Wikipedia is a wealth of sagely advice – much of it misleading, incomplete and out of context. For instance, the author dealing with the ‘Tai Sabaki’ page - states that the usual interpretation of Tai Sabali in the West which involving ‘evasion’ is ‘wrong’. However, if an individual can ‘read’ Chinese and/or Japanese ideograms – it is obvious that whatever this concept is - ‘evasion’ forms a central aspect of it. The author in question does not fully comprehend the entire concept of Tai Sabaki and is attempting to join the two ends of an idea together whilst omitting a (vast) theoretical centre-ground!
1) 体 (Tai) - Japanese Equivalent of Chinese ideogram ‘體’ (ti3) = ‘body’
This is related to a body (comprised of - and structured by - its internal bone structure) which is augmented in the physical world through musical rituals (involving drumming) and the adornment of jade of jewellery. The body is enhanced by the placement and alignment of its inner structure and the means (rituals) through which this body traverses the outer world. That which is ‘detrimental’ is avoided and that which is ‘nourishing’ is embraced. There is an implication in the Japanese language that ‘体’ (Tai) refers primarily to the trunk and the abdomen – and only secondarily to the limbs. It is the ‘centre’ of the body which has priority over the ‘periphery’ of the body.
2) 捌 (Saba) - Japanese Equivalent of Chinese ideogram ‘捌’ (ba1) = Disentangle
This ideogram - (in its Chinese interpretation) can mean ‘eight’ - an alternative form of ‘八’ (ba1). A ‘hand’ which expertly uses a ‘knife’ - cuts through the flesh and bones of a fish so that it is separated into ‘eight’ clean parts (probably a generic term meaning ‘many’). There is also the central idea of ‘disentanglement’ - so that no unnecessary error (or resistance) is met. This is because ‘entanglement’ means ‘hindrance’ - and the skill referred to here involves the ‘avoidance’ of such self-imposed difficulty. Evading ‘resistance’ is the correct path that leads to such a skill. The blade of the knife skilfully feels its way around (and along) the natural contours of the bones – and does NOT cut directly (at right-angles) into the bone-structure at any time. There is a ‘going with’ rather than a ‘going against’. This ideogram is the central element of this Karate-Do principle - and probably means slightly different things within the various styles which make use of it.
3) き(Ki) - Japanese Equivalent of Chinese ideogram ‘幾’ (ji3) = Skill
There is an indication of ‘quantity’, ‘measurement’ and ‘refinement’ within Japanese language dictionaries. The suggestion is that the correct manipulation of exact amounts is a great skill which has to be mastered in any successful avenue of life. This idea spans both the material and the spiritual world! An individual can carefully follow the established criterion laid down by those who have gone before – or if such an individual possesses the correct (and right) amounts of psychological insight and physical strength – then they might set out on their own path and become an inspiration for those who are to come!
When taken as an integrated whole – the martial principle of Tai Sabaki (体捌き) suggests that the physical body (its central core and not just its periphery) is skilfully used (manipulated) in a combat situation so that there is no direct conflict between the defender deploying this technique - and an attacker ignoring this technique. Tai Sabaki (体捌き) is NOT just the skilful movement of the arms and legs in ‘protection’ of the central core (the torso). Tai Sabaki (体捌き) is a ‘centre-out’ technique that requires the core and periphery to work in concord. Strength does not clash with strength. The ability to assertively ‘give-way' is the key to this technique. Indeed, when the timing is perfect - ‘giving-way’ becomes far stronger than the momentary strength associated with a dramatic (but short-lived) show of strength! Giving-way, at its highest manifestation, not only ‘absorbs’ and ‘nullifies’ ALL incoming power – but when performed correctly, generates the basis for ‘greater’ power to be produced that is not reliant upon linear (muscular) strength – but rather the ‘circular’ movement associated with the structures of the bones and joints! The bodyweight ‘drops’ into the ground through the shaft of the (aligned) bones and rebounds upwards through the centre of the bone-marrow – producing a seemingly endless supply of ‘muscle-free’ power! As this power is greater than that associated with the muscular ‘tension’ of thuggery – the defender occupies a unique time-space frequency within which the attacker cannot access (or penetrate) regardless of the willpower exhibited. The linear attacks cannot land on an object continuously moving in perfectly timed circles. Once such a level of mastery is achieved – the defender can decide the level damage perpetuated upon the attacker depending upon circumstance. Should the body of the attacker be temporarily or permanently disabled? Should the body of an attacker be only (gently) nullified as if in play? Someone who has mastered Tai Sabaki (体捌き) possesses all these choices. This is why the Wado Ryu Style of Karate-Do posits the highest ideal of a defender possessing the ability to prevent damage to both their own body AND the body of the opponent! An ideal of the highest nobility!
