Origins and Transmission

Origins and Transmission

Postby Gu Rou Chen » Wed Dec 15, 2004 8:29 pm

Bāménwǔbù:


Very thoughtful post. I like the way you organized the various possibilities. These are very important topics. Let’s start another thread or threads:

Origins
Transmission/Future of TCC

One short comment: I have had discussions of origins many times with accomplished players. The consensus that people always arrive at is that it was one of a process of discovery rather than one of invention.

Necessity is the mother of invention, but necessity doesn’t necessarily guarantee successful invention, and can’t guarantee discovery.

Scientific ‘discoveries’ grow out of basic research. A cure for cancer won’t be ‘invented’, it will be ‘discovered.’ Once it is lost it may never be discovered again.

I hear a lot of talk about how much of Traditional Chinese medicine has been lost. I feel that TCC could find itself in the same situation.

The view that the popularity of Taijiquan, especially outside of China, will contribute to its further development is very inspiring and motivating. I share the same hope presented in your description and have had many discussions of this topic elsewhere. Envision the Chinese master yelling at his Chinese students, “See! Foreigners can figure out this internal stuff better than you can! In another ten years we Chinese are going to have to learn from them!” At the same time though I have seen many interesting posts on Chinese language Taiji discussion boards on the topic of whether or not 'Westerners' can really 'get' it. Most of them don't seem to have Westerners learning along side them.


Jeff
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Postby Bamenwubu » Wed Dec 15, 2004 11:15 pm

Gu Rou Chen,
I like the idea.
And please don't take this as an attack on you, or that I'm angry, or being short, or simply arragont or "uppy" with you. Because that's not my intention.
I just have an observation, and then a question that I've been DYING to ask for a long time, that does smack a bit with impropriety.
BUT...
No more than the statement that us westerners don't "get it" rankles in my craw every time I hear it being said.
So, please, understand, this is a serious question. I ask in all honesty, and with EXTREME perplexion, because I've never understand the concept.
That said, here we go....

I know a couple of "westerners" that "get it" well enough to have become disciples, indoor disciples, of some chinese masters, one of them even went to china to do it.
If that's not "getting it" by a westerner, then I don't know what is.
But let's look at that idea further, shall we?
What is "getting it" in this art? I don't understand that statement.
Please describe this for me, as I have been learning TCC for nineteen and a half years, and I have NO idea what this "it" is that I'm supposed to be "getting", but am not getting, that the chinese ARE getting, and I've met and trained with quite a few chinese players.
What is "it"? AND, how do I "get it" if I don't even know what "it" is?
Are we referring to martial abilities? Because if we are, then I've "got it" better than a lot of chinese that I've trained with, and I'm not talking north American chinese that just happen to be chinese by heritage, but actual chinese that studied their forms, push hands and applications in China.
So if "getting it" isn't the martial ability, than what is "it"?
What else could the end be to this martial art?
Would it be health factors? If so, there are a heck of a lot of ways to become just as healthy without all the dancing.
I'd put my own body up against most chinese in terms of health. My heart is strong, my eyes are clear at 42, no glasses, don't need them, my arteries are amazingly unclogged, I can jog for an hour and barely be out of breath, I can, and frequently do, walk up twenty flights of stairs without breaking a sweat....

So...?
What is "it"?
As long as you begin to integrate the principles of TCC into your life, and live them, then you have, in my personal, humble opinion, "got it".
What else is there?

If you are talking about the dog and pony shows of being able to stand up and even knock down twenty men who push against your chest all in a row at the same time...
Then no, I don't "get it".
I can't do these types of things.
But, you know what? I don't want to do those kinds of things.
I am working towards being a competent, able martial artist. The next time twenty guys walk up and push against my chest at the same time, which has NEVER even come close to happening, then I guess I'll be screwed, but the next time someone attacks me, which has happened, I feel pretty confident about my abilities to defend myself using my TCC.
I train TCC for the self defense capabilities. I have succesfully defended myself using the principles of the art of TCC, and feel I likely could again if need be.
Isn't that "it", then?

So let's define this "it" that we're supposedly not getting, because to me that is an extremely overused statement that seems to imply that chinese are superior in intellect or physical ability, and able to grasp some aspect of TCC that us poor, iggerant occidentals are not.
And does that lack apply equally to philipino's, or japanese, or hawiians, or any other Asians? Or is it just the fact of being chinese, all by itself, that seems to allow them to "get it" while the rest of the world flails around in a vacuum of ignorance?

