Freitag, 11. Mai 2018

Book: The Martial Arts Teacher - A Practical Guide to a Noble Way

After 30 years of teaching Tai Chi Chuan intensively I was very curious to have a look at this book from Jonathan Bluestein. The topic of teaching martial arts touches my heart and it is never wrong to learn more about it.

Already after reading the firsts chapters I was very excited. Wow. Jonathan is writing about many important topics in an inspiring way. There a chapters like:

- Not a Business, But a Community
- Ways to Approach a Curriculum
- That First Class
- The Challenge of Trust
- Better Than You
- To Teach is Never Enough
- Enthusiasm and Its Limits

Of course I was pondering about some of these topics for years and have my own opinion. But Jonathan sees aspects new to me and has a way to put them into words, which gave me a lot of insights. Additionally he writes about topics, which I never thought of. They gave me a lot of inspiration for how to go on in my future teaching.

The chapters of the book are quite independent from each other. So you can place the book next to your coach and reread individual chapters here and then. This will be always useful and can help in you certain situations.

The way Jonathan writes is very personal. In this book he connects general ideas about a topic with a strong emphasize on his own point of view. He shares with us his vast experience in teaching and running a martial arts community. This is one of the strong parts of the book. It not only provides you with information, but makes you think, because Jonathan's opinion is always well reasoned.

All in all, if you want to teach martial arts or you do it (even for a long time) and you want to reflect on the topic of being a martial arts teacher, this is the book which should be on your buying list. You will be not disappointed.

Montag, 19. März 2018

Dao as the Source

A weapon that is too stiff will burst.
A piece of wood that is too hard will break.

A piece of leather that is too brittle will split.
The teeth being harder than the tongue,
suffer damage first.


The soft and the weak
are the trunk of life.

The hard and the strong
are the disciples of death.

Yuandao - Dao as the Source

Picture by Michael Busch: Ma Yueliang 1992

Pushhands and being in the moment

In Pushhands you have to give your full attention. But do not try to figure out what is the right thing to do. Once you plan, you will miss. Be in the moment and "listen" to the other. Do not force your ideas. Wait for the right moment and the good opportunity. Give up yourself, follow the other and the result will be amazing.

Samstag, 17. März 2018

Forget about yourself

In Pushhands one knows the idea:

Forget about yourself and follow the other.

If you do not do that, to forget your own ideas, two things will happen:

1. You stop paying attention, you miss what’s going on and don’t really develop tingjin.

2. You will not fit to the changes that have occurred and you get easily suprised by the actions of the other.

All the best and have a nice day


Mittwoch, 28. Februar 2018

The Power of the Paradox

by Martin Boedicker

Just thinking about a quote of Wu Yinghua:

"Never let the slightest idea of attack enter your mind."

This is the skill of going along with - to give oneself up to follow the other. It is the noble art of waiting for the other to attack. I have been working on this for decades.

And then ... we are training yin-jin, the tempting jin-power:

Tempting-jin is for when an opponent is not moving, tempting them to move.
Or for when an opponent is already moving, tempting them along a path of your own choosing.
One tempts the other with action and if they react to it, they will fall into the trap.

What now???

Should I be inactive, wait and then follow or should I become active, take control of the other by tempting them into a movement, they originally did not intend to do?

How paradoxical! How beautiful!

Once yin, once yang. That is the Dao.

This is the foundation of Tai Chi Chuan. The change between inactivity and activity, between stillness and movement - one of the great skills of Tai Chi Chuan. By applying the power of this paradox, one overcomes the other with greater skill and less force.

Montag, 26. Februar 2018

The Intention (yi)

by Martin Boedicker

One of the central requirements in Tai Chi Chuan is:

Use the intention (yi) and not muscular strength.

(Foto of Ma Jiangbao by Manos Meisen)

This sentence explains us one of the highest ideals of Tai Chi Chuan and it emphasizes the importance of yi. Yi is already in the classical Chinese philosophy a technical term, which covers a wide range of meaning. One can say e.g. that yi is everything, which one has in mind, what one is thinking. Zhuangzi points out:

What can be verbalized is the coarse of the things.
What can be in the mind (yi) is the fine of the things.

Yi In the epistemology of Xunzi is best translated as imagination. But yi can also be mood, inclination or intention, like the intention of a painter preceding his brushwork. This is called bi-yi the intention of the brush. This 'intention' is also often attributed to nature, e.g. when one feels the end of the summer, with a chill in the air. In Chinese this is called chu-yi, the intention of the autumn.

There term yi is often found in the Classics of Tai Chi Chuan, e.g. in the Song of 13 Basic Movements:

Yi and qi as the ruler - bones and flesh as the servants.

In some translations of this sentence one finds often the word spirit or mind for yi. Even though yi is close to spirit (shen) and the heart-mind (xin) one should know, that the spirit and the heart-mind are not identical with yi. One says:

When the heart-mind moves, the yi is also moving.
The heart-mind orders, the yi implements.

To place yi below the spirit and the heard-mind and to take the special meaning of yi in Tai Chi Chuan in account, it is best to translate yi as intention.

Donnerstag, 15. Februar 2018