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Thread: The dialectic of yiquan

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    The dialectic of yiquan

    Marxist cultural theorist Frederic Jameson once said of 'post modernism' that it is something that needs to be defined after our discussion of it, not before. This is because it has no essential meaning, and a process of roundabout consideration of multiple factors is required to see what the idea is really getting at. One cannot, therefore, give a simple, clear definition as a starting point of the discussion. 'Yiquan', which is based on Marxist historical and dialectical materialism, is a very similar phenomenon. I read a post on Facebook recently, from someone I have no respect for, who is a student of someone I have no respect for, claiming that 'Yiquan contains everything that is in wing chun, but wing chun does not contain everything that is in yiquan'. This is such a stupid thing to say, and so obnoxious and childish. 'Yiquan' is a dialectical phenomenon, meaning that it has no essential meaning, no essential content, and certainly no essential 'level' or level of ability. Yiquan's primary dialectic is between theory and praxis - such that each individual who practices yiquan is a unique product, with a unique expression and level of the art. 'Praxis', which means 'practical as opposed to theoretical skill', includes training methods - and training methods too are dialectically conditioned by historcial, cultural and technical variables, such that the yiquan of the MMA age should look very different to the yiquan of the 1930s. There is no 'one' yiquan, therefore - as each person, and each historical situation in which it is practiced, is very different.

    One of the most interesting things about yiquan, however, is just how many totally - I mean totally - obnoxious frauds it produces. By which I don't mean people who are low level - there's no shame in being a hobby level practitioner. I mean people who have actually totally ignored 'praxis', and parasitised yiquan theory to pretend to have the kinds of skills, and to do the kinds of things, that Wang Xiang Zhai spent his life fighting (literally) against. This is the other side of the dialectical method - the danger of the total over-emphasis of one part of the dialectic over the other. Or rather, the danger of the most obnoxious frauds parasitising the phraseology of the method, turning 'yiquan' in to an open sore of corrupt practice, such that yiquan is if not now actually totally far worse, then at least quite as bad, as the practices that Wang despised. The ideology of this corruption is 'Those who know, know' - i.e. the corrupt nod and a wink of the hoaxer, whose entire basis for claiming knowledge is arcane theoretical nonsense. Fortunately, what they are is its own reward.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=48CPY7hWnW8

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    It may not be far from the truth (despite being obviously absurd) but New Qigong went through this Marxist re-assessment phase and many teachers of some renown had to publicly mask their systems in Marxist dialectical BS crap theory just to praise and be praised on they approach to qigong. That was a gold standard to be accepted into the party. Some even went as far to combine Marxist theory and Nationalist jargon to push forward the Falun Gong movement. It end up as "Who is using who? and "For what purpose?

  3. #3
    the dialectics of yiquan includes photosynthesis, plankton filtration, and reverse osmosis.

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    Quote Originally Posted by bawang View Post
    the dialectics of yiquan includes photosynthesis, plankton filtration, and reverse osmosis.
    The elements of sewer system TCMA regenerative effluent!

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    ‘Dialectic method’ does not mean ‘balance’ or a combination of opposites; it means an active relationship in which the halves of the dialectic have an ongoing ‘conditioning’ or ‘grooming’ effect on one another, leading to a synthesis.

    The idea is complex, hence the scramble-in-the-dirt arguments about ‘what is yiquan?’ which consistently flare up on various forums, usually from people without the slightest understanding of yiquan. There are two common mistakes about ‘what yiquan is’ which I see. It is, unfortunately, difficult to challenge these mistakes because one of yiquan’s key dialectics – that between science and tradition – has been smothered, so that no criticism is allowed, and Wang’s vision of a scientific community in which people engage in honest critique has been overwhelmed by sclerotic and egotistical defence of position. Fortunately, I don’t need the money from teaching, nor any connection with any sclerotic lineage, so I am free to follow Wang’s original advice.

