Kung-Fu Morality

All martial arts are concerned with deeply felt issues of morality and Kung-Fu’s moral tradition is undoubtedly the deepest of them all. If a student is to be given physical power greater than that of a normal man, he must be taught how to control that same power from the outset. Kung-Fu’s most famous practitioners are a set of warrior monks, exponents of breathtaking skill and still in existence today, despite several attempts to wipe them out. Shaolin monks dedicate their entire lifetime to the perfection not only of their physical body but their mind and spirit too. The moral code that they espouse, as have all Kung-Fu masters throughout history, is known as Wude.

Wude is composed of two words: Wu meaning martial and De meaning morality. Therefore Wude means ‘martial morality’ and is a code of ethics specific to an elite section of the human populace, defined by their fighting ability. Wude is concerned with two specific types of morality:

Morality of the mind.

Refers to one striving for a perfect state of mind where human emotions (Xin) and wisdom (Hui) are harmonised. This can be split into the following principles:

  • Courage.
  • Endurance.
  • Patience.
  • Perseverance.
  • Will.

Morality of deeds.

This is concerned with outward social relations: how one treats and allows oneself to be treated by others.

  • Humility.
  • Loyalty.
  • Respect.
  • Righteousness.
  • Trust.