I was reading your article on ethics of tae kwon do and was wondering if you think entering a competition is ethical because we are using our abilities to fight to win with no good cause at the end of it since we are using violence to win trophies not to stop violence. Are we adding violence in the world by fighting in these competitions? Also, you say that it’s unethical to throw the 1st punch so what do we do in a competition?
Martial art sparring competitions are mutually agreed contests of fighting abilities. In a competition, you are not required to compete; if you do not want to fight, then you do not have to enter the competition or, even if you are entered, you do not have to enter the ring against an opponent you do not want to fight.
There are those who think dodge ball is a violent game and, as such, it should be banned from school playgrounds. Violence is in the eye of the beholder. Some things are commonly considered violent, while the violent nature of some things is highly debatable. Some think full-contact sparring is violent and that no or light-contact sparring is not violent.
You presume there is no good result from a competition. What about the honing of your fighting skills. You cannot effectively fight violence unless you have the skills needed, the ability to use those skills, and the willingness to use those skills regardless of the consequences. Competition fighting is as close to actual fighting as you may get without actually being in a fight.
No person or county has ever defeated violence without using violent means. Talking about peace and non-violence and loving your enemies may be make good philosophical conversation, but when facing a violent opponent, if you are not able to effectively block the violence and counter it with violence, you will die. When facing a person who wants to kill you, tell him you love him and give him a hug, and see if it works.
Violence is only bad when it is used in bad ways. There is always the philosophical argument about what is good and what is bad, and how the determination about what is good or bad depends upon the viewpoint, cultural upbringing, religion, etc. of the person making the determination. However, the distinction between good and bad violence is easy to determine—bad violence is that which is a threat to the person or the person’s family, home, livelihood, country, etc.
Being capable of violence is not the same as being violent. With proper training, a sniper who can kill anyone with no remorse while on the battlefield can be a caring husband and father who never get angry with others while at home. Unethical, uncontrolled violence is always bad. Ethical, controlled, violence used in a judicious manner can be a good thing.
As stated above, a competition is a mutually agreed upon contest. Therefore, the “no first strike” concept does not apply. Even if a person thinks the concept does apply, the person only needs to let the opponent attack first, avoid or block the attack, and then counterattack.