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Author’s Talk Will Explore Ties Between Zen and Martial Arts

Published on November 30, 2012

What does a religion known for teaching non-violence have to do with martial arts disciplines designed to cripple or kill? A great deal, it turns out.Jeff Mann

“Popular culture has long exploited the image of the serene Buddhist monk who is master of deadly hand-to-hand combat,” said Jeffrey K. Mann, associate professor of religion at Susquehanna University and author of the new book, “When Buddhists Attack: The Curious Relationship Between Zen and the Martial Arts” (Tuttle, 2012). “While that may romanticize the relationship between a philosophy of non-violence and the art of fighting, the link between Zen and the martial arts is not only real, but natural.”

Mann, a martial arts practitioner, will discuss the origins of Buddhism and the ethos of the Japanese samurai Dec. 5 at 7 p.m. in Isaacs Auditorium, in Susquehanna University’s Seibert Hall. He will discuss both the history and current practice of Zen as it relates to disciplines like judo, swordsmanship, archery and karate, in addition to the ethics that inform this unusual relationship.

“When I first started exploring this material, I was interested in the benefits of Zen on the practice of martial arts,” he said. “It helps the mental game, if you will. But as time has gone by, that interest has shifted. Where I initially looked at Zen as a tool to help my martial arts, I’ve come to see the martial arts as a path to self-cultivation.”

The event is free and open to the public, with books available for purchase and signing.


Karen M. Jones

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