If you can explain to me what "it" is, exactly, that we Westerners are not "getting", since we seem to be deriving both the health and martial skills as far along as we wish to be doing so, then I'd greatly appreciate it.

What is this "it" we aren't getting?

Beyond that, I'm outta time for the day.
Catch you tommorow, and hopefully we'll all have the answer to this mysterious "it" thing we've been so lacking in.

Again, no personal or implied anger towards you, no matter if it seems that way from what I typed.
It's more the unstopping of a cork on the question of what this strange "it" is that I've been hearing about for nearly twenty years.

Bob
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Postby bamboo leaf » Thu Dec 16, 2004 1:13 am

(than what is "it"?)

interesting thoughts.

The it is nothing, once you understand that it¡¯s a constant search for nothingness, and give up the idea of getting it. You will have started to arrive at the point where nothing is actually something. Your training will really start at this point.

We start from the idea of full, and learn what it is to be empty. The 20 men that you mentioned where very full, they get knocked back by their reaction to the emptiness of the master.

It might be culturally more understandable for some, but is not a grantee of anything. Image

david



[This message has been edited by bamboo leaf (edited 12-15-2004).]
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Postby Yuri Snisarenko » Thu Dec 16, 2004 8:33 am

<<Most of them don't seem to have Westerners learning along side them.>>

Gu Rou Chen,
Could you please tell us how they argue that? It would be very interesting to understand their logic behind such statements. To know how others view you is like seeing yourself from the side. And it could help to understand the difference between the western and eastern approaches to taiji if such a difference exist.

Personally I see only two things that we could take in consideration in this matter:
1) language 2) conditions of life.

I thank all who shared their thoughts about etymology, wenyan and ordinary Chinese in the "song" thread. I was reading your posts with big interest. I think language and mentality are mutually interdependent. I've heard that in some monasteries in Wudan there are daoists practicing inner alchemy who still use wenyan as speaking language at least when instructing their students.

Take care,

Yuri



[This message has been edited by Yuri Snisarenko (edited 12-16-2004).]
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Postby Bamenwubu » Thu Dec 16, 2004 2:30 pm

Bamboo leaf,
I've heard much the same thing before.
When I began to train TCC, a long time ago, I was told that my cup was full and before I could learn I would need to first empty it, then begin to refill it.
I don't think I've emptied it yet.
I think I was starting to, then fell off the TCC wagon for a few years, and during that time the small progress I made emptying was reversed, not entirely but somewhat.
Then I began to train again, and while I doubt if my cup is empty, it's beginning to.

THIS concept I see. And if that's "it", then you're the first person that's ever made it clear.
Thank you for that insight.

Anyone else have any idea what "it" is? Is Bamboo leaf hitting the nail on the head?
If so, then that would be a big relief to me personaly and I feel sure quite a few others who, like me, have long wondered what this mysterious "it" is that we keep getting told we're not getting.
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Postby Anderzander » Thu Dec 16, 2004 9:46 pm

Hi Bob

Some teachers in taiwan said - there were three achievments:

a small return, which is obtaining the body

a medium return, which is learning how to use it

and a large return, which I believe is spiritual achievemnt - Buddha mind or the diamond body etc.

perhaps the 'it' you hear referred to is one of those? (Emptiness being the larger part of all three).

I don't know?

One thing that seems to be true in my experience (which is by no means large) is that all of the chinese I've met who had trained had developed Jing (ging) throughtout their body. They could move their body as one unit, store and release.

(Please note that these weren't Taiji people!)

I am sure that is not a true representation though - perhaps more an indication that, rather bizarrely, I met only good quality martial artists!

In the UK - it is also my experience that a tremendously large number of English students of martial arts do not develop Jing (ging) throughtout their bodies.


Whilst I have exchanged knowledge with a number of other chinese martial artists I have only taught 2 chinese people.

One, a friends son - and the other, my wife. Bizarrely both were incredibly naturally talented. They learnt incredibly fast.

Despite these rather one-sided experiences I have not drawn any firm conclusions.

I do think it is very possible that their culture can conspire to condition them in such a way that they have a head start.

But I also believe that I am not limited in any way culturally to what I can achieve in the art.

