One thing that struck me the first time I ever participated in a Jiulong seminar was how polite and considerate everyone was. Over the years since then, in classes,seminars and workshops, I’ve really enjoyed seeing the happy reactions of newcomers to the art when they discover learning and fellowship take precedence over competing and looking good. This is not an accident. Among other things it is the result of an essential part of Jiulong training: attaining wude or martial virtue.
The term wude comes from combining the Chinese word wu, meaning military or martial, and de, meaning virtue or morality. When someone new joins our classes we provide them with a short manual that provides examples of good wude: at meals, do not start eating until your teacher has and make sure his teacup is always full; bow when entering the classroom and when greeting your teacher; do not speak ill of teachers and students of other systems. There are more examples but their basic underlying concept has to do with respect and courtesy.
However, wude is not simply good table manners and treating one’s teacher with respect. As one progresses in the art, especially when following the instructor path, it reveals itself to be a system for recognizing and maintaining the mutual obligations between student and teacher, student and student, and, ultimately student and all people.
By practicing respect and courtesy the newer student is practicing self-discipline and that skill is transferable to being self-disciplined in one’s training, making for better learning. Intermediate and advanced students generously provide help to newer students because they have developed the habits of respect and courtesy, and are rewarded by gaining the deeper understanding of the art that comes from trying to teach others. Good wude demands that the teacher be of exemplary character and does his or her utmost to train the student to surpass the teacher’s skill. The teacher’s reward is in having good students who will help perpetuate the art.
Attaining wude is like attaining any other skill, it requires study and practice. But it is a skill that not only smooths the way in class; it can also smooth the way in the rest of the world.