Introduction to Shaolin Kungfu

Maxime and me

In the midst of this talk touching on non-duality, we drove through Tours towards Chenonceau Castle.

I continued the discourse in the car.

“There is another concept which you must be aware of. Force is not limited to be hard at one time, and soft at another time. It can be hard and soft at the same time!”

Hubert and Maxime listened silently.

“That is high level,” I explained. “Mirror Hand or Single Tiger can be hard and soft at the same time. It means that the energy is never locked. Similarly, One Finger Shooting Zen, or any kungfu pattern, can be just hard, just soft, or hard and soft at the same time, just like we can be agile and solid at the same time.”

While talking, I enthusiastically demonstrated my point by showing all of the patterns mentioned, resulting in a substantial rise of temperature in the car, as Hubert recorded.

“Ultimately, hard and soft are just convenient terms, not scientific terms,” I went on. “Hard in one aspect may not be the same as hard in another aspect. Taijiquan masters don’t compartmentalise in hard or soft. This would be ‘theory first, practice later’, whereas in reality this hard and soft concept comes from practice. The earlier masters did not worry whether it was hard or soft. They were only concerned whether it was useful or not. Only later it was described as comparatively hard or soft.”

I continued, “The theory came as a result from the experience. But later, in order to make it easier for their students, past masters formalised it in an easy way, so that their students didn’t have to reinvent everything.”

But Maxime, who was driving, lost his way. While Maxime and Hubert were figuring out from some road signs which way to go, I took the opportunity to explain an analogy between road signs and the wisdom passed on to us by past masters. Hubert recorded the conversation. The following were the words I said:

“Let’s take road signs as an analogy. Earlier people discovered that using this road led to the castle. So in order to help other people, they put a road sign. It was not the reverse, they didn’t put the road sign ‘This leads to the castle’, and then went there and built a castle!”

There was a lot of laughter in the car.

I carried on:

“The castle was there first! Then only did they put the sign. And not only was the castle there, but people already used the road many, many times. They used this way to go to the castle, so they built a road there, and put the road signs later.”

Classic of Shaolin Kungfu

Hubert and me

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