The first element is Xīn 心 or Heart which refers to how we think about something or how we feel about it. Thus, we must start by being passionate about the martial art that we study and choose it based on inner motivation rather than outside influences. GM Tse used the example of young children being dragged to Kung Fu classes by their parents – it is mostly a waste of time for the teacher as they do not value the skill and invariably stop training once their parents let them. Therefore the first step to learning is choosing to do so from the heart.
The second element is Yì 意 or Mind which refers to our ability to keep focus on obtaining the skill we have chosen. We can easily be distracted by other things and passion waxes and wanes. In order to develop we must be persistent and keep our eyes on the ball, so to speak.
The third element is Qì 氣 or Energy. GM Tse likened this to how an expert driver winds effortlessly through traffic, smoothly avoiding any dangers. Any passengers will feel very comfortable and be surprised that the trip seemed so short, arriving almost before they realise. This describes how the skill has gone beyond just performing physical movements – it has become an integral and living part of the practitioner. So we must embody the energy of the skill in order to flow with it.
The fourth element is Shén 神 or Spirit and develops from the foundation of the previous three elements. It refers to the presence that can be projected – a silent but tangible power – as though we could subjugate our surroundings through pure will. Needless to say, this is a high level. It is quite fitting as the last element, however, as Chinese culture defines martial arts as the art of stopping fighting.
GM Tse also mentioned two other theories:
– The three sections – the root, the middle and the tip. This theory guides us in generating, directing and releasing power with different sections of the body.
– The six connections – sometimes also called the three external harmonies. This theory teaches us to combine the whole body when moving. The hands should connect with the feet, the elbows with the knees and the shoulders with the hips.
The lecture was concluded by an interesting story of a famous sword master who often had visitors come to witness his skill. One time a visitor asked to see the master’s sword which was hanging on a wall. To the visitor’s surprise the sword was quite short – like a play sword. Wondering whether it would not surely be more advantageous in a fight with a longer sword, the visitor asked why it was so short. The master replied that using a long sword was not challenging enough. When he fenced with a short sword he would have to rely upon his skill rather than the sword – using footwork and angles, avoiding force against force. At his level, he was more aware of the empty space between him and his opponent and around them than the physical swords.
This is obviously food for thought for anyone who practices a martial art. GM Tse noted that the story reminded him of the art of Wing Chun – here a smaller and weaker person can also use skill to overcome someone bigger and stronger.
The second half of the seminar consisted of polishing the parts of the Dragon Shadow Sword already learnt, going deeper and seeing more details. We finished with a new section characterised by stepping back while still attacking – demonstrating that the concept of a controlled retreat is as important when fighting one on one as when whole battalions engage. After stepping back we spin around to the back and block – a reminder to be aware of your back even when occupied in the front.
There is much to digest and practice till next time. Now we wait in anticipation to see what other secrets the Dragon keeps in its lair.
by Paul Hogg
Great lecture explaining the internal development stages when training in traditional Chinese martial
arts- it’s not just the movement but the heart, mind, energy, spirit and how the body is connected internally. The whole is greater than the sum of
its parts. Thanks, Sigong! -Kay
Really liked the new movements today, they feel good! Still one sticking movement earlier in the form, but it will click one day! Very nice form, loving it. Thank you Sigong. Christine
Excellent Dragon shadow sword seminar today! It was very interesting to learn about Heart, Mind, Qi and Spirit in the lecture. Very good to polish the previous parts as well as the new section. Looking forward to next time. Thank you, Sigong. Best, Tom Hogg.
Another great seminar, some very good details for Dragon Shadow sword, am enjoying the form more and more. Thank you Sifu
Thank you Sigong for another great Dragon Shadow Sword seminar. It is always a joy to practice and I really value the help in the break out rooms.
Looking forward to the next one! Nicci
It’s always enjoyable to get back to the Dragon Shadow Sword and this eleventh seminar was no exception. The lecture today was about making clear decisions on goals and focusing to ensure those goals are achieved, as well as the six connections and three parts. It was instructive to meet up in the breakout rooms to compare notes and discuss details with the others. Thank you Sigong. Peter Hogg
I had awful internet and in the end had to download an eSim for a different mobile network in the break and set up credit so I could get back online! Sorry for coming in again so many times!
Great to polish last week’s new part and see how it develops along the same 45º line into the new part. I like the three backward steps with different sword positions each time! It feels like a really nice fit in this form.
Thanks Sigong! Lee B
A great seminar this afternoon Sifu. The form is very good but I need a lot more practice. The lecture was very enlightening as to how Chinese martial arts differs to other styles in other countries. Internal is so important to develop as well as external. Thanks Sifu Peadar
Now the beginning of the form is much better and I manage to connect the whole form together. Although the movements are a bit complex, I find it very interesting and can see the applications in them now. Thank you Sifu!