The Virtues of Martial Arts
The term "Wude" is a combination of the words Wushu and Daode.
Wushu refers to all Chinese martial arts, and Daode may be translated with virtue.
Wude therefore signifies the virtue of martial arts.
The concept of Wude includes elements from Confucianism, Daoism and Buddhism.
Everybody who is willing to learn Chinese martial arts should be concerned about understanding the virtue of martial arts (Wude) and to act accordingly. Whoever does not comply to these virtues, will never be a true master of the martial arts. She or he will at most be an athlete copying certain movements without understanding the true sense of wushu exercise. Learning Chinese martial arts goes beyond learning the bare movements, it does in fact require a certain attitude in life. Exercising Wushu thus ideally becomes an important part of one's life. Those who do not strive to reach this level of learning, will always remain more or less superficial in training martial arts. Learning martial arts is like any other attempt to master some skill: it requires patience, endurance, a strong will and a good teacher. Wushu is not about overcoming an adversary, it is about overcoming oneself. Wushu is not only a sporting activity, but a training of one's character and mind. Every student of Wushu should use regular Wushu exercises and compliance to the principles of Wudu to elaborate the own character and to cultivate the body. In China, this is called "Xiuxing yangshen" or "Wude xiuyang" (literally: "to correct the character and to cultivate the body" or "correct and cultivate with the virtue of martial arts").
The saying "Xuequan yi wude wei xian" is widely known in China: it means that a student may be talented and and hard-working, but without showing the readiness and ability for virtue and responsability, no true master will be willing to truly teach the martial arts. Following the ancient Chinese tradition, a student had to prove being dignified of learning the martial arts. An other saying, "San nian zhao, san nian kao", means "a student searches for years to find a good teacher, and a teacher will examine the student for years before really teaching her or him."
According to the ancient Wushu tradition, the main criteria in choosing a student are the following:
being devoted to martial arts, being willing to learn wholeheartedly
being ready and willing to "eat bitterness" (chi ku), that is to endure hardship
wit and courage
patience and endurance
sincerity, because only those with a true heart can reach true understanding
helpfulness and readyness for a friendly exchange with others
standing up for one's teacher and fellow students and being ready to subdue the own ego to the group
respect and loyality in the first place towards the teacher, but also towards all other students and people, the ancestors and all other martial arts
following certain rules and principles and to know the common forms of conduct
The most important aspects of Wude are:
Ren: benvolence and mutual love
Yi: righteousness, justice, judging with the heart, having friendly feelings
Li: respect, rules of conduct, politeness
Zhi: knowledge, reason, education and learing
Xin: trust, sincerity and openness, to truely believe in something, and also to keep one's promises, be stable and engaged in things
Yong: courage and braveness
Baoquan Li — Bowing to your Shifu
The palm and the fist on the Yin-Yang symbol is called "Baoquan Li" in Chinese (literally: the ritual of the clenched fist).
"Baoquan Li" is an ancient polite greeting ritual common among martial artists that expresses respect towards the person met. The right fist stands for strength. It is placed onto the "heart" of the left palm. The eyes look straight being an expression of a true heart. Both hands are held in 20-30 cm distance to the body.
Each of the palm's fingers carries a different meaning: the small finger stands for esthetics, the ring finger for health, the middle finger for knowledge, the index finger for righteousness and the bowed thumb for humbleness.
Some final words: those who continuously strive to train body and mind and to elaborate one's "gongfu" (ability and skill) and personality under the guidance of a good teacher, those who learn with a humble mind, full of patience, endurance and with great efforts, all those will, at a certain level of learning, be automatically able to deal with all kinds of unpleasant, difficult, dangerous, and even life threatening situations.