Does Westernization = Modernization?: Civil Services Mentor Magazine January 2013


Usually when we talk about traditional wushu’s relevance to modern times, we concentrate on the question “how can it help us to improve ourselves and our society?” Of course, those of us who love the art easily have a lot to say about that. All we have to do is examine our own experiences. Though details vary from person to person, basically our stories would hit on the same points: It’s a great exercise for health and fitness. It builds strength of character and promotes inner growth. It challenges us to awaken and develop those parts of ourselves in which creative abilities and expanded thought exist. The outcome to our acceptance of this challenge is the next chapter in every person’s story.

As an ethnic art, it provides practitioners a living experience of Eastern philosophy and wisdom. And let’s not forget the obvious: it teaches advanced techniques which can be used for high-level combat. Performed correctly, the movements have a power, flow, and depth that is beautiful to watch and fulfilling to perform. One could accurately say that traditional wushu massages the entire person: body (inside and out), mind, and spirit.

To an outsider, this must seem too good to be true. But, this isn’t the whole story. Practitioners must have the guidance of a true master who transmits the techniques of a pure lineage. For their own part, they must log in many hours of hard work, be willing to face their own errors and limitations, and carry on in the midst of discomfort and uncertainty. They must endure physical, emotional, and mental pain, persevere through frustrations, and struggle with long, boring hours of stance training, basics, and repetitive practice. They must discard many old habits and learn to think, move, act, and react in ways that go against their natural, customary way of doing things.