Monday, November 16, 2015

Chinese Martial Arts by Peter A. Lorge

I just finished reading this book, and thought I would introduce it.

It doesn't talk about how to train, there are no pictures on styles, but this is a good book to read to understand how martial arts in China evolved into their current shape. Martial arts in China is very much a part of China's history and its evolution was heavily affected by the times.

For the serious practitioner who is interested in history, this may help provide some hints on how to go about improving your own practice, by understanding how things became the way they are now.

The Mind Knowing is not Enough

I was at an event and someone was giving a speech. While it had nothing to do with taiji or even martial arts in general, what he said was quite applicable in all aspects, and I have tried to see how it can help in my own taiji journey.

He said that just knowing something in one's mind is not enough. Your heart and body must be able to do it for it to be meaningful.

Thinking back to taiji, I think what this means is that just knowing how the movements are like, and how they can be applied, these are all in the mind. But if these do not come out naturally, if these are not part of your heart and body, then they become just empty talk. Yes, it is important to know something, but mental exercises can never replace actually physically practice in developing skills.

Practice leads to better understanding. Understanding leads to better practice. Both must go hand in hand in order to grow.

Sunday, November 08, 2015

Practise to Understand

Read somewhere that you practise not just to improve your skill, but to improve your understanding.

Totally agree. I was practising the other day when I discovered yet another way to apply one of the movements in Yang style 108. And how it is but yet another variation of the basics of taiji.

As you practise, you understand more. As you understand more, you realise that they are all the same.

Thursday, November 05, 2015

Why So Many Styles?

Why are there so many styles out there?

Because everyone is different. What works for one may not work for another.

So when someone finds something that works for him, he practises it. And passes it down. If it suits his student, that student passes it down too, forming a style. And because everyone is different, we have so many styles. Even within the same style, every practitioner is different, adapting small portions to suit him or herself.

Which brings us to the question: is there an authentic style?

People claim that what they practise is authentic. "This is how the founder practised it." "My teacher's lineage is so and so, right to the founder himself."

Yet, do authenticity and lineage mean something is practical and can actually be used?

Maybe styles that are passed down are just broad systems. Each style works for people within a certain category. But in order to be effective, the style still needs to be assimilated into oneself, and adapted to one's needs, characteristics, strengths and weaknesses.

So maybe authenticity and lineage are important, but what is even more important is to eventually bring everything within oneself to create something that works for oneself.

Because we are all different. And that's why there are so many styles. Because there are many categories of people.