I have written elsewhere about the Chinese (martial) cultural concept of ‘凌空劲’ (Ling Kong Jin) often erroneously translated in English as ‘Empty Force’ (and subsequently misinterpreted) - but what follows is a list of similar concepts. These all encapsulate the idea of striking an opponent ‘at a distance’ - without making physical contact (as is required in Western Boxing or Mixed Martial Arts, etc).
1) 隔山打牛 (Ge Shan Da Niu) = Smashing Mountains Striking Oxen
2) 隔空打人 (Ge Kong Jin Ren) = Smashing Empty Power (into) Opponents
3) 印掌 (Yin Zhang) = Imprinting Palm
4) 百步神拳 (Bai Bu Shan Quan) = Hundred Step Spirit Fist
5) 透劲 (Tou Jin) = Penetrating Power
6) 棉花掌 (Mian Hua Zhang) = Cotton Flower Palm
As these concepts are misunderstood both in China and outside of China, it goes without saying that they are much maligned. (Number '6' actually involves striking and breaking bricks - experiencing the impact as something like 'hitting cotton' - although many also consider this to be a 'fake' skill similar to 'hitting at a distance'). Part of the problem involves the exploitation of these concepts for monetary profit by those who possess no real idea about what these concepts mean. When these frauds are exposed (usually during a sparring match) - the logic employed suggests that the concepts these people are peddling are as corrupt as the personality that is misrepresenting them! This is incorrect – but as there is no separation between the defrauding element and the legitimate martial concept itself – no debate can be developed when the baby is being thrown-out with the bath water!
Obviously, ss someone who firmly rejects capitalism (and the liars it produces) I am certainly NOT supporting any variation of these frauds. I also make no secret of my opposition to the Eurocentric racism prevalent in the West that is routinely aimed at Chinese (and all ‘Asian’) people and their culture. When confronting this type of ignorance, there are a lot of components to unpack. I am not going to waste my time ‘arguing’ with racists – as I would rather confront these morons before they can do any real damage to my family and/or community. As for the genuine people – do not be deceived by charlatans (of any type) and always look beyond the horizon for better and more complete knowledge! Do not fooled by misrepresentations of Chinese (martial) culture.
Chinese Language Source:
We will 'scan' the crystal-clear paper edition of my published article for free access as usual. The point is for everyone to make use of all good quality translations for personal development, understanding and growth! Of course, this is a multi-dimensional experience involving the mind and body. That is psychological and physical growth within the context of understanding 'existential' reality and the making sense of the 'ageing' process. When young, it is the 'existential' reality that appears to be eternal and go on forever! Those who are older understanding that this 'existential' reality changes in both quality and meaning as the chronological age increases! All of this experience is held together with 'awareness' or what is today often termed 'consciousness' studies. Whatever we like to call 'being alive' (religious people call it by all different names), we must develop the conscious awareness functionality so that it profoundly 'penetrates' the very essence of material reality! This ability (and experience) can only 'deepen' with age and cannot do anything else! This is the basis of 'Mastery' which has nothing to do with the vigour of youth - which must be fully enjoyed, understood and explored, before the next and far more profound stage of development occurs when older age sets in! Getting old is 'good' and essential for the wisdom-essence of all genuine Chinese martial arts practice! All young people will get old and it is advisable that they prepare for this experience by studying all the Classical Texts that have been written by older people for the youth to benefit from!
The search for 'truth' is like looking continuously for an non-existent abstract concept! Everyone seems to be saying it is 'here' - but very few people actually possess anything like a working definition of reality! Why is this? It is because reality cannot be 'seized', 'controlled', 'possessed' or 'limited' to human perception! The capacity to be 'aware' is very much concerned with the concept of 'time served'. This is to say that the older we get - the longer we have been 'looking' at reality! We 'look' - but we must also 'penetrate' the fabric of reality (which seems to confront humanity like an unclimbable wall)! The martial arts forms we practice are part of the reality our minds come into contact with every day. The external fowns are desiged to exist 'this side' of the wall - whilst the 'internal' forms exist 'that side'! Yes - this is because human perception must be 'first 'stilled' - and then 'expanded' so that the entirety of reality is both penetrated and enbraced! The Taijiquan Classic facilitates this entire process!
