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The Tenets of a Martial Artist

Updated on July 26, 2011
A martial artist trains how to handle physical confrontation, yet learns to avoid it at all costs
A martial artist trains how to handle physical confrontation, yet learns to avoid it at all costs


There are 6 tenets in the martial arts I study. Tenets are basically general guidelines for how one should live. They are as follows:

  • Courtesy
  • Integrity
  • Perseverance
  • Self-control
  • Indomitable Spirit
  • Victory


As a martial artist, you learn to respect or treat others as you would have them treat you. Courtesy at the very essence means being nice or respectful to others.  This is one of the very foundations of being a martial artist.  

Imagine someone learning attacking techniques that can hurt, maim, or even kill someone, and imagine this person as someone who has no regard for human life.  This person would be a very dangerous person!

With courtesy a person learning martial arts, can be of value to society by respecting life, and defending others from harm.


Integrity is another crucial tenet of a martial artist.  Integrity means that ones word is their bond.  It also means that one does the right thing whether someone sees them or not.

When your word is your bond, it means that when you promise you will do something, you do it, come hell or high water. Doing the right thing whether someone sees you are not means that you are honest with yourself and others.

Thus someone with integrity is someone you can depend on.  Subsequently, a martial artist is someone you can depend on.


Perseverance means that you never give up even if you fail.  

Say that you are working on your college degree, and you fail to graduate because you failed to pass a required class.  Someone that has perseverance knows to keep trying until they have achieved their goal--in this example graduate.

To properly persevere, one needs to understand why they failed, and what they may have to do different to succeed.  Only then will they make another attempt.  Otherwise it is like walking into a wall over and over, when it would have possibly taken a couple of steps to the left to find a door.

Perseverance helps a martial artist achieve their goals.


Self-control is also a very important tenet.  A martial artist would be a very dangerous person if they cannot control their temper or their inner desires.

When it comes to temper, self-control may take practice.  All ones needs to do when finding oneself on the verge of getting angry is stop, take deep breaths while quitely counting to ten.

It is also self-control that keeps one from doing things that might be very tempting; for example, say that someone dropped their wallet.  If you were unemployed and didn't have any money, it is your self-control that will prevent you from simply taking the wallet and running away with it.  A martial artist will pick up the wallet and return it to its rightful owner, regardless of their financial situation.

A martial artist needs to have self-control.

Indomitable Spirit

In war, Indomitable spirit means that you fight on even under overwhelming odds.  In the movie "300", the Spartans had awesome indomitable spirit having fought off thousands of Persians in defense of their homeland.

Today, indomitable spirit means taking risks, setting goals, and going for those goals.  Successful people like Bill Gates and Warren Buffett didn't get there by playing it safe.  Both took risks, set goals, and went for them, resulting in both being some of the wealthiest people on the planet!

As a martial artist, one should strive to succeed on any venture they may pursue.  Indomitable spirit is what helps get them there.


Victory is the last martial arts tenet.  No, it doesn't mean winning.  It means having a winning or positive mental attitude on anything.

For example, when you are trying to do something, your mind will typically suggest to you that whatever you are doing is hard; then you start vocalizing that "it is hard and difficult".  The act of doing this tells your brain to effectively not try that hard anymore because it is too hard and difficult.

Say for example, you force your thinking so that instead of saying "it's hard, it's difficult", you say instead "I can do it, it just takes practice!"  This very change will have an impact in your mind and your mindset.  It will help you achieve what you are trying to do.

In order to a martial artist to achieve their goals, they must have a positive mental attitude, or else negativity will set in and make a task more difficult that it is.


A true martial artist lives by the above 6 tenets--courtesy, integrity, perseverance, self-control, indomitable spirit, and victory.  

You don't have to be a martial artist to apply these tenets.  If you do, you and society will be better for it.

To help remember the 6 tenets, just use the acronym CIPSIV; it doesn't mean anything, but each letter stands for the first letter of each tenet.


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    • forlanda profile image

      Juancho Forlanda 5 years ago from US of A

      Mwilliams66, you are absolutely right.

      My entire family are in martial arts as well. It is definitely one way to learn respect.

      Thanks for reading and commenting.

    • mwilliams66 profile image

      mwilliams66 5 years ago from Left Coast, USA

      If only more people lived by the 6 tenants, the world would be a kinder, gentler place.

      It is interesting the misconception people have regarding martial arts. My children and their father participated in Shoilin Kempo for years. It is a wonderful way to teach your children respect.

      Great hub!

    • forlanda profile image

      Juancho Forlanda 6 years ago from US of A

      Well, if you plan on going to one of those eastern locations, you could make your dream come true. The first step is planning to do it. Good luck.

    • dbsisney profile image

      dbsisney 6 years ago from Kansas City, MO

      It's my pleasure, I just wish I had more outlets to learn the deeper teachings and techniques of this art, living in the Midwest I have found it difficult when trying to gain authentic teachings. I however have been practicing the art of Bonsai and have found I get immense amounts of joy and a strengthening of patience from such a simple idea. The eastern cultures I have been exposed to have opened my eyes to so many beautiful possibilities, I would like very much to be able to visit someday.

    • forlanda profile image

      Juancho Forlanda 6 years ago from US of A

      Dbsisney, thanks for stopping by and reading. I appreciate the positive comments.

    • dbsisney profile image

      dbsisney 6 years ago from Kansas City, MO

      I love this perspective on dealing with life as well, martial arts carries in to everything we do and can only better us. I am always glad to hear there are others who feel strongly about its positive and often awakening results. Very nice hub!

    • forlanda profile image

      Juancho Forlanda 8 years ago from US of A

      Yes, anyone can learn martial arts after 20. I started when I was in my early 30s! And it's been at least 16 years ago since. It keeps me feeling young, energetic, and strong.

    • nms profile image

      nms 8 years ago from Cochin

      can anyone learn martial Arts after 20s???