The Tenets of the Martial Arts
Presented by Russell Suthern, Chief Instructor WCMA
Traditional martial arts are more than just fighting. They are a way of life. They were not designed merely to churn out killing machines but to make the practitioner into a better person.
To many Westerners the rules & regulations of the traditional arts seem outdated & restrictive but this is not the case. Traditional martial arts create a framework in which a student can grow, develop & eventually display their own individuality but free from the constraints of ego.
Control & discipline are vital for any growth process. The hardships & difficulties that go with learning the traditional arts provides the vital pressure testing for an individual to identify & rectify their own weak points.
Teaching someone potentially lethal techniques without the requisite moral codes to temper them is unethical. With great power comes great responsibility. The better a martial artist is, the more control & restraint they have to show.
Below is a brief outline of the nine codes of Kung Fu, which will hopefully give one a better understanding of what is required of the student of traditional martial arts.
HUMILITY: Humility does not mean thinking you are not good. It is knowing that you can always get better. Basically it is knowing your place. Even the most advanced practitioner should be humble enough to talk to the newest of beginners. We were all beginners once.
PRIDE: The other side of the coin of humility. True pride is when you have genuinely achieved something to be proud about. Arrogance & ego tend to be pride when someone hasn’t achieved that much to be proud about. Be proud of your instructors, your style & your club but most of all, be proud of yourself. If you don’t love yourself, nobody else is going to love you. Just make sure you train hard so you have something to be proud about!
RESPECT: People need to earn your respect, just as you need to earn the respect of others, so try never to pre-judge people. Talk to them, give them a chance to prove themselves. Have an open mind. You may not agree with someone’s point of view, but you can respect the passion with which they put that view forward.
HONESTY: Always be brutally honest with yourself. It is the only way to really improve. Being honest with others is a bit more tricky. Yes it is important to be honest with everyone, but brutal honesty often leaves you with very few friends, so try to learn the art of tact as well!
COMPASSION: Compassion is not about wanting to help people, but putting yourself in a position where you are able to help them. An example of this is that many students try to teach their fellow students without reaching instructor level themselves. They are eager to help, but do not realise that they may be teaching incorrectly.
Compassion means not wanting to hurt people. One should never spar all out just to satisfy one’s ego, especially if their partner is at a lower level. This is also true for confrontation outside the training hall. Always avoid it if at all possible. One should only fight if your life or the life of a loved one is being threatened!
INTEGRITY: In a nutshell: be true to yourself. (In order to do this, of course, you must first know yourself!) Can you look in the mirror & say you have lived your life correctly? Can you sleep at night? It is hard to keep your integrity. It is hard to have a set of standards & principles & to live by them.
People may not like you for it, but they will respect you for it.
PERSEVERANCE: This means to never give up. Many people give up if they do not get good very quickly, but nothing worth having comes quickly. Martial arts is a marathon, not a sprint, it is the last person standing. If you give up, you can never succeed, if you keep going you have won already. You never know how far you can go until you try because true potential can only be measured retrospectively!
SELF CONTROL: Everyone knows that you must show self control in class & not swear or hurt other students, but traditional Kung Fu requires self control at all times! What happens if you are drunk in the street, or involved in a road rage incident & then are recognised as a member of our club? You would be bringing the name of the club into disrepute, because you represent your club all of the time, not just when you are in uniform. Self control is not selective, it means being in control at all times!
LOYALTY: This does not mean putting other styles or clubs down, it means being proud of your own club & style & having a genuine desire to see it move forward. It is about helping the club to survive & expand so that our style will perpetuate to be passed on to future generations.
CLUB RULES & REGULATIONS.
Bow upon entering & leaving class.
Bow whenever an instructor enters the class.
Bow to your partners before & after 2 person exercises.
Do not wear outside shoes in the training halls.
Do not touch any of the equipment without prior consent from an instructor.
Do not yawn or stand with your hands on your hips, or with your arms folded in class. Always stand at proper attention stance.
When training in lines do not break off without first asking permission.
Show respect & consideration for others at all times.
Do not teach other students in class unless expressly invited to do so.
Do not show techniques outside of class without permission from your instructor.
If you cannot train at a time when you normally do so, let your instructor know- they will be expecting you!
Wear your full uniform correctly & cleanly at all times.
Remove any watches & loose items of jewellery before training as they may get damaged.
Do not swear or use lewd language or behaviour in class, especially if minors are present.
If you have any questions or queries regarding the tenets or club rules, please ask your instructor in class & they will be happy to help you.