Meditation, Sutras and Martial Arts Training

Buddhism and Chinese Martial ArtsChinese Sim Buddhism – in Mandarin Chan, in Japanese Zen – played an important role in the origin and development of many Southern Chinese martial arts, especially those, who claim to originate from the legendary Southern Siulam (Shaolin). Chinese martial arts were practiced in many of the temples in Southern China, eg. Hoi Tung Ji, Daai Fat Ji, Sai Sim Ji etc. No wonder that an old Chinese maxim says: Zen and Martial Arts are One (Sim Kyun Hap Yat).

Does practicing Chinese martial arts and “practicing” Zen has something in common? Do they share similar obstacles, problems and questions? Please read following two pieces of wisdom form the Chinese buddhism heritage and judge for yourself.

Reverend Ma was sitting in a spot, and Reverend Rang took a tile and sat on the rock facing him, rubbing it.

Master Ma asked, ‘What are you doing?’

Master said, ‘I’m rubbing the tile to make it a mirror.’

Master Ma said, ‘How can you make a mirror by rubbing a tile?’

Master said, ‘If I can’t make a mirror by rubbing a tile, how can you achieve Buddhahood by sitting in meditation?


BodhidharmaFollowing poem is attributed to Venerable Bodhidharma, in Cant. Daat Mou, first patriarch of Chan Buddhism  (Cant. Sim, in Japanese Zen) and Shaolin Kung-Fu:


A special transmission outside the scriptures 教外別傳;

No dependence upon words and letters 不立文字;

Direct pointing at the soul of man 直指人心;

Seeing into one’s nature and the attainment of Buddhahood 見性成佛.


Does it mean that it is useless to devote a time to the sitting meditation? Does it mean that all the Sutras are just piece of crap?

What do you think? How would these two pieces of old Buddhist wisdom apply in the world of today’s Chinese martial arts?

Feel free to leave a comment below the article!

About the author: Pavel Macek sifu (Hung Kyun), a disciple of Grandmaster Lam Chun Sing, is currently teaching in Central Europe (Prague, Czech republic). His system of teaching puts emphasis on a practical application of the art, reality-based self-defense, strength and conditioning as well as research of various Southern Chinese Martial Arts. Please visit his website at and

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    • spiritboxer
    • March 5, 2012

    i am a martial & healing arts teacher & practitioner and a disciple of Chan Buddhism.
    sutra and ceremony are one thing…..meditation and the ripening of karma are another…..and “direct arrival” is totally another……..the school of sudden enlightenment….

  1. thank you for your comment!

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