“The Martial Way and its Virtues – Tao De Gung” by F.J. Chu was an enjoyable read that made me think of my own martial art journey. I agree with William R. Connors’ foreword in that rather than a technique book, this book uses martial arts as a core to provide an insight into martial arts as well as a blueprint for a way to begin the journey of achieving mastery of one’s body, mind, and spirit. This is an endless journey that those of us who have chosen to follow a warrior’s path realize is worth taking. This book offers guidance to anyone who chooses to follow that path, and assisted me with my training, thinking, and teaching.
Chu’s goals with this book included wanting to show the relevance of philosophical thinking on “real life” martial arts practice through this text, and I believe he accomplished this. Chu believes that philosophical discourse, like martial arts practice, is a way of life. Therefore, the values he wrights about are incorporated into a martial artist’s life through disciplined and regular practice.
The study of martial arts empowers individuals with the capacity to harm or even kill others, Chu states because of this power of life and death, the martial artist has the responsibility to behave with greater calm and judgement than the average person. This book is about personal development; it is about becoming a whole person through martial art study that includes the philosophical practice of warriorship. For those who are following the spherical path of the martial way, this text is enlightening and thought provoking. As Chu points out right at the beginning of this book, the Tao De Gung is a purist’s vision of the martial arts. This is the higher calling all of us that follow the Way aspire to. It is this higher ideal that separates warriors from predators.
The longer I practice martial arts and the older I become, the more I realize that my training is but a journey toward self-betterment. Yes, I still train for self-defense, and from past experiences I know I can defend myself. However, my training is much more than that. Following the Way is a part of me now. I continuously strive to better myself and live by warrior ideals passed on throughout the years, and then pass these lessons on to others through my teaching and writing. F.J. Chu’s text has helped me grow as a martial artist, warrior, and person. I recommend it to any martial artist, warrior, or person who also wants to grow and further develop themselves.