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Self-discipline, self-respect in martial arts

The dedicated Martial Artist soon learns that mastering himself is in fact much tougher and more rewarding than mastering others. This is the challenge of discipline. Not only is it necessary to reach a high level of ability, but discipline also leads to respect. Self- respect because discipline means you didn’t let yourself down and it raises awareness of assertive behavior. Fundamentally, everyone wants to be respected, so to be respected is to be happier. Part of discipline is also about taking responsibility for our actions. This includes both the actions we choose to do and those we choose not to. It requires an understanding and awareness of the causes and effects of our actions which, in turn, requires that we don’t allow ourselves to be in denial, or to be self-indulgent.

Martial Arts in Chinese culture

Your discipline is also the measure of your self-worth. It introduces the practitioner to fundamental human principles such as dignity and integrity. Once these concepts have been grasped the practitioner is no longer interested in ‘proving’ himself on the street. This is how traditional Martial Arts can actually make people less violent and it is something of which we should all be very proud. It’s a message we need to get across loud and clear.

This is not to say that Martial Arts are ineffective on the street. Certainly, a practitioner’s training can be useful in many situations but to concentrate on fighting is to miss out on the greater things a traditional Martial Art has to offer. To Master Lau the Martial Arts touch on many subjects and philosophies that are deeply rooted within the Chinese culture. Martial Arts can actually teach us the true value of life. In true words:

“Whatever you do, don’t shut off your pain. Protection from pain doesn’t work and when we try to defend ourselves from suffering, we only suffer more. The protected heart, innocent and secure that is never exposed to loss, cannot know tenderness. Only the won- back heart can ever be satisfied.”

Traditional Wing Chun Kung Fu

At the Simon Lau Centre we firmly believe in the value of learning a traditional martial art. Some seem to think that they are too old to be relevant to today’s society. Again, this is a symptom of judging them as purely fighting oriented activities. Certainly, the traditional Martial Arts are nothing new. But they were the product of far more violent and lawless times than our own. The techniques that have survived have done so because they were worth holding on to. Even a relatively recent style like Wing Chun Kung Fu has over 600 years of development behind it. If we can’t get a technique to work we are often too quick to blame the technique. The truth is many techniques don’t work until we have developed the necessary speed, power and accuracy.  So, in fact, few of the people who knock traditional techniques are qualified to do so. Besides this, tradition is about respecting your past. Tradition formalizes this respect through rituals and part of this respect involves passing on what we have been privileged to learn.