April 13, 2009
I’m not exactly sure what it is in this video that draws me to play it more than any other taiji video. Is it the taiji form/style? Or is it the way this man performs it? I can tell that he’s put a lot of time into his Taiji Gong Fu (hard work). I really enjoy the music too. Maybe, along with the music, there’s something in all of the above that makes this video one of my favorites. Whatever it is, I feel very relaxed while listening and watching the video.
April 12, 2009
After about seven or eight years of practicing Karate and crossing arms (and legs) with other martial artists, I slowly developed a strong, nagging feeling that my skills were hardly at all the kind of skills I really wanted. I was always one to re-examine them. In the beginning, by teaching my younger brothers to perform them on me. And later on, I relied on my imagination to do the rest.
Eventually, I realized that re-examining which of the external (outward appearance) moves that seemed to be the most effective in a fight wasn’t addressing a deeper problem in my so-called martial skills.
While teaching my own concoction of a martial art to a number of students at the college and seminary I was attending, I became more interested in developing my balance rather than just holding on to it when I sparred with someone. I was attracted to the kind of martial effectiveness that was more than what I would call “hard tag power”. By ‘hard tag power’, I mean that I was basically using my fists and feet to make a focused slap. The hit could hurt my opponent beyond his skin but it didn’t have enough force to penetrate deep into his body, denying him the power to inflict pain on me.
My friend/roommate and I decided to buy the heaviest kicking bag we could find. I thought, “If it hurts when we hit it, our structure is wrong. If we can’t send it flying when we hit it, our power is lacking. If the time between strikes makes us feel vulnerable, we’re simply not fast enough. And if we teeter over just slightly to any direction while doing our moves in slow-motion, we’re not balanced enough.” These were the kinds of ‘lessons’ I taught my students. They were somewhat effective, but it was less of a training strategy of Dos and more a training strategy of Don’ts.
After about five years at the college and seminary, seeking for more in my martial art journey (the last two of them teaching martial arts), I left the seminary and my martial training with it. I had become disillusioned with many things in my life at that time, including martial arts. But after seven years of little to no exercise, I was forced to begin searching again because I was unable to feel passionate about any exercise unless it was of the martial kind.
I didn’t have high expectations. I just knew that I wanted to practice something that was aesthetically appealing and felt more like a dance. It wasn’t anything modern that I was looking for. “Some sort of traditional Kung-fu” was what I had in mind. “Something circular” because not only did circular martial movements seem more aesthetically appealing to me, but I also intuited that circular movements would provide me with the feeling of being powerful and fast.
After a couple of failures the yellow pages presented me with, I found a class that taught “Baguazhang”. I had no idea what I was in for. I remembered looking through a list of martial arts in a book years ago, and finding myself attracted to Baguazhang by its description (any linear movements are a result of circular movement), but I didn’t pursue the art because I was pretty sure it was unavailable to me where I lived at that time (south of Winnipeg). And this time, knowing a little bit about such things as “Tai Chi” (Taijichuan), I realized Baguazhang was ‘one of the three internal arts‘.
From the reading I’ve done on the subject of Nei-Gong (internally trained skill), I’ve discovered there are many different opinions about what exactly it means to train ‘internally’ in the martial arts. For now, I’ll give you my simplistic introduction to it.
To me, it’s an emphasis on developing potential energy (the elastic/coiling and gravitational kind for a downward force, and the strictly elastic/coiling kind for an upward force). And it’s very important that your potential energy must be developed while avoiding any subtle loss of one’s balance, whether the surface you’re pushing or hitting is there or not.
Any loss of balance is a loss of power you had stored for your martial task. And that lost power is actually being transferred to the off-balanced parts of your body that need to be held up. So, in a sense, you’ve let gravity pull away parts of your body, parts of your strength from being used on your human opponents. The way I see it, this is a direct violation of the internal art. The internal arts emphasize whole-body power, meaning, all of one’s energy is being used simultaneously for one act of force.
In the martial classics, you’ll find the directive to seek stillness in movement, and movement in stillness. Although the martial scholars of that time didn’t have empirical science in mind when they wrote that directive, I think potential energy in a balanced body may explain the physical feelings they had in mind.
April 6, 2009
I couldn’t tell you how many times, when I’ve talked about the lack of EVIDENCE for the supernatural, I’ve been given personal testimonies from people who think anecdotes should be more than enough for me to commit myself to THEIR belief in the supernatural (even though, the more personal testimonies gathered from people NOT sharing the same spiritual family, the more the contradictions among the testimonies).
Check out this video –>
April 2, 2009
Tonight, while cleaning up after supper and discussing how much we enjoyed spending the afternoon together, I mentioned that I was planning on doing the dishes this afternoon but I wouldn’t miss out on the time we had. Becky says…
You know, dishes are like the poor. They’re always with us.
Jesus couldn’t have said it better.
April 1, 2009
If there should be a secular afterlife…
…among the many I would love to talk to, I would hope to talk to the authors who wrote a story (historical fiction) about a Jewish carpenter who lived 2000 years ago. But these authors who reconstructed the God-man Resurrection myth and inserted it into that Jewish carpenter (possibly a fictional character) story would, I suspect, have a line-up of people wanting to ask them all sorts of questions.
For instance, here’s a question that could be asked: “When you were imagining perspectives from a Creator God, who was to be understood as the pinnacle of intelligence and compassion, what were you drinking when you came up with this one…
Now I’m gonna let myself be sacrificed for myself
to overcome a rule I made thousands of years ago
for impressionable children born into an imperfect reality
who disappointed me by taking part in any kind of evil.
Overcoming this old rule of mine means
I can finally let myself let
all the impressionable children
live a better life in Paradise!
No! Wait! I’m not going to let all of them in!
Just those who love and worship a certain one of me –
the one that looks the least like me.
And three days after being sacrificed for myself,
I’ll spread the good news of my death and resurrection,
by showing my resurrected body
to all those who witnessed my death.
No! Wait! I’ll just show some.
They can pass it on.
And then, after I (somehow) fly
in the material heavens
out into some sort of non-material heaven,
my third self
will get those who love and worship a certain one of me
(the one that looks the least like me)
to teach others that I’m NOT going to let Satan
(the most evil being, ever)
be near any of my impressionable children
And someday, after the deaths
of all who don’t love and worship a certain one of me
(the one who looks the least like me)
I will rid the earth of the knowledge of good and evil,
and its consequences – death,
No longer will those who love and worship a certain one of me
(the one that looks the least like me)
have to use their own mind
to learn what is good for them.
After all, my creation of “Free Will” was
meant to eventually, free itself from the human conscience,
making my impressionable children obedient only to me,
just as I’m obedient only to me.
This eternal ending
will reveal me to be everyone’s greatest hero!
Well, except for those who didn’t recognize
the necessity to love and worship a certain one of me
(the one that looks the least like me)
no matter what.
Too bad this story wasn’t meant to be a comedy. You know, something a court jester would make up to entertain his King and Queen. But then again, a well written story isn’t always the best seller.