a population numbering in the hundreds of thousands.
P.S. I am grumpy.