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, June 25, 2017

Cook Ding's Kitchen 12th Anniversary

Today marks the 12th anniversary of Cook Ding's Kitchen. We've had over 900K hits on over 1700 posts and there are plenty more lined up.

In case you are wondering who is this Cook Ding, he is a character in one of Zhuang Zi's (Chuang Tzu) stories in The Inner Chapters, a Daoist classic. It is one of the "skill stories" and it has always resonated with me. It goes like this:

Cook Ding

Prince Huei's cook was cutting up a bullock. Every blow of his hand, every heave of his shoulders, every tread of his foot, every thrust of his knee, every whshh of rent flesh, every clink of the chopper, was in perfect rhythm — like the dance of the Mulberry Grove, like the harmonious chords of Ching Shou.

"Well done!" cried the Prince. "Yours is skill indeed!"

"Sire," replied the cook laying down his chopper, "I have always devoted myself to Tao, which is higher than mere skill. When I first began to cut up bullocks, I saw before me whole bullocks. After three years' practice, I saw no more whole animals. And now I work with my mind and not with my eye. My mind works along without the control of the senses. Falling back upon eternal principles, I glide through such great joints or cavities as there may be, according to the natural constitution of the animal. I do not even touch the convolutions of muscle and tendon, still less attempt to cut through large bones.

"A good cook changes his chopper once a year — because he cuts. An ordinary cook, one a month — because he hacks. But I have had this chopper nineteen years, and although I have cut up many thousand bullocks, its edge is as if fresh from the whetstone. For at the joints there are always interstices, and the edge of a chopper being without thickness, it remains only to insert that which is without thickness into such an interstice. Indeed there is plenty of room for the blade to move about. It is thus that I have kept my chopper for nineteen years as though fresh from the whetstone.

"Nevertheless, when I come upon a knotty part which is difficult to tackle, I am all caution. Fixing my eye on it, I stay my hand, and gently apply my blade, until with a hwah the part yields like earth crumbling to the ground. Then I take out my chopper and stand up, and look around, and pause with an air of triumph. Then wiping my chopper, I put it carefully away."

"Bravo!" cried the Prince. "From the words of this cook I have learned how to take care of my life."

ZhuangZi (Lin YuTang)

I've been focusing on Taijiquan the last few years; that and distance running. I'd like to bring to your attention some Taijiquan books. A lot of Taijiquan books. Below are links to the "Books" page at Weakness with a Twist, which has a broader reading list for those interested in Chinese Martial Arts; as well as a post at Qialance, which lists all the books by or about Cheng Man Ching (Zheng Manquing). Please take a look! I am sure that you'll find something of interest.

Book Reviews at Weakness with a Twist

Cheng Man Ching books at Qialance


walt said...

It is said that Time is the greatest Teacher, but in the end, it kills all of its students.

Until then, we extract value and substance from the posts at CDK. Thanks for all your efforts!

Compass Architect said...

Congratulations. ... Where is the party?

Rick Matz said...

Haha! Thank you.


RunBikeThrow said...

Well done! Twelve years of doing anything requires discipline and persistence. Do you consider yourself a different writer than when you began? Have you sensed an evolution in how you write and post?

Rick Matz said...

Thank you.

Evolved? Heck yes. Look at some of the early posts.

Zacky Chan said...

Whoo hoo! Looking forward to the next 12 years' cycle.

ms_lili said...


Rick Matz said...


Congratulations on the Renshi exam:

Rick Matz said...

Thank you.