“Martial arts have flourished in Asia as away to build the body and character. As schools have sprung up across the nation, Asian martial arts have become a new American sport. While schools have struggled to remain true to the ancient masters, commercialism has become an economic reality in order to survive. This unfortunate turn has dealt a serious blow to the very principles that have served as the pillars on which these centuries- old disciplines has stood. In some cases, concern for building a positive character has taken a backseat to physical prowess. Virtues like respect, loyalty, courage, and justice, characteristics on which the 16th century founders of Asian martial arts built their way of life, have unfortunately gone by the wayside in many cases. The ability to live by these virtues is a great test for the martial artist, the ultimate goal being the development of self-realization or perfection as a human being.

Respect should be earned, not demanded. A student should respect an instructor because of the skill, knowledge and code of ethics which the student hopes to attain. It takes courage to continue when one has failed. Courage gives the peewee competitor the inner strength to wipe away tears and continue. It makes it possible for the only female student to attend class where there is no encouragement. Loyalty is a concept of being faithful to ones comrades and instructors that is as old as time itself. Nations have been built or destroyed by an abundance or lack of loyalty. The one virtue that served as midwife to the tradition of Asian martial arts during the unjust medieval times justice. The outlawing of weapons and a continual brutalization of peasants led to the creation of a martial system whereby the body was conditioned and trained to serve as a weapon.

Building character and living by a code of ethics, not only increases confidence, but also prepares students for life. Martial artists need to teach each other how to live in harmony. The ancient principle or respecting one another needs to be recaptured.”

By kickboxing champion, Graciela Casillas