To a person who’s never studied martial arts, the idea of practicing jujutsu to refine one’s sense of compassion may seem counterintuitive. How does practicing the techniques of combat instill compassion in a person?
Jujutsu (like many martial arts) is a sublime approach to personal development, and while the techniques are brutally effective, their usefulness extends well beyond a means of protecting one’s self and family. The techniques are also a means to develop the mind/spirit. Practicing jujutsu techniques is not unlike practicing yoga. If you’ve done yoga, you know that the practice involves much more than stretching—one must develop a keen, focused awareness that incorporates the breath to link the whole mind to the practice. This is true of jujutsu as well. And because the techniques become increasingly dangerous to perform at higher levels, a jujutsuka must continually evolve his (or her) awareness to keep from hurting himself or his training partner.
Because jujutsu is mostly practiced with another person, compassion arises quite organically. Not only does someone execute the technique, but he or she receives the technique as well. This back and forth is an exercise in building empathy; one comes to understand very well how much a wristlock might hurt. If a rational and stable person understands the effects of the techniques he is employing, he (or she) will be less inclined to use them frivolously. In most cases, honest and rigorous training tends to weed out the unstable and potentially dangerous practitioners, although a bad teacher can certainly have bad students.
If you’re new to martial arts, I suggest finding a school where the students treat each other with respect. It might be hard, at first, to distinguish people training hard from people trying to hurt each other, but one can quickly get a sense of the difference due to the different emotions involved. Prof. Rennie (from Mizu Shin Tao) has often stated that a martial art is a metaphor for life, which I think is very true. If you find that metaphor concerns aggression and dominance, perhaps you should consider a rewrite.
“Courtesy must be practiced, not only during the karate training period but at all times in one’s daily life.”