The quality of humility

Many people perceive Chinese martial arts as a system that teaches people self defence and ultimately teaches people how to fight. However, Chinese martial arts is not just as a means of self defence but as a system of ethics. Despite the school of martial arts you’re learning, they all have one thing in common; they all aim to teach the art of “martial morality” (武德 – mou5 dak1 / wǔ dé).

武德 is constructed with two Chinese characters, 武 (mou5 / wǔ) which means martial and 德 (dak1 / wǔ) meaning morality. Together 武德 has two aspects, the “morality of deed” which concerns social relations; and “morality of mind” which is meant to cultivate the the inner soul.

Wing Chun is a school of martial art that places a significant amount of teaching into martial morality; and in particular, the art of being humble. Knowing how to be humble is an important aspect of understanding the true meaning of what is martial morality. Defining the meaning of humble is an easy task, however, practising being humble is a different story. Humble is a type of moral, a humble person is generally thought to be unpretentious and modest: someone who does not think that he or she is better or more important than others.

When learning Wing Chun, if you don’t understand a certain concept, ask! There is no way that you can expect yourself to self learn the system. Often you see students not willing to put their dignity down to ask questions, thinking they understand the concepts where in fact they are misunderstanding the concepts. If you don’t have the confidence to ask questions how can you possibly learn? If you think you know everything already, then why are you learning?

Learning is a slow process, you cannot expect to know how to run before you learn how to walk. Just because you learn faster than others it doesn’t mean you have the right to be overconfident and start to show off and to speak with confidence. While you may be a fast learner it does not mean you understand everything. Therefore, you should take it slowly and listen to everything your teacher teaches you, and practice all the time. That is the best approach to learning Wing Chun.