Cultural Expectations about How and What

Americans, and perhaps some other groups out there, tend to want movement explained to them.

"What does this do?"  Rather than, "How will I know if this worked?"

"Am I doing this right?"  Rather than, "How will I know if I'm going down the wrong path?"

I don't think I can really explain this problem well with words.  It may sound like I'm being needlessly fussy about word choices.  It's an experiment.

Americans like to have a complete explanation of what factors should be combined to create a particular quality of movement.  Or alternately a list of what they should work on first, second and third, to get a desired result.

In traditional Chinese martial arts the result may be too subtle to withstand being chased by desire.  Desiring a particular nameable result may crush it before you get close enough to grasp it.  Thus, the Jade Maiden disappears when the adept's conduct wavers from the pure and the resolute.

In traditional Chinese martial arts time may be collapsed in on itself.  A list becomes a series of ideas which are simultaneous.  A list without priority or order.  It is therefore false to say that this idea should be combined with that one, because each idea is the whole idea simply presented from a different perspective or orientation.

For example, many years ago I heard this list of two word phrases:

  1. Muscle let go

  2. Sinew engage

  3. Connect Bone

Americans will try to make this a "to do" list.  "So first I practice letting go of my muscles, then I practice engaging the sinews, then I practice connecting the bones.  Right?"  or  "While my muscles are letting go my sinews are engaging and that will connect my bones.  Right?"

The problem is that this list of three is actually a single description of the same event from three different perspectives; that of the muscle (as a single type of mind), that of the sinew (again a singular orientation), and that of the bone (a whole dynamic structure).  If you get any one of these correct, you get the whole thing.  They fit together perfectly because they are actually one.