Martial Morality

People who do not do kung fu might think of martial arts as somehow encouraging violence, but the exact opposite is true. Practitioners of Chinese Martial arts attach great importance to wude (武德), or martial morality, which is a set of ethical standards strictly followed by Martial arts practitioners as a creed.’


Martial arts are the way to train in developing good habits of mind and body and morality is an integral part of this training. In kung fu, the level of a person’s achievement in martial arts is in direct relationship to their morality. Morality is not as simple as “thou shalt not lie, cheat or steal”. It is a total way of acting and thinking.

Martial morality deals with two aspects; “morality of deed” and “morality of mind”. Morality of deed concerns social relations; morality of mind is meant to cultivate the inner harmony between the emotional mind and the wisdom mind. The ultimate goal is reaching “no extremity” (closely related to the Taoist concept), where both wisdom and emotions are in harmony with each other.


Morality of deed includes Humility, Respect, Righteousness, Trust, and Loyalty.

Humility or being humble, admits in a sense that there is something above or beyond your reach. It is the foundation for all learning. Imagine if you felt there was nothing more for you to learn, you would then stop improving. However, by being humble, you will realize that there is always a gap to fill by constant practice and learning and you will always be looking for ways to better yourself.

Respect is the foundation of your relationship with your parents, teachers, your fellow students, other martial artists, and all other people in society. Respect makes a harmonious relationship possible. However, the most important type of respect is self-respect. Respect must be earned; you cannot request or demand it.

Righteousness and Trust, if the kung fu student has these traits he or she will stand up and fight for what he or she believes is right and just, wherever they can.

Loyalty involves faithfulness to ideals of family, teachers, friends, culture, nation and martial style. Without this loyalty, the style would undergo many changes and proper techniques will eventually be lost through time.


Morality of mind consists of Will, Endurance, Perseverance, Patience, and Courage.

Will. The study of martial arts is a lifelong commitment. It is not a hobby that a person drops after a few months or years of practice. It requires a lifetime of devotion and a guiding force through times of personal trouble, laziness and self doubt. Only the will can provide such force.

Endurance, Perseverance, and Patience is the manifestations of a strong will. People who are successful are not always the smartest ones, but they are always the ones who are patient and who persevere. Through cultivating these three elements you will gradually build up a profound mind, which is the key to the deepest essence of learning.

Courage In facing the truth the martial artist must stand up to any situation and deal with it in a courageous way. Courage is different from bravery. For example, if you have the courage to accept a challenge, that means your mind has understood the situation and made a decision. Next, you must be brave enough to face the challenge. Without courage, the bravery cannot last long and be blind and stupid.

Any Chinese martial arts practitioner must understand, demonstrate, and promote these concepts, and work to reestablish martial morality as an integral aspect of all martial arts training.


by Xiao Xiao @

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