It seems that kung fu practice is like a lot like an American learning to jaywalk successfully across ZhongXiao East Road. American society is well-organized with rules and regulations that most people follow, so we usually don’t jaywalk. But kung fu approaches chaos differently, so an American needs to make some changes to use kung fu.
ZhongXiao East Road is a busy eight lane road with a beautiful median in the middle separating the eastbound traffic from the westbound traffic. At first the only goal that you can see is getting to the other side of the road as quickly as you can. You think It doesn’t matter how much chaos and destruction you make getting there; the faster you get to the other side, the better your kung fu skill is. You soon learn your classmates can get there more quickly than you can because their bag of techniques and strategies can make one large Gordian knot (快刀斬亂麻) of your body, mind and spirit. You feel pretty much like a pretzel (椒鹽脆餅).
In time with enough kung fu practice and experience, your body, mind and spirit make adjustments and you start to realize more what 老師means by “see what’s happening” and “do what you can do”. To jaywalk safely, you need to identify any on-coming traffic which may run you down: bicycles, sports cars and cement mixers. Each has its own characteristics and strengths as well as weaknesses. Each maneuvers differently because each has its own weight and timing. Since ZhongXiao East Road has four lanes in each direction, you need to observe up to four different vehicles approaching you! Before you make your first step, you have to observe asfully and clearly what’s going on. If you walk too quickly across a lane, you may achieve your goal (reaching the other side of the road), but it will be due to raw physical and mental power and not because your movements are based on holistic observations and chi. Beginners are quite vulnerable to getting hit when they walk too quickly because their observation of what’s goin on is incomplete (they miss the motorcyclist zig-zagging between lanes in a race to beat the traffic light). On the other hand, if you walk too slowly, you aren’t “doing what you can” (living up to your holistic potential), because you are using your calculating mind and physical strength instead of using your chi. Your fear of things that could happen limits your observation of the traffic scene, so you slow down and probably get hit. In kung fu this means your kung fu partner can block your next move before you even make it.
So it looks like furthering on beyond these frustrations requires settling down and realizing more about what kung fu is, about what concepts like “humble” and “wuwei(無為)” mean. To my surprise, humbleness is not about rejecting parts of your holistic true self by turning yourself into a worthless and powerless ant. Wu wei (無為) isn’t about using mental tricks to shift your body shape or deceive your kung fu partner. Furthering on for me seems connected to pulling my real body, mind and spirit together so I can see what’s going on and have the time I need to cross ZhongXiao East Road one lane at a time. Sometimes I need to step back one lane to accommodate a cement mixer which without doubt will run me over, but sometimes I can move ahead into the next lane. I suppose the important thing really is the journey and not the destination.
I hear that settling down is fueled by regular chikung and kungfu practice. I am also encouraged by the support of everyone who practices at our chikung center, especially老師. (2016.01.28)