Wu De (Martial Code of Conduct)

Wu De is the Chinese martial arts code of appropriate social interaction. Ethics and etiquette is ingrained not only in the culture of China but also pervades throughout the philosophy that holds the society together. There are five points in Wu De: Respect, Humility, Trust, Virtue, and Honor.

Respect (Zun Jing; 尊敬)

The term respect means to acknowledge the feelings and interests of another in a relationship and treating the other at a standard that rules out selfish behavior. Respect is derived not by behavior but by one's attitude. Respect is appreciated as demonstrating a sense of worth or value of a person, a personal quality or ability. In martial arts, respect is the cornerstone of all the teachings of martial arts. In regards to Wu De, respect begins with the individual and manifests outward meaning that those who respect themselves as well as others will, in turn, be respected. Respect must be earned as well as displayed. This is why we bow and why we use titles.

Humility (Qian Xu; 谦逊)

The term humility is the quality or characteristic of a person that is unpretentious and modest. Humility comes with controlling oneís pride and ego. Pride and ego are the killers of good martial arts and good character. When we allow our own pride and ego to infiltrate our rational judgment we start to make decisions based on self-pride and not solid facts. When your ego and pride take over you will become satisfied with yourself and stop thinking deeply. Try daily to display humility in everything you do. Train for yourself and not the title or color around your waist. Keep your cup of tea empty allowing yourself toyourself to always learn.

"The taller the bamboo grows, the lower it bows." - Chinese Proverb

Trust (Xin Yong: 信用)

Who do you trust? Do people trust you? Trust is the belief that a person is of good character and will seek to fulfill promises, policies, ethical codes, and the law. In martial arts, we make a promise to ourselves, the school, and the teacher. When starting a school or job there are underlying trusts that both parties expect to have in place such as safety, compensation, and knowing what is in each otherís best interest. In martial arts it is a breach of trust to ask for more knowledge from the instructor. Excessive questioning suggests that the student knows the material well enough to advance. Advancing is at the discretion of the instructor, not the student.

Understand that sometimes routine instruction is for your own good as it allows you to become proficient at the art. Trust the path you take is the right one. At times instruction may seem to contradict itself. Know that perceived contradiction is one-dimensional. The instruction you receive is designed to help you navigate the correct concepts of the art.

Honor (Rong Yu; 榮譽)

Martial art has many strong connections to honor. We honor our art, ourselves, and our ancestors by showing loyalty and having the will to train while simultaneously maintaining wisdom about our training. To give loyalty is to honor the art through belief in the practices and wisdom of the people that have lived and died in perfecting the art so that it could be passed on to future generations. We should honor the people who came before us not because they were all superior but rather as Sir Isaac Newton said: "If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants."

Virtue (Dao De; 道德)

The idea of virtue in Chinese thought pertains to the notion of character. Framework for this concept is given through the four classical virtues of; temperance, prudence, courage, and justice.

Temperance is moderation. When we engage in any activity we should approach it with moderation in order to maintain rationality and balance in every facet of our world. Martial arts will enrich our life, not necessarily consume it. One of the goals in martial arts is to take the knowledge and self-discovery from the training hall and apply its principles to daily life.

Prudence is the act of having sound judgment over all oneís affairs in life. In life it is prudent to look at situations that manifest and show wisdom and insight by drawing on facts, knowledge, and experience. It is ideal to be mindful and weigh the outcome of any action.

Courage is the ability to act when confronted by fear. Fear can be physical and mental. The former entails being frightened by the environment, a person, or a thing. The latter concerns mainly a fear of failure. With martial arts one can move through life with courage by accepting its challenges and not being tied down by fear.

The notion of Justice has been debated for over 2500 years. Meridian Gate Kung Fu Center asks that the individual applies justice by reviewing the facts, the research,and then taking the course of action that he/she knows within their heart as correct.

Justice combines all virtues and components of Wu De into one application. To apply Wu De in our everyday life is being just. As martial artists we should hold ourselves to a very high standard of character.

by Lao Shi Yungeberg