Martial Arts

My first interest in martial arts was to build skill and confidence to be able to defend myself, my family, and my neighborhood from the criminal and lawless elements that seem to thrive.

As I studied the origins of the two styles I was interested in, Kung Fu and Krav Maga, I found that they, and many other styles of martial arts, had their roots in families and communities preparing to defend themselves from criminal gangs, invading armies, and evil dictators. And they weren't just born out of the need, but where there was a tradition of martial arts, there was also found a responsibility and duty to use it to protect and defend the common good and peace.

For instance, it was "during a time of banditry, violence and a weak imperial military - that we first see evidence that Shaolin monks [now famous for their Kung Fu] actually engaged in a unique form of combat training. . . It was also around this time . . . when the monks were called on to support the military in its campaigns against pirates." (Sharif)

Also, as an example, "In the year 961, martial art head master Fu Ju called together various masters from various areas in China for meetings with a special purpose. This was a very warlike period in China's history and people everywhere were in danger from brigands and armies. Fu Ju invited the best martial artists to come and share their knowledge while training at the Shaolin temple." (Canzonien)

Here is another great story of the Hung Gar Kung Fu Master Lam Sai Wing and Li Shi-gui, a low-ranking military commander, coming together to create a community security force:

All came to the common conclusion that robbers should be decisively repulsed. Furthermore, it was necessary to re-arrange various provisions and rules for the settlement of disputes and to make them a law with the aim to stop squabbling and paying off of personal scores. Also, our aim is not to permit the use of fighting arts for oppression of laobaisin (ordinary people) in order not to have a bad reputation among later generations. The young and the vigorous, who are just entering the social life, must take an example of great people and be generous-hearted and virtuous. If somebody with an undeserved honor to hear do not listen to these words, then, let him blame himself. All disasters are caused by one's foolishness! (Yuzhai)

I've already touched on the history of Krav Maga born out of the persecution of the Jewish people. "Since its existence, Israel has had to fight daily to maintain its survival. Surrounded and outnumbered by its enemies, Israelis developed systems of combat that focused on practicality, versatility and mental toughness. Out of necessity, Israeli martial arts valued rapid, instinctive learning methodologies and abandoned the formality of traditional self-defense systems. By adapting these philosophies, Israel has learned to survive through war and terrorism while developing one of the most formidable and well-respected armies in the world." (Kou)

In these cases, we can clearly see the duty and responsibility to use our Kung Fu to protect the defenseless.

Further more, martial arts in general and Kung Fu in particular are truly organic and therefore protect the most vulnerable. By organic I mean not institutionalized. The art and philosophy is passed on from family to family, and it is the family, neighborhood, community that directly benefits.


Canzonien, Salvatore. "The Origin of Shaolin Taizu Changquan: Grand Ancestor of all Shaolin Boxing" Kung Fu Tai Chi magazine, June 2010 page 42

Kou, Henry , with Moni Aizik. "Commando Krav Maga" Inside Kung-Fu Magazine,

Sharif, Sulaiman. "Matial Arts Myths: Shaolin: The Birth of Kung Fu?" Inside Kung Fu magazine, July 2010,

Yuzhai, Zhu. Disciple of Lam Sai Wing. "Short Historical Essay on Master Lam Sai Wing" As related by Zhang Shibiao from Pangyu. visited 9/2/2010