Stephen



[This message has been edited by Anderzander (edited 12-16-2004).]
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Postby Kalamondin » Fri Dec 17, 2004 12:01 am

Hi Jeff, Bamenwubu, Yuri, Stephen,

Thanks for starting a new topic. Jeff said: “Hopefully, Taijiquan won’t get left out. I have a sense of urgency in that currently there seems to be adequate technology for documenting many of the phenomena demonstrated by accomplished masters, but after this generation passes, this opportunity may be lost. I just don’t see many younger practitioners (under 60) carrying on the skills of the older generation.”

I don’t believe that anything is ever lost. If one person discovers the cure for cancer and then dies before publishing, I don’t believe that means it will never be found. There are just too many people looking for that to be likely. There are so many people delving into the complexities of tai chi chuan that I don’t believe it will die out or be lost.

I do hope that everyone will record what they can of the current masters—stories, footage, scientific recordings. The old stories are wonderful, but I suspect there are those out there with skill but much reticence.

I think tai chi is becoming more mainstream. I do see a lot of interest in the medical community for exploring the health benefits of TCC. The health industry has jumped on the bandwagon of TCC being good for the elderly—for preventing falls and stress if nothing else (the rest of the health benefits seem to be catching on more slowly, probably because it’s hard to test scientifically). I’m not saying that the benefits of TCC are impossible to test scientifically, just that it’s hard.

I would love to see a long-term study of a dedicated group of tai chi students. I want a well-designed, well-funded study that goes on for, say, at least 20 years. But there are so many variables! To get the sample size big enough you’d have to track people all over the world from different teachers b/c even the best teachers might only have a small core of students who manage to stick around for 20 years. And then there are all sorts of other variables that would be hard to control for.

But because tai chi is of such interest, I don’t see why a biophysicist, or whoever, couldn’t write a successful NIH grant to the Department of Alternative Medicine (or whatever it’s called) to study 1) the current masters and 2) that long term study of students. After all, complicated medical studies happen all the time.

With regard to the on-going loss of the accomplished masters, the Chinese have a saying that’s something like: every generation is a diminished version of the one before. I don’t know enough about the culture to say for sure, but there seems to be a way that longing and nostalgia for a lost Golden Age (the time of the Yellow Emperor) permeates the culture.

Every culture has its version of Eden and the Fall from Grace, but it doesn’t have to signify that everything is going to hell in a hand-basket. Saying that each present generation is worse than the ones before may be emblematic of a cultural pessimism, but maybe it’s also supposed to be inspirational and/or a geas on the current generation to work hard and not shame the ancestors. Sure this can be a major guilt trip, but it could also be saying: work hard, we know you have it in you to be great, greater than us, as great as the mythic heroes of the past.

Like Bamenwubu, I have hope for the future of tai chi chuan. Then again, America has a strong cultural metaphor about creating a future better than the past. This lends to hope for the future, but also a tendency to disregard the lessons of the past. There’s a great deal of enthusiasm about tai chi here and elsewhere in the world. I believe this enthusiasm for possibility, combined with greater numbers of more classically trained Chinese masters teaching outside of China, is going to yield some good results.

I think that tai chi chuan will exist for quite a while yet because it’s an art with depth enough (hoo boy!) to transcend barriers imposed by culture, distance, language, and time. It still speaks to people, and until it no longer does, it will have its adherents. And when I say art, I’m not talking about the kind of art that has connotations of “wussy,” “artsy-fartsy,” or tai chi as “mere dance.” I’m talking about gong fu, skill expressed as martial ability—the same physical, mental, spiritual discipline it takes to be great at any art.

I’ll agree that our information age schedules don’t leave much time for the average practitioner to practice—but there are still those who manage to find the time to advance. There are even those lucky few who have hours and hours to practice in the traditional way. It may take us longer to obtain skill because we may have less time for practice in this busy post-industrial world—but we also have more time on our hands with increased longevity. A couple centuries ago, one could expect to live to 30. Now three times that is possible, particularly when practicing tai chi.

It’s true that perseverance balances out talent in the end. But the word is balance: talent also balances out perseverance. So while it’s true that most people have difficulty putting in the long hours necessary to gain true skill, it’s also true that more people in the world practice tai chi chuan than ever before, so the art is reaching more talented people. Talented people capable of mastering the complex nuances of tai chi exist in all countries, and will have a hand in preserving and developing tai chi chuan.

