I've been wondering for some time now whether it is logically/morally defensible to be an absolute pacifist while practising a martial art. It's particularly troubling because I'm in that situation and I haven't - as yet - found a resolution to what appears to be an adherence to two conflicting philosophies.

I am not sure what you mean by "an absolute pacifist." If you mean that you would not even disarm a person who was attempting to kill you, then you may have a problem reconciling it with practising a martial art. However, there does not seem to be any good nonreligious reasons to be an absolute pacifist in this sense. One can be a pacifist in a fairly absolute sense by refusing to ever seriously harm another person, and though there might be situations in which even this view would be hard to defend, it is somewhat more plausible than absolute pacifism. Another even more plausible form of pacifism is refusing ever to kill another person.

If practising a martial art does not involve practising killing anyone then it is not incompatible with the most plausible form of pacifism that I mentioned above. If practising a martial art does not involve practising seriously harming anyone, then it is not incompatible with the somewhat plausible form of pacifism that I mentioned above. I assume that practising a martial art does involve practising disarming someone who is attempting to kill you. However, I see no problem with this, as I cannot see why anyone would hold absolute pacifism in the sense I gave it.

You refer to absolute pacifism and practising a martial art as two conflicting philosophies. That seems to me to be a misuse of the term "philosophies." Although pacifism may be the result of some philosopical view, it need not be, and although practising a martial art may be prompted by acceptance of some philosophical view, it need not be. One can practise a martial art simply for the exercise, mental as well as physical and yet be committed to never using it to kill or seriously harm another person. So there need not be any conflict at all.

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