Verses & Thoughts

Geometrymartial thoughts

The shortest distance
straight spine

– Peter Thelin




Sticking simply to the point,
the sharpened sense which in us moves,
that subtle probing of the blade
might flick aside this dunce’s crown

– Simon Cowper


On Connections

The other day my Shih Fu was showing me his history of teachers. He turned and said that this, now, was my lineage also.

This quote came to mind:

“We didn’t know what that night meant; it has taken us years to find out. Except that the struggles of the older generation suddenly became our own struggles…Yes, there had been a sudden change in the lighting and we hadn’t foreseen it.”

– Christa Wolf, 1968



On Tai Chi

martial thoughtsA change in the lighting can come in varying forms, sometimes it comes slow, sometimes fast. Like the discovery of a friendship that’s shifted out of sight, or perhaps that never was, it can be painful in its slow surfacing. Other times, like the blowing out of a candle which blankets the self in darkness, it can be liberating in its speed.

The lighting, it seems to me, changes as one grows closer to the set, as the set sets into the self. As one settles into a stance, perhaps Single Whip or maybe Crane Spreads its Wings, or maybe neither but another, there is a settling of emotion that follows that of the muscles. What might have been scattered, like tears in rain, is now settling behind an ear, dropping down to the feet.

One can, I think, get the feeling of being whole in the settling, if only for a moment, the moment when the candle flickers and, indeed, one notices the lighting has changed. And, just maybe, moments are all we have, piled one upon another, one move flowing into the next, into the whirlpool of memory.


On Practice

Yesterday I tried to attend the class, wanting to be taught. Yet, walking into the studio, I felt the weight fall, felt it on my fingers as they needled through the tying of my belt. In a flash I was no longer safe, in a flicker it all became overwhelming. I stayed and practiced alone, away from the presence of others.   

The weight of belonging, at times, seems heavy. It’s as if my desire to belong conflicts with the truth of my separation, or the truth of my separation reveals the wanting to belong. Maybe it’s like walking into a new school, like being a beginner. Everyone knows everyone except you: you are new and do not yet belong.

What then, if anything, binds us? What then do we share? What is it that we find in one martial thoughtsanother that pulls us forward to bridge the gap, that changes us from being new and alone to being accepted and spoken with? Is it possible for such a feeling of comfort, the comfort of not being alone, to be persistent?

I can’t answer such questions with any certainty, yet thoughts come as the questions remain. As I practiced yesterday, as I hid from a truth, I realized that I wasn’t hiding at all. I think, at least I thought yesterday, that it is the sets that bind us. As I practiced my set, I wasn’t growing farther away. Instead, I was growing closer, I was becoming part of a whole that is larger than myself, that is assembled by its parts.

It would seem that the sets we learn are what we share, are what brings us together. It feels like our common language. When words fail, when the tongue falters, we can, as a community, unite within the practice of a set.

We can, I think, belong to one another, feel close to one another, within what is passed to us, within our practice.


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