Learning Leadership from Martial Arts - III

Let me continue this blog miniseries with a leadership methodology.

In one of my previous posts - “The Way” of Leadership I compared two fundamental Chinese philosophies Daoism and Confucianism, the Yin and Yang of Chinese culture. They are well routed in Chinese everyday life, culture, politics and as well in martial arts of which two Wing chun (blog Wing Chun basics 4 Leadership) and Tai Chi (blog Tai Chi Quan Leadership)  I already explained. These philosophies are used as a background to describe ideas on how to use old martial arts wisdom, explained more in previous blog (Learning Leadership from Martial Arts – II), and are now transformed in a leadership.

  • Control: We said that only when relaxed a person may possess a self-control. A wise leader, for that matter, creates an atmosphere of clarity, of purpose and a sense of unity. Leader works selflessly and simply allows the team to do what needs be done. Through self-control a leader can influence (control) the outcome and not directly the people.
    battlefield of egos
  • Trust: The saying we used in martial arts was about trust in practice. A good leader understands the processes in the team and the fact that leadership does not require the application of force or pressure. There is no room for mistrust either. A remarkable leader trusts his/her people and is consequentially trusted by them. A well led team is not a battlefield of egos, as in teamwork there is no place for individual ‘victories’ or ‘defeats’.
  • Stability: Being ‘on the ground’ (well grounded) reflects our terms and our values -- those that a leader expects from subordinates. A respectable leader is focused, firmly and confidently on the ground with his/her decisions and with clear aim in the mind. He does not flip-flop his decisions.
  • Adjustment: if you drive yourself too much, this does not produce fruit, if you try to rush into things, this does not lead anywhere. The same is true for leading a team. If the leader is too aggressive, subordinates ‘are suppressed.’ If a manager is too soft, he is not taken seriously. A virtuous leader adjusts correctly to the circumstances and leads by example.
  • Responsiveness: one could ‘allow being surprised’ or indeed ‘be surprised,’ and one responds in one or another way. A wise leader is aware that too much interference hinders the work process of a team. A wise leader is calm and collected; his responses are wise and contain vision needed in leading.
    sense of unity
  • Least of effort: If we observe Nature we see that everything is done as effortless as possible, or with the smallest possible effort. The same is genuinely used in martial arts. Nature, in spite of dealing with extremely huge things and events, conserves ‘energy’ e.g. big tree grows with little ‘effort’, the seas do not get tired of waving, birds fly with ease, an ant can hold 100 times its weight and appears to work effortlessly. Therefore, a good leader knows that any overexertion is harmful and it represents a physical and intellectual hindrance. When things are done effortlessly it leaves the impression of everything running smoothly and harmoniously, there is no stopping, no fuss, no dissatisfaction, and most importantly, all is achieved without resorting to giving orders or spending time on extensive persuasion.
  • Steering: A fist fight is like a bull fight. The toreador is not stopping the bull (the ‘opponent’) with his body. That is not even possible. The toreador lets the bull pass and then, at the right moment, he slays the bull with his sword. People have their own ideas, concepts, knowledge, etc., and they all like to excel. A wise leader will take advantage of that. Wise leadership embraces people's interests, knowledge and their abilities. Respectable leader is like water, not destructive, but slowly and gradually employs energy to mould and steer.
  • Responsibility: Responsibility is, by all means, one of the more demanding requirements in leadership. It translates into commitment to finish something. Some people like to hide from responsibility for their deeds, actions and decisions. Virtuous leader never attempt to absolve himself from his responsibilities, nor does he impose his value system on others.

And to take responsibility one has to have self-control … and the proposed leadership methodology process taken from martial arts philosophy is coupled.


  1. Interesting blog. This is one of my favorite blog also I want you to update more post like this. Thanks for sharing this article.
    Martial Arts training in Chennai

    1. Thank you for your comment and proposed topics.


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