The (not so) perfect martial artist

Deng Ming-Dao

This was written by Deng Ming Dao and I feel strongly that it applies to other kinds of interactions among people.


As I was taught, the perfect martial artist thinks only of winning. There is no limit to the amount of aggression they will use. Every move is tactical. Deception is constant. There is no honesty except the thud of fists and kicks.

In our society today, many people have the personalities of perfect martial artists. All that matters to them is winning. Everyone else is an adversary or, at best, cannon fodder. To lose is to be weak. To be weak is worse than death.

The problem is that this leads to self-destruction. If your self-worth is built on dominating every person and situation, you’re going to have to ramp up your force to the extreme. This is why so many wise warriors studied the I Ching, turned to Buddhism and Taoism, and embraced philosophy. They knew that they could not remain unbeaten in every circumstance, against big numbers, or fighting old age.

They were the smart ones. Unfortunately, most people who want to win all the time don’t turn to ancient wisdom. They are absolutely perfect martial artists as my master would have them. And that goes fine until they tumble and lose.