Why Fighting Makes You a Better Person

Learning principle based fighting can make you a better person.

In our last post, we discussed the principles of Wing Chun Kung Fu.  We described the six principles as follows:

  1. Simplicity
  2. Centreline
  3. Structure
  4. Forward Intention
  5. Economy of Motion
  6. Awareness

These six concepts shape the skills and techniques of the fighting art that is Wing Chun Kung Fu.  However, these same concepts can be applied to make us not only better at fighting and defending ourselves, but better people as well.

How can we apply the above principles to everyday life?  How do these principles manifest themselves in our interactions with our friends, family, and coworkers?  Below we take a look at each principle and at how it can come into play in our lives.

Simplicity

“Our life is frittered away by detail.  Simplify, simplify.”  -Henry David Thoreau

KISS.  Keep It Simply Simple (or Keep It Simple Stupid).  It’s so easy to get caught up in the complexities of something, only to get lost in the details, or to have a great idea, only to over-complicate it until it’s no longer as great as it once was.  But if we look at something complex, it’s often possible to break it up into much simpler parts.  When we work simply, doing one thing at a time, we are more efficient than if we are to multitask.  And when we live a simple life, we have more time to appreciate those things that are truly important.

Centreline

“Truly being authentic is knowing what matters to you, on the deepest level of who you are, and committing always to act from that authentic centre.” -Richie Norton

In our previous post, we stated that when we utilize the centre, it takes less effort to be effective, to produce a desired result.  This is true not only in Wing Chun, but for everything we do.  Acting from an “authentic centre” allows us to be effective in what we do.  To act from our centre, we must first recognize what our centre is.  Once we know that, we can shape our lives by applying the other principles listed above, and by always using our centre when we act and make decisions.

Structure

“The higher your structure is to be, the deeper must be its foundations.” -Saint Augustine

To be effective in using our centre, we must build a solid structure.  Our structure must be aligned with our goals.  Structure is the thing that supports us in our lives’ endeavours.  Structure starts from the ground up.  Think of someone who wants to become a university mathematics professor.  This person must build a foundation of arithmetic, geometry, and algebra.  Upon that foundation, this person must build a structure of trigonometry, probability, statistics, and calculus.  This is a simplistic analogy, but could be similarly applied to becoming a successful musician, doctor, parent, spouse, etc.  Our structure is affected by the things we do every day.  Building a solid structure requires concentration, discipline and wisdom.  The loftier our goals, the stronger and more stable our structure must be.

Forward Intention

“Even if you fall on your face, you’re still moving forward.” -Victor Kiam

Forward intention is perseverance and adaptation.  We start with a goal in mind, create a plan that prioritizes the tasks we must accomplish to reach that goal, and then execute the plan.  For all our planning, we will not think of every eventuality, and we will come across barriers, real and metaphorical.  Forward intention is more than just stubbornness; we don’t throw ourselves at the same barrier over and over again.  “Be like water”, Bruce Lee said, and this is very much an expression of forward intention.  Forward intention is not about trying to go through a barrier (though if the barrier is weak enough, that is indeed an option).  Rather, we think of a way to adapt and to persevere towards our goal.  We flow around the barrier like water.

Economy of Motion

"You must learn to be still in the midst of activity and to be vibrantly alive in repose." -Indira Gandhi

Another word for economy of motion is efficiency.  How can we put in the least amount of effort to achieve the desired results?  Some people may call this laziness, but that’s because they are getting too hung up on the first part of the question.  We must look at effort in the context of desired results.  Efficiency* is awesome because it allows us to produce more results, to have more time and resources, or both!  The more efficient we are, the more we economize our “motion”, the more options we have moving forward.  And we are more prepared because we have more time and resources available to help us create results and achieve our goals.

Awareness

“Let us not look back in anger, nor forward in fear, but around in awareness.” -James Thurber

Take a deep breath.  Feel the air coming in through your nose, feel your lungs expand.  Now exhale…  Focusing on our breathing helps bring our awareness to the present moment.  How often do we spend our waking moments thinking about what has happened and what will happen?  We often slip into autopilot in our daily tasks; this is why, when someone asks us how our day or our weekend was, we sometimes have no answer.  Instead of daydreaming about what we have done and will do, we can be aware of ourselves in the present moment.  Eventually, once we are aware of ourselves, we can push that awareness outside ourselves and be truly aware of others.  This is not to say that reflecting on the past and planning for the future are not valuable activities.  However, we can be even more effective at these by setting time aside to do each, and by truly being aware of what we are reflecting on or what we are planning.


Take a moment to reflect on your life with respect to the above principles.  Do these principles make sense to you?  Do they reflect your values?  What principles guide your life and how do you define them?  I look forward to reading your responses in the comments section below!

Remember, every day is a gift.  We get the most out of this gift by living a principled life, by practicing awareness, and by not taking ourselves too seriously.

“Quit, don’t quit? Noodles, don’t noodles? You are too concerned about what was and what will be. There is a saying: yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, but today is a gift. That is why it is called the ‘present’.” -Oogway, from Kung Fu Panda

“Quit, don’t quit? Noodles, don’t noodles? You are too concerned about what was and what will be. There is a saying: yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, but today is a gift. That is why it is called the ‘present’.”  -Oogway

*Efficiency (the least amount of effort for the desired results) works with tasks, but not with people.  People are not means, they are ends; thus when working with people we strive to be effective (we take the time to listen and understand).    The more efficient we are with tasks, the more time we have to be effective with people.

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