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The Five Taboos of the Wudang

July 29, 2010

Every sports enthusiast has his or her own set of rules of training. Perhaps you make a point eating a full and balanced breakfast before practice, or you always perform a full body stretch before or after a training session. Martial arts in particular requires strenuous workouts with proper physical and mental control, and the effects of incomplete training, inside and outside of the dojo, can be detrimental to the learner. Though different disciplines can demand a different sequence of steps or movements, there is always some order applied to learning and mastering steps before moving from one training level to the next.
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In The Major Methods of Wudang Sword, written by Huang Yuan-Xiou , we learn of the “5 taboos” which are basically 5 essential steps in training for strenuous physical, mental, and spiritual activity. Though these taboos are meant specifically for sword training, the book states that they can be applied when learning any craft.

The first taboo deals with avoiding too much sex and avoiding being too materialistic.  Strict learners must avoid temptation and can’t be tempted by such luxuries. According to the Wudang, once we rid ourselves of these needs, we will be able to become balanced physically, psychologically, and spiritually.

I agree that being too materialistic can keep us blinded from what is really important.  Do you believe that it is sometimes important to avoid temptation of material possessions?

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Taboo 2 is pretty straightforward.  It basically states that it is important to avoid being violent for personal and selfish gain.  After we train our bodies and minds, it is important not to take advantage of others who haven’t yet trained themselves.

Wudang Sword

Taboo 3 explains the importance of learning in step-by-step progression.  Basically, walk before you run, which is pretty easily agreeable.

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Taboo 4 explains that is important to avoid overdoing it, and is somewhat controversial. The book states that we have limited energy and that or practice should be balanced with the days diet and rest.  Although I doubt anybody would argue with getting good rest and maintaining a healthy diet, our society honors pushing ourselves to the limit and “giving it 110%.” Being both a past football player, and frequent Jui-Jitsu student, I realize the importance of both mentalities.  Football double day practices in the blistering August heat with 35 pounds of pads on my back pushed my body to its limit, and made me a more  fierce competitor.  Jiu-Jitsu on the other hand strains every muscle in the body, and the same training would be potentially dangerous.  I suppose that every activity should have their rules when it comes to avoiding overdoing it, but over all, I would have to say that I agree with the Wudang that it does more harm than good for our physical and mental bodies.

The Last taboo is to avoid quitting easily.  This is a truly honorable taboo; those who wish to enhance skills, train, or learn something new need to have a certain level of commitment and can’t quit when things get tough.  Perseverance is key, and I truly believe that if you have the right frame of mind, then anything is possible.

What do you think?  Do you feel as though the Wudang’s taboos are sufficient, or can you think of more?

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