What is missing in most martial systems today?

‘… Jin is useless without spirit. You could argue that standing has a definite spiritual development aspect, but one of the ways this book is different from many others is to illustrate some exercises that play a definite role in developing fighting spirit.

The Three Treasures of life – Jing (life essence), Chi (energy) and Shen (Spirit) – are the basic components which make us “what we are”. Although we cannot have an elevated strong spirit without sufficient Jing and Chi, Spirit is the most important component.

It would seem most methods of teaching are about 10-15 years training the body, and in some cases the energy or chi also. After which time spirit is hopefully “there” as a matter of course, either through a gradual enlightenment of the soul or the taking part in competition. Along with the gathering of technical knowledge this gives the individual heightened awareness, confidence and self-belief.

The Three Treasures are the necessary components for life. Kung Fu is a way of life. It is also about fighting. Real fighting has nothing to do with competition and pretty forms, etc. Real fighting must be understood as “to the end”. It is vicious, merciless and usually over very quickly. Never believe you have true fighting spirit through years of cultivating the body and energy, or even mind and body. Yes, you must train mind, body, energy etc., but it is not enough. You cannot beat real experience of violence. You may have “Jin” whilst in a training environment or even in a contest. But, if you are not trained with real methods, to include real intimidation, unrehearsed vicious attack with intent to put you down, then you will never train the spirit of intent required for what could be a life threatening situation.

Without spirit there is no Jin, all training is useless, the Ten Foundations (See Book 1) quickly disappear. Some say training the mind is training the spirit. It is not. It can help, but testing fighting spirit can only be done for real.

How will the individual react when hit? And hit hard? Also, being struck with intent, rather than as an accident of distance or timing can make all the difference. How quickly will they regain Center? Maybe they thought being “trained” they wouldn’t get hit? Ha ha! Or, will the mind stay clear and the body re-adjust instantly and continue with the job until it is finished? This takes spirit. You must train to fight to the end. Let us look at a simple analogy.

Most systems/styles do not train like the “arrow”. When the archer shoots an arrow in practice, it flies straight and true into the Boss (straw target). In reality, the arrow knows no difference when striking a man and piercing his heart.

It is not easy to train like the arrow. Some people cannot cope with intimidation, vicious and quick attacks from all angles, designed to knock them out and not just to score points. But if they cannot cope with it in training there is no hope on the street.

It is no use when teachers give students a false sense of ability by giving out grades or belts, just because they have worked hard, trained a long time, or form/kata is good. A good teacher will know who has developed the spirit to make what they have learned work.

The Daoist principle of “Realizing one’s own spirit” is still there. The teacher is still just a guide showing methods. This is true of Chi Kung or Kung Fu. The individual still has to “want” it, has to put in the time and effort. It simply must be said that accepted training methods are too far removed from the real thing, as far as pugilism is concerned.

There are some who are extremely timid and will never have the “fight” spirit. There are those who are quiet, but will fight ferociously when provoked. There are those who are naturally aggressive and enjoy the fight, but sometimes do not make the best fighters!

The problem is that most “styles” or “systems” train to the self-defense philosophy. The average student of martialism is none of the character stereotypes listed above. They are generally talkative, confident individuals with a good social outlook. These people have great potential for building fighting spirit. Instead, they are taught to defend themselves. The thought of something such as a pre-emptive attack just does not exist! This philosophy is nice, “politically/socially correct”. It makes learning aesthetically pleasing for those who know in themselves they have no stomach for the real thing. Those who like the “idea” of being a martialist, but are just dressing up in an oriental looking suit and “playing” at it. The teacher (please observe note at end of the page) will play along with this. It is not good business to tell someone they will not get there or have not got it. Besides, if the teacher has not “got it” anyway, then they will not get anywhere.

You must train to fight someone who wishes to kill you. If you just train to defend yourself, against an individual who wishes to severly injure you, with intent to knock you down and render you unconscious, you will lose. Their spirit is at a much more elevated level than yours. They have the intent, the “spirit of the thing”, which physical violence and fighting are about.

An Army trained solely for aggression and war can make the transition to policing as a Peace-Keeping Force relatively easily. But ask an Army who’s only role has been shepherding civilians and kissing babies to suddenly go to war and it will fail miserably.

One point being made here is the importance of training in excess or ‘over the top’ for that which will require success.

We fall short in many things we hope to achieve in life. You could take a very fundamental example. Let us say a list of things to do over a weekend. Your intentions are good, to complete all tasks, but if the list is long, or certain jobs rely on others peoples cooperation, the chances of completing all jobs are slim. We tend to settle for half, or are satisfied if the most urgent are completed. To repeat, we fall short.

You will not totally destroy your enemy in the average fight. But you must wish and train to do so in order to simply succeed. Otherwise he may not hesitate to do the same to you. Your lack of spirit or intent for the fight is merely seen as a ‘gap’ to be taken advantage of. We fall short of totally destroying our enemies, but we must have the intent.’

Reference note: It is not my intention to offend anyone. I am sure there are many teachers who are good at what they do. Anyone offended can only be the ones to whom what is said is true.