Qi Magazine: Vol. 32, No. 2, Summer 2022: Published Article - 'Taijiquan Classic' (New Translation) By Adrian Chan-Wyles PhD! (7.6.2022)
Translator's Note: I have been very fortunate to have understanding, tolerant and wise parents who allowed myself to thoroughly 'mix' with and 'integrate' into the ethnic Chinese side of our family! This has exposed me to the 'old' Chinese cultural set-up in New Territories (Hakka) villages at a time when the modern commerce of the British had not yet penetrated the area from Hong Kong island, and most of the post-1945 changes and transformations of the Chinese Mainland had very little influence until the hand-back of the British Colony to the Chinese People in 1997! I subsequently learned about a 'modern' and 'commercial' China, and this led to me engaging and thoroughly appreciating the culture of 'New' China - the people of which have treated both myself and my family with dignity and respect! All of this experience has culminated into a rich understanding that involves the mind being 'stilled' and the 'awareness' facility 'expanded' to encompass the Ten Directions! It is the wisdom that emanates from the Empty Mind Ground that influences and guides all of my gongfu practice and translation activities! May All Beings Be Happy and Free from Suffering! A clearer scan of the paper copy of this article will be added to the 'Published Articles' section soon - whilst what follows here - are 'screenshots' of the Online 'Journal' version! When the Online Qi Journal is accessed properly - the print can be easily enlarged, made sharper and clearer! These screenshots are merely an 'idea' of the article! ACW (7.6.2022)
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)
Although the martial arts term ‘Ninja’ is a distinctly ‘Japanese pronunciation – the two ideograms used to express this concept are of Chinese origin – namely ‘忍者’ (Ren Zhe). Whether this concept originally spread from China as a martial arts principle – or was distinctly developed in Japan - is open to debate. Certainly, the ‘Ninja’ of medieval Japan occupied entire clan-systems which ‘mirrored’ perfectly their Samurai equivalents with the only difference being that the Samurai clans were socially accepted and the ‘Ninja’ clans were clandestine and considered ‘illegal’. The ‘Ninja’ communities were made-up of the peasantry and any outcast members of the nobility and criminal fraternity, etc. Although the ‘Ninja’ communities were hidden from open view, they were disciplined, followed strict codes of conduct and were dedicated to perfecting many different martial skills designed to ‘counter’ or ‘negate’ every martial advantage the Samurai believed they possessed. In-short, the ‘Ninja’ communities represented a ‘different’ but related blue-print for Japanese feudal society – perhaps one that was internally democratic and fairer than its Samurai alternative, as women were considered ‘equal to men – and practiced martial techniques designed by women for women to use on the battlefield or during ‘assassinations’ - a key skill of the ‘Ninja’ warrior.
The character ‘忍’ (ren3) is comprised of a contracted version of the lower particle ‘心’ (xin1) - which translates as ‘mind’ and ‘heart’ - and the upper particle ‘刃’ (ren4) - which represents a ‘bladed weapon’ such as a ‘knife’ or ‘broad-sword’, The Japanese version of this ideogram appears to have a handle affixed to a blade – a blade said to be covered in ‘blood’:
When combined together, the ideogram ‘忍’ (ren3) suggests a situation where the human mind (and body) is said to be highly skilled swordsmanship – together with ‘tolerating’ the ‘lose’ of a certain amount of one’s own blood – as well as spilling that of the opponent. The training in this martial art is arduous and painful to experience – but this is the path that must be ‘endured’ if mastery is to be achieved. Whereas the ideogram ‘者’ (zhe3) is comprised of the lower particle ‘白’ (bai2) which carries the meaning of the colour ‘White’, whilst the upper particle is ‘耂’ (lao3) and refers to a ‘an old man who is bent-over and has long hair’ - usually implying ‘acquired wisdom overtime’. Therefore, ‘者’ (zhe3) appears to mean a ‘body of expert knowledge acquired by an individual over a long period of study’. The combined term of ‘忍者’ (Ren Zhe) - or ‘Ninja’ - refers to the concept of an ‘accumulated body of knowledge and martial arts skill and acquired by an extraordinary person overtime’. Or, an ‘acquired body of knowledge and martial arts skill that transforms an ordinary person into an extraordinary person’.
忍術 (Ninjutsu) - ‘Ren Shu’ = ‘Endurance Art’
忍法 (Ninpo) - ‘Ren Fa’ = ‘Endurance Law’
Ninjutsu originally derived from an indigenous, traditional Japanese fighting technique known as the ‘Thorn Kill Art’ (刺杀术 - Ci Sha Shu) - perhaps implying the ability to ‘assassinate an opponent using a poisoned-dart'. Later, this art absorbed several Chinese cultural influences such as the ‘Art of War’ by Sunzi", and the martial principles contained within the ‘Six Secret Teachings’, etc. There is a legend that a Chinese Buddhist monk travelled to Japan early-on, and brought various Tantric Buddhist and Traditional Chinese Medicine techniques (perhaps around the 8th century CE) which were combined with Japanese Shintoism. This mixture of Chinese and Japanese martial elements was integrated to finally form ‘Ninjutsu’. The techniques of ‘evasion’ and ‘invisibility’ in were emphasised in the city – whilst ‘ambushes’ and the ability to suddenly ‘disappear’ was perfected in the mountainous areas.
Chinese Language Reference:
Shifu Adrian Chan-Wyles (b. 1967) - Lineage (Generational) Inheritor of the Ch'an Dao Hakka Gongfu System.