One of the common questions I get is whether or not kung fu is spiritual.
I understand what motivates the question of martial arts and spirituality. Most people know of the association between the Shaolin Temple and kung fu. Even in Kung Fu Panda, training occurs in a remote temple like area.
So the association is there in story and legend.
Let me make this clear.
Kung Fu is not spiritual. Not even a little bit.
Even in ancient China, it was true that kung fu was not spiritual.
Now, the reason that this confusion exists is very simple:
Most noteworthy Kung Fu people have also been spiritual people.
Spiritual Landscape of Ancient China
In ancient China, if a person did not spiritually develop themselves, they were considered incomplete. Something was wrong with them. They were ill or thought of as animal-like.
Ancient China was a truly plural society. There were many faiths to choose from. It did not matter what faith a person followed, as long as he or she had a faith.
Let’s say you take 3 friends that head off to train at a famous kung fu school.
The three are there to all train in the same kung fu. Their families are of different religions, and so the friends are of different religions.
Two of them end up being famous and also become increasingly devout.
Different religions, same kung fu.
The third becomes corrupt. His kung fu is strong, but his spirit is weak.
And so starts an excellent kung fu movie.
At Water Mountain, it is true that we teach a basic morality about avoiding conflict, and not using force to solve all of your problems. That is part of Kung Fu. That is part of avoiding behaving like an uncontrolled thug.
If you prefer thuggish behavior, Water Mountain is not for you.