Technically correct movements – coupled with psychological awareness and conscious expansion. Even if the kicks, punches, blocks, parries, elbow-strikes, knee-strikes, shoulder-barging and precise foot-work of a particular style are precise and exact – the mind-awareness must be ‘non-attached’ and ‘detached’ from the body it inhabits and the environment it - and the body it inhabits, has to traverse and exist within. Being combat effective on one-side – and mentally detached and expansive on the other – is the essence of spiritualised Hakka gongfu. This spiritual reality continuous to exist regardless of what the body is doing – whether sitting in a dark cave – or sat eating at a table! When others are encountered whose minds and bodies are corrupted by greed, hatred and delusion, there is no negative ‘reaction’ but only a continuous sense of boundless loving-kindness, compassion and wisdom which reflects the external and internal world as it really is free of any delusion or misunderstanding.
For the mind to remain expansive and reflective (as explained in the Mahayana Buddhist Surangama Sutra), the cultivated control of the body must be attuned to the frequency of rapid physical deployment, movement and positioning, in times of dramatic martial necessity in the outside world! In other words, when greed, hatred and delusion manifest as brutal violence in the minds and bodies of those in the environment – a fully trained Hakka-warrior must respond in a perfect and unhesitating manner that manifests a radical non-greed, non-hatred and non-delusion through the correct application of martial technique. Of course, this type of martial mastery is not unique to the Hakka Chinese community – but is evident throughout the world and within every culture and contemplative tradition. Indeed, wherever men, women and children have been required to defend themselves (such as the ancient Celtic peoples of the UK and Western Europe under Roman attack) – this type of martial mastery has been the inevitable result.
Although I am very proud to be Anglo-Chinese and to be British and Chinese – I am also very grateful to have been born with the genetics of the ancient ‘Keltos’ people – as the ancient Greeks referred to us! The Keltos became the ‘Celts’ that put up a tremendous military resistance to Roman imperialism, brutality and exploitation! It is recorded that the Greek explorer – Pytheas of Massalia (350-285 BCE) - visited the British Isles (the land of my birth) around 304 BCE, but most of his contemporaries refused to accept that there were any landmasses ‘West’ of what is now ‘France’ - a place the Greeks had already colonised to the South!
What is interesting is that When Julius Ceasar invaded Britain in 55 BCE – the defending Celts were still deploying massed chariots – a fighting method probably a thousand years out of date by then, but suitable for an island people who inhabited an idyllic and isolated landmass 800 miles long, 200 miles wides and teaming with wildlife and cultivated grain crops! I have even read of some Western European Celts still employing the ‘Phalanx’ of massed spears which perhaps they learned from the ancients Greeks at some point in their history a very long time ago! Win, lose or draw, as individuals all we can do is our best by manifesting our highest spiritual, psychological and physical achievements when the time is right! Our bravery now – will inspire future generations to do the same...
The mastery of physical technique is an issue of training that should be achieved as soon as possible – even if the process takes a long amount of time in reality. This is irrelevant to the ongoing ‘inner process’ which continues continuously and without end regardless of physical circumstance, (i.e., standing, sitting, lying, walking or sleeping, etc). The mastery of physical fighting is the ‘external’ element of combat training – whilst the ‘inner’ processes far transcend the limitations of human conflict. Individuals can master ‘external’ combat without ever recognising the need or purpose of ‘inner’ training’.
Furthermore, it is also possible to participate within ‘inner’ training with no experience in ‘external’ combat. However, within genuine ‘spiritual’ Chinese martial arts – the student has to traverse the terrain of ‘external’ combat BEFORE being allowed access to the path of genuine ‘inner’ training. Many who develop a skill at ‘external’ fighting with no inner training, usually exhibit an increasing and strengthening of the egotistical mind-set and the tendencies to be one-dimensionally ‘selfish’, ‘aggressive’ and highly ‘ignorant’ in manifestation. As such a person becomes ‘older’ - their physical skills diminish and finally disappear – leaving them as a bitter person with no martial ability.
In fact, getting older is an important aspect of ‘inner’ training, as there are processes of internal mastery that are entirely reliant upon a profound transformation of the body chemistry and frequency of psychological patterning. Inner mastery can happen in a relatively younger person, but only within special circumstances, and only then if such a person retains a humble and accommodating attitude toward the further process of ‘maturing’ and ‘deepening’ of understanding as one’s age increases. Without this inner mastery – and older fighter will always be beaten by a younger fighter – but with inner mastery, the younger (less experienced) fighter will always be defeated.
