The ‘Taste’ Of Kung Fu….
We’re told that people learn auditory (hearing), visually (looking) and physically (doing), we always use all 3 methods but depending on character will lean more towards one method than the others, I’d like to also add a personal one – taste.
Taste? I hear you ask, how can you learn by taste? Do you have to lick your instructor? Thankfully you don’t, BUT everything has a ‘flavour’ if you can sense it and if you pick up the ‘taste’ of Yang Family Tai Chi, tiger, snake, leopard, dragon, Hung Gar or whatever, you start learning on broadband rather than dial up.
Get the ‘feel’, the flavour, the character of the way that your Sifu/Sensei does the movement, use the other methods, but also ‘listen,’ to the sound and rhythm of the way they move, get the ‘taste’ of kung fu!
I would often look away and use my peripheral vision, listen and copy the ‘jins’ the excitement of a movement. Artistry doesn’t come just from knowledge, not from lists of what and how to do techniques but from the flavour, the taste and the ‘feel’ of how to do it.
This means you love and enjoy your art. it means you ‘feel’ and ‘taste’ it, you experience joy and power in the practice. You’re never weary and bored in training as you immerse yourself in the action. You are aroused, highly aware, focused, sensitive and intense – that’s how training should be!
This is why kung fu use the animals, so that you learn to be a shaman! Why their names are so poetic and cultural, ‘white snake spits venom’, ‘stork flaps wings’, ‘swallow nips water’, ‘meteor chases the moon’ etc all tell you how to do a technique.
Every training session then becomes a performance as you raise your game with the right kind of intensity.
You can always tell the difference watching a practitioner as to whether they have the ‘taste’ of their art or not by the expression, the immersion, the joy, how they become their art as the acting blends into reality.