In fact the sheer numbers of people practicing right now—from the people with no natural talent but high perseverance, to the highly talented people with lax practice habits, to every possible permutation in between—will preserve the essence of the art. There will always be people who dabble, or try it and say it’s not for them. Maybe for every 1000 people who take up tai chi chuan, only one will “get it,” by which I mean understand the true essence of the art and have a great deal of gong fu. But the field feels large and vibrant. So I’m not too worried about it finding that one in a thousand, because there are millions currently practicing.

It’s true that many accomplished masters are aging and dying. But many of them did manage to train their children, grandchildren, disciples, and students. It’s also true that many of those people and most of us don’t have/haven’t had as much time for practice as is necessary: but you said it yourself: we’re under 60. In tai chi years, we’re infants and still have plenty of time to improve.

I believe that a good teacher is essential—but there comes a point where instruction comes from within, from personal exploration of the internal energies and how to apply them externally. A dedicated student with a good grounding in the basics should continue to improve even if their venerable master has passed on, provided they have received good instruction in the first place, and are willing to practice.

What was it Master Yang Zhen Duo said? Something like, “For myself, I want you to be better than me. Practice more.” He seems to be suggesting that one could gain such deep understanding through dedicated practice that one could, conceivably, surpass even his skill as the lineage holder of the Yang family. The lineage has plenty of stories about masters who train diligently on their own after having learned some basic skills and come back with great skill. Those may be apocryphal, but all legends contain some measure of truth.

On a different track: somewhere in Bamenwubu’s previous discussion about necessity being the mother of invention, the idea of art for art’s sake was left out. There are certainly martial artists (emphasis on artist) who practice religiously because they feel drawn to in the same way that painters must paint, and writers must write.

I practice because the art speaks to me, and I can spend hours and hours mulling over the proper way to do this movement or that…I suspect we all do, and it’s not about personal survival, financial survival, or tradition. While I wish to survive, I could buy a gun; there are easier ways to make money, and in fact, I have a day job; and tai chi is not the tradition of my ancestors (though I do wish to honor the ancestors of my tai chi lineage). I practice because of the joy it brings me.

As for the attitude, held by some, but not all, Chinese that Westerners cannot get “it”—well, I think we must look at that attitude in a greater historical context. After all, for millennia China, quite rightly, considered itself the center of the civilized world. The majority of the Chinese people have been politically isolated for centuries and the 20th was no exception. Their government, like all governments, has an interest in telling its people that they are the best and everyone else is not.

The American government also has a history of encouraging jingoistic beliefs about moral superiority. Just look at the way most Americans have no conception of Iraqi or Middle-Eastern history or our country’s long involvement there. The President spouts stuff about the “Axis of Evil” and the media tells us repeatedly how bad and evil those foreigners are. Can individuals be criticized for what they are spoon-fed by their government? Can we criticize Chinese tai chi practitioners for buying into a deeply held cultural myth of superiority, one that is actively encouraged by their government? Where Western influence is considered “contamination?”

You’re right, most Chinese have never met a Western tai chi practitioner. And even if they have, the Westerners who the means to fly to China and visit, much less pull up stakes and go live there to study, are not necessarily the ones who are the most skilled or have the greatest potential. But I think that tai chi practitioners are trained to have an open mind. And if a Westerner who’s “got it” visits, I don’t doubt they’d revise their opinions—at least so far as to say “Here’s an anomaly: a Westerner who gets it!” But where one anomaly exists, more are possible, and so there’s a wedge inserted in the idea that Westerners can never “get it.”

Those Westerners who started studying in the 70’s and 80’s are something of an anomaly because they started their studies so much earlier than most. The rest of us have a lot of catching up to do. The Chinese who meet the visiting tai chi practitioners who’ve been practicing for one year or five can honestly say, “They don’t have it.” I agree. Most of us don’t have it—YET.

Stephen said: “I do think it is very possible that their culture can conspire to condition them in such a way that they have a head start….But I also believe that I am not limited in any way culturally to what I can achieve in the art.”

I agree with this too. I think that cultures do tend to shape people, and can certainly influence things like body shape, how well people move their bodies, how they think, how they use their chi, how flexible they are, what parts of their bodies tend to be restricted, etc. There are always exceptions, of course.

