Here at the frontier, the leaves fall like rain. Although my neighbors are all barbarians, and you, you are a thousand miles away, there are still two cups at my table.

Ten thousand flowers in spring, the moon in autumn, a cool breeze in summer, snow in winter. If your mind isn't clouded by unnecessary things, this is the best season of your life.

~ Wu-men ~

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Wude: Martial Virtue

Related, but different from the Japanese concept of Budo is the concept of "Wude" in Chinese martial arts, or martial virtue.

Below is an excerpt from a post at Cold Mountain Internal Martial Arts on Wude. The full post may be read here.

Tai Chi discussion sites on the internet can be depressing.  I've participated on many but usually they become toxic as personality clashes develop and one lineage or another strives to assert its superiority.  When this happens and the slagging starts, a central factor is an absence of wu-de,  the martial arts code.

 Ideally, Tai Chi is a philosophy. The word 'philosophy' refers to the love of wisdom.  The essence of wisdom, as the ancient Greek philosophers put it, is knowledge of oneself.  Wu-de, the behaviour code of the martial arts, is based upon the philosophy taught by an ancient sage – ‘Confucius’ (to Westerners) or Kong-tse,  'Master Kong'.

“The Master”, as he is known to countless East-Asians, lived in the troubled later years of the Zhou dynasty (1046 - 256 BCE), a time of warring kingdoms, environmental degradation, famine, genocide, corruption, and a lack of either public or private morality.

Seeing the chaos into which the land had descended, he taught a system of morality based upon the principles of natural order as he saw them outlined in the I Jing (Book of Changes).

To reform society, The Master proposed to start small – with the individual. If the individual cultivated morality within himself, then he could influence his family. In turn, a cultivated family might have a reforming influence upon their neighbourhood, which in turn might, by example, reform the community. Then other communities might be reformed, next the province, then finally the state. Thus, a great responsibility rested upon individual initiative. Personal morality was a matter of social and cultural responsibility.

The Master’s objective was to encourage the development of cultivated individuals whose minds and emotional make-ups had been refined through education. This sort of education he saw as a moral duty, having as its outcome both individual fulfillment and the moral enhancement of all those groups of which the individual constituted a part.

This is the root of the Martial Arts Code.

Confucianism was patriarchal and is now outmoded in terms of many of its assumptions.  But, if cleansed of its assumptions about gender and authority, it can have much to teach us.

The Confucian virtues are:

1. Humanity - which can be understood as involving respect, magnanimity, truthfulness, acuity and generosity. It is the foundation of social order and is based on the love of people. This can be interpreted as the selfless desire to be of benefit to others.

2. Justice - which means duty, principle and motivation. It does not involve unquestioning obedience to authority, but rather an unswerving devotion to moral principles. A further principle of justice is that it should be available to all equally, regardless as to social class. Emperor and peasant should be considered as equally answerable for their actions. 

3. Propriety or Etiquette - is based on a sense of due deference and is indicated by courtesy and respect manifested toward others. It relies on an essential sincerity, rather than just the observance of outward forms. 

4. Education or Knowledge - is a moral imperative. It can be defined as mental development dedicated to the cultivation of Humanity, Justice and Propriety. Education allows us to understand others and their needs. Self-improvement and education is something we owe to ourselves and others.

5. Sincerity or Trustworthiness  - consists of faithfulness to the ideals of Humanity, Justice, Propriety and Education. It is seen in a character which is well-informed, reliable and non-dissimulating.

These virtues work together. Thus -- Education may externally result in the acquisition of Knowledge and an ability to marshal facts but, if informed by the other virtues, can result in Wisdom. Similarly, the virtues, when cultivated in an informed way, result in the “Superior Individual” - a person possessing sincerity and deep character who can be of great service to society and able to further the goal of its eventual enlightenment.

This is our model for a martial artist.


Dirk Bruere said...

The quality of a society depends on the quality of the individual.
The modern fallacy is that we can somehow establish a system so perfect people do not have to be good. Hundreds of millions dead trying, and still not there.

Rick Matz said...

We don't need more laws, we need to raise better people.