Inside a Dragon KilnI've been reading the book Qigong Fever, it's good, but I'm not ready to review it yet. However, part of the methodology of the book is to investigate the milieu which inspired the invention, expression, and propagation of qigong as a "movement."

I like this kind of thinking. When I was in high school I was in a School of the Arts and I did a lot of ceramics. I got really interested in Sung Dynasty (900-1200 CE) Chinese ceramics. Then I went to Australia where I had a ceramics teacher who was also totally into Sung Dynasty glazes and was trying to replicate the way they made them with natural local minerals (like ash from near by forest fires) and at the same time adding some scientific analysis.

I also got way into dance, dance history, and improvisation. What these two things have in common is milieu. Modern dance, for instance, came out of a very specific cultural milieu and I think it started to stagnate when that milieu ended. Sung Dynasty ceramics had huge cooperative workshops with dragon kilns that burn once a year up the side of a mountain. Each group got the right to fire its huge kiln from the imperial court which held regular competitions for its patronage. If your kiln won the competition, you supplied the entire royal family for a year or so until theyThe Elixar of Immortality had a new competition. This created a really competitive environment where everyone was making imperial quality work, but only one "kiln" was getting to sell it to the royal family so there was literally tons of extraordinary art work floating around. This milieu created the worlds first antique markets.

So when I was in my early twenties and studying gongfu 6 hours a day it occurred to me that neither my gongfu teachers, nor their teachers had lived in a milieu that was capable of inspiring the creation gongfu as I knew it (Shaolin, Taijiquan, Xingyi, Bagua).

I held and thought about that question for many years.  I was still asking that question when I really started getting into Daoist Religion.  (Daoism isn't directly responsible for the creation of gongfu, but it is in the mix.)

My point is this: The main reason I have been writing this blog for the last six months is to both explain what I have learned over the years about the milieu which inspired Chinese Martial Arts generations ago, and to create a new milieu which will re-inspire the arts.