Traditionally, martial arts were not easily taught to anyone just off the street because if the student misuses it for the wrong purpose, the outcome is irreversible and nasty. Therefore, students often spent the first few years in wilderness doing the basic work around the school, the purpose of that was for the master to observe the character of the student. The true colour of the person will be revealed from day to day and if the character of the student justifies what the teacher saw, then the master will begin to teach the student basic martial movements until he has proven to the teacher that he’s a man of great character before the teacher instruct him the secrets and even these the teacher may still keep the most deadly techniques just incase one day the student turns against him.
Learning martial arts can change a person just like religion can, you can change to become a better person but if the student is not guided properly on a correct path of life, the changes are not guaranteed for the better. For this reason, good teacher will not only teach the martial arts side only but the Way of life as well. The Way to a proper life for any human being is the practice of disciplines, martial artist aren’t exceptional as well. Without strict disciplines we will act impulsively and out of character and the result could be futile. In order to be a person who has Wude, we too must follow certain principles to justify that title.
The Chen family has set their “Men Gui” (family disciplines or Ancestral law) for their students to uphold in hope that we don’t dishonor their family and the art that they preserved. The most important aspect for taking up the disciplines is not only for martial growth but spiritual growth as well. As a student of the Chen family, we need to uphold these disciplines and try our very best to obey it.
Such disciplines can be found on the Chen village website written in Chinese. Here I am attempting to translate to English and hope it’s not far from the meaning.
The 12 innate characters
- Duan- Dignity and decency
- Zhong- Loyalty
- Yi- Righteous
- Gong- impartiality
- Cheng- Sincere
- Yong- Courageous
- Ren- Benevolence
- Zing- Respectful towards elders and teachers
- Xin- Trustworthy
- Hao- Magnanimous
- Zheng- Upright
- De- Virtuous
The 20 discipline rules:
- Do not bully others.
- Do not stand with the strong to oppress the weak.
- Always ready to help those who are in danger.
- Do not commit unlawful act.
- Do not use our skill for immoral act.
- Do not be arrogant.
- Don’t expose/ sell our skill indiscriminately.
- Do not involve with gangs.
- Do not waste our time in idleness.
- Do not be boastful and show-off.
- Do not compete with the arrogant.
- Do not quarrel with the ignorant.
- Do not be influenced by worldly possessions.
- Do not seek for undeserved wealth.
- Do not self indulged in intoxicant and lust.
- Do not get involve in debt (neither personal nor public).
- Do not use public office for personal gain.
- Do not starve for fame and power.
- Don’t be a traitor.
- Do not neglect our training or waste our skill.
“An upright person learns martial arts to keep his body healthy and strong. This is the teaching of the Chen family”
“A devious person learns martial arts to bully others. This is forbidden in the Chen family”