For example, I’ve heard that people who still work the land, or spend a lot of time walking really know how to walk: how to stay rooted at all times, how to keep their center of gravity low, how to maintain balance, how to shift weight quickly so the don’t fall if they hit a slippery patch. I’ve spent time in parts of Asia where flip-flops are the main footwear. Just learning to walk so they don’t fall off all the time is a trick, much less mastering the arts of not-splashing-mud-on-one’s-calves, and maintaining-tracktion-when-acending-and-descending-muddy-hills-with-wet-feet.

When I look around where I live, I can tell that most people keep their chi up higher, around the solar plexus, and don’t sink it down. But then, Americans drive around more. We don’t move a lot compared to people who walk to work every day. I think some cultures just have more practice moving, and that bodies get trained in different ways according to the needs of the culture.

But like Stephen, I don’t think anyone from any culture is limited. Some cultures may have a head start in one aspect or another, but all people carry tension and need to practice “song.” In America we don’t have great models of people who just walk around with their center of gravity low. Sometimes if you go to your local Chinatown (assuming you have one), you can spot the martial artists among the old men b/c they have a particular shuffling gait, that’s lower and has more of a knee-bend to compensate for keeping the torso relatively still, centered, and upright. They don’t lean forward as much when walking b/c each step is not a controlled fall. It’s more cat-like—testing the water first. This is close to the “flip-flop walk” I’ve seen.

Some cultures also get more practice using listening energy. All cultures have unspoken body language, but some cultures use it more than others, and train their people to read it more carefully. Americans really like things spelled out: if you want something, say so. If you don’t want to do something, say so. If someone’s bothering you, tell them. This works pretty well until they run into someone from a culture that thinks those sorts of behaviors are the height of rudeness and relies a lot on body language—then we see all sorts of crossed wires and misunderstandings.

Well, that was really a lot! Sorry for being long-winded. I’m looking forward to your responses.

Kal
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Postby bamboo leaf » Fri Dec 17, 2004 2:22 am

(But where one anomaly exists, more are possible, and so there’s a wedge inserted in the idea that Westerners can never “get it.?)

such a long post, wow.

A few thoughts as one of those westerners who started in 1980, and has also lived worked in China, Taiwan as well as some other Asian countries. The people that I have met and pushed with where very surprised and complimentarily on my own work, so much so that teachers would recommend me to others of higher skill level then their own to help me further my own understanding.

Once you reach an understanding about what it is, this is what guides your practice. The depth of it is up to you. But the main point is getting to the point that you really reach an inner understanding demonstrated in physcal ablility. Once this has been achieved your practice really begins anew with out end.

At the same time it begins it also ends, for example the subject of sung that has recently been talked about it. In one sense you can no longer talk about it because you know it. In another sense you also realize that it truly is with out end, this then starts to guide your practice, the taiji that you learn essentially really becomes your taiji at this point.

Once you reach this point teachers can only help to guide you to deepen it, but they really have nothing more to teach since at the higher levels it really is just different expressions of the same ideas.taiji, becomes taiji.

Because teachers themselves are still in the process of deepening their own practices you now have the ability to distinguish those who are on the same road and those who are not. the constent serch to deepen ones skill and understanding never stops, knowing what it is is vital in the process, without it one is really lost no matter how long they practice or who they practice with.


(The majority of the Chinese people have been politically isolated for centuries and the 20th was no exception. Their government, like all governments, has an interest in telling its people that they are the best and everyone else is not.)

this has not been my experience from those that I have met, that they are very much eager and happy to see anyone get it, more so for westerners having to over come language and cultural understandings to reach this point.

its like seeing the chinese basket ball player, think of all that he had to overcome in gaining his skill. how could one not smile watching him play Image

david


http://qi-journal.com/Taiji.asp?-Token.FindPage=1&-Token.SearchID=Li%20Ya%20Xuan

this site has some intersting points on the practice




[This message has been edited by bamboo leaf (edited 12-16-2004).]
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Postby Yuri Snisarenko » Fri Dec 17, 2004 8:49 am

Greetings to everyone

Kalamondin wrote:

<<Can we criticize Chinese tai chi practitioners for buying into a deeply held cultural myth of superiority, one that is actively encouraged by their government? >>

I think that present Chinese society has very little amount of such ideas. The main point rather is about mentality. Chinese practitioner can easier grasp the technique of the internal training/development. But I don't consider that as a big advantage, since westerner practitioner must dig dipper in order to grasp the principles of that technique and it sometimes allows him to dipper understand the method.

bamboo leaf wrote:

<< Once you reach an understanding about what it is, this is what guides your practice. The depth of it is up to you. But the main point is getting to the point that you really reach an inner understanding demonstrated in physcal ablility.

