Kung Fu as a Way to Physical
Fitness & Emotional Well-Being
By Laoshi Tao Ch'i Li
Fu is often thought of as an ancient method of pugilism, that is, fighting
and self-defense. This is true and always has been at the core of its
existence. However, the lay person does not often realize that to arrive
at the point where we can take care of ourselves, defensively, we must
also have ourselves together mentally, emotionally, and be well grounded
in our spiritual direction. In order to be a good fighter one must know
his strengths and weaknesses. One must work everyday on closing the holes
in the armor by building up in the areas of self-knowledge and health.
Therefore, Kung Fu can be and, must be, an art and practice which takes
into account our totality, for we can not win any battle, physical, economic
or emotional, if we are not strong and unified as an individual on all
Training in Kung Fu, then,
is a challenge to our instinct for survival to bring the quality of our
lives to a superior level. This takes all of our attention all the time.
Training in the martial arts is not simply physically demanding, but requires
us to examine ourselves at the deepest levels. The Kung Fu practitioner's
belief in the life force, or "chi" brings about a lifestyle which causes
every moment to be an adventure in search of a way to become more deeply
involved with nature and forge oneself into a worthy vessel for its pure
expression. Undoubtedly, this causes many changes within the individual,
all of which are positive, although growing pains are also a part or any
new experience. When the life force seeks expression through us and we
make an effort to recognize this we can cooperate and grow in ways that
were previously unimaginable. As the Kung Fu man or woman grows and develops,
so do the people around them. The intrinsic energy flows through the individual
and out into the environment around them.
The process for attaining
these goals in Kung Fu begins, of course with the physical training that
is necessary for developing combative techniques and mental focus on strategy
and fighting principles. This initial training brings out the chi flow
from within because it is released by the practice of the survival skills.
This primal energy finds expression in the various sophisticated and direct
techniques of the art, thus giving the body greater strength, elasticity,
and endurance. The old grow younger and the young gain temperance of their
youthful carelessness. It has been found by historians and sociologists,
such as Toyneby, that people in climatic areas requiring daily striving
for physical survival tend to lead longer, healthier Lives, provided that
the survival factors are not too extreme.
This all proves out through
the daily practice of Kung Fu and other martial arts, since we find that
we are using the combative techniques and principles to enhance the dynamics
and quality of everyday non-combative" life. Please note that we are not
practicing a hectic, frantic, or paranoid type of energy here, but rather
a secure and self-reliant kind which allows for control environmental
circumstances and avoidance of being the effect of them.