Kung Fu Philosophy

What does a “martial art” mean?

The words suggest that it is the art of fighting. Though all may seem easily and simple, an attempt of giving a more profound definition will give rise to a number of further and complex questions, as “whose art of fighting and against whom?” Variants can be various, e.g. man against man, one against many, people against people, man against animal or a number of animals, etc. So may vary the fighting methods, e.g. fighting only with hands, only with legs or both with hands and legs, fighting using only jumps or any available means – cold weapons, firearms and other weapons, or combining all the aforementioned techniques and methods. But is this the martial art? Let us try to conceive what a fight and an art is, how differently combat and art are conceived by laymen and masters, and how these at first sight incompatible notions have been combined into a single idea of “martial arts”.

The world around us is incessantly changing. These changes, which have an impact on us and on our inner world, may be perceived by us or not. By understanding the effect of each change, we decide to react or not, for each of them may have positive as well as negative consequences. While reacting to negative changes, we try to neutralize or minimize them within the scope of our possibilities, whereas the consequences of positive changes are to be made benefit of. The methods and quality of perception may vary depending on our capabilities.

The faster we perceive the occurring changes and evaluate them as harmful or useful and determine their scope, the higher the quality of perception.

The faster we react to the occurring changes and minimize their negative consequences or maximally benefit from the positive ones, the higher the quality of our reaction.

The main function of man throughout life is the perception of changes in his surrounding and the reaction to them. That is, we are to thoroughly perceive the world around us, understand how its perpetuate changes affect our body, conscience and mental world, to precisely estimate the scope of their influence and consequences, make decisions and react to any change, presenting the changes occurring in the inner world, conscience and body as a result of these changes.
React while retaining the optimal correlation of use and harm. React for self defense. React, striving for more than mere self defense. React, with the aim of defending yourself and the surrounding world from the destructive consequences of damage. Transform the negative energy into positive and become the center of its dispersion. Utmost adroitness and artistic performance are what elevates all this to the level of art. Examples thereof are pieces of music or literature which are born of strong emotional experiences caused by positive or negative changes. Notwithstanding their possible negative character, these changes can be an impetus for us to use their negative energy and create art, which may then inspire others, encourage and revivify, push forward to live, struggle and create. This is what makes the artist: he doesn’t merely augment the vital energy – the source of his experiences, but also transforms negative energy into positive by creating art.

Now, what is the “surrounding world”, what is changing and affecting us? It is the nature and the natural phenomena, i.e. people, animals, plants, mountains and rivers, planets, stars, temperature, humidity, light, atmosphere, electromagnetic field, energy – everything we call “animate or inanimate nature” or “consequences of their changes” – natural phenomena.

What are the changes?

They occur then, when something increases or decreases somewhere. This “something” may be any element of the animate or inanimate nature. According to the law of natural transformations, nothing originates from nowhere and nothing vanishes into nothingness. Any increase here means a proportional decrease somewhere else. This is the law of natural balance and harmony. But what is the extent and reason of these natural changes? By carefully analyzing them, we shall see that the world around changes in a balanced and harmonic way, obeying the laws of nature, as if all were conducted by one single system. Any increase or decrease occurs in accurate and balanced proportions to secure the vital activities of all elements of nature. That is, as much as needed – nothing more or less.

For example, animals eat just as much as they need for sustenance and live as much as is needed to preserve the species – to create and develop progeny in appropriate numbers. Plants take from the inanimate nature as much as they need to secure the animal world with food and oxygen. Temperature, humidity and other natural phenomena change as much as is needed to preserve the variety of flora and fauna.

