My Instructor Only Taught Me 8 Things

 One of my first and most influential instructors used to say that his teacher only ever taught him eight things.  This was not meant as a slight against what his teacher had imparted to him -quite the opposite.  It was a statement that he grasped the most important lessons he had been given. These eight things, or principles, are the formula for a happy and successful life. Every drill, form, technique, concept, philosophy, precept, moral, and ethic that was useful, was an expression of the eight principles. 

These eight principles, doctrines, things, ideas, categories, concepts are not unique.  If you look you will find them in one form or another in all useful, well-formed philosophies and psychologies, and religions and anti-religious doctrines of all the cultures of the world.  Often they have different names, orders and are sometimes combined, but they are there. 

Here they are as I recall them:

  1. Positive Mind
  2. Healthy Body
  3. Relationships
  4. Meaning
  5. Will/Wind Horse
  6. Position
  7. Amount
  8. Legacy 

Here is how they play out: 

A Positive Mind, also meaning a healthy one, is the first and most important concept.  It will color the success or failure of all the rest.  It is followed very closely by a Healthy Body.  These first two interact most directly with one another.  If you are down emotionally, it negatively affects your physical health.  If your physical health is impaired, it is easy to be down emotionally. And if you are down emotionally it can degrade you health, ad infinitum. However, this interconnection can form an upward spiral as well as a downward one.  If you feel good physically, a positive mind easily follows.  If you are mentally well, your physical health is elevated. If your body is healthy….You get the idea.  

This mind/body connection forms your first and most important of your Relationships and will be reflected in the rest.  Relationships occur between people, things, and people and things (for our purposes “things” means anything and everything not people).  These relationships are what give life Meaning or significance.  From meaning we develop Will.  Meaning and Will help us to reinforce and pursue the first three.  With these five principles strong and balanced, people become like fires in the cold.  People want to gather around and a Position in the community is achieved.  According to the community’s desire to keep a person around doing what they do, an Amount is provided.  (In western culture, this usually comes in the form of money, but in other cultures it might be goats or other things of value.)  When one is no longer around, either due to geography or death, Legacy is what remains.  One’s legacy is the impact left on the universe upon departure and is dependant upon all the previous seven principles. 

These principles are the building blocks of a great life, or a diagnostic tool for one that is lacking.  Whenever you see someone unhappy or otherwise in pain…suffering…you will find one or more of these concepts out of balance. Each principle builds on the previous ones.  Example: Ever see a rich, well-known entertainer suffering from addiction?  Often, they rose too high in the Position and Amount categories without the proper foundation in the first five.  Each principle builds on the previous ones and depends upon them for stability like layers of a pyramid. 

As principles, naming these concepts falls short. They are much more than can be approached directly.  They have to be seen by their expressions for better and worse. 

My instructor only ever taught me eight things and I am thankful.


Happy Training,

Sifu Nick Edmonds

Red Light Wing Chun Phoenix, Arizona

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