Martial Virtue

The practise of martial arts is a personal journey but require help and support from friends and teachers to be successful. Sun Jian Yun often talked about two aspects of martial arts as Wu Gong meaning martial skill and Wu De meaning martial virtue. Martial virtue is Shou De (hand virtue) and Ping De (Virtue of character). Shou De means to use your martial skills for good deeds e.g. protecting someone who is bullied, not doing unnecessarily harm but lead the unrighteous on to the righteous path, transform violence into peace and use your strength and skill as an expression of loving kindness. When your skill level is low you will need to exert force and cause harm to the person attacking you in order to defend yourself. As your skill increases you will be able to diffuse or transform a violent or potentially violent situation without harming the attacker.

Virtue of character (Ping De) means to develop honesty and uprightness, benevolence, charity, faithfulness, integrity, good manners, respect etc. We start with our selves and get to the root of our own violence and other things stopping us from cultivating virtue. Learning to see our conditioning and how to be freer in relationship to that is just as important as cultivating virtuous qualities.

Many times Sun Jian Yun talked about virtue in the from 3 different perspectives: Virtue in a Confucian, Buddhist and Daoist sense.

The Confucian sense was the basis of her teaching on virtue. They include the cultivation of benevolence, righteousness, etiquette, knowledge, integrity, loyalty etc.

When talking about Ping De from a Buddhist perspective she sometimes looked at them as moral practises like the 5 precepts: not to kill but to cherish all life, not to steal but to respect others, not to misuse sex but to cultivate sincerity and integrity, not to lie but to be truthful, not to misuse drugs but to strive for clarity of mind). At other time she was more emphasising qualities like the paramitas: generosity, morality, patience, diligence, focus, wisdom.

When discussing Ping De from a Daoist perspective she saw virtue as both the expression of the way (i.e. that virtue is a natural expression of truth) and the sign that you are in accordance with the way (i.e. if you act virtuous then you act in accordance with truth).

The character Wu (武) in Wu Gong is made up for the character for “stop” and the character for “lance” i.e. “to stop violence”. Stopping violence is not just learning to defend oneself from physical attack but also about not contributing to increased or prolonged violence. This includes holding grudges, violent speech, violent thoughts, violent feelings etc.. It is true that we need emotional content when we practise martial arts and engage in life, but not unmanaged anger or hate.

The practise of Sun style martial arts is learning to transform anger into assertiveness, hate into engagement, and aggression into decisive action. The heart must be tranquil, the mind quiet and the soul at peace. The practise of sitting and standing allows us to get a taste of true stillness. The practise of walking the circle or doing the Taiji form allows us to get a taste of this stillness while in motion. As it becomes more and more involved – in applications practise, two man practises such as wu xing sheng ke or tui shou as well as duan da and san shou, we must make sure this connection with our true selves are not broken and that the connection with inner peace is not lost. If it is then we need to trace the root of the problem back to its origin and uproot it thoroughly. Uprooting means to acknowledge it and see into it to understand it clearly and then to learn to direct the energy in a different, more creative and constructive, way.

In Sun style we talk about whole body power being the correct way of acting. This is the power that comes from heart, intention, Qi, force and the physical body united i.e. it requires wholeness. Wholeness is health. In Swedish, “hela” (to heal) is a verb coming from “hel” (whole) i.e. to heal is to make whole. In order to be healthy we need to live healthy lives. In order to live healthy lives we need to examine it mindfully and work on all aspects of it.

Having many students is not important compared to having a good, stable and deepening practise. Being able to knock someone’s teeth out is not important compared to one’s ability to calm down and defuse conflict in everyday situations. Sun style martial arts help you to know yourself and to know others and to find the courage and power to act in accordance with this knowledge. It requires diligent practise, deep reflection, clear intention and a strong love for the truth.

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