Martial Morality

People who do not do kung fu might think of martial arts as somehow encouraging violence, but the exact opposite is true. Practitioners of Chinese Martial arts attach great importance to wude (武德), or martial morality, which is a set of ethical standards strictly followed by Martial arts practitioners as a creed. Chinese Kungfu

Martial arts are the way to train in developing good habits of mind and body and morality is an integral part of this training. In kung fu, the level of a person’s achievement in martial arts is in direct relationship to their morality. Morality is not as simple as “thou shalt not lie, cheat or steal”. It is a total way of acting and thinking.

Martial morality deals with two aspects; “morality of deed” and “morality of mind”. Morality of deed concerns social relations; morality of mind is meant to cultivate the inner harmony between the emotional mind and the wisdom mind. The ultimate goal is reaching “no extremity” (closely related to the Taoist concept), where both wisdom and emotions are in harmony with each other.



Morality of deed includes Humility, Respect, Righteousness, Trust, and Loyalty.

Humility or being humble, admits in a sense that there is something above or beyond your reach. It is the foundation for all learning. Imagine if you felt there was nothing more for you to learn, you would then stop improving. However, by being humble, you will realize that there is always a gap to fill by constant practice and learning and you will always be looking for ways to better yourself.

Respect is the foundation of your relationship with your parents, teachers, your fellow students, other martial artists, and all other people in society. Respect makes a harmonious relationship possible. However, the most important type of respect is self-respect. Respect must be earned; you cannot request or demand it.

Righteousness and Trust, if the kung fu student has these traits he or she will stand up and fight for what he or she believes is right and just, wherever they can.

Loyalty involves faithfulness to ideals of family, teachers, friends, culture, nation and martial style. Without this loyalty, the style would undergo many changes and proper techniques will eventually be lost through time.




Morality of mind consists of Will, Endurance, Perseverance, Patience, and Courage.

Will. The study of martial arts is a lifelong commitment. It is not a hobby that a person drops after a few months or years of practice. It requires a lifetime of devotion and a guiding force through times of personal trouble, laziness and self doubt. Only the will can provide such force.

Endurance, Perseverance, and Patience is the manifestations of a strong will. People who are successful are not always the smartest ones, but they are always the ones who are patient and who persevere. Through cultivating these three elements you will gradually build up a profound mind, which is the key to the deepest essence of learning.

Courage In facing the truth the martial artist must stand up to any situation and deal with it in a courageous way. Courage is different from bravery. For example, if you have the courage to accept a challenge, that means your mind has understood the situation and made a decision. Next, you must be brave enough to face the challenge. Without courage, the bravery cannot last long and be blind and stupid.

Any Chinese martial arts practitioner must understand, demonstrate, and promote these concepts, and work to reestablish martial morality as an integral aspect of all martial arts training.

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Tai Chi Chuan and Ancient Chinese Philosophy

Tai chi chuan is a time-honored scientific way of maintaining physical and mental health. It is an art for strengthening man’s organism, developing his intellect and ennobling his soul. Based on the theory of yin and yang and of the unity of man and nature expounded in ancient Chinese philosophy, it helps the self-actualization and physical and spiritual emancipation of man.



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The name “Tai chi chuan” is held to be derived from the Taiji symbol, commonly known in the West as the “yin-yang” diagram.The term Tai chi chuan translates as “supreme ultimate fist”, “boundless fist”, “great extremes boxing”, or simply “the ultimate”. The concept of the Tai chi (“supreme ultimate”) appears in both Taoist and Confucian Chinese philosophy, where it represents the fusion or mother of Yin and Yang into a single Ultimate. And its theory and practice evolved in agreement with many Chinese philosophical principles, including those of Taoism and Confucianism.


Yin and Yang


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Yin and yang are inseparable from each other; as extreme yin becomes yang and extreme yang becomes yin, the two transform into each other all the time. A similar relationship exists between emptiness and solidity in tai chi chuan movements: the two opposing aspects, coexisting in a single entity, are interdependent and interpenetrable, with each transforming itself into the other all the time.

The philosophy of Tai Chi Chuan is that, if one uses hardness to resist violent force, then both sides are certain to be injured at least to some degree. Such injury, according to tai chi theory, is a natural consequence of meeting brute force with brute force. Instead, students are taught not to directly fight or resist an incoming force, but to meet it in softness and follow its motion while remaining in physical contact until the incoming force of attack exhausts itself or can be safely redirected, meeting yang with yin. Application of strength in taijiquan, for instance, is such that the movements appear to be slow and gentle but are actually charged with powerful force — just like a steel rod wrapped in cotton.


Contradiction and Unity


In fact, all tai chi chuan movements contain a unity of opposites: advance and retreat, upward and downward, slow and fast, stretching and bending, opening and closing, forward and backward, right and left, releasing and withdrawing, rise and fall, inhale and exhale, pull and push. Such a dialectical relationship also exists between motion and stillness in taijiquan exercise.

