Dienstag, 27. Januar 2009

Article: The Importance of the Classical Theory

From Ma Hailong (son of Wu Yinghua and Ma Yueliang)
From the Magazin of the Jianquan Taijiquan Association Shanghai Journal 85-86, 25.2.2001, p. 3

Taijiquan is a part of the traditional martial arts of our country and expresses a special branch of gongfu. It's attraction lies in the very subtle effect on human vitality, by which one can reach the highest level of self cultivation and nurturing our inner nature. From the time of outset of Taijiquan until today the masters have worked to improve and perfect it, completing it's form and increasing its depth, without which it would have become an outdated martial art. Naturally there are unique principles connected to it.

Perfect Taijiquan requires not only the finest ability, but also a deep and thorough understanding of its theory. Thus the perfect system of Taijiquan becomes visible. But it does not stop here. There are a great number of classical texts connected to the theory of Taijiquan, like the "Taijiquan Classic", the "Taijiquan Treatise", the "Song of the Thirteen Basic Movements" and others. Each one has its own style and describes in each case aspects of the essentials of Taijiquan. Thus one can receive the thoughts of the old masters. I am of the following opinion:

That the theory originates from the lifelong experience of wise masters, written down and complete. It should be an obligation for every student of Taijiquan to read. It is to be regretted, if during learning Taijiquan no great importance is attached to the reading of this classical theory. Possible reasons for this are to be described in the following:

1) Language difficulties
Many people do not have knowledge of the old-Chinese language. So it is very difficult to understand the texts. Therefore deep research and understanding are impossible.

2) Difficult theory
If one has not the instruction of an intelligent teacher, one will experience difficulties in training. It will not be easy to receive explanations from them. This is a problem if one wants to make fast quantitative and qualitative progress.

3) People's circumstances in today's world
People, who practice Taijiquan, are restricted by their circumstances and the spare time they have. Because of this they put training first and thereby neglect the theory/foundation. When practicing Taijiquan one goes through step by step development over a long-term. If one does not have an excellent foundation, one will not be able to structure the thoughts deeply and reach a high level.

I want further say: I think, we must set greater store by learning and investigation of the theory, because it is an important step in building the foundation. In former times the venerable masters, e.g. my father Ma Yueliang, my mother Wu Yinghua, as well as my uncles Wu Gongyi and Wu Gongzao dedicated regular time to the study and investigation of classical theory. They had a large collection of classical texts and were able to interpret most of it. I in comparison select such writings from these texts, that state important things simply - in order to allow everyone access to their contents.

So, a few simple ideas can help to create a fruitful discussion. I hope my article will create an interest in classical theory.

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