July 31, 2014

Husband and Wife

"Sifu, is it possible to learn the martial arts as a philosophy and meditation exercise and not as a fighting system?"

I Ching: Hexagram #54: Chen over Tui - The arousing, thunder over the joyous, lake According to Hexagram #54, Kuei Mei / The Marrying Maiden, "The man leads and the girl follows." The Judgement, "Undertakings bring misfortune. Nothing that would further," cautions the new wife against trying to supplant the older wife, the mistress of the house. The new wife needs to behave with caution and reserve and to maintain her place.

The Image of this Hexagram: Thunder over the lake: Husband and wife hand in hand.

There can be no martial arts without this harmony between husband and wife. The wife is the health system which involves body and mind. The husband is the fighting system. Balance of these two systems is absolutely required.

Take Tai Chi Chuan as an example. If we take out the fighting system it will become simply a dance and only offer minimal benefits to the practitioner. It is a wife who lives alone. But if we add the fighting system, the husband, and energize the movements, a new sense of self is imparted to the practitioner. He acquires self-confidence and physical strength. He is assured that he is prepared to defend himself and the people he cares for. This manly self-reliance completes the man and makes Tai Chi Chuan a complete system. If we take the fighting system away from the Tai Chi Chuan discipline, we lose all these additional benefits.

The martial arts can be looked at like this: Yin and yang are two opposing and yet two complementary aspects of all the things within the universe. These opposites balance one another. We add variety and also complete a picture. We don't limit ourselves to one side or one aspect. The two sides constitute a marriage of efforts.

Some martial artists stress only the fighting side of the discipline. They thus sacrifice their spiritual health to be become fighting machines. Their bodies become toughened and their hands and feet lose sensitivity. This type of training produces much physical and spiritual injury. Their physical injuries are attended to. Their spiritual injuries are ignored.

We easily see the spiritual and emotional damage that occurs in this lopsided training. Teachers and students become more aggressive and brutal. They purposely hit their partners or students and take pride in this bullying attitude, thinking that this is the true martial art. They need to slow the movements down and meditate upon them as they perform them... to deepen their understanding of the retreat and advance, the taking and giving, the ebb and flow of the Dao of life. They need the wife.

A complete martial art offers both a health system and a fighting system, and together these systems preserve and defend harmony and peace. Like the husband and wife they go hand in hand.

And like the Marrying Maiden, one system ought not try to supplant the other.  

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