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The theory of taiji, with all its implications about the transformation of yin and yang and their contradiction and unity, is explained in writing in Lao Zi’s The Classic of the Way and Its Power (Tao Teh Ching) and graphically described in Zhou Dunyi’s Treatise on the Taiji Diagram. These simple yet profound philosophical ideas form the theoretical basis of taijiquan and serve as the guiding principles for the performance of all kinds of taiji movements.

To the minds of some Westerners, Oriental culture is a baffling mystery, and so is the Chinese art of tai ch chuan with its indescribable charm and grace. For them to appreciate the true value of tai chi chuan, it is necessary to know more about the philosophical ideas underlying it.

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Taoism Philosophy in Chinese Kung Fu

Many people have a misconception that Chinese Kung Fu are about fighting and killing. It is actually based on Chinese philosophy and about improving wisdom and intelligence. Taoist philosophy is deeply rooted in and had a profound influence on the culture of China martial arts.

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Taoism (also spelled Daoism) refers to a philosophical or religious tradition in which the basic concept is to establish harmony with the Tao, which is the mechanism of everything that exists. The word “Tao” (or “Dao”) is usually translated as “way”, “path” or “principle”, although the word also means “nature” as in the nature of all things as well as the natural world.

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The life goals or three jewels for a Taoist are compassion, humility and moderation. Taoism is about living within nature’s laws and in harmony with the cycle of nature. It is about recognizing that everything is interconnected, that everything you do affects everything else around you. Taoists seek to live in harmony with the Tao. Kung fu aims to keep us in harmony and balance.


Taolist Philosophy


Taolist developed the concept of Yin and Yang to explain that all things have two aspects. Both are necessary and harmony can only be achieved through seeking a balance of Yin and Yang energies. Examples of Yin and Yang are hot and cold, bright and dark, male and female.

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In Taoism, Qi (pronounced chee) means air or breath; Qi is considered the basis of life. Very simply put, Qi is a kind of vital energy or force that is fluid and constantly changing form. Qi is an important energy which can be used to attain equilibrium. In the human body, Qi (along with blood and fluid) travels along channels known as meridians which lead to the organs. The flow of Qi can be regulated through the use of points along these meridians to enhance health and wellbeing.


Taoist philosophy related to Kung Fu


Kung Fu and traditional breathing exercises also aim to enhance the balance of Yin and Yang and the flow of Qi through the body. This has a positive impact on overall physical and mental health and is a great form of preventative health care.

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Some basic examples of Taoist philosophy related to Kung Fu:

“Control of breathing and effective use of Qi to maximise inner strength, physical power, and promote sound mental health”

“Nothing in the world is softer and weaker than water;

But, for attacking the hard and strong,

there is nothing like it!

For nothing can take its place.

That the weak overcomes the strong, and the soft overcomes the hard,

This is something known by all, but

Practiced by none. “

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The Principle of Yin & Yang

Theory of Yin-yang is an ancient philosophical concept used in traditional Chinese medicine for indicating various antitheses in anatomy, physiology, pathology, diagnosis and treatment, and for explaining the health and disease processes.


What is Yin & Yang?

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Yin and Yang are two fundamental principles or properties in the universe, ever opposing and complementing each other, the ceaseless motion of which gives rise to all the changes in the world.

This Symbol (Yin-Yang) represents the ancient Chinese understanding of how things work. The outer circle represents “everything”, while the black and white shapes within the circle represent the interaction of two energies, called “yin” (black) and “yang” (white), which cause everything to happen. They are not completely black or white, just as things in life are not completely black or white, and they cannot exist without each other.

The yin and yang represent all the opposite principles one finds in the universe. Under yang are the principles of maleness, the sun, creation, heat, light, heaven, dominance, and so on, and under yin are the principles of femaleness, the moon, completion, cold, darkness, material forms, submission, and so on. All the opposites one perceives in the universe can be reduced to one of the opposite forces.

The shape of the yin and yang sections of the symbol, actually gives you a sense of the continual movement of these two energies, yin to yang and yang to yin, causing everything to happen: just as things expand and contract, and temperature changes from hot to cold.




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This production of yin from yang and yang from yin occurs cyclically and constantly, so that no one principle continually dominates the other or determines the other. All opposites that one experiences—health and sickness, wealth and poverty, power and submission—can be explained in reference to the temporary dominance of one principle over the other. Since no one principle dominates eternally, that means that all conditions are subject to change into their opposites.

This cyclical nature of yin and yang, the opposing forces of change in the universe, mean several things. First all phenomena change into their opposites in an eternal cycle of reversal. Second, since the one principle produces the other, all phenomena have within them the seeds of their opposite state, that is, sickness has the seeds of health, health contains the seeds of sickness, wealth contains the seeds of poverty, etc. Third, even though an opposite may not be seen to be present, since one principle produces the other, no phenomenon is completely devoid of its opposite state. One is never really healthy since health contains the principle of its opposite, sickness. This is called “presence in absence”.

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