Spiritual mastery defeats an opponent on the spiritual, emotional, psychological and physical level – and it does so BEFORE any movement is even made. Without spiritual mastery – two fighters physically ‘clash’ and entangle their arms and legs in a chaotic manner with the ‘winner’ being that who prevails through an arbitrary set of rules. Onces the movement of the arms and legs are mastered; the emphasis forever moves inward and away from the physical body. This is a preparation for the (natural) dying process experienced at the end of life. This is how the martial arts is a vehicle for ‘life’ and ‘death’ which has nothing to do with the rather banal activity of physical combat.
As investigate of ancient human thought and culture around the world - appears to suggest that the observation of nature served as the basis of the development of spiritual and religious ideology and ritual. Despite the obvious environmental, linguistic and cultural differences, a ‘similarity’ of appreciating the processes of nature becomes evident. Druids are believed to have been a type of shaman whose function involved the bringing together of spiritual-emotional-physical processes both of the inner and outer human-being and the natural world – so that all disruptive and ‘dissonant’ frequencies of life are reduced or removed. Living in accordance with the processes of nature – so that the inner processes of the human mind and body ‘reflect’ the balance and cyclic necessity of the physical cosmos – ensures psychological, emotional and physical (vibrant) health. The British academic – Peter Berresford Ellis – is a world-renowned scholar on Celtic history and he states the following:
‘The Dagda became their father; thus, humankind call him “The Father of the Gods”. And Brigid became the wise one, exalted in learning and much did she imbibe from the mighty Danu and from Bile, the sacred oak. She was hailed as the mother of healing, of craftmanship and of plenty; indeed, she excelled of all knowledge. She showed her children that true wisdom was only to be garnered from the feet of Danu, the Mother Goddess, and so only to be found at the water’s edge. Those who gathered such knowledge also paid deference to Bile, the sacred oak. Because they were not allowed to speak his holy name, they called the oak draoi and those learned in such knowledge were said to possess oak (dru) knowledge (vid) and thus were known as Druids.’
Peter Berresford Ellis: The Chronicles of the Celts – New Tellings of Their Myths and Legends, Robinson, (1999), Page 22
The old Celtic language(s) have a definite relationship with the ancient Sanskrit language of India – suggesting that the early Celtic peoples themselves may have originated in Asia and slowly migrated Westward. Although once everywhere in Western Europe – today - the (ethnic) Celtic people only exist in small enclaves with five of these groupings existing n the UK as the Scots, Irish, Welsh, Cornish and the people living on the Isle of Manx. Another group – thought to be Cornish conscripts fighting in the Roman Legions – now lives in a small part of France (Brittany) and are known as the ‘Bretons’. Generally speaking, any area known as ‘Galatia’ (or similar) is usually inhabited by Celts or the descendants of Celts, etc. Peter Berresford Ellis, however, suggests that there is a definite similarity between much of the Celtic myths and legends and the Brahmanic Upanishads, and other spiritual texts – often ‘Buddhist’.
‘The Vedas, four books of learning composed in North India, in the period 1000-500 BCE, are named from the Sanskrit root vid, meaning “knowledge”. This same root occurs in Old Irish as uid, meaning “observation, perception and knowledge”. Most people will immediately recognise it as one of the two roots of the compound Celtic word Druid – dru-vid, arguably meaning “thorough knowledge”.;
Peter Berresford Ellis: The Chronicles of the Celts – New Tellings of Their Myths and Legends, Robinson, (1999), Page 7 (Introduction)
What I want to share, however, is a 9th century CE Celtic poem that appears to express the very thinking that lies behind the yin-yang ideology and the concept that governs the interactive movements of the internal (Chinese) martial art of Taijiquan:
I was a listener in the woods,
I was a gazer at the stars,
I was not blind where secrets were concerned,
I was silent in a wilderness,
I was talkative among many,
I was mild in the mead-hall,
I was stern in battle,
I was gentle towards allies,
I was a physician of the sick,
I was weak towards the feeble,
I was strong towards the powerful,
I was not parsimonious lest I should be burdensome,
I was not arrogant though I was wise,
I was not given to vain promises though I was strong,
I was not unsafe though I was swift,
I did not deride the old though I was young,
I was not boastful though I was a good fighter,
I would not speak about any one in their absence,
I would not reproach, but I would praise,
I would not ask, but I would give.
Cormac Mac Cuileannain
King and Poet of Cashel – AD 836-908
Peter Berresford Ellis: The Chronicles of the Celts – New Tellings of Their Myths and Legends, Robinson, (1999), (Dedication)
Shifu Adrian Chan-Wyles (b. 1967) - Lineage (Generational) Inheritor of the Ch'an Dao Hakka Gongfu System.