I recently had a breakthrough in teaching. I started thinking in terms of thresholds. I'll get back to that, but first let me remind readers that I'm teaching in Portland this weekend!
I'm also doing a little book signing at Portland Shaolin Friday evening, where I am planning to spill some of the hot stuff from my next book which is all about Tai Chi. I discovered a play that features Zhang Sanfeng fighting 24 palace guards, and it dates to the Sixteenth Century, it is the oldest reference to Tai Chi ever discovered other than General Qi Jiguang. I will also dive into Qi Jiguang's participation in a Zhang Sanfeng cult. Yes, I'm doing this! Will you be there?
Speaking of thresholds, I just past 8000 views on my 13 minute Cultural History of Tai Chi video. Please share it so that I can pass the 80,000 views threshold.
Here is a quick summary of my new thresholds orientation.
- Cognitive dissonance is a threshold. Hearing it, but not being able to comprehend it. Feeling it, but not being able to replicated it.
- Getting it conceptually, but not kinesthetically, or visa versa.
- Teaching to thresholds. The way different types of knowledge interact is a threshold. A student can understand a principle theatrically but not martially, or as an experience of meditation, but not as movement. The ubiquitous martial arts elixir terms, Jing, Qi and Shen, are thresholds--it is the transition between them that matters most! Those thresholds are referred to in jindan (Daoist Elixir) language as "smelting" (luan).
- Ritual — liminality — emptiness - stillness - timeless— all can be understood as thresholds. Sometimes we think of these as dichotomies, like stillness and movement, or empty and full, but the threshold between the two is the place/time/event where true mastery happens.
- Counter balancing can be understood as six distinct types of movement with three thresholds (this is a million dollar idea).
- Emotions — in some Chinese medical texts emotions are seen as binary. So for example anger and motivation are referred to by a single term, nu 怒. It is management of the threshold between the two halves that signifies health. (More on this in a future post.)
- In the Waltz, there is this idea of a threshold where you have control of the center of mass of you and your partner together. And if you do, they also have control. Either person can break the connection, either person can establish it. The normal categories of passive and active break down. Translated into fighting skill: you can add chaos or add control.
Work the thresholds.