Some people would be surprised to learn that the term “Kung Fu” in Chinese refers to more than just martial arts. We think of the Kung Fu we see in movies, where good guys beat up bad guys in elaborate fight sequences with extraordinary stunts.
Actually, Kung Fu can be translated as “practice” or “skill” and can apply to any discipline. If someone prepares a delicious meal you might say their cooking “Kung Fu” is good. Everything in life can be approached as Kung Fu. In essence, it is a practice of Self-mastery to achieve excellence and fulfillment in life.
Kung Fu martial arts training is one and the same as life training. It is about finding the most direct path to your goal, following the path of least resistance, developing balance and staying centered. In Wing Tsun, one branch of Chinese martial arts, slow and deliberate movements are practiced in order to center and collect energy, and from there the energy is given out with precision that generates great power.
A strong, dexterous body is one possible attribute of a Kung Fu Master. Yet, it is essential to have a technique for strengthening the mind and spirit as well as the body in order to fully live Kung Fu. This is why the wisdom of ancient civilizations constantly calls us to find inner balance and peace in order to overcome challenges and be effective in life.
In the famous Indian epic, the Bhagavad Gita, Lord Krishna gives the formula for skill in action to the archer Arjuna while standing on the battlefield. He says, “Established in Yoga, perform action.” Yoga can be defined as union, or balance of mind. First and foremost we must establish inner balance, unity, and wholeness. When we act from there, we are unstoppable. We overcome weakness, achieve effectiveness in life, and connect with the eternal, invincible spring of our own souls.
Dhanur Veda is the ancient Indian system of martial arts including combat and archery. His Holiness Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, the world’s foremost Vedic scientist, explains that the essence of the knowledge of Dhanur Veda is the ability to “hit the target,” to achieve and accomplish anything in life. This high level of development is achieved by expanding our consciousness and thereby strengthening our thought, speech, and action. To expand consciousness is to go beyond the surface levels of perception to experience the source of thought—Transcendental Consciousness—the field of pure Being, infinite power and creativity where mind and body are perfectly balanced and internal coherence is maximum. Transcendental Meditation is the Kung Fu, the practical means to achieve this.
As a verse from the Vedic Literature explains, “in the vicinity of yoga (coherence), hostile tendencies are eliminated.” Wouldn’t this be the highest level of Kung Fu? To have the ability to radiate coherence and harmony to eliminate all hostility before it arises? To uplift the environment and prevent the birth of an enemy? We can all aspire to this. We can all become Kung Fu masters, keeping a full inner “arsenal” of knowledge and using techniques of mind and body to achieve balance. Practice makes perfect!
Guest post by R. Busch