When I tell my parents that I have advanced to another belt in TKD, my father likes to remind me that the purpose of martial arts is not to get a belt or even to know how to fight. Instead, it is a way to keep fit and to discipline the body; it is to better oneself.
The club I am in runs color belt testing every two months. In the first color belt test, the yellow belt test, they ask children under 5 or 6 years old to practice a series of punching and at the same time shouting out loud “TKD, yes I can; TKD, yes I can. I respect myself; I respect my parents; I respect my masters and teachers.” For kids so young, practicing martial arts is also a process for character-building; and character, as Theodore Roosevelt said, “in the long run is the decisive factor in the life of an individual and nations alike”. Mind you, not wealth, social status, family background, or even intelligence. It is character.
When a martial arts becomes a sport, competition becomes routine. Talent will definitely play a factor when people are pitted against each other. However, the true essence of martial arts is not competition, not about fight, though competition and sparring are central parts of it. When I practice TKD and Taiji, I always feel there is another side of those martial arts that balance the brutal side. And that is the side that gives the martial art a spiritual aspect. Louis Cha (Jing Yong) resorted to Buddhism. Right now, I simply feel it gives a comforting effect and gives me a calm and peaceful mind.