National Living Treasures

ling-3I really don't know what to do.  Paulie Zink has another video up on Youtube.  His Daoyin is the link between Daoist hermit rituals, Shaolin, the martial theater tradition, and internal martial arts.  I don't know of anyone else that has even come close to receiving the complete transmission of this knowledge.  Paulie Zink has it, yet hardly anyone appreciates that fact, even worse, I don't think he appreciates it!  For crying out loud, why call it Yin Yoga?  You're killing me.

For those who have missed this story, here are some of the details.  Paulie Zink learned Daoyin and Monkey Kungfu in Los Angels in the late '70's early 80's from a guy, Cho Chat Ling who learned it from his father and taught no one else.  The Monkey Kungfu is made up of 5 different Monkey forms and qualities all of which Paulie then taught to his close friend Michael Matsuda.  I interviewed Michael last year in Santa Clarita and he told me that he never learned any of the Daoyin and that Monkey Kungfu and Daoyin were completely different systems.  It's my opinion that Monkey is one of about 20 Daoyin animal movements, but it happens to be by far the most developed of the animals because Monkey was such a popular stage role in every part of China.  Michael dismissed this notion by saying that it was purely a martial arts system.  He backed up this statement by telling me that a group of Paulie Zink's teacher's father's Kungfu cousin's  disciples (got that?) came to visit Los Angels from Hong Kong twice in the 1980's to compete in tournaments and Michael got to travel with them.  He said they were superb fighters, unlike Paulie Zink who never had an interest in fighting.  But Michael also said that none of the visiting group knew Daoyin, and none of them knew all 5 monkey forms either.  That means Michael is also a National Living Treasure and more people need to get down there and study with him.  I took his class-- that's some serious gongfu!  (Buy a video!) (There is more of Michael's argument here, but the idea that there was some wall of separation between fighting skill and performing skill does not stand up to historical scrutiny.)

The purpose of Daoyin is very simply to reveal the freedom of our true nature.  That's the purpose, or I could say the fruition.  One of the reasons this thing has gotten so screwed up is that people are always confusing the method with the fruition.  They think that physical looseness and flexibility is the fruition, when in fact it is only the method, and only a small part of the method at that.

The method of Daoyin is very simply to distill what is inside from what is outside so that we might become aware of this other thing, call it emptiness, call it freedom, call it original qi, call immortality, call it whatever you want.  The world outside of us is always pushing or pulling, and the world inside of us is always pushing or pulling.  The premise of Daoyin is that there is a place in between inside and outside which is always pure and always free.

Thinking back to how Daoyin was created, there were two ways in.  One way was to cultivate extraordinarily plain stillness and emptiness, and from that experience begin moving.  The other way was to tap into the spontaneity of the animal mind, to move, think and feel like a wild animal.  In order to have the complete Daoyin 'experience' you would have to go in one way and find your way out the other!  So in a sense, Daoyin can't really be taught, it has to be found.

One of the many differences between Yoga and Daoyin is that Daoyin has what we call in the martial arts world, "external conditioning."  Somewhere in the middle (1:26) you see Paulie putting his legs together and flopping them side to side, whacking them on the ground.  His torso becomes like water and his legs like someone else's legs.  Who cares?  Just throw them around.  This is one of the doorways in.

Later, when he does the pig, he is banging his knees on the ground in a rapid fire vibration.  Then near the end he does the caterpillar (changing into a butterfly) which looks totally smooth, but I've taught it to kids a lot and I always have to explain that "gongfu teachers like me are the model of toughness and dispassion!" and "I don't care if you get little purple bruises--the cure is more practice!"

In the video he starts with the frog, then the stump, the tree, then the crab, the transition to lotus sitting, then the pig (at 1:59, I've never seen that before!), then the caterpillar into the butterfly.

The music is barely survivable.  It should really be done on a hard, unforgiving surface.  The production quality is even lower than the stuff I do.  I'm pretty sure that most people will look at this video and say, it doesn't measure up to this or that standard--but that's partly because people don't know what they are looking at.

He is doing only a tiny fraction of each animal. Viewers should know that all the animals have meditation postures, and they all come totally to life, like the pig did for about one second (1:59).  The pig is particularly interesting because like the dog, it was the lowest status role there was in the Chinese theater tradition.  Think about it, to be an actor was lower status than a prostitute or a thief!  Playing the role of a dog or a pig was really low.  The animal role specialists would draw straws to see who the unlucky guy was who would have to play the pig!

Given that Paulie's teacher probably inherited a really low social status, it isn't all that surprising that he would want to abandon it himself and go into the import-export business (no one actually knows where he is now), but he obviously valued it enough to believe that it should be passed on to someone in it's complete form.  I can even understand wanting to free it from it's original Daoist/Theater context, even if I think that was short sited and highly problematic given that Paulie does not seem to understand what a treasure he is or has.