THE PURPOSE OF A PHILOSOPHY
By Jose R. Villanueva
As originally published on the Listen & Be Heard Weekly1, March 22, 2005.
A philosophy in the Martial Arts is very important. It is the very subject that holds the Martial Arts together as a viable activity. Techniques alone do not make the Martial Arts because there is a relationship between the mind, spirit, and to some degree religion. In order to understand the purpose of a philosophy one must understand what philosophy means. Next, the person must know the origination point of the Martial Arts. Finally, one will see the very personal relationship of philosophy to the Martial Arts.
The essence of philosophy is the "love of, or the search for knowledge and wisdom. The theory or logical analysis of the principles underlying conduct, thought, knowledge, and the nature of the universe which includes ethics, aesthetics, and logic, etc." (Webster's dictionary – philosophy) A person looks at the relationship between himself and the universe. When a person seeks out knowledge, his chances of locating truth increases. The more truths one discovers, the more enlightened one becomes.
The Martial Arts has its origination point with Bodhidharma. He was once a prince of India, and he gave it up to study Buddhism. He traveled to China to spread this teaching. He chanced upon the Shaolin Temple where there were a group of monks hungry and week. He taught them a new meditation method, and exercises to help keep them strong. These exercises later formulated into a Martial Art called Gung Fu. The road was always a road to enlightenment or higher levels of spirituality and part of that foundation was religion (Buddhism).
Philosophy is inherent to the Martial Arts. It gives a direction that allows for the alignment of the mind, body, and spirit. If the Martial Arts was just about kicking and punching, it would not be an activity that could last hundreds of years. Philosophy stimulates thought, logic, ethical codes, honor codes, and art. If one examines the Martial Arts, they can see that fighting systems are born out of thought, logic and science. Behavior patterns such as ethics and honor are there for the proper conduct of its practitioners. Art in the Martial Arts can be seen in the aesthetics of the forms and the practitioners abilities.
When we tie it all together, we arrive at the purpose of a philosophy. It took one man's interest in philosophy to begin a quest of enlightenment. He wanted knowledge, wisdom, and TRUTH. A religion was the springboard of hope for a better tomorrow. A hope to become a better being and to reach greater levels of spirituality. A hope of being of greater service to mankind.