As my readers may know, I spent 9 years living as an urban hermit while I was studying Religious Daoism with Liu Ming. The practice itself included a large number of different methods. Just on the surface, I constructed an elevated quiet room dedicated to solo meditation and tea ceremony which was painted with faux gold leaf, it had sliding shoji doors and fitted tatami mats. Some of the methods included a great deal of reading and reciting, following a complex calendar, building and rebuilding a community center several times using fengshui, diagnostic cooking with Chinese herbs and other diet-regulatory practices, ritual bathing for purification; not to mention my daily qigong, daoyin, gongfu, neijia, practices as well as music, teaching, and an unbelievable amount of free time.Read More
Weakness with a Twist: A blog about internal martial arts, theatricality and Daoist ritual emptiness
Watch the Video: A Cultural History of Tai Chi
Buy the Book: Possible Origins, A Cultural History of Chinese Martial Arts, Theater and Religion, By Scott Park Phillips. Amazon Kindle ($9.99), Paperback ($18.95)
Portland July 28-30th
August Retreat Residency Program in Boulder! (5 Days)--it is in the planning stage
Warning: This post is a bit gruesome.
The emphasis on "applications" in martial arts training has long seemed contrived to me. When you are training more than five hours a day, every day, as I did in my early twenties, you quickly learn that techniques are as common as blades of grass and not very important to the overall skill set. But also that some techniques are simpler and more important than others.Read More
Douglas Farrer sent me this, nice to see martial arts getting its due:
Dear friends, co-authors, and colleagues,
The panel 'Anthropology, martial arts and the State' was accepted today for a major forthcoming conference AAS/ASA/ASAANZ 2017, SHIFTING STATES, Adelaide 11-14 Dec. For details see: http://shiftingstates.info/theme
This is a significant moment in martial arts studies as it demonstrates international academic interest in the investigation of martial arts as a scholarly discourse. I hope to see you there!! Any volunteers for papers, or to act as discussant, please contact me.Read More
I just want to get this idea in print, maybe get some feedback on it.
I have been saying for less than a year that perhaps translating Neijia as "internal school" is limiting. Perhaps it should be translated "inward school." That would make Waijia the "outward school." Why? because I think once we truly discard the idea of cultivating power, or storing up power, the idea of using outward moving force seems unnecessary. Outward moving force, by definition, breaks whole body unity. Basically I'm talking about the habit of pushing. By pushing I mean specifically having a hand on the opponent and a foot on the ground and using force to increase the distance between the foot and the hand.Read More
Facebook and Twitter are better mediums for posting news articles. But occasionally I have a few articles that go together and could benefit from a little commentary.
The most interesting is this one on Lao She, a fiction writer from the 1920s-30s. I came across it because I was looking for his writings on martial arts in the aftermath of the Boxer Rebellion. Like so many Chinese intellectuals and performers he was tortured to death. Just a note for careful readers, anytime they say he was tortured and then committed suicide, that is just a creepy attempt to make "the event" sound tragic instead of the perpetrators sounding evil.
Here is a review of Ian Johnson's book about religious renewal in China. It includes a history of Christianity in China and a lot of first-person accounts of what it is like to be religious in China.
And then there is this weird one. Actually it is weird because it isn't weird. A Lesbian Daoist's Daughter makes a Film. As Laozi asks, "How long has it been since normal seemed normal."
The gongs and the wind instruments all vibrate. A particular property of high pitched vibrations is that they can be aimed around a space, they move and bounce especially if the musicians are moving them intentionally. That is a huge part of Daoist music, and a property which I never noticed listening to recordings. The first part of the concert was a procession that twisted around campus and the second part was in a room that held about 100 people. This music is spatial, it interacts with the space. It also has some strange properties live that I never noticed in recordings. The faster pieces kept putting me in a hypnotic state, I kept falling asleep. At the same time they were frenetic. The rhythms are not dance music as far as I know, but if you were to try and move to this music you would be shaking, jumping and flailing, it is a bit like punk rock. It reminded me ofRead More
As I pick myself up and head to Paris for the 11th International Daoist Studies Conference, definitions of religion are even harder to get at. We have this net called Daoism which stretches or shrinks depending on who is using it, it even splits sometimes. Especially problematic is trying to place Daoism inside of, or outside of, culture. Often posed as—is it still Daoism when it moves to a new culture? Many would say it can’t move, because it is too complex, deeply intertwined, and embedded to make the jump.Read More
Ben Judkins over at Kungfu Tea-Martial Arts Studies Blog asked me to do a more complete examination of the YMCA Consensus which separated theater, martial skills, and religion. So I put together an extended essay with citations and references, and Ben added a few awesome photos from his collection. It looks really good. I hope this will inspire some conversations which are valuable to the (soon to be fully unified?) fields of theater, martial arts, and religious studies.
Check it out!
Professor Lee Fong-mao is one of the greatest living experts on Daoism. He is speaking in Boulder, Colorado tomorrow. This is going to be so awesome!
The Five Camps are on Guard: The Four Quarters Spatial Model and the Belief in Protectors of the Borders 2017.04.18
CAS Speaker Series
Tuesday, April 18, 2017
5:00 p.m., HUMN 1B50
Prof. Lee Fong-mao, a founding figure in the study of Daoism in Taiwan, will present a public lecture on his research into the development of China's indigenous organized religion. Prof. Fong-mao is Professor Emeritus at National Chengchi University and former Research Fellow at the Institute of Chinese Literature and Philosophy, Academia Sinica, Taiwan. Prof. Liu Yuan-ju, Research Fellow at Academia Sinica, will assist as translator for the talk.
(Sorry for the late notice, I just found out myself.)