Saturday, February 14, 2015

101 system versus watered-down system

What are the most important courses in University? The 101 courses. This is where the fundamental concepts are taught. Well grounded with the fundamental concepts, a student can pursue with ease to professional Master degree courses or research based PhD programs.

More so for the internal arts. A student must understand the fundamental concepts (like point stretched body relax, lower dantian as control centre, pelvis as power source etc). Fundamental concepts however cannot be fully understood without application. In our higher educational institutions, a full understanding can only be had when being applied to professional disciplines (like an MBA course) or doing guided research worth publishing as a book of academic research standard. In the internal arts, it involves painstaking study, at least for certain period of time, under the tutelage of a master. Having said that with the oversupply of information (paid and unpaid), eager (and brighter) students can do good self-learning in academic subjects as well as in the internal arts.

101 is however not the same as "watered down". A "watered-down system" is a system that purports to be a "lineage" system (even THE definitive lineage system) that has neglected many (if not most) important fundamental concepts. A watered-down system in the academic world is like a bunch of courses with disparate information on the most superficial level while lacking in a thread tying the information together. For example, in the philosophy department, like learning the philosophy of various philosophers, rather than learning the concepts as how to philosophize. A "watered-down system" can be a "busy" system. When a student sits down to consider what he has learned (and how he can apply his learning), he can at best recite what his master said. Sometimes a system is not a water-downed one, but a certain student can turn it into a watered-down one. This student may be very eager and may have learned a number of systems (some good some not so good) and "magically" turned them, in his mind, into the most superficial systems, like a kid collects common pebbles on the beach. Pebbles can be many, but none being diamond-in-a-rough. This is in particular common in Chinese systems, the historical and cultural reasons of which I shall deal with in other posts.

Translated into the internal disciplines, students of "watered-down" systems can spill out loads of jargons, in particular the more poetic ones (like "tilting the last vertebrate" 收尾閭and "sinking your chi to your dantian" 氣沉丹田), but cannot appreciate that these are training sub-systems having special training methodologies. On the other hand, learning 101 means that you can grasp the concepts of these sub-systems, understanding the initial steps of training. With this understanding, you will still be at ground zero. But then you now have a pathway leading you to where you may want to go. You have seen the finger pointing at the moon, though you are still not there. The sky is the limit for an intelligent 101-system student, "now I have learned everything" is the false prize for the watered-down-system student after memorizing some "secret formula". One makes you humble, the other makes you look invincible. As with everything else in the contemporary world, everything is your own choice. Individuals make a difference.

Master Ip Man - Wing Chun zhuang with tilting last vertebrate

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