Why do people practice Wushu (Chinese Martial Arts)? Do martial arts still serve a purpose in contemporary society? As someone who’s life has been so greatly affected by the martial arts it is easy for me to say ‘Yes’. While the purpose of training martial arts has changed, the benefits remain as numerous.
Ask most Chinese about the benefits of training Wushu and you will most likely hear “Qiang Shen Jian Ti”- To make the body strong and healthy. In today’s day and age, children spend their entire day sitting in a classroom focused on their academic work. When they get home they might sit and watch tv, play video games, or work on the computer. Maybe their parents will encourage them to sit and do their homework or even learn an instrument where they will continue to sit and play the piano or violin. They will be preparing themselves for a completely sedentary lifestyle. As obesity remains a steady and growing epidemic in America, this lifestyle only serves to facilitate the problem. Martial arts are a profound form of exercise, which com-bine ancient forms of movement with modern techniques of sports training. The training allows the practitioner to not only develop great strength, speed, power but also flexibility, coordination, and balance. If your children play sports, martial arts are a great way for them to stay active and cross-train in the off season. However, martial arts are also a great alternative for children who prefer individual sports, giving them the ability to flourish at an activity which allows them to focus on being their own personal best. In addition, for many of the children at the Chinese Community Center, training in Chinese martial arts will allow them to participate in a unique form of exercise related to their ethnic and cultural heritage.
In addition, there is an inherent emphasis on discipline, focus and respect in the martial tradition. A series of values, traditionally known as ‘Wu De’- Martial Ethics, are inseparable from practice in the arts. In today’s day and age, you might not avenge your family by killing the man who killed your father, or taking up arms to fight back against a corrupt government, like in so many of the famous kungfu movies. However, there are many other aspects of Wude that can teach us good values and ethics. A short list of those still applicable in today’s society include: to be generous,to treat others with compassion, to not use your art to hurt others, to not bully the weak, to be true to your country and to not overlook evil in society, to stand up for justice, to treat evil as a personal enemy, protect the interests of the people, to warmly give aid to those in need, to respect the old and cherish the young, to respect your teachers, to respect seniors and learn from their experience, to study hard and practice hard, to temper ones compassion, bravery, knowledge and will power and to develop oneself physically, embody the ideals of the martial scholar, and make personal sacrifices to better society.
I would be lying if I said that these reasons are why I personally chose to study Wushu. I chose Wushu because it captivated and fascinated me. The great martial artists and their seemingly superhuman skills inspired me to dedicate myself to my training and to let self-discipline and self-improvement win out over self-indulgence.
Personally, Wushu has given me the chance to travel and compete around the world and to train in China for almost four years. Embodying the Chinese saying “Yi Wu Hui You” (To make friends through martial arts), it’s given me a wonderful social life full friends who all train marital arts and live healthy lifestyles. In the last article I wrote in the CCC newsletter ‘Passion to Profession’ I even described how Wushu led me to the career of my dreams, teaching martial arts to everyone from 4 to 84 years old and watching it improve their lives for all the reasons mentioned above. Besides, if nothing else, Wushu is good fun too, just ask the Kungfu Kids at CCC!
This article was previously featured in the Chinese Community Center Newsletter.