By Jose R. Villanueva

As originally published on the Listen & Be Heard Weekly1, April 27, 2005.

The Martial Arts is a very spiritual activity. When one examines it, one can see that it deals with the essence of life of every man, woman, and child. This essence is the thing that is really "you." It is very easy to make the statement that one's body is who they are, but it would be a limited viewpoint. The being (spirit) is infinite, and it motivates the body, so it gives it life. Your spiritual essence is your personality, and it is "truth."

When we are dealing with the spirit, we are applying everything that is inherent to it. The spiritual components that contribute to keeping the Martial Arts together as an activity are 1) Ethics, 2) Integrity, and 3) Responsibility. These are the inherent spiritual codes that are applied to the Martial Arts.

Ethics is part and parcel to every being, but it is not always applied due to people degraded in some way during their lifetime. Sometimes people lose their ethical compass, and they lose sight of truth. When ethics goes, the individual goes down a "dwindling spiral." It is a lot easier to continue down the wrong path than to pick oneself up from one's bootstraps, and start making the climb back up to living a life that is honorable. Survival occurs when one applies ethics to every activity that one engages. It is a personal matter in which an individual is attempting to change conditions in his life with respect to any activity. Ethics is the application of conclusions that are of the "greatest good for the greatest number." This is sanity, and this is relied upon from every practitioner in the Martial Arts.

Integrity is the consistent application of the maintaining of the purity of anything. It means confronting things that alter truth. It is the courage to "call it as one sees it" despite reasons to do otherwise. When we discover that individuals apply integrity, we see that a Martial Arts system can flourish and prosper. It is expected that every practitioner maintain the exactness of the technology in order for it to continue to be workable. Any alteration of a technology that has been proofed and placed as part of that body of knowledge renders that technology ineffective and unworkable to some degree. If systems of Martial Arts are to continue to exist generation after generation, then men and women practitioners must maintain their integrity.

Responsibility is cause and effect. Every effect has an origination point (cause point). The cause point is the individual or group that originates a cycle of action (start-change-stop). The effect is the end result of the action of an origination point. The higher the responsibility level of the practitioner in the Martial Arts the more aware, enlightened, and action-oriented. This is a person who has a tremendous amount of presence. A person must be willing to be the "cause" of an "effect." For example, a person practices his techniques; therefore, this individual improves. The origination point is the practitioner, and the "effect" is the improved techniques.

Spirituality and its components of ethics, integrity and responsibility play a vital role in the development to higher levels of awareness and ability in the Martial Arts. There is no practitioner who can last too long a period of time without applying the "spirit" to this activity. It has been laid out in full to view the whole panoramic scene of Mind, Body, and Spirit. They must all be applied thoroughly to obtain the abilities that each practitioner in the Martial Arts seeks. One cannot exist without the other, so it is a very narrow road. But it is an exact road that leads to the "top of the mountain." Follow it with precision, and you will get results. Defy it, and it will be a long drop down into the abyss.