Martial Arts and Life

In ancient China, Moral characters were far more important than wealth status in determining a man’s character, simply because Chinese culture has always being influenced by the teaching of the Saints and Sages such as Lao Tzu, Confucius and Mencius. Every year, scholars from all over the country sat for exams in hope to be able to serve the emperor and the nation in top positions. For these scholars, it meant that years and years of studying of poetry, the teaching of the Saints and Sages recorded on scriptures, music and arts of great people, all of which is to mold a person’s character, knowledge and wisdom.

Unlike scholars, martial artists dedicated their learning of martial skills to mold their character. Again it all depending on the family status, background and interests of individual and more often than not the children were always encouraged to pursue the scholastic path in hope of having great future just like the thinking of modern day people. Whereas the martial artists were always considered to be the lower class people just like the blue-collar workers in the modern day. Whatever path or tools they chose to learn, the outcome is to achieve the understanding and the practice of human virtues such as loyalty and righteousness. For without these virtues, it’s not worthwhile to be considered as human beings.

Both my father and Mr.Hwuang an old teacher of mine shared a common view that a martial artist must have a good innate nature to benefit from learning martial arts or else the community or even bigger, the society will be full of bullies. Let’s just take a little trip back in time for a moment, we all know that martial arts were the only tool used as some sort of personal security for self defence, for protecting the community, for protecting a village even to a larger scale in defending a whole nation. But history have told us that all those who learn martial arts at the same time cultivating morals and ethics, loyalty and righteousness would often become heroes, great role model for the others to learn from and the whole society, nation benefited from their skill. Those who learn martial arts without cultivating these virtues often fell into the bullying class and bring harm to whole society or the collapse of a nation.

As far as learning martial arts is concerned, it’s very important to have a good teacher. A good teacher will not only teach the martial arts side but also help guide the student to become a good role model for society and follow the path of Tao (pronounce ‘Dao’ meaning The Way).

Mr.Hwuang said that a good teacher will not be jealous if the student is better than them, if the student is a good material for martial arts and the teacher thinks that they can’t bring that potential out of the student anymore, they would then encourage the student to seek further learning from other Master.

The most unfortunate thing we are facing now is that Martial arts has becomes increasingly popular and the demand of good teachers is high, therefore teachers no longer can stay at the one place for long because everyone wants a piece of their knowledge. On top of that teachers also need to support their family and their travel plan whereas in the past we can survive just by farming and selling of what we farmed. The entire concept of learning martial arts takes on a different proposition.

In the past , in order to learn martial arts, we have to be accepted as disciples and live at the Master’s house to help out with whatever is required, cooking, home duties, conducting business etc. The expectation is like that of a son, as the Chinese have a saying ‘Once a Master, he is like a father for the entire life’. From this, we can see how important it is that the role of a Master has on his disciples.

We know that it is now not possible for a good teacher to stay at the one place all the time as they also need to teach their arts to a wider crowd and make their art known. In the case of Master Chen XiaoWang, he constantly out to teach from one place to another and he doesn’t remain long enough to teach us these basic values in life which means we have to learn these ourselves. The Chen family has put out the Family Rules and Disciplines hoping that we, as their disciples and students of the Chen family uphold these disciplines to become decent human beings and dignify their arts, honoring their arts to benefit many others. The downfall of a martial artist is in boasting and ego that can cause a lot of unnecessary trouble that liken to the ripples in the pond. In the past, martial art schools fought each other due to some rift between students that eventually dragged the teacher in as well. They weren’t the pretty scenes in the martial art circle.

I can still recall my father’s commented on learning martial arts, he said that the more we learn martial arts the more humble one should be, therefore one uses harmony as the virtue and humbleness as the root. He is also scared to engage in fights and does not provoke violence because he knows how one can kill or paralyzed a person in an instant of adrenalin rush. My father also told me stories regarding how his Master refused to teach a student further after he came after winning in fight, and from that day onward he didn’t get anymore instructions from the Master.

I’ve read many taijichuan articles and witnessed the criticism of other teachers’ techniques within the same style and it’s sad to see how far we are away from practicing the important values that help us mold our martial characters. At times, I think maybe the editor’s job is to create these differences so they can have articles to publicize but that has already generated the rift within the style/styles. To get your advantage at the expense of somebody else’s lost is not within a man who is well learned in martial arts.

I am a very fortunate man to have all my good friends, students and teachers help putting this website together. I consulted Mrs.Chen for guidance and permission. I learnt a great deal about respecting your teacher, Mrs.Chen commented that it’s important to do a website based on real facts, she also said we shouldn’t make up something that would jeopardize the dignity of your teacher is the beginning of respecting your teacher. Don’t get caught in the midst of advantages and disadvantages that can ruin your years of accumulating of trust from your students, friends and teachers.

After all what I said is only for reference, as far as rein still those values is concern that’s up to each individual, his learning and his practice to ensure these values are maintained.
I am fortunate to have good teachers and a father that sowed these seed in, it may not have grown to become shoots as yet, but I am watering it to ensure it will grow in the future. I have to thank many who played a big part in my progress in the martial arts circle especially Mr.Hwuang (my old teacher) and Mrs.Chen (Master Chen XiaoWang’s wife) and Chen Peng Fei plus all my friends I made since I began my taijichuan teaching career. Your support is appreciated and thank to my web master Nathan Coxsen for putting this site together for free of charge, you rock mate.