Ethics, also known as moral philosophy is a sub topic of philosophy that addresses questions about morality. In this regard, it posts question such as "what is the proper thing to do? And what is virtuous?
When one attempts to seek ethics in training martial arts doctrines one will find that this concept is not included in neither theoretical nor practical parts of said training martial art. Why is that? It was considered either unnecessary or inapplicable.
The main reason is that early on it was forbidden to study two training martial arts simultaneously. The student was expected to blindly follow his master and be completely loyal to him in every aspect; his theory, his spirit and his morals.
Therefore, to this day; you will encounter unjustified loyalty to a certain type of training martial art or master. This derives from said master and/or specific form of martial art being the first the student discovered, unaware to better, more compatible or more ethical forms.
Only coincidence of chance enabled Imi, Founder of Krav Maga, to cross these lines and, since no one was there to forbid him; allowing him to collect the best features from each training martial art and bring them all together into what is known today as Krav Maga.
Why do we need ethics at all? Can't we all just do what we think is best?
When Eli Avigzar left Imi, his and my teacher as well, I considered leaving with him. Eventually I decided to remain true to the notion behind Krav Maga and its founder and not to limit myself to a certain teacher. Thinking back it was the best thing to do, and to this day I remain loyal to the concept and not to any persona pretending to be Imi's' successor. When I was asked what the difference between Eli and Imi's organizations is I enthusiastically attempted to demonstrate a certain exercise that Eli revised, wanting to emphasize the difference. "And what else?" my friend asked me – I was dumbstruck, realizing that in fact there was no real difference. Only over time Imi's ideas led to a different, better place.
This anecdote demonstrates why ethics is relevant. The next step is to adopt certain ethical rules to operate by in this competitive, ego flooded market. Here are a few principles you may chose to act by:
The test of time
any act you still chose to perform in five years time, long after money, ego and emotion are forgotten, leaving only the deed itself and the positive consequences that follow.
The essence test
any act that serves the essence of Krav Maga :"That one may walk in peace".
The pride test
a deed you stand behind and are proud of.
The truth test
any deed that derives from within and not from external incentives,
The conceptual test
any idea or ideal that survives the test of time regardless of its inventor, because people will eventually die.
The friendship test
any act aimed to better serve your trainees.
The legacy test
what will you leave behind you in terms of possessions and or knowledge? Generations of warriors or people who are better to themselves and to society?
The decision test
here are a few relevant case studies;
- You have moved to a new home that is too far from the club where you have been teaching for a long time. Will you leave your students behind without an instructor or will you refer them to a worthy substitute from a different martial art?
- One of your trainees has reached your highest training group and doesn't have anyone to train with anymore. Will you keep him with you or will you recommend he switches to a different instructor who can help him advance further? What is more important to you in this case? Your student's best interest or yours?
- A better technique is available from a different martial art than the one you practice; will you embrace it or refuse to do so just because it belong to someone else?
- Another instructor is arriving to practice; will you dismiss him regardless of his level or will you respectfully welcome him to train?
I was privileged to have had seven teachers. Hopefully I took the best from each of them. My goal is to impart this knowledge to future Krav Maga generations. There is great relevance to ethics in martial arts. It will make us worthy role models instead of a bunch of fools claiming to have no matching opponents in status and knowledge.
More to the point, if someone is looking for an example to ethics Imi would be it; never took a cent to his own pocket; never hurt a sole to, the point where he was cautious to comment to his student because he may hurt their feelings.
Therefore, the most important test of all to me is the Imi test; always keeping in mind whether my acts and choices would please him or make him resentful.