“Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.”
Throughout history, warrior cultures worldwide — be they the Vikings or Samurai, the Spartans or Masai, the Celts or Mongols, the Knights or Aztecs, the Kshatriya or Apache — upheld behavioral codes that fortified the characters of their members. Their intent practice helped them openly confront the varied contingencies of uncertain life and possible death.
Similarly, students of the International Academy of WingChun (IAW) cultivate Five Virtues culled by our Grandmaster, Sifu Klaus Brand, from his extensive experience to guide your progress. He unveiled them at the IAW-US Instructor Seminar on October 14, 2012 in Berkeley, California. Mapped onto the inner circles of our emblem, they were transmitted as follows:
Five Virtues of the IAW • Fünf Tugenden des IAW • 五德之國際詠春學院
1. Will • Wille • 志 (Center Top)
2. Courage • Mut • 勇 (Middle Left)
3. Diligence • Fleiß • 勤 (Middle Right)
4. Perseverance • Beharrlichkeit • 毅 (Lower Left)
5. Honor • Ehre • 榮 (Lower Right)
Fuel of Will
A will to live is your fundamental cause. Willingness, willfulness and willpower imply your agency to confront essentials for survival. To begin anything, you need to tap into this deeply rooted desire; otherwise, you stop before starting.
Spark of Courage
Courage is not the absence of, but action despite, fear. At the ego risk of loss, failure or embarrassment you dare to envision a quest, engage a plan and execute a task. Validity of your doubts or beliefs are only tested by trial and error.
Fire of Diligence
Those who are diligent invest intensity of effort beyond the bare minimum. You may merely do what you are told or source your own motivation, whether that is playfulness, passion or purpose. The more valuable work you put in the greater invaluable experience you get out.
Heat of Perseverance
Assume the inevitability of problems, setbacks and difficulties. The question is if you are able to push yourself past your prior limits. How you respond scripts your destiny. Can you repeatedly convince yourself to go on even though you feel like giving up?
Light of Honor
By earning a high skill or reaching a tough goal, you can be grateful to yourself. Honor is owning both the long, slow, hard process and the fruits of which no mortal shall take from you. Nonetheless, rather than resting upon your laurels, you further refine as well as share your gifts.
Pledge of WingChun
If you find it useful, consider verbalizing these virtues as warrior vows. Feel free to modify the suggestions below or coin alternates, but make sure they are simple to state and meaningful to you:
- Vow of Will: “I will always do my best.”
- Vow of Courage: “I act in the face of fear.”
- Vow of Diligence: “I dedicate myself daily.”
- Vow of Perseverance: “I overcome all challenges.”
- Vow of Honor: “I am proud to train well.”
Will, courage, diligence, perseverance and honor are what allowed Grandmaster to succeed in the last decades and also inform the organizational values of the IAW. We are a meritocracy in which those whose devoted training — day in and day out over months and years — most embodies our virtues emerge as exemplars for others to emulate. These are our elite practitioners. They are not thus infallible indefinitely, but recognized at present as living proof of personal efficacy. However, like swimming upstream, the moment you stop is not a pause in place but already a downward drift.
Which aspects do you need to develop? What mindsets are holding you back? Nurture the qualities and habits that will lead you to fulfill your full potential. Even if you neglect one, your path could stagnate. Hence, each time you see the five points of our emblem, apply them as reminders to become a virtuous warrior.
“Who sows virtue reaps honor.”
— Leonardo da Vinci