TO TELL THE TRUTH WHICH IS USUALLY UNPLEASANT OR TO BE CIVIL AND SAY PLEASANT THINGS
I read your book on Shaolin Kung Fu and I can honestly say that it is one of the best books I have ever bought! I have used it more than any other books I have, so I just wanted to thank you for writing it. I am a black belt in Tae Kwon Do, but through exploring, I found that my passion is Kung Fu.
— Robert, USA
Thank you for your kind words.
It is obvious from your e-mail that you are respectful and sincere in your enquiry. In such a situation, which I meet often, I face a dilemma to tell the truth which is usually unpleasant or to be civil and say pleasant things. It is not that I want to be pleasant, but I honestly dislike to tell someone that his art is inferior although it is the truth. Inevitably, I tell the truth. As mentioned by one of our students, Maxime, in our Shaolin Wahnam Discussion Forum, our training has made us unable to tell lies.
With due respect to Taekwondo, and this statement is made with sincerity, it is lacking in many areas where Shaolin Kungfu can compensate. Of course, I am referring to genuine, traditional Shaolin Kungfu, which is rare nowadays.
Why do people practice Taekwondo or any other martial arts? There are two main reasons — to be able to defend themselves and their loved ones if needed, and to be healthy. What I am going to say will be a surprise to many people.
Most martial artists do not realize these two aims. Today, most martial artists, including blackbelts and some masters, cannot defend themselves, though they may be very good at hitting others! If they could defend themselves they would not take for granted that getting hits in free sparring is normal. It is not normal! They should not be hit at all, not even once. In fact that is the main reason why anyone practices a martial art.
Most martial artists today are not healthy! They sustain a lot of internal injuries which are routinely left unattended to. The internal injuries are not just from free sparring. The way they train, like habitually tensing their muscles and routinely taking punishment from hard conditioning as well as instructional hits from their teachers, is injurious.
Taekwondo developed from Huarongdo, a classical Chosen (Korean) martial art that borrowed much from Northern Shaolin. What many Taekwondo practitioners may not realize is that unlike Northern Shaolin, Huarongdo was not practiced for health. It was practiced by patriots who wanted to kill Japanese warriors on horseback who colonized their country. These patriots were ready to sacrifice their lives, let alone their health, to achieve their objective. Of course, Taekwondo practitioners today do not have this objective, but the philosophy and practice of the prototype art naturally affect the practice and results of arts that develop from the prototype.
The above is taken from Question 6 of June 2007 Part 2 of the Selection of Questions and Answers.
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