Labels Bad & Good

Labels are good and labels are bad.

The trick is not to be caught up with labels. What this means is you may like a style, love it to death with your constant obsession. However, the value of a style lies in what you get out of it rather than your love affair with it.

If you keep doing a style but your skill barely improves except in your own perception would that be a good style? How would you know if you are constantly in your own little cocoon, sleeping wide awake in your Matrix world.

It seems like with my newer students and even my FB friend Stanley I have been talking to them about labels. This is because I see labels as the main cause impeding their advancement.

It is useless for me to just write or just talk because many of us can do both competently. But the sense of touch won’t lie. This is why masters like to touch hands because through contact, through movement, they can gauge your skills.

To evaluate someone’s skill we check their sense of touch, the sensitivity of their touch, their control of movement, angle, position, space and power. A well trained arm-hand set is so sensitive that the Tai Chi Classics use the analogy of a feather not being able to alight on it.

To the modern practitioner this reads like tautology. To the traditionalist, this skill set is real, it can be trained, it can be realized. The question is do you have the patience, the eye for details, the persistence to see the training to the end. If you cannot conceive of this skill then you kill your ability to master it before you even begin.

So don’t label learning as impossible. Don’t label such a skill as not real. Just try. Failure is fine. Try again, again and again. The Gods smile on those who see failure as another step closer to achieving success.

Thursday night. Tea house. No, not really. More like a coffee, eggs and toast corner in a shopping centre. Me. Stanley.

Tea house kung fu talk. Me doing the talking mostly. Probing Stanley’s understanding. I know he loves Bajiquan. Who doesn’t? Great art. As I said you can love the art but does it love you back? Did it give you some love and more interestingly skill? If not, then its a one way love.

Labels and perception. Knowing how to learn. How to think. How to analyze. These are essential tools to mastering any style. There are so many aspects to consider, such as the following :-

  • Where does external ends and internal begins? Why do some insist on labelling internal what really is externally soft? What is the difference in feel between soft externally and soft internally? Is there a true difference or semantics?


  • Why do we become attached to an idea, a perception causing us to fail to see the obstacles that are holding back our progress?


  • How do we know if we are doing something right? How is the lesson of Musashi’s awakened insight on the quality of the opponent’s he defeated before he was 30 applicable to our mastery?


  • Why is it that no style reigns supreme forever and every style has its day under the sun?


  • Why do we claim a style is soft when what is shown is hard? Is today’s Wing Chun predominantly soft or in reality hard? What is soft Wing Chun? What does it feel like?


  • Are the self-defense techniques we see in videos realistic or will fail when used under pressure? Do we based our techniques on the premise that the opponent is stupid or does not fight back or will hold the arm out long enough for us to do our techniques?


  • Why do we do what we do in BojiLite? Why the peculiar punching action? Can it be used? Can the punch be stronger by spiraling it? (answer is no)?


  • How is Boji useful against a boxer’s guard? How do we use the longer range advantage?


  • Is our insitu body turning method of punching weak or powerful? Can the turning be used?


  • What is a taunting song? What is its usefulness to learning? Or is it just rude provocation?


  • Why do we learn Chinese martial arts in particular sequence? How does this help us to understand application?


  • Is Ngok Gar truly great for self-defense? Why is it ideal for ladies self-defense? What are its advantages?


Talk, talk, talk. Two hours. From the inside to the outside. Fortunately, it was dark as the shopping centre was closing up. Passersby must be wondering who two adults are doing these funny movements in public.

And the next day have to do an audit. Man, how time flies when one is having fun.

No videos, no pictures. So maybe it never happened. Snooze on in the world of the Matrix.


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