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Research of Martial Arts by Jonathan Bluestein

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  • Research of Martial Arts by Jonathan Bluestein

    Research of Martial Arts by Jonathan Bluestein

    I've purchased this book around 3 years ago.

    It's mainly got 3 sections:

    Part I: From the Inside Out - External and Internal Gong Fu
    Part II: Contemplations on Controlled Violence
    Part III: The Wisdom of Martial Spirits: Teachers, and the Things They Hold Dear

    It's got around 400 pages in a big format. I never managed to read it completely, there are some pages in the middle I did not get to.

    I sort of really agree only around 55 %, which is not easy to say when things are not black or white.

    It starts with the subtitle: 'Skill is acquired through continuous practice, sophistication & depth (are achieved) by giving thought to it'

    It's not completely wrong I'd say, but I could not agree either. As in this school's motto: I'd say its wondrous skills that beget wondrous skills, and at the same time one needs to practice them. Whether 'thought' really helps, depends on what one exactly means by it.

    That said, I enjoyed reading this book, esp. part 3 with interviews of martial arts teachers. Also here, it's not that I would necessarily agree with it all. Also, part 2 with the authors own reflections, sometimes in form of poems, was enjoyed and appreciated; they are also good models for own reflections. Part one also got some framework and information that I found helpful.

    The best sentences - not just here - are those, where I would not agree, but where I can't forget them either, and they come back and after years I find they've got some truth, that was always there, and that i did not admit to.

    This book is an example of a new trend for some while now, in martial arts, that may get stronger and more visible:

    -it's that martial art styles, schools, and practitioners start not just keeping within their own 'four walls'. Many arts, at least in a wider distribution, have been lost, because they were not passed on. How good your stuff really is (or how complete, or where to locate it etc), even when you find out that it is really good, needs a bit of validation in the real world, so that styles etc. say, hey, I'll show you a bit of mine, you show me a bit of yours.

    -it's also, that they seek to blend the ancient arts with modern wisdom, so to say. How to deal with what's passed down, what is mythological, what's history, what's in tune with a scientific approach, how to deal with this all?

    I'm a fond of this trend, because I also find, that validation in the 'outside world' is necessary and that Kung Fu styles and schools should work a bit more together (also in promoting Kung Fu to the non-Kung-Fu world). Also, that a trend to being professional in everything is good and going on.

    As with newer trends, it's also a learning experience and the ways of expression etc. may not yet be developed fully.

    Like, how do you do 'research' in the field of martial arts and internal arts? One also can not get blind to the limitations of a scientific approach as it's found mainly today: in renaissance times, 'science' was one of the arts, nowadays fields are perceived as being either an art or a science. Where 'science' just is the grail-keeper of a limited world-view only allowing linear thought and compliance with western consensus views, it will be too limited to grasp the treasures of these ancient arts.

    But, as a contribution to this emerging trend I found this book very welcome, and how do you know where you stand and what you stand for (and what you can't stand for), if you do not test and validate it with the outside world, where it can be expected, there are other views then just one's own?

    Sometimes, it delivers fresh insights, not only modern, but also passed down - depending on the school or tradition - for example what I remember from the book, a fresh view on 'stealing' in Kung Fu, like 'stealing' a set, or pattern etc.:

    Not all schools or styles or teachers did treat this as a 'moral' thing, like one should not do this. It was used with a blink in the eye. There were masters that expected their students to 'steal' from them, this means to observe and recognize patterns etc. and their application themselves and integrate it into their practice. These masters looked for these signs in sparring practice with their students and only continued to higher levels, when the students demonstrated their ability 'to steal', this is to correctly learn on their own. The reason behind this was and is, that they found and find it impossible, to systemize all of their teaching (and spoon-feed it to the student).

    With Kung Fu Salute,

    Last edited by MichaelS; 19 December 2019, 11:43 AM.