ETHICS IN MARTIAL ARTS
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.”