… the taiji that you learn essentially really becomes your taiji at this point.>>

I share these ideas. They allow to look at the form practice from another angle.


About "IT" - every time when I read taiji classics I have strong feeling that there is something hidden between the lines. For me "it" is this hidden thing.

Take care,

Yuri



[This message has been edited by Yuri Snisarenko (edited 12-17-2004).]
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Postby Bamenwubu » Fri Dec 17, 2004 5:49 pm

Kal,

You stated:

"On a different track: somewhere in Bamenwubu’s previous discussion about necessity being the mother of invention, the idea of art for art’s sake was left out. There are certainly martial artists (emphasis on artist) who practice religiously because they feel drawn to in the same way that painters must paint, and writers must write.

I practice because the art speaks to me, and I can spend hours and hours mulling over the proper way to do this movement or that…I suspect we all do, and it’s not about personal survival, financial survival, or tradition. While I wish to survive, I could buy a gun; there are easier ways to make money, and in fact, I have a day job; and tai chi is not the tradition of my ancestors (though I do wish to honor the ancestors of my tai chi lineage). I practice because of the joy it brings me."

You've sort of missed my point.
Of course you study for that reason. Most of us do.
How many of us actually make our living off of TCC? I'd bet not too many. There are some, I'm 100% certain, who dabble in a little teaching as a side note to our training, like I used to and will be again soon, but we don't earn our beans and rice doing so.
We're not "professional" TCC artists, we're amatuer dabblers.
I am a computer/networking technician and systems administrator/analyst for a living. This is my profession, TCC is my hobby.

This in no way negates what I said, contradicts it, or doesn't fit in to the scheme.
There are professional artists, those who are so good at a single profession that they are Masters and none can dispute their skill. They make their full time living at their art, either by performing it or teaching it or both. Many, many of these start out as the second type of artist, but wind up so involved in their art that they begin to do it for a living, or teach it to others. That's how my brother got started, as an amateur doing it for his own pleasure, but now he is a TCC teacher, full time and that's how he makes his living.
Then there are the amateur artists that learn from the professionals, their skill level may be quite high, they may even reach the level of "Master", but they never make it to the level of professonial in their art. They don't use this skill for monetary gain by doing it for a living, and they don't make teaching it their full time occupation. That's me, I practice a lot, I teach part time (not right now, but I did and will again), I consider myself an "artist", but not a professional artist.
Can you see this distinction?
My posting was long, detailed, and boring as hell to most people, I'm sure. In the interest of making such a long winded post a bit more palatable for your average bear, and in the interest of keeping my poor fingers from bleeding from so much key banging, I of necessity shortened it up a tad. I actually took out an entire section that was dedicated to just this concept, it came at the end, and after reading my long winded post I decided that it was superflous to the conversation at hand.
I was making the assumption that the vast majority of us would figure out where we fit into the food chain of TCC as art.
We are those folks that pay the professionals to teach us their art.
Without us loving the art enough to learn it for ourselves, the professionals would become farmers or bankers or whatever they ahd to in order to survive and that point the art will move on to the final stage, heritage based transmission.
Without our demand for their art, they wouldn't be able to peddle it to us to make their living.
So it all fits in.
We may be "artists", but we're not professional artists.
The transmission of skills is from the professional on to others who then become professionals themselves, not from us on to other amateurs. Our skills, unless we are very, very lucky, will not be passed on to future generations, but the skills of the professionals most assuredly will.
That is what I was talking about, how a skill gets passed down the food chain. It goes from the inventor to those who need to use it, and if everyone needs to use it then everyone gets skilled at it. When necessity changes or technology creates a new necessity, then that skill becomes one only professionals then will pass on, those who become professionals will then continue to pass it on and those who want to learn pay them for the knowledge and they can continue to be professionals. When a skill stops being necessary or even desirabel to learn, then it passes into the realm of heritage based transmission.