    However, one mistake is signally represented by Andrzej Kalisz, who argues that he only wants to pass on, as precisely as possible, what he has been taught. This is itself a corruption of the principles of yiquan – a corruption which is then passed on in a ‘the medium is the message’ kind of mistake, as his students adopt his mistaken approach. (This is, of course, the sclerotic position of most Chinese martial arts – the false belief that keeping an art as identical as possible to previous generations is somehow a positive. Usually, this only seems correct because most arts actually degenerate as hoaxers parasitise them for egotistical gain.)

    The problem is that yiquan is a dialectic interaction between current state of yiquan and you, as an individual. Yiquan cannot be taught or passed on – the idea is to unfold via intuition your own native ability, multiplied by your own desire to practice, guided via a training framework. No one, in that case, can pass on what they have learned. Each expression of yiquan is individual. It should also be noted that the dialectic of theory and practice means that no one really understands further than their own highest point of practical level – despite the very common practice of martial arts teachers pointing to their abilities to coach beyond their level. Those arguments don’t apply to yiquan in the way that they do to basketball and weightlifting, because they are not dialectic methods; no one can supply the yiquan dialectic of another with a theoretical level which is not in itself originally conditioned by their own level of theoretical understanding, which in turn is conditioned by their own practical ability.

    The second mistake is the argument over whether yiquan is a set of techniques or a general method. This mistake comes from failure to understand the dialectic method. JKD provides a useful contrast here - and I should also say, even though I believe that yiquan's method is ultimately far superipr to JKD's, I've seen scores of JKD practioners with really high level, and only one or two skilled yiquan practioners. Nevertheless... JKD is a set of techniques, taught in a non-dialectical manner. JKD’s theory does not have a dialectic relationship with the techniques; the core ‘theory’ is to establish and learn the simplest set of techniques with the broadest self-defence application. This is often covered by an ideology of ‘liberation’ – as if ‘liberation’ means simply freeing up the rest of your time to do something else, or freeing your ‘ego’ from its insertion into ‘styles’ – as if JKD wasn’t just another style. Yiquan’s dialectical method, by contrast, has no core techniques, and yet, it requires a structured curriculum to encourage the development of intuitive skill. There is, in yiquan, ultimately no technique which ‘is’ yiquan – yiquan is a product; the product of a human being who has gone through a dialectic interaction with a method in order to draw out intuitive skill. Multiple factors will affect that final outcome. However, the ability to issue force with whole body power is the key aim – although, the phrase ‘whole body power’ generally causes people to ‘appoint’ an expectation of something that is much more than it really is. And that is how parasites manage to con the gullible and lazy, by pretending to be able to issue magical levels of force.
    Last edited by Miqi; 12-16-2013 at 03:17 AM.

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    Here is an interesting channel that I have found, where the entire corruption of the Han line of so-called yiquan is documented:

    From the ridiculous frauds:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vTfn36wnR1s

    To the silly fraudulence of old Han himself:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JCeyIkUjrBI#t=12

    It was always intersting to me why the Han line, or at least, those of it who post on forums, were so obsessed with their 'lineage', and so intent on talking about the toughness of their training, and the seriousness of their great teacher. (Who is that guy on Rum Soaked Fist who is forever talking about the blood curdling Han yiquan training he did, lol). One never sees Yao Zong Xun training with students who 'float off' like this - although, Cui Rui Bin has publicly claimed that he had supernatural powers, lol: http://wulinmingshi.wordpress.com/20...ngxun-part-iv/ .

    I would like to think that the old Han man is just too polite to tell the young training partner to stop being so silly, but the whole line is corrupt with this nonsense, and that, sadly, comes from the source, which is old Han himself. The talk of hard training was, as ever, just humbug - hence the famous video of Han yiquan in action: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4s8l1JyU7NU

    A good example of a corrupted dialectic, and the sclerotic death of a whole branch of yiquan.

