Way of the Martial Artist

Martial Arts has been popularised by its prominence in action movies and the rise of Mixed Martial Arts (MMA).  It is well-known for producing elite athletes, professional fighters and effective self-defence techniques.  All of this have been excellent for individual pursuits and entertainment value.

But is this all there is to Martial Arts?  I don’t think so!  I believe that Martial Arts serves a higher purpose for the individual and for society.  I came across the writings of a source unknown to me, who sought to explain how Martial Artists should conduct themselves and how this conduct could lead to a better world for all its inhabitants.  I coin this The Way of the Martial Artist.

Way of the Martial Artist


WuYi ZhiGe, Huai RenYi, JiaoHua WanMin, HePing YiZhi.

ShuYong XianZhi, CunCi Dao, PuJi ZhongSheng, KuLe ZiXuan 


The Message 

This writing is simple yet powerful in its message.  It adequately captures the spirit and conduct of a true Martial Artist:

  • The chief aim of Martial Arts is to maintain peace, harmony and equality. If the need arises, a Martial Artist must be courageous in pursuing justice and stopping violence but must also exercise compassion and strive for righteous action.
  • A Martial Artist must use their skills for the good of society. To protect others, especially those that are vulnerable such as the young and elderly.
  • A Martial Artist must strive for excellence, mastery and good character. To achieve this, the Martial Artist must embody the attributes of benevolence, mercy and righteousness.
  • A Martial Artist must positively influence society through actions and teachings. This will transform others and help them follow the way of peace, harmony and righteousness.
  • A Martial Artist must pursue the martial way for individual improvement and that of society

My Way of Martial Arts

As I reflect upon my life, I have come to realise the profound effect that Martial Arts has had on me.  The conclusion that I have drawn is that Martial Arts has made me a far better person than I could ever imagine. It has been at the centre of who I am.  It has grounded me and helped me tolerate the harsh realities of my existence.  Martial Arts is not just a mechanism for me to learn to defend myself and become physically fit, it is my journey of self-discovery. It is a way for me to get closer to the truth about who I am and a medium for me to accept myself with all my imperfections.

Through my practice, I am able to witness the duality that exists within me. I see the balance between good and evil. It is not my job to separate them but rather to experience them as a whole.  I cannot shine my light in the absence of my own darkness.

Wisdom does not consist in trying to wrest the good from the evil but in learning to “ride” them as a cork adapts itself to the crests

~ Bruce Lee

I know that I am imperfect and I accept that wholeheartedly.  This gives me the power and the room to grow.  It is easy for us to accept the good and righteous aspects of ourselves and reject the evil ones.  However, failing to acknowledge our shortcomings only gives us half of the picture. It prevents us from getting to know ourselves on an intimate level and we become superficial in our thoughts and actions. This creeps into our relationships with our friends, family and even with ourselves.  Needless to say, this is a serious crime that we commit against our person.  We fail to self-actualise and are incapable of connecting with others because we are devoid of true genuineness.  It’s no wonder that we are depressed, anxious, self-absorbed and unhappy.

To be a Warrior is to be genuine in every moment of your life

~ Chogyam Trungpa

Accepting my evil nature does not mean that I give into performing acts of criminality. It simply means that I understand these aspects that would lead to harm and therefore choose to take the correct path in life. It is this choice that makes me truly strong. I know that I am capable of great violence and destruction but I choose the path of peace.

My Martial Arts training has one clear goal in mind and that is self-control. My training is a constant battle with myself. It is the war I wage on my inner demons that go by the names: Anger, Fear, Doubt and Hatred. I become stronger as I conquer these weaknesses and build my character. This war within myself is eternal and each battle takes me closer and closer to victory irrespective of whether I win or lose. If I win then I am victorious and if I lose, I have taken another learning step towards overcoming my weaknesses.

This is the Way of the Martial Artist

It is my honour to be engaged in inner battle so that I can be just a little better than I was yesterday.  To constantly refine, improve and master myself.  To discover and understand the multifaceted aspects of who I am so that I can achieve inner peace and harmony.  It is to expand my influence so that I can be of service to my family, my community and to humanity.  The Martial Way urges me to use my Martial Arts skills and Warrior Spirit to maintain peace and equality amongst my fellow people.  To be courageous in pursuing justice but also to exercise compassion and strive for righteous conduct.

Final Thoughts...

How a Martial Artist conducts themselves ultimately dictates whether their life is painful or peaceful.  As a Martial Artist, you have a responsibility to yourself, to your family and to society.


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