Thursday, June 15, 2006

Delight Your Enemies, then Slay Them

One of the interesting things about Asian martial arts is the the tendency to give artistic names to moves. Is "Great Star of the Big Dipper" a cryptic clue to to the shape and kinesthetics of the move or is it just the product of a really, really bored master who had nothing else to do between classes? For example, Yip Man pared the Wing Chun wooden man practice set from something like 143 moves down to 108. Was that really necessary? Were there really 35 superfluous moves in the set? And is it just a coincidence that 108 is an auspicious and lucky number in China? Yip Man was just hanging out one day and said to himself "my students will be a lot luckier if they practice 108 moves each day." The theorum would therefore be lucky=standing at end of fight.

Let's give the masters some credit though. Let's approach the techniques as if their names are more than just fancy. I've seen pictures from different masters performing this move, and it seems like Big Dipper might refer to the shape of the stance. It's this thing where you're on one leg with sword above your head and free hand out in front of you. What might the Great Star part refer to then? If it refers to Polaris, the north star, then as the cup of the Big Dipper circles from the handle around the bowl, if you follow the line up and past the top of the cup, it points at the North Start. Does that mean your sword should be arced high and the tip should point at somewhere on your opponent? It could imply that this stance is a setup for Zha (downward pointing) a high stabbing attack from Tai Chi.

Only practice may tell...


Scirocco said...

Have you seen the book, "The Sword and the Mind?" I idly purchased it at Barnes and Nobles one day, and I've really enjoyed reading it.
It has some similarities to the things you're talking about here. I can bring it in to work if you'd like to read it.

Charlie said...

Yes! I have heard of this book but have never looked at it. It was very popular among the Japanese sword crowd at Guard Up. I'd love to look at it when you're done. Thanks.