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    I kind of giggled when I read the title.
    Intellectualism and learning to shove someone's head through their ass make for funny bedfellows.
    Kung Fu is good for you.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Miqi View Post
    ‘Dialectic method’ does not mean ‘balance’ or a combination of opposites; it means an active relationship in which the halves of the dialectic have an ongoing ‘conditioning’ or ‘grooming’ effect on one another, leading to a synthesis.

    The idea is complex, hence the scramble-in-the-dirt arguments about ‘what is yiquan?’ which consistently flare up on various forums, usually from people without the slightest understanding of yiquan. There are two common mistakes about ‘what yiquan is’ which I see. It is, unfortunately, difficult to challenge these mistakes because one of yiquan’s key dialectics – that between science and tradition – has been smothered, so that no criticism is allowed, and Wang’s vision of a scientific community in which people engage in honest critique has been overwhelmed by sclerotic and egotistical defence of position. Fortunately, I don’t need the money from teaching, nor any connection with any sclerotic lineage, so I am free to follow Wang’s original advice.

    However, one mistake is signally represented by Andrzej Kalisz, who argues that he only wants to pass on, as precisely as possible, what he has been taught. This is itself a corruption of the principles of yiquan – a corruption which is then passed on in a ‘the medium is the message’ kind of mistake, as his students adopt his mistaken approach. (This is, of course, the sclerotic position of most Chinese martial arts – the false belief that keeping an art as identical as possible to previous generations is somehow a positive. Usually, this only seems correct because most arts actually degenerate as hoaxers parasitise them for egotistical gain.)

    The problem is that yiquan is a dialectic interaction between current state of yiquan and you, as an individual. Yiquan cannot be taught or passed on – the idea is to unfold via intuition your own native ability, multiplied by your own desire to practice, guided via a training framework. No one, in that case, can pass on what they have learned. Each expression of yiquan is individual. It should also be noted that the dialectic of theory and practice means that no one really understands further than their own highest point of practical level – despite the very common practice of martial arts teachers pointing to their abilities to coach beyond their level. Those arguments don’t apply to yiquan in the way that they do to basketball and weightlifting, because they are not dialectic methods; no one can supply the yiquan dialectic of another with a theoretical level which is not in itself originally conditioned by their own level of theoretical understanding, which in turn is conditioned by their own practical ability.

    The second mistake is the argument over whether yiquan is a set of techniques or a general method. This mistake comes from failure to understand the dialectic method. JKD provides a useful contrast here - and I should also say, even though I believe that yiquan's method is ultimately far superipr to JKD's, I've seen scores of JKD practioners with really high level, and only one or two skilled yiquan practioners. Nevertheless... JKD is a set of techniques, taught in a non-dialectical manner. JKD’s theory does not have a dialectic relationship with the techniques; the core ‘theory’ is to establish and learn the simplest set of techniques with the broadest self-defence application. This is often covered by an ideology of ‘liberation’ – as if ‘liberation’ means simply freeing up the rest of your time to do something else, or freeing your ‘ego’ from its insertion into ‘styles’ – as if JKD wasn’t just another style. Yiquan’s dialectical method, by contrast, has no core techniques, and yet, it requires a structured curriculum to encourage the development of intuitive skill. There is, in yiquan, ultimately no technique which ‘is’ yiquan – yiquan is a product; the product of a human being who has gone through a dialectic interaction with a method in order to draw out intuitive skill. Multiple factors will affect that final outcome. However, the ability to issue force with whole body power is the key aim – although, the phrase ‘whole body power’ generally causes people to ‘appoint’ an expectation of something that is much more than it really is. And that is how parasites manage to con the gullible and lazy, by pretending to be able to issue magical levels of force.
    Based on the above and using the language of dialectics then the Wudang abc fits the bill perfectly. It is one thing to have Wudang taijiquan, but then to have Wudang Yang style, Wudang Sun style, etc is pushing the envelope of ridiculousness. Of course, freedom to do so is great for business!

