Foshan Wing Chun Yui Kil signature presented to Wai Po Tang, written by Foshan Wing Chun Kung fu Grandmaster Yui Kil - embodies qualification of self defence, traditional wing chun, kung fu, wu shu, the same related family as yip man, bruce lee, ip chun but not the same as Jackie Chan or Jet LiMartial Art Institute Wing Chun Kung Fu, yin yang emblem represents adaptation of taoist philosophy of universal balance.  It's philosophy of Kung Fu is found in Wai Po Tang  Foshan Wing Chun Kung fu system. Grandmaster Yui Kil - embodies qualification of self defence, traditional wing chun, kung fu, wu shu, the same related family as yip man, bruce lee, ip chun.  Jackie Chan or Jet Li are making the same universal presence worldwide as did bruce lee many years ago.  It appears the circle of oriental culture is in vogue again.Wai Po Tang signature written by Foshan Wing Chun Kung fu Grandmaster Yui Kil - embodies qualification of self defence, traditional wing chun, kung fu, wu shu, the same related family as yip man, bruce lee, ip chun but not the same as Jackie Chan or Jet Li

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Foshan's Wing Chun Great Grandmaster Yui Choi, Wing chun 5th generation of shaolin wing chun self defence martial art expertChina Wing chun kung fu of shaolin ng mui wing chun self defence martial art wu shu heritage.  Other Developmental contributors in china with their own oragnisation  are yui choi, yui kil, leung jan, yip man, ip chun, ip ching, pan nam, go moon, and many moreFoshan's Wing Chun Grandmaster Yui Kil, Wing chun 6th generation of shaolin wing chun self defence martial art expertClick here for UK Wing Chun Clubs, Schools, Centres, in London, Wimbledon, Croydon, Sutton, Crawley.Click here for Biography of Wai-Po Tang, International Wing Chun Master Wai-Po Tang, Wing chun 5th generation of shaolin wing chun self defence martial art expert

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Can history lead us or bind us?

This article is written in general with a loosely logical flow. Had I the expertise I would have written it otherwise, instead I have only opted to present some thoughts on a difficult subject and in so doing I am only thinking out loud. I mean no disrespect to anyone involved with Martial Arts or Religion and I advocate no particular way of thinking or living over another.


In thinking about why I train in Martial Arts I seem to be led naturally to thinking about who I am and what I need. The reader can be forgiven a sigh of despondency regarding probably the oldest conundrum in human thought. But doesn't the idea of identity arise somewhere along the line when we start thinking of what we are doing from day to day? I cannot answer that question here if I can answer it to my own satisfaction at all. The reason for presenting it is to do with concepts of identity and their relation to history and tradition. Having started by asking 'Can history lead us or bind us?' I have used the term 'history' as if it has a universally recognisable meaning. It hasn't but many of us continue to use it as if it has, along with other abstract or subjective ideas like progress, love, spirit and God. I deliberately use these other terms as examples because for some reason they are inextricably linked with the idea of history and history's sub-heading tradition. Indeed the 'onward' march of 'history' and 'progress' appears for some, to have a guiding 'spirit'. 'Love' for that 'spirit' (whatever it might be) often results in being duty bound to traditions conceived within the pages of time and hidden from our mortal gaze. Poetic isn't it? 'History' like poetry relies on our ability to accept blank spots, grey areas and the retardation of time as if there wasn't such a thing! Perhaps there isn't. We are however, assured of the idea of history as important and vital; after all hasn't it been around such a long time?


What meaning and authority can history have, if any, is the question that I have been clumsily alluding to? History by definition is all the things that have preceded this moment and all the things that have preceded this moment constitute too much for anyone to know or make sense of. So historians and laymen alike select events, facts, names and places, giving them specific associations and meanings. 'History' is not a science but a scheme of subjective values projected through time. With time values change and often what history tells us changes. Any serious historian may argue differently. That is understandable but consider the fact that we now realise our predecessors spoke from a decidedly local perspective. As I am doing now no doubt.

