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Homework - Compassion in the Martial Arts (due 30 April 2021)

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  • Homework - Compassion in the Martial Arts (due 30 April 2021)

    Compassion is a term rarely associated with the Martial Arts. What is the history of compassion in the Shaolin Wahnam Martial Arts? What benefits does this compassion have for the martial artist?
    by: Sifu Andrew Barnett

    Is compassion a weakness in combat? Why or why not?
    by: Sifu Chris Didyk
    May all beings be happy!

  • #2
    How come we have no replies to this important topic!?

    Compassion is a key element in improving spiritually and as a person.

    As high-level martial arts are a means for spiritual cultivation, it is no wonder that compassion, even in fighting, is deeply engrained.

    In my opinion, showing compassion in a fight is a clear indicator of one's high level that makes it possible to adjust just to the needed amount of threat.

    I'm happy to read more about other people's views on compassion!

    Best wishes,

    Sifu Leonard Lackinger

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    • #3
      I thought a while about this one, and came to a similar conclusion, as Leo Sisook mentioned above:
      For me, in my current stage of development, compassion is the ultimate proof of one's superior skills, and therefore something every martial artist should aim for.
      On the other hand, I think showing superior fighting skills become more and more meaningless, the further the student ascends to his peak. Nevertheless, I think it is important, especially in earlier stages to gain confidence in his own practise.

      Best wishes,


      • #4
        I honestly have to say that in the past i had problems with the term compassion. I couldn't 'feel' compassion. Instead there was a feeling of indifference. In the past i was often bullied by classmates and i wanted to hurt them to stop the bullying. Although i thought i am a good person, i sometimes had bad thoughts. Somewhere Sigung mentions that the opposite of compassion is cruelty. My question is what exactly is compassion? How do i know i have developed compassion?

        All the best,
        "No matter what you do, you must be clear in your conscience." - Sitaigung Ho
        "Goodness begets goodness." - Sigung
        A single light can eliminate the darkness of millenia.


        • #5
          Originally posted by Bernhard View Post
          My question is what exactly is compassion?
          Dear Bernhard,
          thank you very much, this is a very important question.

          From my understanding and little experience I would like to try to answer it.

          As you grow spiritually, you will eventually experience that your self does not stop at the border of your skin. You are connected to everything in the cosmos and everything is connected to you. You are a part of the Cosmos with everything in it, and the Cosmos is a part of you. In the end, there is no difference between you and the Cosmos.

          If you harm someone else unnecessarily, you harm yourself unnecessarily. If you are kind to others, you are kind to yourself. When you give to others, you give to yourself.

          Therefore, compassion is the natural behavior. Unfortunately, the spiritual development of many people is very low. The ego is big and they cannot see beyond their own skin.

          Originally posted by Bernhard View Post
          How do i know i have developed compassion?
          By having the experience. Continue with your training and open your heart.

          Originally posted by Bernhard View Post
          In the past i was often bullied by classmates and i wanted to hurt them to stop the bullying.
          There is nothing wrong with stopping others from bullying you. Sometimes you have to fight, sometimes there are other better ways. But with compassion you only do what is necessary to stop this, without the feeling of wanting to harm the other additionally.

          All the best,
          May all beings be happy!


          • #6

            I think it is a very interesting subject and also very important. Thank you for bringing it up! =)

            I believe that compassion is a fundamental part of the basic principles of spirituality appreciated in all religions, which as Sifu mentions are: doing good, avoiding evil and cultivating the spirit.

            For me, compassion is feeling the pain of the other as your own, putting yourself in his/her place and wanting to offer relief, as something natural, when you feel pain.

            I believe that it is essential for our survival and also for a happy life and in harmony with those around us.

            To explain this last reasoning, I would like to give an example: If you understand why someone is hurting you (in whatever way) you can know that maybe they do it because they have problems that they cannot solve and then your attitude towards that person is compassionate. Instead of entering the circle of harm: getting angry, wanting revenge. etc.
            Does this mean then that we should allow others to harm us?
            Of course not. Sifu has taught us that in Kung Fu "safety comes first", so we have to make sure we are in a position of strength and safety, not only in physical combat, but in daily life. And in fact from this position is when we can be compassionate effectively.

            Personally, I don't like fighting, nor do I like violence. But I think it is important to know how to defend yourself, in the same way that it is important to feel compassion for others. And it's a balance.

            Both Kung Fu (including its application in daily life) and compassion provide a physical, emotional and spiritual healthier life. With Kung Fu we expose ourselves less, a real Master is not in the least exposed to receiving damages from others. And compassion is also a kind of protection in a way. Because we do not allow our heart to darken with negative thoughts or emotions towards other people or beings, because it gives us the ability to understand or even feel the other person, so you do not take it personally, you know that people have their context, their problems and you can only wish them the best.

            Without compassion we run the risk of entering vicious circles that are very destructive, of hatred, revenge, resentment, etc. That is not healthy for anyone.

            Now, in this world, we do not pay much attention to the consequences of our actions, so we live with a certain degree of ignorance and therefore we hurt each other (sometimes without realizing it). Therefore Kung Fu is very important, to have the strength and defense necessary to have well-being and also to be compassionate.

            Personally, I do not think that a weak person can offer strong support to another person in distress. You need strength and that strength begins with yourself.

            If you allow yourself to be hurt, even if you know that the other person does it out of ignorance or because of personal problems, you will feel devastated and you will not be able to offer any support. Because you will have to spend your time and energy in recovering from the damage.
            However, if you do not allow them to hurt you, it is more feasible, that from that strong and safe position, you can support the other person.

            On the other hand, using Kung Fu only to harm others, would be a terrible mistake, with dire consequences. I think it would make us very unhappy.

            That is why I believe that a balance is so important and necessary. Applying our Kung Fu with compassion gives us a happy, strong and healthy life.

            I consider genuine Kung Fu of our school a blessing, with extensive and very deep applications!

            Warm regards,

            Last edited by Paz; Yesterday, 05:54 PM.


            • #7
              Dear Mark Siheng (Shaolin Cousin) thank you for your wise answer.

              Dear Paz Sipak or Siguje (I don't know who is elder, you or my sifu) Thank you for your post. The last few days i wondered how kungfu and compassion fit together and now i have an idea.

              All the best
              "No matter what you do, you must be clear in your conscience." - Sitaigung Ho
              "Goodness begets goodness." - Sigung
              A single light can eliminate the darkness of millenia.