A few months ago I began taking a Shaolin Kung Fu San Soo martial arts class that is being taught at my local gym. This is not a formal class where belts are awarded, but is somewhere I can go to gain confidence, knowledge in self-defense, and self-discipline. The classes are challenging, as they should be, and have helped me increase my strength, stamina, precision, speed.
“As martial artists we must strive to uphold the ideals of humanity: justice, courtesy, wisdom, trust, goodness, virtue, loyalty, and courage, as well as, endeavor to incorporate these ideals into our daily lives in order to attain perfection of character. For example, we must strive to make courage mean more than simply never retreating in the face of the enemy. Courage not only pertains to fighting, but also to our jobs, our homework, or the way we conduct our personal and professional lives and relationships. It is action when action must be taken. The Nine Codes of a True Warrior are:
Courtesy – A true warrior always attempts to practice the following elements of proper etiquette:
- He or she promotes the spirit of mutual concessions;
- He or she will be ashamed of one’s vice, contempting that of others;
- He or she will be polite to another martial artist, regardless of rank or skill;
- He or she will always encourage and uphold justice; and
- He or she will treat all people on an equal basis and not hold any arguments against another.
Honesty – A true martial artist will be honest. He will answer questions truthfully to those that are due an honest answer. He will not steal or keep items that do not belong to [him]. “Honesty is the best policy” is a good rule to live by. However, you are not required to be honest to one who you believe would abuse any truth you would tell him or her. For example, if you were a soldier in a time of war and were captured, you are not required to [tell] your captors anything. Anything that you tell your captors would be used by them to hurt you and others. Honesty works both ways, but that does not mean that you can lie. Lying is wrong, but it can be justified to a small degree in certain situations. Remember this.
Integrity – To the true warrior, the word integrity assumes a looser definition than the one usually presented in any common dictionary. One must be able to define right and wrong and have the conscience, if wrong, to feel guilt.
Perseverance – There is an old Asian saying: “Patience leads to virtue or merit. One can make a peaceful home by being patient for 100 times.” Certainly happiness and prosperity are most likely brought to the patient person. To achieve something, whether it is a higher degree or the perfection of a technique, one must set his goal then constantly persevere in seeking to attain that goal. Robert the Bruce learned his lesson of perseverance from the persistent efforts of a lowly spider. It was his perseverance and tenacity that finally enabled him to free Scotland in the fourteenth [century]. One of the most important secrets in becoming a true warrior is to overcome every difficulty by perseverance.
Self-Control – This moral is extremely important – whether conducting oneself in free-sparring or in one’s personal affairs. A loss of [self-control] in free-sparring can prove disastrous to both student and opponent. An inability to live and work within one’s capability or sphere is also a lack of [self-control].
Indomitable Spirit – “Here lies 300, who did their duty” is a simple epitaph for one of the greatest acts of courage known to mankind. Although facing the vastly superior forces of Xerxes, Leonidas and his 300 Spartans at Thermopylae showed the world the meaning of indomitable spirit. It is shown when a courageous person and his principles are pitted against overwhelming odds. No matter what the cost, you must always fight for what you believe in. Unless, of course, you can live with the knowledge that you did not do the right thing. A serious martial artist will at all times be modest and honest. If confronted with injustice, he will deal with the belligerent without any fear or hesitation, with indomitable spirit, regardless of whosoever or however many the number may be.
Humility – Do not allow yourself to be over-confident in your skill. Remember that even Chuck Norris lost all of his first fights for a couple of years before he learned to do it right. Practice makes perfect, so never become discouraged. Also, you must never declare yourself a champion. If you truly are, others will do the declaring for you. By declaring yourself better than others, you not only create hatred for yourself from others, but you also become over-confident and arrogant. Remember, people spend their entire lives devoted to the martial arts and even they – Grandmasters – admit that they have far to go in skill. Learn from their wisdom and do not allow yourself to fall for such temptations or you will set yourself up for failure every time.
Loyalty – You must be grateful to those that would be kind to you. Remember that a person is not morally required to help anybody or to be anybody’s friend. Do your part and always defend and protect those that you love. Do not abuse their trust in you and always act honorably.
Sportsmanship – Always be honorable to everyone, even your enemies. Have respect for those with skill that you fight in a tournament. Even through you may be jealous of their strength, use that energy constructively and become better. Isn’t that one of the reasons that we do it – to gain greater skill? Be a honorable winner and a honorable loser. Always.”