Hence we can infer that all changes occur for the sake of preserving the wonderful world around us. Everything is balanced, harmonic, correlated and even perfect, except the MAN.
Man is imperfect, but has the capacity and possibility of improvement – conscience and free will. Individual conscience enables everyone to freely decide how many resources they need to secure their living.
Will gives freedom of choice, i.e. either to live in accordance with the laws of nature or use the conscience to create another world and live there by other laws. Meanwhile these man-made rules and laws often contradict the laws of nature. The human world is being created by exploiting nature and its resources. Man is not perfect, consequently his laws and world are, too, imperfect. This is what devastates nature.
Humans attempt to go against the flawless laws of nature, to violate them and impose their own defective laws at her expense. This makes her start punishing them. She does it quite justly: everyone pays according to the deeds committed. Humans, too, punish each other for the violation of their laws, but do it often unfairly and disproportionately.
The amount of resources man takes from nature is often exaggerated and doesn’t correspond to his actual needs. At the same time he deprives other elements of nature of what is indispensable for them. They call this redundancy of resources “benefit” and don’t want to renounce it.? This breaks nature’s laws, her balance and harmony, in other words, the original perfection. Nature tries to counteract by using her laws – laws, which her harmony is based upon. Contradictions arise, struggle and resistance begin for the sake of vital resources, life and preservation of the species: a fight not only between man and nature, but also among humans. The consequences are grave: illnesses, wars, crimes, natural disasters. Because of the lack of resources herbivorous animals can become carnivorous or disappear. The same goes for the flora: a plant which once had succulent fruits and fragrant blossoms, may cease to exist or turn into a weed or a thornbush.

This is the consequence of man’s incapability to correctly estimate the amount of resources he needs. What he does is to either overestimate or underestimate it. He loses the sense of proportion and ruins himself together with his environment.
But what is the reason? Desires that obscure the conscience or the conscience, which is incapable of clearly perceiving and defining how many resources are needed to sustain life and preserve the species. Or is it man’s will, which fails to control desires despite clear commands from the conscience?

Masters of martial arts deem man’s imperfection and weaknesses to be the cause. These are to be surmounted in a striving for improvement, where the perfect nature is the teacher to emulate. Man should live in harmony with her and her laws instead of standing up against her. She then won’t struggle against man, but will help him overcome his self – his egoism. She will help him improve and be useful both to people and the environment.
The majority have chosen, to put it mildly, not the best way of struggle: they are fighting against the perfect nature instead of their own imperfect self.
This is the most complicated struggle – the struggle against the self, against the proper shortcomings and weaknesses.
It is the vocation of martial arts to teach man to struggle and gain victory over his imperfections, improve, be useful to humankind and nature and protect her balance.

The struggle proceeds in 3 dimensions:
1) Physical or material
2) Spiritual or energetic
3) Mental or informational

3 fundamental laws are the basis
1) Law of conservation of matter
2) Law of conservation of energy
3) Law of conservation of information

According to them, nothing – be it material, energy or information, appears from nothingness and vanishes into nothingness. Everything transforms and passes on from one bearer to another. It is these laws that form the basis for the struggle, for man is constituted of 3 elements:

1) Matter or body
2) Mind or information
3) Energy or soul

Consequently, he realizes 3 actions
1) Reception, processing and transfer of matter
2) Reception, processing and transfer of information
3) Reception, processing and transfer of energy

The struggle begins on the spiritual level and in case of defeat passes on to the mental, then physical levels. For example, a person, driven by avarice, craves for an unnecessary resource and because of weak willpower starts making schemes in order to achieve his aim. But lack of intelligence impedes him from correctly estimating his possibilities. Hence he opts for a variant not corresponding to his physical abilities. And consequently, because of his physical weakness, he acts in a way which harms both him and those around him. Whereas a person, who has chosen a harmonic co-existence with nature, will, as a part of her, try to counteract and struggle against elements which don’t harmonize with her and attempt to act in breach of her laws. Such a person will struggle for the sake of the natural balance and harmony, that is – for justice. This struggle is carried out in 3 dimensions:

1) Physical or material struggle
2) Mental or informational
3) Spiritual or energetic

Each dimension and level has 2 main directions – inner and outer.

1. Dimension of physical or material struggle

Inner direction

Here man fights against his physical defects and improves his body. A victory in this struggle is manifested by a nice appearance, agile body, lithe movements, healthy organism, high level of resistibility, considerable physical strength and the like.

Whereas a defeat leads to different sicknesses, a disproportional development and deformed body, physical feebleness, various defects, a weakly developed ability to control the body, etc.