The Chen Taijiquan Style technique and expression featured on this Telegram Channel site – entitled in the written Persian language as ‘Taijiquan is the Endless Way’ (تای چی راه بی پایان) – is very good! The grey-bearded teacher is named ‘Maziar Kebat’ (مازیار کتابت) – which might mean ‘Master Kebat’ – and he lives in the Fars Province of Southwest Iran. The setting is beautiful as is the high quality of the martial technique! I suspect that we may assume from this that ‘Taijiquan’ is considered ‘Halal’ within the faith of Islam – a fact which grants the practitioners a certain enhanced ‘virtue’. In China, Islam (and Muslims) are greatly respected for a) their spiritual purity and b) their martial integrity! Good to see Taijiquan in Iran and the people united in practice!
I was forwarded this short video clip from a colleague involved in high-level Aikido practice - which in their Japanese School involves Katana (Long Sword) 'cutting' (carried out in a peaceful, meditative state). It was explained to me that their Sensei had explained that prior to WWII - many 'Official' Sword Smiths in Japan possessed a 'Permanent' Governmental Permission to 'Test' the effectiveness of freshly forged blades on the necks of judicial prisoners Sentenced to Death. As the process of 'Test Cutting' blades today (only using rolled-up tatami mats) is referred to as 'Tameshigiri (試し切り) - could I decipher, translate and transliterate this Japanese term to see if this 'history' is denoted in the concept. My research is as follows:
1) 試 (Tame) = Trial, Experiment and Exploration.
2)し(Shi) = Death, Execution and Judicial Decapitation - achieved through s single (efficient) Sword 'cut' or 'swing' - where the blade does NOT oscillate (wobble) left and right when in movement.
3) 切 (Gi) = Slice, Cut and Cleave apart.
4) り(Ri) = Perfected Form, Finished and Completed Movement.
The data obtained when forensically translating this term - which requires rolling-back layers of 'politically correct' (interpretive) terminology accrued over several post-1945 decades - does indeed support the history lesson as transmitted by the 'Aikido' Sensei concerned. The tatami mats - which must be struck and cleaved with a 'graceful ease' - have 'replaced' the necks of condemned Japanese criminals (who are now 'Hanged' in private). This is in fact a 'Death-Cut' - or a sword strike designed to render an opponent DEAD in the quickest and most efficient manner!
At the end of the day, in a threatening position, an individual purporting to practice a traditional (Chinese) martial arts - must be able not to win trophies or gain coloured belts or sashes - but rather REMOVE the systemic threat existing in the immediate environment through the use of a 'decisive' act of disciplined violence. Unlike the modified martial arts used within modern sports, an 'effective' technique being deployed in a 'live' situation does NOT need to look good or conform to an unreasonable 'aesthetic'. The person being threatened, at the moment the decisive action is being deployed, is entirely on their own for the duration of the conflict. Whatever happens next becomes a matter entirely of their own affair - as other people (logically) tend to 'distance' themselves from the conflict as a matter of life-preservation and self-defence by association. Of course, the action might go wrong and the chosen technique fail to work. Above, a conflict begins between two young men (speaking Putonghua) arguing over who has the right to 'sell' in a certain area - with an Old Man attempting to de-escalate the situation. The young man launches a 'punching' attack which works precisely as intended. The armed young man is knocked down and is unconscious for a short time. He is kept in place by a foot on the chest - as NO further action is used against him once the knife is taken away from him. As you can see - violence is a horrible answer to any question - and a well disciplined and peaceful society is preferred over that of a violent situation. In this circumstance, the young man with the knife may well be suffering from mental health issues that now need to be treated. Although violence is NOT the answer - even though it may be required at certain times - when violence is needed it must be decisive enough to END the over-all level of existential violence and prevent any further damage to society and the people living in it!
