Friday, November 11, 2011

Filial Piety In Our Gongfu

Filial Piety In Our Gongfu (Xiào 孝)

The Confucian classic Xiào 孝 Jing (Filial Piety) aims at building the foundations stones of how one should set up an honorable and functional society. In Wujifa we believe we should always take a closer look at the principles and so let’s take a look at this concept here. Filial piety means to honor and be good to your parents, to take care of your parents, to conduct yourself both publicly and privately in respect to the good name of one’s parent’s, ancestors, those who came before you.

"Now xiao is the principle of Heaven, the righteousness of Earth, and the (proper) conduct of people. The principle of Heaven and Earth - people's affairs should follow that principle. We should study Heaven's brilliance and take advantage of Earth's bounties in order to bring harmony to the world; that way the teaching is not stern and yet it is successful, the governing is not severe and yet good order reigns."

Do you practice filial piety in your gongfu practice?
In Chinese culture Filial Piety or Xiào 孝 is considered to be the first virtue and a primary virtue. In our Wujifa Gongfu practice we say “The method is not the truth, once you get the feeling get rid of the methods.” Wujifa is a principle based practice so simply to follow the methods of honoring your parents, or your University, or your Gongfu Master when the principles are not expressed in your heart and your practices is then simply just a form of make believe.

In Wujifa our ancestors, our parents, are our foundational “principles” of practice. In Wujifa we say “you are where you are and that’s where you start” and so we start with our body, our mind, and our spirit in how we practice and train. The first and basic foundational principle in Wujifa is that of developing connection(s). We develop this in our basic practices Zhan Zhuang and side to side for an example. We pay close attention to our alignment and structure which is the first of the three points in the Wujifa triangle of Balance, Structure and Relax.

The way you engage in your Gongfu practice is though Xiào 孝 or Filial Piety to the principles. In Wujifa we seek that of the principle of connection(s). Every great Gongfu practitioner has had filial piety for his training in his heart. If he can not train his Gongfu with Xiào 孝 or Filial Piety then what does it matter the name of his style of practice? If one does not train with passion in his heart to adhere and refine the principles of his practice what does it matter who his master’s name is?

Respect for the principles of our Gongfu are fundamental and starts within ones heart. Each person must truly look deeply into his heart first and examine him or herself and then take responsibility for bringing the principles of their training into reality through their practice.

It is only “Make Believe” to say you honor your style, or your teacher, or you school of practice and not put in the time it takes to eat the bitter of personal examination and bring about real transformation of yourself though your training. This is real honor, this is real filial piety, this is the real meaning of Xiào 孝. In our Wujifa practice this is what we mean by Xiào 孝 or filial piety.

Personally I have made mistakes and have fallen short in my training many times over the years. I have overlook principles and cut short my training when I knew I should have. I have fallen asleep by simply following the Wujifa methods without holding dear our principles of our practice in my heart and within my mind. I share these things here as my hope is each of you may also look deeply into your actions and see where you may have fallen short and where you can make real improvements in your practice. Please take the time to make your practices functional and real.

Willingness to admit and even more important make the corrections to one's mind and heart to truly keep to the principles and filial piety in respect to these principles in all of our gongfu practices.


  1. Law is ill-equipped to form a virtuous people. It is one thing to outlaw vice in its outward manifestation of conduct; how can legislation mandate virtuous conduct, or even instill virtue within a human soul? Mandating virtuous conduct, such as in Massachusetts’ “Good Samaritan” law, may be possible where the conduct is in public and thus readily enforceable. Virtue within the home is far more difficult for the law to reach and thus foster. Even vice behind closed doors, such as incest as well as physical and emotional abuse more generally, is difficult for police to catch. To an extent, property rights enable such vice and allow people the option of not being virtuous in a family context. Yet in countries in which an authoritarian state trumps even property rights, as in China, the question becomes whether legislation is the sort of thing that can foster or mandate virtuous conduct and even a virtuous character. See “China: Mandating the Virtue of Filial Piety by Law,” at