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by Christopher Caile

Author's Note: Confucianism was central to Asian cultures which spawned Karate, Japanese classical and modern martial arts as well as Chinese martial arts. While it had little direct effect on technique itself,  it did provide a framework for the philosophy and operational exercise of many arts.

Confucius was called Chung Mi in his boyhood and is also known as Kuang Fu Tsu. A famous Chinese philosopher, and frustrated administrator and advisor to various feudal lords within the Federation of the Chow (that followed Sung) dynasty. His Chinese name Kong-zi (or, Kong fu zi) has been Romanticized into western name of Confucius (551-473 B.C.). Some authorities say he was a contemporary of Lao-Tsu. Although he never wrote down his teachings, his disciples (who followed his travels throughout the Federation), upon his death gathered his sayings and beliefs they had memorized into a book known as the Analects of Confucius. The book served as the basis of his philosophy which had a profound and pervasive effect on people in later generations when every school pupil was required to memorize his teachings and educated adults were expected to be well versed in his philosophy. Based on a belief in the inherent goodness of man, Confucius philosophy taught (obligation) devotion to family, loyalty to the constituted authority (personal loyalty to immediate superiors and to those above) as well as ethical behavior, a ridged code of honor and courtesy - conduct based on good example and higher principles - which he believed were the most effective means of control over personal action. Confucius believed that law failed on two fronts: It could be circumvented and it could not evoke a sense of shame (a powerful self regulator) over those who it sought to control. He was a teacher of ethics and morals as well as an proponent of ancient rites, ceremonies and songs. His own life served as an example to those who followed. He lived in a time of political and military anarchy during which central authority had been eroded by political efforts to usurp power and control within the Federation (which now comprises the provinces of Shantung, Honen and Shensei in modern day China). The distress of the Federation was not seen as a result of the political structure or doctrines, but the faulty functioning of people - the loss of principles, ethics and standards of behavior. Thus his teachings stressed the inculcation of gentlemanly conduct, morals, sets of obligations and ethics within the population to set a standard for conduct. His general rule of conduct was, "Do not unto others what you would not have others do unto you." His teachings were propagated by his grandson, who wrote The Doctrine of The Mean.

Acknowledgement: Reprinted with permission from YMAA

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About The Author:

Christopher Caile is the founder and editor of

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