You can also call it love. To provide material comfort and companionship to your loved ones, to do things for them, because you love them. Why love, why kindness? This sounds out of context; aren’t warriors supposed to be perfect, cold, ruthless, heartless and merciless? Like the Japanese way of the samurai that teaches having an immovable heart, and yet some of their famous authors say that having a love for life is essential for a warrior.
The contradiction cannot be understood by a blind reverence for ‘all things Japanese’, but rather, the original Chinese concepts of the warrior code that the Japanese based on, and developed their own. Of course, the Chinese Warrior Code was a mess of several contradicting schools of thought, unlike the Japanese version which was institutionalized in their militarized Imperial era.
Indeed, mercy is unwelcome in the work of a warrior. Many times over in history, sparing the enemy has led to disastrous consequences, be it the demise of the warrior, the enemy turning the tide of war, or the failure of the army’s offensive.
Then how does the warrior’s code balance this aspect of human morals? Simple, kindness is only for the loved ones and the friends of the warrior and the innocent. The moment the warrior discern his enemy with his sense of right and wrong, he does not need to reserve any kindness or mercy for his opponent. Mercy is not a practical emotion to carry into war.
The Chinese Warrior Code speaks of kindness, because China is an advanced civilization and the Han Chinese practices high culture. I know some people in the martial arts circle who totally do not have any liking for art, for culture or for anything feminine. Everything in their brains is about ‘killing, security, man to man battle of ego and pride, proving maturity and practicality, winning, fearful of showing any weakness’. They give people the impression that they are cold blooded and devoid of human compassion. As we are also focused on maintaining and improving our fighting power, we can be easily confused with the loveless fighters, by non warriors. So we have to do some explanation, which I will explain how, at the end.
Embracing life is not easy too, it takes energy, takes effort, resources and time. You need to fork out effort and resources to help other people. But before that, to help yourself, you need to fork out effort and resources too! If you are selfish, you can’t be a helpful person to others. If you are super stingy with your energy, you cannot even get out of your bed or walk out of your door to help yourself. You need to be kind to yourself before you can even be kind to others.
A lot of people looks like they need to ‘Get A Life’ because they are stingy with putting in effort to sustain or improve their lives. They also lack a sense of duty, as they’re not driven by a purpose nor stand for a cause. Kindness is akin to the emotional energy to improve life; duty is akin to the emotional energy to do the right things, and right wrongs. Kindness without a sense of duty and righteousness will only produce a charitable and hardworking fool. You need both to live a positive life.
In the current state of the Asian capitalist world, most of the rich people do not have the intention to lend a hand to help the poor better their lives and make themselves useful to society. The rich people are motivated by the desire to make lives for themselves better, to bolster their own fortunes far beyond necessity. Some say that many of them gotten their ill karma because of their selfishness that their children become good for nothings who don’t want to help other people and do not want to contribute anything for their family. They’ve gotten nothing but princes and princesses for offspring.
The Chinese Warrior Code does not use karma. The children of rich kids most likely saw their parents as misers, keeping several lifetimes of wealth under their accounts instead of helping others. They learned it from their parents. In fact, the positive aspect of becoming wealthy in the world of capitalism is to value add to customers. Apparently, the children got too much selfish and stingy intentions inside their hearts they’ve never gotten any idea in their heads for value adding to other people’s lives, as someone who will one day be appointed by their parents to take over the family business.
Kindness is also a key component of Confucius’ teachings. In their context, it’s called benevolence. When the upper class starts to horde too much of the nation’s wealth to themselves, it disrupts balance among humanity and causes unrest and resentment among the lower class and middle class. From here, we can see how important kindness is to a civilization, that both Confucius and Sun Tzu emphasized it.
Warriors of the Chinese civilization is different from the warriors of Steppes barbarians and aboriginal peoples. We’ve heard of the man eating natives of Papua New Guinea and many tribes of native American people. We’ve also heard of the mass murdering Mongol horde who spares no life in most of the cities and states that they conquer, slaughtering the women, children and elderly after they defeated their men.
The Chinese Warrior believes in fighting to improve life. War is a means to achieve a better life when peace cannot produce the desired results. The Chinese Warrior do not fight with destroying life as the end goal. The Chinese Warrior fights wars of benevolence, with the goal of making life better. The Chinese Warrior destroys lives that harms other lives, with the spirit of duty and righteousness, to make right what is wrong, to stop the wrong and punish the wrong.
Today, several West-centric news agencies have painted an impression among the populations under their influence, that an economically and militarily expanding China will become a ruthless tyrant just like the Mongolian empire and the slave trading European empires. The non Chinese people need to look at it with a clearer context, which is the wisdom to judge the difference between greed and the sadistic desire to harm others. No doubt, China is greedy for wealth, Chinese people are money faces. But that is very different from the previous empires that has dominated the world, as those empires do not care about the lives of the people they defeat, leaving behind ruin, death and hatred wherever they conquer. The overseas Chinese should learn this way of explaining to their non Chinese friends.
How do we apply kindness as a warrior who practices Chinese Kung Fu as a way of life? We need to generate this emotional power, by thinking and feeling about how we are going to make ourselves better. We can generate more kindness by thinking and feeling about how having better Kung Fu skills can improve many people’s lives. For me as a Kung Fu teacher, I think and feel about how my disciples, students and I, with our stronger Kung Fu can give people more security, more confidence and fight against oppression and bullying.
Senior Kung Fu students can generate more kindness by helping their juniors improve, and helping their Sifu teach, and take care of the school. The common phrase 以武止戈 is right, we have to build our skills up powerful enough to stop the bad guys from causing harm to innocent, undeserving people. There are some martial artists who do not have anything they love and defend. We need to love our loved ones, love those who love us, love our country if it deserves it, love our beautiful culture. The pillar of our Chinese Warrior Code, kindness, is to embrace life, to improve life.