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The 'IS' that 'IS'

Updated: Nov 4, 2022

There is this thing I struggle with when it comes to teaching this method to others. I think it exists a the intersection of attention deficit disorder and unbridled enthusiasm. Like when my dog is so busy running from squirrel to squirrel he never has a chance of catching anyone of them. Maybe he is just in it for the hunt?

For we martial arts enthusiasts the squirrel is the next great thing....that exercise, kata, technique or secret that is going to uncork everything. The Johnny come lately gets the new kid in town least for a while. As soon as the shine fades another shiny object gets our attention and the honeymoon is back on. Maybe I'm mixing too many metaphors?

Our tribal nature has great fun with this. We divide into camps and clans arguing who better, who's best, who's right and who is wrong. Are you internal or external, northern or southern, hard or soft, health or self-defense? The whole damn thing sounds like an endless 'tastes great - less filling debate' of the Light Beer from Miller days, up to and including the fact that the entire debate is contrived to bring attention to something that sucks anyway.

So, when it comes to the Yi Chuan method and developing Integrated Strength I'm going to take a stand. I'm going to suggest that there is an 'IS' that 'IS' and, while our ability to comprehend what that is is can dramatically change our experience, the is that we think is has no impact on the is that actually is. And while we think spend so much of our time arguing over what is, we are really only arguing over what we think that is is.

The classic conundrum is trying to get our is-es to work. You know the drill, my Teacher said ______, so I am trying to make my self do ______. We try to impose the model on top of our meat wagon because it is 'supposed' to work that way. It's so easy to forget the model and the method are trying to help you find something that is already there, to nurture it and develop it. If the model being used is corrupted by one of the 'miss-es' (mistakes, misinformation, missing information, misleading information, mis-understandings) using it will actually be counter-productive.

You see, the real Teaching does not come from the Teacher. In our classes, I am acting more as a guide, someone that knows the road you are on (or want to be on) and can help save you time and aggravation in getting to your destination. The conceptual models, methods and methodologies we employ are only valuable to the extent they help us unlock the hidden potential of Integrated Strength. A Teacher can show you the way but not take the journey for you.

In one of my recent seminars, I used the tale of the blind people feeling the elephant. As you can imagine the person feeling the trunk has a much different experience than the person feeling the tusks and both of those experiences are well removed from someone who has their head shoved up the but. Each of them has true observations and experiences with the elephant that are so unique they could argue for a lifetime and everybody would be right & wrong at the same time.

As so it is with this training. There is a way we work as a living being, it is what it is. Our conceptual models can be very useful tools in attuning our understanding and skill more to the is that is instead of the is that we want to be. But we have to be careful. In this game don't mistake a theory for the answer, look past the finger to the moon and cut down that damn tree so you can see the whole forest.

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Michael Tran
Michael Tran
Sep 21, 2021

As for the beer, Miller and Coors may tie for first place. As for martial arts training, whose tree is better than other tree in the huge forests of different regions of the world? The tree in the Black Forest of Germany is the best, etc.? Which martial arts path is better? All roads may lead to the same end point? My Jesus is better than your Jesus? I have asked many “masters” in my pursuit of martial arts happiness. To my soberness, all have not met my desired “expectation”. TCPC = Talk Cheap Performance Count. As a scrawny person like me, I have won many (not all of course) physical conflicts of high ranking M.A. practitioners. My current practice of “IS” Yi …

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