The Martial Way of the Ancient Spirit by Master Andrew Sofos

The ancient Martial Arts are grounded in a rich heritage of blood and honour, and have a great deal to offer a serious student of modern day life. Unfortunately, in most modern schools and academies round the world this has been lost. The modern world of martial arts is geared round sports competitions and commercial grading. As a result, students in today’s schools and academies are getting the surface of the true values and traditions of the Asian Martial Arts. These Martial arts have a deeply routed tradition that dates back to 3000 BC, they are all losing their historical significance in our modern world, and as another new generation of student walks into the Kwan more is lost.

I am a traditionalist and my teachers of wing chun were the same, to keep a perfect balance of “East and West” concepts and philosophies takes a lot of planning and management in keeping the interest of a student on going till the next decade.

The ancient warrior had to dedicate himself to his art if he was to become a master. A famous traditional master of modern times was Funakoshi the greatest Karate Master who took his art from complete obscure roots in Okinawa to public attention in Japan and eventually the world; as a result, more people are familiar with his name than any other in the history of Karate.

Kung Fu also had a great teacher and master but is shroud in politics and mystery General Kwan one of the greatest general that lived in China, studied the Arts and the Martial Way of living which he installed in his troops, which led to victories on the battle fields. Master Dr Leung Jan of Wing Chun also revolutionised the art, Leung Jan was a Doctors son and apprentice, outside of his study’s he gave all his spare time to practising Kung Fu. Leung Jan was very fortunate because his Sifu and SiPak’s (Kung Fu father & Uncles) were close friends. Though between them their styles of fighting differed, still they often came together to consolidate and exchange views on Kung Fu. The young Leung Jan was to learn from all of them, and in time, he distilled all of what he learnt. After some years of development, he formed a simple yet devastating fighting art. He introduced the Pole, Knives and the 3 forms, he prepared the forms of Chi saus and worked to develop the Mook Yan Jong, he also as Funakoshi took his art from obscurity to National interest, but Yip Man took Wing Chun to international interest.

All masters had their qualities some were great warriors, others fighters, but they all had the Martial way of the ancient art they practiced. Their greatness was their unwavering devotion to the training principles, ethics and lifestyle that embody the Martial Way.

One understood the warrior code the warrior way of living, but this way of living, the warrior way is not just for the Martial Artist, the Masai warriors in Kenya, the Red Indian, the Incas the aboriginal warriors.

History teaches us that the Ancient Greeks had also a fighting system with a form of ethics and codes, which predates the Chinese, but not documented to prove their claim. The Romans also looked for greatness in their generals and troops. The samurai also live “the way of the sword” and their teachings and ethics are legendary.

“To seek perfection of the warrior spirit is the only task worthy of our manhood”

Warriors are special people. Since they understand the concept of Honour, they set their ethical standards above most of the rest of society. Since they pattern their lives round the pursuit of excellence, they tend to achieve in their chosen professions. Why would people in today’s society want to think themselves as warriors?

Because warrior ship is an extraordinary and powerful way to live

Start today by thinking of yourself as a warrior. Stop being the dentist, accountant, lawyer or panel beater, who does Wing Chun as a hobby and become a warrior who practices both his profession and his Martial Art to hone his spirit. You will discover that both your professional competence and your Wing Chun will improve rapidly.

However, true mastery in the Martial Way involves more than mere physical prowess and expertise. The master warrior is a man of character, a man of wisdom and insight, these goals are far more elusive than those regarding technical expertise are, elusive they may be, but you can begin the long road towards character development by learning to recognised and pursue your internal and external objectives

“He who stands on tiptoes does not stand firm. He who stretches his legs does not walk easily. Thus, he who displays himself does not shine. He who vaunts himself does not find merit acknowledged. He who is self-conceited has no superiority allowed him”

 Sun Tzu

 Many glossy magazines have interviews with modern masters who self praise their achievements and boast their accomplishments, the ones you see at the National tournaments with 3 Black belts and patches all over their uniforms, these people provide us a classic example of martial artist enslaved to ego gratification from external sources.

 The martial way is a discipline devoted to the perfection of character. The student turns his attention inward in a personal journey. He evaluates the strength of his spirit and sets about polishing those qualities that need work. Outward displays of finery expose an individual who needs external reinforcement to reassure him of his self worth, even extreme public display of skill and prowess, when motivated by the desire to impress others, demonstrates and intensifies fundamental weaknesses within. In addition, there lies the pitfall of tournament competition.

 Great Masters in the past (including Funakoshi – Karate) have introduced Kumite or sparring competitions to generate public enthusiasm for the Martial Way, another  was Jigaro Kano founder of Judo, both men had noble goals; the more people they could attract to their respective discipline, the more they could lead “to the Way”. Both arts are well known today, for their competitive sports in “Kumite”

 However, one must wonder if more is always better.


Leave a Reply

Back to top