Outer direction

Here man fights against exterior objects and phenomena, which physically harm or are trying to harm him and others, hindering the body’s physical development and harming the environment and material world.

He, who has gained victory here, can, for instance, use the acquired physical abilities to neutralize those, who want to physically hurt him, others or nature by attempting to slake their desires, without realizing the true scope of their needs. A person with such physical abilities stays healthy and helps others to be healthy, too. He also protects his environment and fights against the devastating effects of man-made damage, such as various catastrophes, polluted atmosphere, abnormal temperature and precipitation, plants and animals mutated by different types of chemical and genetic influence.
In this struggle man uses the physical abilities, which he has acquired in the inner struggle of the same level.
A defeat might mean inability to defend oneself, others or nature from the evil-minded or unnatural phenomena – consequences of their activities.

2. Dimension of mental or informational struggle

Inner direction

Here man struggles against his mental imperfections.

Victory secures a rich stock of knowledge and possibility of its optimal use, quick orientation, ability to make fast and correct decisions, clearly express thoughts and feelings, concentrate quickly, process and memorize great masses of information in a short period of time, etc.
A defeat brings about feeble mental abilities, lack of knowledge, inability to concentrate, make fast and correct decisions, difficulties with expressing thoughts and feelings, etc.

Outer direction

Here man is fighting mainly against those, who propagate pernicious information or ideas, harm or try to harm people or nature. He is fighting against those who use lies, denigration or imprecations to harm or offend, who spread false, malignant and distorted information, false values and ideas and try to exploit people for their interests. Those subject to such influence have as a rule no possibility to make independent decisions and develop a sound mentality. Different mechanisms are put into use for the propaganda of these mechanisms – from the most primitive gossips up to the latest scientific methods of dissemination of information. They thus manipulate the people, try to distort the reality and show these ideas in a favourable light, impede their attempts to develop thoughts and ideas, enrich their knowledge and perceive the world.

A victory here enables to uncover lies, avert dissemination of false and malignant ideas, present the truth, foster knowledge, spread ideas meant to support man’s healthy development and preserve nature.

Those who have lost this struggle are often servile and cannot differ between truth and lies. They consequently perceive lies as truth and spread them as such. They fall under the influence of malignant and enslaving ideas, join their propaganda and are unable to pass on the acquired knowledge.

3. Dimension of spiritual or energetic struggle

Inner direction

Here man fights against his spiritual imperfections, poor mental world and weak willpower. He tries to strengthen his willpower, enrich and consolidate his inner world.

A defeat in this level might cause infirmity, sloth, egoism, cupidity, haughtiness, envy, vanity, cowardice, mendacity, inability to control desires, immorality, dejection, hatred, rancour, untidiness, etc.? Whereas a victory brings strong will, assiduity, humanity, generosity, optimism, valour, ability to control desires, honesty, morality, tranquility, self-discipline and other features.

Outer direction

Here man struggles against exterior phenomena, which are directed against his mental peace and power, which aim at destructing, impoverishing and polluting his soul. This is the influence certain doctrines, ideologies and so-called “tendencies in art” exert. They stimulate immorality, violence, criminality, suicide, cowardice, egoism, covetousness, mock love towards nature, deride humaneness, patriotism, human urge to live and create, be brave, kind, generous, just, i.e. qualities, which serve humanity and nature.

Consequences of defeat may entangle the society into high rates of criminality, bread hatred, lack of trust among people, create an atmosphere of dejection, immorality, unscrupulousness, perfidious approach towards one’s family, friends and motherland, indifference towards art, science, the own and world cultures.

Victory would consequently mean a low rate of criminality or absolutely no criminality, love and trust among people, faithfulness towards family, friends, the motherland, a strong urge of society to live and create, vivacity, love and veneration of sublime arts, science, the own and world cultures and traditions.

It should be noted at the end that both negative and positive qualities of each level may, because of their close correlation, result from defeat or victory on other levels as well.
It may be inferred from the above-mentioned that a martial art is a method, wherewith man fights against inner and outer challenges by means of self-development. This method has been perfected and elevated to the level of art: an art, which creates physically, mentally and spiritually healthy, improved individuals, who live in harmony with mankind and nature.