The Martial Way and Its Virtues – Tao De Gung – A Review

“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.

The Way of the True Path of the Martial Arts

I was in the army 40 years ago, stuck with drab duty and endless amounts of time in which to conjecture. I was supposed to go to another country and kill people. This was not a task I thought of as honorable.

One night I fell into a conversation with a young private, and he asked me if I have ever read Lao Tse. I told him I hadn’t and asked him what it was. He told me that it was…The Way.

Now, I had come across the concept of The Way in the martial arts. I had read of it, talked about it with fellow students, and considered it in light manner. Oddly, though I had been in the martial arts for a couple of years, I had no idea that there was a book expressly concerned with The Way.

Not long after that I found a copy of the book and began to examine it. I dwelt upon the passages, translated the ancient Chinese terminology into terms I understood as best I was able. I was to find that the mere reading of the book, which is not a sizable volume, was a journey in itself.

There is no high without low, there is no front without back, translated into the most marvelous dichotomy. Oddly, I found that these concepts, high and low, front and back, were usable in freestyle. Indeed, as the years passed I was to find that the mere conjecturing of these concepts in thought, even in the middle of chaotic freestyle, brought order and advantage of a sizable nature.

My favorite passage of the book has always been, Do nothing until nothing is left undone, as it is positively enlightening. I would trade upon the forks of my life for the chance to implement this strategy. Eventually, the forms done ten thousand times, I began to experience bits and elements of truth, and my art would actually engage in the effortless principles that go towards making up the True Art.

Not every time would I be able to make the concepts of The Way function in my real life actions, but the contest was in The Way, and this contest brought me out of the box, undid the normal way of thinking, and enabled me to actually be a seeker in action, and the whims of my youthful desire began to manifest. Emotions became a joy, age became a relaxation, and and still The Way nudges me hither and yon. My form transmogrifies to the lilt of this ancient rhyme, and another world beckons unceasingly.

A perfect world, where the realization that The Way is merely the unceasing time before me has settled upon me. A world where those obsessed with political intrigue and the almighty dollar fall sick by the wayside and envy me my youth and good health. A world where human beings exist, outside the realm of transgressions and judgment, this is The Way that I have found.