Hong Kong: D-Day 79th Anniversary (1944-2023) – Remembering Master Chan Tin Sang (陳天生) During WWII! (6.6.2023)
Our Chinese grandfather - Chan Tin Sang (1924-1993) fought as part of the 'People's Militia' (with his Section also known as the 'Hakka Resistance') in the Hong Kong and New Territories region. When he recalled these events years later – he often described this time period (1941-1945) as ‘The years covered in blood.’ - as there was never a time that he was not covered in his own blood or the blood of his enemies. Hong Kong had been under the imperialist rule of the British from 1841-1941 - when the Imperial Japanese Army successfully overran the area - killing thousands of ethnic Chinese POWs and civilians in the process! Thousands of ethnic Indian and 'White' British soldiers were killed in combat, wounded and taken into captivity (where many were tortured). What follows is description of what the ethnic Chinese people experienced throughout Hong Kong and the New Territories – a reality either deliberately ignored or simply not known by Western historians and biographers. Part of the problem is not simply political bias or historical preference (although these two issues undoubtedly play their part) - but rather that not ALL ethnic Chinese people understood fully what was happening! The ‘White’ British Administration did not trust the ethnic Chinese population – as they were afraid of homegrown uprisings – but positively detested the Imperial Japanese! This is why the British Authorities ‘refused’ to arm the ethnic Chinese population at the beginning of the Japanese troubles! Rumours of a fifth column in Kowloon turned out not to be true (these groups were comprised of Japanese sleeper cells activated to meet and assist the incoming Japanese troops).
As the British Authorities did not arm the local ethnic Chinese populations with modern firearms – these people (comprised of the Cantonese, Hakka, Hokkien and Teochew ethnic groups amongst others) had to rely upon their traditional martial arts skills to fight the Japanese invaders. This was NOT a problem as the ethnic Chinese attitudes were still very ‘feudalistic’ at the time and the martial arts incredibly effective on the battlefield and in self-defence encounters! How did (modern) British arms enter the area? This seems to have been through a behind-the-scenes agreement between the CPC and the British government. The People's Militia was organised by the Communist Party of China (CPC) - as the Nationalist government had no interest in Hong Kong being part of a united China again (for the British this must have been a tricky business as the CPC was not formally in power in China - nor was it ‘recognised’ by any ruling government outside the USSR). It is remarkable that given CPC troubles being experienced in Central and Northern China at the time (fighting the Nationalists and the Japanese) that it was able to 'project' its power into what was then a very distant and remote area – but the understanding that had been reached between the CPC and the British allowed a small trickle of UK arms into the region to be used by the local Chinese people! This 'Resistance' movement against the Imperial Japanese was permitted providing the CPC power structure (together with the British arms) be 'withdrawn' from the region following the eventual defeat of the Imperial Japanese!
Our Hakka Chinese family clan in Sai Kung suffered terribly at the hands of the brutal Japanese - with women and girls routinely 'raped', 'tortured' and 'murdered'! Not only do we possess eye-witness accounts of this barbarism - but long before the internet the Japanese liked to 'photograph' (and sometimes 'film') their crimes for all to see! These are crimes that the Japanese committed all over China and Asia - and which the Japanese government has yet to properly acknowledge and apologise for! Chan Tin Sang was 17-years old in 1941 and 21-years old in 1945 - when the war ended. During that time, he lost most of his immediate relatives and was accustomed to fighting ‘hand-to-hand' with the fanatical Japanese soldiers - using his Hakka martial arts skills to survive (his father died fighting in this manner in 1944). Later, in search of a better life - Chan Tin Sang came to England in 1956 when he was 32-years old. He worked hard for 10-years in what became London's 'new' Chinatown and finally saved up enough money to bring his wife and daughters to the UK (as they already possessed 'British Citizenship') in 1966 (when he was 42-years old). He passed away in 1993 when he was 69-years old - which was quite old at the time - but many believe that the years of deprivation (and continuous violence) he experienced between 1941-1945 definitely shortened his lifespan. Sometimes - as individuals and groups - we possess no choice. By the time the Western allies were landing on Normandy 79-years ago – the Japanese Occupiers were still strong and effective throughout Hong Kong and the New Territories! It would be with the entry of the Soviet Red Army (during late 1945) into Manchuria that begin the demise of the Imperial Japanese Army and signal the return of the British to Hong Kong!
Shifu Adrian Chan-Wyles (b. 1967) - Lineage (Generational) Inheritor of the Ch'an Dao Hakka Gongfu System.