Visualizations, Videos and Learning the Sword

In traditional Chinese Internal Martial Arts visualizations are used to help people develop qi and the ability to move it.  The key expression is:  "To make imaginary real, and to make real imaginary."  This is one of the things that annoys me about the whole movement to make martial arts less theatrical and more "real."  Folks, that's level one!  It's only half the job.  Once those fighting skills are perfected and all the applications have clear intent, power, etc, etc, then the task is to make them so natural that whatever the mind does, it is expressed instantly and effortlessly.  The art enters the realm of imagination.

I recently have learned a lot about my Northern Shaolin Sword form (Wuhudao) from playing with Maija.  She's great. What amazed and delighted me the most is that every single move in this old opera form from Kuo Lien-Ying is totally functional.  Even the things that I had thought were artistic flourish turned out to be really useful techniques!

And while we are at it I have a new favorite visualization.  The most common visualizations of qi are clouds, steam, silk, water, fire...etc....   all that old school stuff.  But my new favorite thing to visualize is dry-cleaning plastic!  It puffs up, it floats down slowly, it spins around, it has a mind of it's own.

Dry Cleaning Plastic Dress by Susan Lenz