Part 1

Traditionally, the study of the martial arts consists of both the practice of

skills and the adherence to a code of conduct, or ethics. The skills learned from

martial arts practice hone our physical bodies, sharpen our reflexes and

strengthen our resolve. This should be counterbalanced by a good character.

The philosophy of the martial arts is to achieve a harmonious set of values by

individuals who live by a code of peace, wisdom, love and self-discipline. The

primary goal of learning the martial arts is to become a person of better

understanding who lives with a sincere appreciation of life.

A good quality of life also requires being healthy both mentally and physically.

The martial arts can not exist without the mental aspect, which is the foundation

that physical improvements are built upon. The martial arts is much more than

just a workout, it is an alteration, both physically and mentally, of ones lifestyle

that will last a lifetime.

Any worthwhile accomplishment requires a certain amount of dedication, effort

and discipline. This is no less evident in martial arts training. Every aspect of the

martial arts requires the harmonization of the mind and body. This harmonization

is achieved through mental focus and concentration, combined with proper

breathing techniques and correct physical techniques.

The aim of the martial arts is the development of an indomitable heart by the

practitioner. Not only should self-defense skills be attained, but more importantly,

the refinement of the individual’s character. A well-rounded personality can be

realized only if the spirit is right. The continuing practice of the martial arts

cultivates a person’s mind and body; not to use it as a means to vent ones anger,

frustration or emotional problems, but help build a better community in which to

grow one’s family and friends.

As serious Martial Arts practitioners, we should accept a philosophy of nonviolence

– a physical confrontation should be avoided whenever possible. The

use of force is condoned only in self-defense or in the defense of those who are

defenseless. It does not condone meaningless rivalry, foolish stunts, intimidation

of others, violent behavior, criminal activities, or self-preening vanity. The Martial

Arts practitioner displays this courage in the use of their skills to satisfy the

demands of ethics, and in defense of their country or fellow human beings

against unjust violence.

A true Martial Artist should adopt an attitude of self-control; they must be like

bamboo: able to bend and contort to the surroundings, but still strong and sturdy.

It is the inner peace and confidence that the Martial Artist develops that makes

this possible. Patience is the key.

The mental aspect of the martial arts is not quickly seen when compared to the

almost-immediate physical improvements. Improvement of physical ability gained

from training will be immediately visible to the Martial Artist, while improvement of

the mental aspect will be recognized by those around them.

Discipline is the exercising of self-control. In the martial arts, this concept

encompasses the emotions, actions, and mental activities of its Martial Artists. It

is one of the cornerstones from which mastery is attained.

The ability to defend one self greatly improves self-confidence. Self-confidence

combined with better judgment, integrity and overall improvement in lifestyle

brings a positive attitude.
Excerpts from the book  “Shaolin Grandmasters’
Text: History, Philosophy, and Gung Fu of Shaolin Chan.”

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