This is of course a complicated issue for we must also admit that much of the world has its intellectual roots in one or other form of monotheism, or some absolute system that tells us about ourselves and the world itself. Probably for the readers of this article the moral and ethical boundaries of the Judeo-Christian and Muslim traditions alongside Greek and Latin philosophy dominate our thinking and our way of looking at things. Over the last three and half centuries imperialism and colonisation have exposed Europeans to different thought and culture.

Far Eastern concepts such as The Wheel of Life and Reincarnation have provided a valuable form of expression for many who were disillusioned with more 'traditional' thinking. However, the point is that much of the 'West' (itself a social and political concept that I didn't think of but which forms a framework for some of my thinking) continues to think in terms of linear time the divinity of the subject and voracious self-determination. This is particularly true of the nominally Protestant Anglo-Saxon world and its secular shadow: liberalism and the free market economy. Individualism at all costs.


'Well' you ask, 'what has that to do with Martial Arts'?
I suppose that human beings do not interact with and are not formed by history and theory, but by personal interaction: by their senses and wills meeting objects around them at every moment of the day. Within the human experience there is something greater than what theoreticians', historians', nationalist leaders, governments' and Gurus' etc try to tell us we are. I suggest that the ability to give each other what we need is fundamental to being human. This is idealistic. I am the first to admit it. In honesty I also need to believe this is true. Identities are shaped by interaction and can change throughout life. What people say about history is often linked to racial or national identity or political-economic concepts. These worldviews often chain us to a way of behaving and the way we think about others. This may be beside the point but who can say that such categorisations have not caused them to make sweeping statements about things that they have no experience of?


'History' however is a product of relationships. Relationships are not the result of 'history' playing upon us. At its most cynical one might say that 'history' binds us to a way of thinking and behaving that is unproductive and destructive. I think this is true in many ways. However, I wish to be more positive and say that the richness of history is due to the richness of human creativity and interaction.


Intrinsic to this premise is that relationships are immediate, dynamic and independent from the categories and rivalries placed upon us by the need to give meaning to the past. The traditions' of our 'Arts' may lead us a long way or they may not! Tradition-Martial Art- is not part of the make up of the universe like carbon. Traditions' and 'Arts' are made out of the particular needs of human beings and if those needs or attitudes change should the 'Art' change with it? That is quite personal and relates to the original question I put to myself. 'Why do I train, what do I need'.


From my own perspective it is easier on my psyche if I think in terms of guidelines instead of principles. There are some things in my particular 'Art' that I know I cannot do. Does this mean that I am a poor martial artist? Should I chastise myself for these imperfections? The answer depends on my mentality toward life and my reasons for training. 'Know Thyself' the old philosophers taught us. I think I know enough about myself to say that I have motivation and perseverance. There are times however, when I must admit and then accept my limitations. In this way the pain of not being good enough and the feeling of failure of not matching up to others-to the tradition- subsides. Being able to adapt and vary behaviour when confronted with difficulty is a part of human nature that needs exercising regularly.

A good club and a wise master can adapt training to get the best out of a student. Does this mean that tradition is lost? I hope not, I quite like some traditions. What I don't like is carrying history on my shoulders like a sack of stones. So the question 'Can history lead us or bind us?' is deliberately open ended. If I were to have said 'DOES history lead us or bind us?' the answer, I think, could have been narrowed to a straight yes or no. It is a fact however, that many more people are abandoning adherence to received wisdom and principles in favour of an analysis of utility and understandable conceptualisation. This is particularly true of 'Western Christianity', which I suggest, is usually where the changes in the rest of society are felt last.

Unfortunately but predictably any changes in inherited principles and tradition in any part of society or culture often results in a counter movement voracious and 'fundamental' (this is a loaded term) in nature. Of course not all change is good. Often a middle way (that pleases none and offends everyone its detractors might say and typically English to boot) can be found but is missed. Compromise is usually seen as weakness but has its place. For compromise is a reining in of the ego and this is not a bad thing in many respects. We in the martial art fraternity must know this.

Author: Stephen Betts Level 3 student and Assistant Instructor Croydon M.A.I.


 

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Master Wai-Po Tang, Martial Art Institute International, Wing Chun Kung Fu Club Classes, P.O. Box 628, Richmond, Surrey, TW9 1FF, England, UK.
Tel: 07976 610901 (mobile- UK) ; +44 7976 610901 (mobile-international)
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