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by David Jamieson View Post
    I kind of giggled when I read the title.
    Intellectualism and learning to shove someone's head through their ass make for funny bedfellows.
    Yeah! When all you really need is an understanding of simple human anatomy and super-human strength....in order to get someone's head through their ass.....that is!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Scott R. Brown View Post
    Yeah! When all you really need is an understanding of simple human anatomy and super-human strength....in order to get someone's head through their ass.....that is!
    pfft literalism.
    Kung Fu is good for you.

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    If I were to say that the so-called philosophy of this fellow Hegel is a colossal piece of mystification which will yet provide posterity with an inexhaustible theme for laughter at our times, that it is a pseudo-philosophy paralyzing all mental powers, stifling all real thinking, and, by the most outrageous misuse of language, putting in its place the hollowest, most senseless, thoughtless, and, as is confirmed by its success, most stupefying verbiage, I should be quite right. If I were to say that this pseudo-philosophy has as its central idea an absurd notion grasped from thin air, that it dispenses with reasons and consequents, in other words, is demonstrated by nothing, and itself does not prove or explain anything, that it lacks originality and is a mere parody of scholastic realism and at the same time of Spinozism, and that this monster is also supposed to represent Christianity turned inside out, hence again I should be right.
    Last edited by wenshu; 12-17-2013 at 08:37 PM.

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    Thank you for your responses and inputs.

    Inevitably, some people will want to believe in magic powers. Wang Xiang Zhai called this “being tormented by illusions of flying swordsmen and immortal warriors”.

    The most useful tool which someone can utilise in their personal dialectic of training is to ‘dis-appoint’ themselves of these illusions. I’m not talking about people who want to believe in magic powers; those people are not actually interested in martial arts knowledge at all, and are irrelevant and shouldn’t even be engaged in discussion. But for those who really do want to understand yiquan, the first key conceptual tool is to liberate oneself from the sclerotic ancestor worship that corrupts so many Chinese martial arts schools. I don’t for one second think that Helio Gracie, in his prime, could have beaten a modern MMA fighter. What matters is the principles that Helio developed – which other people then took to deeper and more advanced levels of expression. Similarly, I don’t think Wang Xiang Zhai could have beaten a modern MMA fighter. (Although, I’d put my money on Wang beating Helio but that’s just something I want to believe.)

    The more we laud and over-rate people who’ve gone before, the more we ‘appoint’ expectations about their level, and those expectations get bigger and bigger. This is even more the case when people try to interpret written or philosophical concepts. Watching videos of Yao Xong Zun is very useful for this – what he does is actually very basic and straightforward. There’s nothing there that’s anything like the way people talk about him. His skill is practical, down to earth, and then, even while recognising that there are subtleties and highly developed skills, nevertheless, you realise that ‘oh, it’s really just that…’ – i.e. it’s really nothing like the kinds of ‘flying skills’ that some people have come to believe in. Then the whole project comes into clearer focus. A yiquan punch is just a punch, even if it does use different body mechanics. A push is just a push, even if it is a bit more powerful, or well timed, than a push from someone who hasn’t trained. And the whole project of achieving a reasonable level becomes much more achievable. And this realisation super-charges one’s dialectic training method. For some, however, this will never be enough. ‘Dis-appointing’ one’s expectations is ‘disappointing’ – and it causes a lull, where you think wow, what’s the point? I’ve really wasted so much time, and invested so much of my ego into this stuff, and after all, it turned out to be ‘only that’. For some, therefore, the threat to their ego-structure will prevent them from dis-appointing their illusions and seeing things clearly. But then, those people don’t really practice yiquan – because, dis-appointment is the whole point of yiquan’s dialectic method.

    What I’m saying is such a simple idea that it’s easy to just to dismiss it as something you think you already know (of course, some do), and not really practice it, to get the practical results that dis-appointment can bring when practiced as a dialectic training method. By the same token, it can become a corrupted practice in itself, for example in JKD, where ‘dis-appointing’ is replaced by a fanatical opposition to everything else – which is not the same thing at all, and nor is it a dialectic method. And nor is it liberation.