Let's look at building a fire. EVERYONE needed to be able to build a fire at one time, and those folks didn't have matches and lighters to do it with back when it was invented, they used sticks at first and then moved on to flint and tinder. These are skills that at one point just about every human on the planet posessed! It was crucial to the survival of the human race. If you couldn't build a fire, you died.
Well, how many of us can build a fire in these times with nothing but wood to start it with? Can you take two sticks and rub them together in such a way that they build fire? Can you strike flint to create a spark that then goes into the tinder and creates a fire, which was the next step in the evolution of building fire?
I can do both. I learned how...
From a professional.
You see, in this day and age we have modern conveniences. We have matches, lighters, pilot lights, magnifying glasses, many, many different ways to start a fire. The skill of making fire from almost nothing has been lost to at least 75%, I'd say more really but I'm being conservative, of the people on this planet.
This skill was vital, crucial, absolutely necessary to the survival of every person alive at one point in history, and just about everyone could do it.
But now...
Only professionals or those who have learned from them can do it.
This is how, as I understand the concept, a "skill" gets retained. This is the life cycle of skills that I learned in my old days back in college.
I happened to have to write a term paper on this subject, I'm not just making this stuff up.
Then, as I had stated in my previous post, the skill moves on to faith or heritage based transmission and eventually dies out.

Well, enough about that.
It's time to go do a long form.

Bob
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Postby Kalamondin » Fri Dec 17, 2004 7:27 pm

Sorry if I gave a bad impression and didn't express myself clearly. I find that where ever I go, people are generally open and welcoming, interested in sharing their experiences and cultures and learning about mine. I meant to make a distinction between people and governments (all people, all governments) and not insult Chinese people or Chinese tai chi practitioners.

I still believe there's a fine line between national pride and jingoism and that governments don't always come down on the right side of it. (Definition of jingoism from the American Heritage Dictionary: "Extreme nationalism characterized especially by a belligerent foreign policy; chauvinistic patriotism."). I find I'm rather cynical about governments as institutions these days, especially my own. But that cynicism does not extend to the people who live under government rule (everybody), or even individual members of government bureaucracies (after all, I am one).

I've never been to mainland China, only Taiwan and Hong Kong (before I took up tai chi), so my information was gathered from a book I read recently, Iron and Silk, and certainly out of date. In that book too, the author made distinctions between interactions with people he met and his (and their) interactions wtih govt. bureaucracies. It sounds like there's been a change since then. If so, that's great.

Sorry, I was out of line and making assumptions.

Kal

[This message has been edited by Kalamondin (edited 12-17-2004).]
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Postby Gu Rou Chen » Fri Dec 17, 2004 9:09 pm

"it" refers to 'secrets.'

Quoting Yuri:


"About "IT" - every time when I read taiji classics I have strong feeling that there is something hidden between the lines. For me "it" is this hidden thing."


The impression I get from those who express views about other practitioners "not getting it", is that they are referring to the secrets that are sometimes closely guarded by those who know them. I know that some who talk about non-Chinese people being unable to get "it" haven't gotten "it" yet themselves. Their basic mentality results from extreme frustration because they haven't gotten "it" even though they have expended great efforts. They "know" there are secrets that their teacher is hiding from them. Add to that mentality nationalistic pride.
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Postby Kalamondin » Fri Dec 17, 2004 11:59 pm

David:

Yeah, I guess it’s clear that it was a really slow day at work yesterday Image

I enjoyed your discussion of practice and thanks also for introducing that article! Wow, that was really quite something to read. I’m going to mulling it over for a while and plan to print it out for future reference. It’s fascinating how you can learn different things from the same piece when you’ve gone away and learned some more in the interim.

Which parts of the article struck you the most? (or is that another topic?)

Kal
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Postby Kalamondin » Sat Dec 18, 2004 12:01 am

Bob:

Jeez, have I been sticking my foot in my mouth lately or what? Sorry for the tone of my last post. I didn’t mean to say that you personally left something out, just that I didn’t see any mention of artistry and thought it was another good point to add for why people do things and certain forms of expression are maintained and developed. Since you did talk about it in your original post and then cut it—well, props for your self-editing skills; I could probably use some lessons Image

Kal
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Postby bamboo leaf » Sat Dec 18, 2004 2:58 am

(Which parts of the article struck you the most? (or is that another topic?))

thanks I hope others liked it as well, maybe it needs another topic. Image

david
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