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Martial Arts – Returning to Source

Ian Deavin demonstrates Chen Laojia form

Many like myself started in martial arts training with Shotokan Karate instructors who, while doing their absolute best, missed something, because the early Japanese instructors couldn’t pass on subtle details. The cultural/language barrier was simply too big to breach in one go.

My Chinese (Tai Chi) instructors are always talking about ‘feeling’ and much of my learning these days comes from being given the opportunity (or setting myself up for it), to experience different ways of being. Interestingly, this touches on the Chinese idea of ‘true transmission’ from a master, where subtle aspects can only be passed on, one-to-one. Also it gives us another answer as to why Kata (or forms in soft arts) are considered the soul of a style. How is it that a really efficient fighter can develop only from practice of one form? Partly, I believe because each form contains the full expression of its originator (his soul). As we learn a form we learn about its creator and come to experience some of the feelings that he may have experienced. The choreography of the moves becomes a language carrying his ideas and concepts. Only by feeling can we begin to understand the message.

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