Friday, November 27, 2009


My entry for contest at

Poor is the pupil who does not surpass his master.-Leonardo da Vinci

Poor is the master whose pupils do not surpass him. One devoted student is worth ten thousand halfhearted students. A student no more accepts a teacher than a teacher accepts a pupil.

In the Mahabharata there is much that relates to martial arts. In one particular instance a man sought a renown teacher of archery who was a vassal of the royal family. The would be pupil was essentially turned down by the teacher who having many wealthy pupils had no need or even time for other students.

So the would be pupil built an image of the teacher, a mere effigy and trained by it with devotion. His skill surpassed that of even the best student of the teacher who had denied him instruction. Truly it was his dedication to practice, and not his allegiance to a teacher or an effigy that resulted in his great skill. His actual loyalty to the instructor whom he had made an effigy of was his undoing for when the foremost pupil Arjuna, of the great teacher Drona, who was under the impression he was the greatest archer in the land, learned of the skill of the would be pupil; he confronted the man and asked who his teacher was.

The man replied that his teacher was Drona, the same as the teacher of Arjuna. Arjuna went and confronted Drona and Drona went to the would be pupil to ask for his payment for instruction as was his right as a teacher. For this payment Drona had the man, who had become the best through practice before the statue; sever his tendons in his arm rendering him incapable of using a bow. Thus Arjuna became the best archer.

This story illustrates the relationship of practice to skill, and of the nature of loyalty being both a benefit and a weakness.

In these modern times we often hear people say that they know but a fraction of what their teacher knew. And yet knowledge is nothing compared to practice. It was said by early Yang family Taiji players that if the first four energies alone were mastered, then a persons skill would be tremendous. And yet how many teachers teach their students endless material? Far too many, because now martial arts is not about practice, it has become about information and instruction.

It is said that the student gets the instructor they deserve, when it is said that Poor is the pupil who does not surpass his master consider not only the instructor the student gets, but the student the instructor gets. To be blunt students who lack devotion never become masters and the amount of people called master far exceeds the number of those who have mastered even the basic techniques of their myriad respective arts.

A teacher is something you learn from. A dojo is a place you practice. The universe is both. Do we hope to surpass the very skill of nature? Let people suffer their loyalties. Let their scope narrow to depend upon information and not practice. Ultimately we are but our own instructors and our own pupils and cannot learn or be taught anything by another. Shall we hope to surpass ourselves? Indeed to surpass ones self is to refine ones being to improve in skill and method, something arrived at by practice over time and no other way. In this age, thanks to the internet, the amount of formerly inaccessible information is more than adequate to facilitate all a person needs to practice and develop the skills of their choosing. Perhaps all we really need for a teacher; is an effigy after all.

Wang Yongquan
udent of Yang Jianhou, Yang Shaohou and Yang Chenfu
Showing us Yang Family postures

Taiji applications of Grasp Sparrows Tail, Yang style.
This is Andrew Chung who has recieved transmissions of the lines of Cheng fu, Shao-hou and Ban Hou, making this rather definitively Yang Family style taijiquan.

Note that the applications lack the impacts seen with tree training, this is for saftey.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

This is tree training from the line transmitted by Yang Ban-Hou in his home town.

Friday, November 20, 2009

When an forward momentum is encountered the course it takes can be altered by slight pressure at specific angles, this creates a new axis point for the movement and if the angle and pressure is applied constantly this results in spiraling of the momentum via the control of a slighter secondary force.

With a forward momentum the angles that work are those that do not oppose the momentum, the first angle that becomes effective is at 45 degrees to the line of the momentum. This pressure to the momentum if maintained at a 45 degree or so, to the primary momentum, causes an arc or a spiral to form.

Perpendicular to the path of momentum is a potential field in the shape of the movement that will control the movement via secondary and slight forces to the initial force or momentum, this field starts and ends at the 45 degree line running through the center of the momentum. This allows variable angles to be used within the field in a successive manner while still in the ideal area and at the ideal angles for controlling the initial momentum and mass. The two successive pressures should be at about 90 degrees to each other, but neither more acute to the center axis of the initial momentum than 45 degrees. This results in an S shaped movement to form, instead of the arc or spiral caused by one pressure alone.

These angles and fields can be used with every energy of taiji.
Knowledge of them is of use only to those who practice.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Infinite knowledge is worthless without application.
No truth has any meaning without practice.
No answer will suffice without purpose.
Without context truth is just a word, a concept and nothing more.

Delusion or clarity, what is there but action?
Regardless of intent, what is there but motion?
The momentum of things is all that is.
It will never cease it's flow, why offer resistance?

To maintain position a trout moves no more or less, than the current itself.
And so by staying in the same spot, endless river rushes past it.
To resist is to be pulled along by the current.
To yield to the current the fish ripples with the waves, becoming as one with the river.

And while the trout maintains it's position because it too flows
stick and stone are swept along mercilessly by the force of the current
their rigidity helpless upon the water.

What truth helps the fish thrive?
No truth will, for truth is nothing without context, without motion.
without context truth is just a concept, a word and nothing more
the momentum of things is all there is,
why offer resistance?

Even the hardest wave has softness in it.
Touch the water and it yields, slap the water and it yields, and yet its force is apparent.
Water contains the hardness of stone within the softness of fog.
What truth does it maintain to abide in this way?
It is because it is without intention of its own that it is this way.
it is strong because it is soft and yielding
while weakness is resistance,

A firm branch can be broken, one that flexes cannot be broken.
In every case there is momentum as a wave
when the wave hits rigidity it is absorbed, when it hits softness it is propagated.
The rigid tree breaks before the storm, while the supple tree dances in the wind.
One dies and the other thrives.

The tree that lives: moves no more than the wind moves it.
The tree that dies resists until it is broken.
A rigid tree may endure many storms
indeed it may appear to be strong and mighty
but before a wall of water, no mighty tree can stand.

In context strength is often weakness, and weakness often strength.
Even water holds its own weight without tiring.
A tree can stand for a thousand years without aching.
Are we not as bodies of water?
Are our bones not as the trees?
Therefore our own weight should not burden us
but neither should we fight it,
we do not fight gravity to stand, we employ it.

To employ gravity one must find ones center.
Only by flowing like water and by standing like a tree,
can our center be clarified.
To know this is worthless, truth is nothing without context.

practice alone is true,
without practice:
truth is just a word.