Throughout time the martial arts have evolved in many different directions. Many times the basic principles and philosophies are forgotten. Whether for sport, health, discipline, or self defense, people become involved in the martial arts for many reasons. The master is a guide to help the student unlock the true treasures of the martial arts. A person without proper direction will most definitely lose their way.
However, a true understanding of the martial arts comes only from filling oneself with the spirit of the martial arts. I have heard my master comment that a student who does not have a true concept of the martial arts spirit cannot grasp the deep meaning of their martial arts training.
The OHTC Experts Guide states, "The martial arts' spirit is the true master of the martial arts." This martial spirit transcends everything. Martial arts teach ideals such as consideration, courtesy, respect, morality, integrity, modesty, and a positive outlook. Without these mental qualities, a student is described s merely, "a monkey with a gun."
To put these qualities to use we must have a sincere and serious attitude. This involves practice and practice makes' perfect. The martial art spirit is not something that we turn on when we are in class or talking with master. It is not something to be cultivated in the school and left behind when we go back out into our lives. The discipline and ideals learned through martial arts should carry over into our every action. By realizing this fact one may begin to see the true spirit.
If a student sincerely practices the teachings of the martial arts, it will show. The master provides us a living example of the martial art's spirit. As a samurai maxim states, "A man who has attained mastery of an art reveals it in his every action." A true master of the martial arts reveals it in his everyday life. Martial arts teach us wisdom, peace, and knowledge.
It teaches us to know ourselves. As Lao-Tzu states, "Knowing others is wisdom, knowing yourself is enlightenment." Many times I have been told, "You must conquer yourself before you conquer others." How true this is! If there is no self control, what real expectations are there of controlling others.
In knowing oneself, the true path to knowledge is begun. Knowledge is power and with this power ideals and philosophies are cultivated into the martial arts spirit. Spirit is one of the three principles of the martial arts. The physical aspects are related to our health and skill. The mental aspects are correlated to the insight which is obtained through wisdom and experience. These mental and physical aspects, through practice and dedication, combine to produce the spirit. Spirit is defined as our philosophical behavior. Martial art's spirit is recognized in our actions. It fills us and guides us to control our behavior. In controlling our behavior, we discover knowledge and inner peace. It is not an easy path, but it is the right path.
It has been stated, "In practicing martial arts, do not be intent on winning or losing, because winning or losing is not important. The important matter is using it in your life. That is true winning which is complete for the good of your life." This is the spirit of the martial arts.