Most schools do not allow discussions about current political events/people and current religious events/people as a matter of fact: things can get ugly if people can't keep their opinions in check.

I wonder: should those discussions be allowed? Should they be a necessary part of the training? Are schools which forbid these discussions keeping their students from an important part of the growth process? Will they sow dissent in the school and eventually lead to its dissolution? Are they healthy to have?

Clarification: I do not mean students chatting during training sessions. I mean students chatting between themselves.

My concern is about the dynamics that can result inside a school - not from the point of view of the students, but from the point of view of the school.

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    @closevoter-- could you discuss your reasoning? For the OP-- when are these discussions occurring? During technique, sparring, after class, in the changing room? Aug 15, 2012 at 20:37
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    "Should"? Who is the arbiter? What's the context? Which MAs use politics and/or religion as part of their training? I don't understand the question. Aug 15, 2012 at 21:13
  • @DaveNewton I'm confused too. I was thinking just general politics and religion conversations for chit-chat. The subject is way too broad. I don't think question is very constructive (or related to martial arts per the scope in the faq) as it is currently.
    – user15
    Aug 16, 2012 at 2:40
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    Could you define your terms? Do you mean politics as martial art organisation(s) politics? Do you mean religion as in boggly stuff such a ki/chi and other magic within martial arts? If so, could you edit your question a little as I think that would be very much on topic. If, on the other hand, you refer to politics and religion as outside of a martial art context, then you question is overly broad. Aug 16, 2012 at 13:41
  • Concur with Mr. Newton. I can't imagine a non-anecdotal answer to this question. I think the question may be interesting, and even important, but I don't think it is constructive as we use the term.
    – MCW
    Sep 13, 2012 at 16:19

5 Answers 5


I think schools can have whatever rules they think is best. The idea people "should" do a particular thing is a bit bogus, it's really whatever they want. They could require everyone to wear pink and speak klingon if they like.

You just don't have to go to those schools if you don't like the rules.

I personally have never been to a MA school which has the particular rule you are talking about.

  • Yup, their school, their rules. My previous karate school it was not uncommon for political talk with the head instructor before class started. Also talked about poker playing too, Aug 15, 2012 at 22:04

I view the dojo as a place to train and lean a martial art. Therefore anything that is not directly related to this, I will either ignore as a student or stomp on as an instructor. I include in this both politics as martial art organisation(s) politics and religion as in boogly and magic stuff.

Now, after class and in the pub/bar, it is the perfect time to talk, debate, and re-make the world. Those conversation should be happening. We have earned at a terrible price the freedom of speech and opinions. Do not see it wasted. You never know what you could learn by just listening. Maybe even apply your martial art principles to debating?

There is a place and a time for everything.


Keith's answer hits the ultimate essence of the issue - it really doesn't matter because you can always look for a new dojo.

That said, no matter what, political/religious thought should not be interleaved with training. If that is the case, you are no longer in a dojo, you are in a religious/political school that is teaching you martial arts as well.

Before or after class it doesn't matter, but during class, if you're being given lessons on political or religious thought, you're being turned into a weapon for someone else.

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    So you're opposed to the bevy of Christian karate in the Bible belt? What about Buddhism in karate, or Daoism in judo? Where's the line on religion? Aug 16, 2012 at 14:07
  • Aikido and Omotokyo would be another example... Aug 16, 2012 at 15:31
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    Religion and philosophy are some of the main influences in the development and history of martial arts. You don't have to subscribe to them if you don't want to, but you can't just absolutely and completely ignore those aspects if you are training in one of those particular arts.
    – user15
    Aug 16, 2012 at 15:41
  • @MattChan "if you are training in one of those particular arts" is the key phrase. One's rejection might lead one to train in a non-religious art. Aug 16, 2012 at 16:17
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    +1 because I agree, though I think "blindly following" applies equally to technique and philosophy. Aug 16, 2012 at 17:42

I don't think the problem should come up.

If people are talking so much that it's disrupting the class, that's a problem regardless of what the topic is. It doesn't matter if it's about their hair and nails, politics, religion, bowel movements, the fights on TV last Saturday, or their charity work.

I like a rather loose class dynamic with a lot of socializing. I'm often the guy talking about the fights last Saturday. But if it's more than a few back-and-forth sentences while waiting in line for forward rolls, something is wrong. That something is not what is being talked about (though general etiquette should be mandatory) but the fact that people are gabbing during class. Training harder is the solution. Failing that, discipline should be expected. Natural consequences are always best--people have a hard time pontificating about their favorite skinhead band when they're in jigoku-jime.

That said, although I don't agree with the political views espoused in many training facilities I've been a part of, I absolutely think that politics and religion and philosophy and sex and life and work and money and hair and nails and bowel movements should all be fine to talk about, within the bounds of etiquette. Such talk should be minimal during class, but copious before class, in the changing room, and at the diner after class.


I don't think the instructor should be promoting his/her political/religious beliefs to the students, especially as a part of classes. As an instructor, you are in a position of authority and shouldn't be using your position as a "soap box" to influence the beliefs of your students in this manner.

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