The 3 alerts of a Shaolin monk

Kung Fu should not only strengthen our body

To be a true martial artist (especially when we talk about Kung Fu) it is not only about gaining fighting skills (technique, power, speed, flexibility, precision, resistance, etc.), it also means to understand how to control our ego, our instincts, our thoughts (read Mind skills: what we will learn).

We have to learn to manage what happens inside us beyond what happens outside of our body and our mind.

What we reach in terms of martial skills is nothing if we can not bring the strength of our minds at the same level as the one of our body (read Who is Master Kongling?).

A note by Master Kongling – In our school, for a practitioner of 6 Dragons Kung Fu, outside a sportive context, physical confrontation is the last possible option (read The 6DKF’s diagram about the use of violence): even when our life is directly in danger (read Personal defense: the S.A.F.E. method).

The Shaolin view of the application of violence

To understand how Shaolin monks were approaching violence, we find solace in a legendary and ancient rule of the Temple:

  • The first time someone attacks us – We do not react and without a word, we limit ourselves to do not be beaten (resist, dodges, etc., read /// Subscribe (it's free!) or Login to see this content /// and Conditioning check for the impact)
  • The second time someone attacks us – We do not react but we warn the aggressor that, a third attack, will cause a reaction
  • The third time someone attacks us – Only after the third attack we are allowed to react (attack, counterattack, etc.)

To accept to withstand to more attacks without fighting back, even for the most skilled martial artist, is / was equal to expose himself to mortal danger: equal to put the value of his integrity above the value of his own life.

A note by Master Kongling – Of course, only highly trained warriors can afford not to react (the Shaolin monks spent their whole days to train and strengthen their body, read Physical conditioning: verification tests). An amateur (or even an intermediate practitioner) should not even think to submit to such a strict rule (also for the monks themselves, it meant to expose themselves to very high risk; in fact, if on one side it is true that Shaolin monks were extremely prepared fighters, it is also true that as in the past as now exist and existed other very strong martial arts practitioners, like soldiers, other schools’ students, etc.).

Why do we tell this story?

The reason why we told this anecdote is not its direct application but rather its intrinsic meaning. What interests us is the incredible example of:

  • Self-sacrifice
  • Humility
  • Patience
  • Peaceful attitude

What must be inspirational for us is the essence of peace that lies at the basis of a so complete moral rigor:

  • Understanding ourselves (and our limits)
  • Understanding the others (and their limits)
  • Understanding ourselves in relation to the others
  • Above all, understanding the consequences of our actions

This represents the ultimate expression of the self-discipline to which we can aspire:

  • Control, subjugate our instincts (pride, fear, anger, etc.)
  • Give vent to the most brutal part of the human being (through martial practice)
  • Apply violence only in the absence of alternatives and with well-defined limits (read Violence and martial arts)

A note by Master Kongling – As long as there is an alternative, until we can find an escape (read /// Subscribe (it's free!) or Login to see this content ///), we have to follow it, no matter how humiliating it may seem: it will never be as humiliating as having to resort to violence instead of intelligence.

In the next article of this series, we will deepen how to build a strong personality (if you want us to give priority to this topic read Learn Kung Fu online: request a specific article).

In-depth articles


Reply in the comments and share your experience:

  • Would you be able to reach such a level of self-control?

Author: Master Kongling

Founder of 6 Dragons Kung Fu.

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