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Today's youth are living in an age of profound change in which astonishing developments in science and technology are overtaking many cultural traditions and values. Although we welcome computers, the Internet, cell phones, fax machines as well as advancements in transportation and industry, all of which have made life more comfortable and convenient, we deplore the depletion of moral values among youth resulting in increasing levels of crime and violence, drug and alcohol abuse, and sexual immorality.

At the root of many of these problems are selfish individualism and a desire for instant gratification. According to this viewpoint, all values are subjective, relative and arbitrary; nothing can be known or communicated; and life itself is said to be meaningless. This unspoken and often unconscious view of life is the cause of much of the destructive behavior we see in our world today. Without a sense of common values, which are absolute and unchangeable, human society quickly fragments as individuals and groups pursue their own self-centered interests and desires.

It is evident that our young people, and the world in general, are in the midst of a spiritual crisis. Even as the young generation pursues individualism and materialism, many young people have demonstrated a longing for spiritual discipline and a clear sense of right and wrong. The popularity of the martial arts in recent years is a reflection of this longing and one that we would do well to heed. At the same time we need to reflect whether the martial arts have been effective in meeting the spiritual needs of young people. To understand more clearly the potential of the martial arts in this area, let us consider its origins and history.