Here at the frontier, the leaves fall like rain. Although my neighbors are all barbarians, and you, you are a thousand miles away, there are still two cups at my table.

Ten thousand flowers in spring, the moon in autumn, a cool breeze in summer, snow in winter. If your mind isn't clouded by unnecessary things, this is the best season of your life.

~ Wu-men ~

Sunday, February 02, 2014

Answering Some Core Questions Regarding Xingyiquan

Jesse Conley at Stone Tiger Xingyi had a post about some of the core questions regarding the art of Xingyiquan. An excerpt is below. The full post may be read here.

What is the Truth?

Like many people know, I get a deep, perverse pleasure in asking the question "Why?" In that one word is the stumbling block for most belief systems and methods of practice.  I know it's not mature of me, but sometimes I can't help myself when someone starts to talk about something that is outlandish or not based in reality.  I also understand that my love of that question can make me come across very poorly to some people, especially those who I question.  I come across very brash and judgemental, but most of the time I just don't care enough to explain what I mean on a deep level (I know that sounds terrible)  But maybe I can shed some light on my personal views and the reasons for them here.

I would like to start by sharing a little about my martial journey that I haven't shared before.  Several years ago I felt totally lost and had no idea where to go as far as the direction of my training.  I have been lucky enough to meet and train with several amazing masters of Xingyi, but not one of them shared the same beliefs on training or what Xingyi was actually for.  Each master held a different origin story to be true, each one believed that the art evolved differently, and each saw a different goal for high level practitioners.  So while I was lucky to train with them, this left me deeply confused at the same time.  Where did Xingyi come from?  What was its original purpose? What is high level?  So after a lot of soul searching and coming very close to quitting due to frustration, I decided to use the tools at my disposal and proven methods to see what I could learn about my favorite martial art.  Since I'm not the most learned person I was left with simple yet irrefutable techniques.  I decided to base my research off of the scientific method of hypothosis, experimentation and conclusion, the technique of "Occams' Razor" as well as a method from our legal system, namely "Its not what you know, its what you can prove" Now obviously that is a quote from a movie, but its sums up very well how we as Westerners fuction and understand things.  And that is the only way I will ever understand things, no one can honestly say that they completely think and understand another culture without having lived in it for many years, so I would have to make do.

So having said this, nothing I say in this article is meant to insult or degrade anyone's personal beliefs, but I am simply putting out the plain facts about Xingyi that can be proven easily.  I will speak in general terms, but please don't take that as an attack, its not meant to be.  But really, if  writing about my research bothers people, they are forgetting a great quote from Aristotle "The mark of a great mind is being able to entertain an idea without accepting it"  So I hope that I get the chance to share this with many great minds in the hopes of starting a positive discussion.

Now that the disclaimer is out of the way, lets speak honestly and bluntly.  Xingyi is an amazing art with a world full of potential, but it's dying.  There is no sugar coating it, it's simply true.  I believe the reason for this is that Xingyi teachers are so far scattered and when we meet most of the time we can't agree on simple practices. How can we ever work as a whole to propegate our art?  We can't.

There must be a core of common knowledge and understanding for Xingyi practitioners so we can present a united front to the world.  We all must work together in the future, the old method of the wandering teacher doesn't work on a global scale.  Often times in the past it was only effective in a single province, not even across the whole of China, so how can it work across the world?

Where to start?  For me, that was easy.  I wanted to learn the most logical and provable origins of Xingyi.

The next question is "What was considered good Xingyi 200 years ago?"

The 3rd question "What is High Level?"

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