Thursday, October 1, 2009
Video of Basic Walking for New Students...it's not "Like" anything you've done before
THREE BLIND MEN AND AN ELEPHANT
Can any of them formulate a good "concept" much less a "true" one of what the elephant is? There is a saying in Chinese (pinyin) which is zhǐ lù weí mǎ…”pointing at a deer and calling it a horse”…literally twisting the truth. This is only remedied by wǒ zuò wǒ liǎo jiě…I do and (only then can I say) I understand. The basic walking we are going to show below is not "like" anything you have done before and neither is the vast majority of the Internal Discipline we show in this Blog... We'll also attempt to explain here why students should not fret over "concepts".
"The study of Classical Tai Chi in the beginning through advanced stages is as logical and rigorous as the study of any scientific discipline"...Master Stephen Hwa, Ph.D. What beginning students run up against however is the desire to conceptualize something that is based almost entirely on an individual's personal experience. 3 blind men will surely each have a different "concept" of an elephant when touching it for the 1st time, how should the zoo keeper provide a "concept" of the elephant for them by mere explanation? Won't their "concept" be considerably different in 1,3,5 years if they faithfully come back each day and touch more of the elephant each time?
The other problem is that a lack of a concept sometimes seems to spur students to try harder to intellectualize what is experiential. For instance, one hears pronouncements or affirmations about what "Qi" is from beginning students. Or one hears "conceptualizations" from beginning students about the Internal Discipline. "Oh, that is like belly dancing", "Oh, that is like an exercise I used to teach in Karate", "Oh, that is like the 24 Forms of Wu Style Tai Chi, etc. Or regarding the subject of "Qi": "Oh, I know what that is, it is like energy, it is air, it is like...", or "I teach Karate and since I have experience with that it stands to reason that I can not only teach Tai Chi but I can articulate what "Qi" is..." Let me get this straight, science cannot thoroughly articulate what "Qi" is but you can? The question I have to remarks like that is, "Why is it such a persistent issue that everyone assumes they can explain "Qi" or teach how to cultivate it, when they have not gone through the "beginning through advanced" stages we mentioned previously? Science has no answers at the level of understanding we talk about...how would someone who has not studied Classical Tai Chi or Qigong in depth have an answer. It is only when one reaches the advanced stage and contemplates such problems as by example "conceptualizing what Qi is" where one truly sees Science has no answers... it should be a humbling experience. How then is there any "conceptualization" to be had for the beginning practitioner?
What the blind men actually said:
“This queer animal is like our straw fans swinging back and forth to give us a breeze. However, it’s not so big or well made. The main portion is rather wispy.”
“No, no!” the first blind man shouted in disagreement. “This queer animal resembles two big trees without any branches.”
“You’re both wrong.” the third man replied. “This queer animal is similar to a snake; it’s long and round, and very strong.”
How they argued! Each one insisted that he alone was correct. Of course, there was no conclusion for not one had thoroughly examined the whole elephant. How can anyone describe the whole until he has learned the total of the parts.
(Kuo, Louise and Kuo, Yuan-Hsi, Chinese Folk Tales, 1976, Celestial Arts: Millbrae, CA, pp. 83-85.)