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Oriental Influences

Updated on August 10, 2012


We are all one species. So, why and how is it that those who live in the Orient live longer and perform better academically than Westerners? This paper will discuss these things in depth so that readers will be able to not only understand Oriental cultures in general, but be able to improve their own lives.

The Chinese believe that people are not just body and soul, but are actually made up of body, mind, and soul. In order for a person to be successful in anything, all three elements must be connected and in tune with each other. In contrast, Western belief is that people are just body and mind. There really is no focus upon the soul outside of religion. This is the key difference between Eastern and Western thought. In China, religion is practiced, but the people also are all trained in the martial arts from a very early age-almost as soon as they walk.

The Chinese martial arts is focused on the above three aspects of a person. If just one of this is disharmonious with the others, then there will be repercussions for the person either mentally, physically (injury or illness), emotionally (depression, self- esteem), or spiritually. The martial arts is an art form and not used to fight unless absolutely necessary. It is a discipline and practiced all over the Orient. The martial arts focus on: honor, hard work, making goals for oneself and meeting those goals, humility, tolerance, harmony, respect, and non-violence. Martial arts styles vary by country, but the basic forms are the same. Some examples of martial arts are: Karate (Japan), Kido (Japan), Judo (Japan), Tang-soo-Do (China), Qi Gong (China), Tai Chi (China) Tae Kwon Do (Korea).

Persons who practice any of these forms do so every day at some point in the day. The best times to perhaps train are in the morning right after waking up or before bed. Why? Because the body is in a much more relaxed state and so one can be more in tune with oneself and the world. It is important that one be in harmony with everything around you and also respect all life on the planet. Respect is something that is shown to others automatically even if the other entity has not shown respect toward you. If the world is not in harmony, than disaster will strike. An example of this is war. War is the result of people’s intolerance for each other and also a search for dominance. There is no need for dominance as humans are all one species. Culture, religion, and beliefs may be different, but that is no reason for intolerance. Perhaps social studies in Western schools is more important than its minimal role now. If other cultures understood more about each other and tolerated each other, then perhaps there would be less war as the people would all be in harmony.

Why is it that students from this area do better academically than Westerners? The answer lies above. Students are trained to work hard and always attempt to reach the highest achievements they can. For example, in Japan, students are ranked by how well they each score academically. This is an incentive to be the top student in the school. On the other hand, American students in particular are not ranked this way and are not encouraged to work hard. There is not enough emphasis put on academics and how important they are for one to be successful in life. Students are not learning in classrooms, but memorizing and then regurgitating information on tests and then forgetting it. How can this be changed? Let education look to Eastern academics. Take the scary out of taking standardized tests and not make students take them so often. No one likes taking a test and they can be scary for students. Students become nervous that they won’t perform well and let their nerves take over. If they don’t perform well, blame is placed on the teacher which then places more pressure and stress on students and their teachers. American students are always pressured to perform better on standardized tests. What is a good incentive for these students? Competition may be the answer as well as encouraging students through positive feedback. Make them want to work hard and gain that top spot on the list. They will also gain a better self-esteem from peers who want to be like them and the teacher can help with this by having the entire class congratulate that student who has the top spot. The method of doing this can be left up to the teacher. The student who has the top spot in the list will gain the reputation of being the “smart” student and one his/her peers can go to for academic help. This can also be used in peer teaching; for example, if the teacher has the top 5 or 10 ranking students helping peers who are struggling.

Why do people of the Orient live longer than Westerners?

The answer to this is diet. People of the Orient eat more fish, vegetables and poultry than Westerners, whose diet consists of red meat and carbohydrates. They also eat more rice and have smaller portions. Each meal is fairly balanced. For example, the Japanese eat only until they are 80% full. Omega 3 fatty acids contained in fish has been shown to improve heart and brain function specifically memory retention. Vegetables are necessary for they contain key vitamins such as vitamin A and vitamin K for muscle strength and production of amino acids. Poultry has less saturated fat and sodium than red meat. Rice contains fiber which is good for the digestive system.

It is up to the reader to create their own opinion, but the problem with Western society, America in particular, is disharmonious. The American people like to dominate over other cultures and think they are the best in the world, which they are not, but are human like everyone else. They are afraid of other cultures and are not tolerant of them and refuse to study them. They remain ignorant. America was based on religious freedom among other things. So, why the violence?

Sources:

Myself as a martial artist. Credit goes to my senseis Chris Stewart, Joe Brady (a Chinese medicine doctor and Tai Chi master) and his wife Jacqui Shumway (also a Tai Chi master) for teaching me to be a well- rounded person.

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