  13. #13
    Many good points in your last post Miqi, the tradition of ancestor worship does a lot to distort the history and reality of TMAs. It may not be as glamorous as delusions of grandeur, but having realistic expectations and understanding of your fighting art; and the people who developed it will get you a whole lot further than putting the founders on some unachievable pedestal.
    Quote Originally Posted by YouKnowWho View Post
    This is 100% TCMA principle. It may be used in non-TCMA also. Since I did learn it from TCMA, I have to say it's TCMA principle.
    Quote Originally Posted by YouKnowWho View Post
    We should not use "TCMA is more than combat" as excuse for not "evolving".

    You can have Kung Fu in cooking, it really has nothing to do with fighting!

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    Whatever ‘liberation’ means in JKD, it hasn’t achieved it. A sclerotic system of jealous ‘lineages’, complex expansions into traditional systems, and an ideology of ‘escaping the classical mess’ which does little now to mask the fact that JKD has repeated all of the worst features of the classical mess.

    One of the reasons why this happened is its non-dialectical method. Captured in the notion of an actual, fundamental, ultimate ‘truth’ of martial art, it inevitably became sclerotic – a sclerotic curriculum, a sclerotic bureaucracy of ‘credentialised’ instructors, and a sclerotic ideology that defines itself solely by what it isn’t, and not by what it is. With the ideology of the single truth – the ‘root’, or ‘foundation’ of ‘combat’, it inevitably grew the illusion of some core set of techniques which constitute ‘the root’, or ‘fundamental martial art’ that it is the basis of all other styles. In other words, it created a style, and then conned itself into believing that that style wasn’t a style, because it was ‘the root’.

    ‘Ultimate truths’ are a metaphysical ideology. By contrast, a dialectic method has no ultimate truth; it is a process, not a destination, not a foundation, not a root. JKD has ultimate truth, yiquan seeks the ‘ultimate achievement’. Again, ‘ultimate achievement’ (dacheng) causes a massive appointment of expectations – one which has been pathologically parasitised by egos who want to believe they’ve achieved some kind of ultimate achievement. The ultimate achievement is the goal, not the art. The ultimate achievement is the product – you.

    That being said, one of the most important aspects of ‘liberation’ is freedom from lineages, not deeper insertion within them. Groups, as anyone in martial arts for any length of time probably knows, become sclerotic, congealing around a central ideology. It’s when you loosen ties that you become free. It should be part of the natural process of dialectic development – and old Wang wanted to promote this by changing the old master/student relationship into a sports coaching relationship – particularly one where students learned from a wide range of other instructors. Like most things that are promoted as good in CMA, lineages are bad. But this is a dialectical approach – many things in the classical mess are good – for different people, for different reasons and at different times. Assuming I’m still free to have my own views, I say resist the simplistic ideology of JKD, if you want to liberate yourself.

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    One of the terrible problems of being part of a 'lineage', or just part of a club or group, is that you find yourself put in difficult situations - most especially if your ego-identity is tied up in that group... and/or even your way of making a living.

    Here is a video by Yao Cheng Rong:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lP77xma1Uc0

    In every other way, I really like Yao Cheng Rong. But a video like this is impossible to defend, and so, for those close to the group, it's a real problem. The training partner is just falling to the floor for no reason. This is how the rot begins. Andrzej Kalisz says that people who criticise this video don't know what yiquan is really all about. The full reverse is true. (One should also note that it is possible to know all about yiquan, and yet not understand the slightest thing about it). Andrzej also says that it's just 'showing what would happen, if master Yao hit properly'. To me, that exemplifies the shackles that 'lineage' places upon you, and the compromises it forces you to make. In this case, with the greatest of ironies - the compromise is against one of yiquan's core principles: opposing precisely this stuff, and speaking with honesty and integrity. At which point the dilaectic offers a choice - which do you really want? Real knowledge, or a club badge?
    Last edited by Miqi; 12-19-2013 at 02:23 PM.

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