The Code Of The Masters is part of the oath that we take as black belts.

“I will avoid, rather than block, I will block rather than strike, I will strike rather than maim, and I will maim rather than kill, because all life is precious and none can be replaced”

As martial artists, we have a great responsibility to choose the appropriate action for each circumstance.

Some martial arts schools choose the action, “one shot, one kill” If you are attacked, than you use overwhelming force to disable the attacker. At first glance, this may seem like a valid response, but it is short-sighted and creates more problems later on. Society has made many laws to govern our actions. If you break those laws, than society will punish you. You might find yourself subject to criminal charges, or sued by someone in a civil lawsuit.

Criminal charges are, “innocent until proven guilty”. It is easier to defend your actions in a criminal case. “I feared for my life”, “There was two of them”, “I was protecting my spouse who was attacked”, etc……

Civil cases are, “reasonable doubt”. You may avoid criminal charges, but then find yourself fighting civil charges. Civil charges are harder to defend yourself against in court.

Another aspect of defending yourself, is your own code of moral conduct. “Did I do the right thing?”

Over the thousands of years that there have been martial artists, they have created their own rules to govern their actions. With power comes the responsibility to deal with others in the best way possible. Without a code of action, and the discipline to follow that code, we create weapons without safeties on them. As instructors, in the martial arts, we need to train our students in both the physical skill sets, and also the mental discipline skill sets of proper conduct.

The code of the masters has been established as a guideline for martial artists.

Here are those keywords, again, and a brief description on each:

Avoid: Avoiding is more than just avoiding an attack. It is avoiding the situation. Avoid going to places that put you at risk of an attack. You should also avoid being around people that have issues with you that could lead to an attack.


Block: Blocking an attack is generally less damaging to the attacker, than striking them. Blocking their attack may discourage them from further attacks on you. It also helps your defense in a criminal or civil case.


Strike: Notice that striking is the 3rd option. Avoiding and blocking comes before striking, as you try to find options for defense. Striking means more chance of injury, both for your opponent and for you.

Maim: Severely hurting your opponent is the next level in the attack. Long-lasting or permanent injuries are the result. This happens when previous actions have failed to avoid or stop the attack.

Kill: The ultimate solution against an attacker. If they are dead, they can no longer attack you. In the code of the masters, this is seen as failure to control the situation with other options. “All life is precious, and none can be replaced”.

I see the martial arts as a way of “Threat Assessment” and “Proper Response” to that threat. What is happening and what is the best way to handle the situation. If your friend is playing around, your response will be different than someone that is trying to kill you, and all the levels between those two situations. We will explore this topic in future blogs too.

I would appreciate your feedback on this subject.



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