Episode 4 – “Martial Arts & Self Exploration”

This Episode is another “AUA” Episode (“Ask Us Anything”) in which we delve deep into the topic of Martial Arts and self-exploration.
We talk about our own teacher, George Lee, and explain his take on this topic. For people who want to know more, please visit wingchunworkgroup.com/
And we also mentioned Sifu Li-Ping Chang, who was Dan’s first Teacher. For people who want to know more about this teacher, visit his website www.wingchunkungfuforselfdefense.com/ and his YouTube channel www.youtube.com/user/wingchunkungfu4sd/

As we said in the show, we wanted to reproduce here Sifu Li-Ping Chang’s  complete response on the topic for your study:
“First of all, I must say it’s such an unusual question.  No one has ever asked me this question before. Frankly I don’t think most people think of martial arts as a path to personal enlightenment.  To them, it’s either about self-defense or becoming good fighters. So to even ask such a question shows depth.

It is not an easy question to answer, but I will try my best to give you one from my perspective.  When I began my training  in Wing Chun Kung-fu many years ago, the first thing my teacher showed me was a drawing of the Yin/Yang symbol.  He told me the only way to know the true meaning of being a martial artist is to understand and practice the philosophy of Yin/Yang.  I had no idea what he was talking about at the time.

In the beginning, it was a struggle trying to learn the drills which required a lot of coordination.  My teacher used to say in order to do these drills well, my body and my mind must merge into one,  just like the two halves of the same whole in the Yin/Yang symbol.  I have to admit it wasn’t easy to get the two to work together at first.  The mind wanted to do something, but the body did something else instead.

Once during our training, he asked me why I wanted to learn Wing Chun, I said I wanted to know how to fight.  He kind of smiled and said, “if you want to be a bad ass, just get a gun.”

That statement stuck with me.  Years later, I began to look seriously into the meaning of being a martial artist.  After much contemplating, I discovered a “mind-body-spirit” connection.  I mean, after years of dedicated training, we have finally reached the level of martial art fluency by blending the “Mind” and the “Body.” Which simply means at a moment’s notice, the body can do exactly what the mind wants without hesitations.

Training in one’s chosen art is like forging a sword.  After countless hours of pounding, bending, rolling over and quenching the metal, you finally came up with a perfect weapon.  It can cut through objects without breaking.  It is rigid yet flexible, just like the symbol — hard and soft at the same time.  You finally achieved your goal. Now what? This is where the “spiritual” part comes in.   What you do with this weapon is entirely up to you.  You want to be a bad ass or a nice guy? The journey is all about self-discovery.

The Yin/Yang symbol is composed of two opposing forces; however, they are not mutually exclusive.  They are two halves of the same whole. They co-exist and complement each other.  We see contrast.  We also see harmony. Sometimes, forces opposite in nature rely on each other to exist. Being a expert martial artist possessing the skills to kill and being a kind person are not mutually exclusive.  The key is maintaining “balance.”  That’s what the symbol ultimately represents. Perhaps that is what we should all strive to achieve in life. And perhaps that is the enlightenment?”

Bend your legs, plant your feet, relax, and let’s go!