Here are some of the phrases. ‘Kung Fu is not for fighting, it is for building the character’, ‘Kung Fu teaches humility, MMA teaches ego’, some even go ‘Kung Fu is about artistic expression in one’s own right’.
The desire to win and being acclimatized to win/lose situations is a core component of the warrior spirit. As much as the competitive sentiments in the American big four sports, American football, Basketball, Baseball and Ice Hockey, a complete Kung Fu practitioner plays to win and trains to win. It’s a pity that the best athletes join the big four sports and the non competitive ones in school cohorts join non competitive martial arts.
Martial arts is made of martial and art. It’s not complete if you only have the art and martial. Neither is the other way round, because you’ll just end up doing ring sport with no innovation no variety. Like a mass produced ring sport practitioner, not the prototype that undergoes science experiments, like the all time champions of ring sport leagues with their own unique fighting style.
Champions are alpha male, followers are beta male. The alpha male has to have a very intense desire to win the rest and be at the top. There are beta male competitors too, those who just enjoy a ‘life of fighting’. I want Kung Fu practitioners to aspire to win and be at the top. Even if the win/lose situation equation means not every competitor will win and reach the top, the majority of the Kung Fu population training and fighting to win will bring the whole population higher up and closer to the top. This will be necessary if Kung Fu practitioners are sick and tired of being looked down on and treated as the ‘bottom of the league’.
Do you want to surround yourself with positive, energetic people or docile, unmotivated people? If you want a positive environment you have to be positive and driven yourself and encourage your Kung Fu buddies to be driven too. Like try to lose body fat, try not to procrastinate the training to the last week before the fight. If you send your boy to a Kung Fu school you want him to build a hardworking and goal oriented character, not a shy and messy character right?
If you really want to keep your humility and have a mundane image, just be an alpha male inside your heart, aiming to ‘defeat them all’ in your own training and having a structured and constructive daily life. It’s like a secret ambition. Don’t over promise and under deliver like a showoff. That said, I don’t fancy the idea of people thinking that Kung Fu guys are shady geeks who always appear like they have some secret to hide and behave passive aggressive like a snake waiting in the dark to spit venom. Try to be cheerful and outgoing when with other people, for the sake of our collective image. Try to get a fitting T-shirt try not to dress like a bloke.
Today’s Kung Fu practitioners tend to not read classical Chinese texts such as the Analects or the Sun Tzu Art of War. Their idea of Wu De martial ethics comes from what their sifu their laoshi tells them, or from internet memes. The core of Wu De consists of a combination of Confucius and Sun Tzu’s teachings. Confucius taught humility but he did not teach people to not compete and not bear arms. Confucius advocates the practice of archery and was always seen carrying a sword, as do other Chinese erudite in antiquity. Many martial artists really cannot control their combat intent and allow it to spill over to daily life, appearing unfriendly and aggressive to other people. This is what Wu De is meant to prevent from happening.
Kung Fu is difficult to master for fighting. You can’t master it with a beta male follower mentality. A skeptical, pragmatic mindset will simply not cut it. You need to be a pioneer, an innovator to conduct experiments with the many many Kung Fu techniques to integrate it into your body as a practical fighting system. There are also many beta males in ring sports gyms too, they’re there to follow and subscribe to tried and tested systems, instead of finding their own edge. So if you are able to use what people do not use, believe what people do not believe, you are already a level above the beta males. Kung Fu fighters using Kung Fu techniques, are rare and valuable.
Civil code cannot be applied in combat. Combat must see a victor, it is competitive. Training for combat has to be competition minded. It is half enemy centered, half self centered. The competitive edge has to be intense during sparring and training, for the Kung Fu lifestyle to be healthy. Non combatants should just admit that they are not combatants and people should not look at them as the complete Kung Fu warrior in everyone’s ideals. It’s okay to focus on preserving the art or creating your own non-competitive expression, but saying you are complete when you are incomplete, is outright lying and dishonorable.