Bubishi’s 48 Illustrations: Translation

Discussion in 'Kung Fu' started by David Nisan, Jan 29, 2017.

  1. pehokun

    pehokun Initiate

    Fantastic David, Thank you once again. I am truly over the moon to read your translations as coming from a Chinese sense and Mind-Set for me at least, brings those illustrations "alive" ... far better than any of the other translations I have seen.

    Again, I am indebted to you!
  2. David Nisan

    David Nisan Grasshoppa

    Illustration no. 9

    (Right): [名]雙鈸手敗: Pair-[of]-cymbals-hands’ [method] loses.

    (Left): 落地剪胶用假鈸勝:Dropping-to-the-ground-scissor-legs-using-false-cymbals hands’ [method] wins.

    Note: the character,”to name”, “to call”, is not part of the techniques’ name. The illustrator had probably wrote in advance all technique names on some shit of paper; he had the whole thing neatly arranged. And on that shit of paper there was written something like “technique 9 is called[] Pair-[of]-cymbals-hands’ [method] loses” etc. but at the moment of truth, when he was writing it “live”, someone probably managed to distract him (well, I guess someone distracted him, because the illustrator was a martial artist too, a person who developed his ability to focus. So, he might have been simply thinking of his girlfriend(who was back in Naha waiting for him), or on one of the beautiful Fujianese ladies he saw somewhere, but I guess it is more probable that someone distracted him) he mistakenly begun with —and that was too late to change, so stayed.

    “using-false-cymbals” can also mean “pretending to use the cymbals technique”, or “faking the cymbal move and then (dropping to the ground?)”.

    To Pehokun

    I thank you once more for your kind words!

    I think that the research you are doing now is very important. It would enrich your practice, and your life too. See how much information we gathered already and we are only at illustration 9!

    We should all take these martial manuals seriously. My Chinese teachers definitely took their manuals seriously. They studied all the manuals they could get their hands on, and studied them systematically, reading them and consulting them over and over.

    But my teachers did not worship those manuals. They did not treat them like Holy Scriptures—they never gave up common sense. So they could tell you “the manual says X but it actually means…”, or “what the manual says on point Y is mistaken, it should have been…”

    But the thing is that much information is lost in transmission—it is impossible to transmit everything. Therefore, it is essential to go back to these texts. Because even if there are “mistakes” they still add much to our knowledge and this knowledge, in turn, enhances our practice. In my experience this manual-knowledge changed even my teachers organized their bodies and how they executed techniques. It was not only “philosophical”—gongfu masters are practical people. .
  3. David Nisan

    David Nisan Grasshoppa

    Got distracted too, it seems, with the sheet of paper.
  4. pehokun

    pehokun Initiate

    David, Once again thank you. I don't know if you realize it but you are doing a wonderfully important to not only White Crane stylists but all researchers of the "Bubishi!"

    Your translations are a real revelation! Taking that written in this text's pages to be viewed in a new and fascinating light!

    I am learning a great deal and cannot wait until your next post!
  5. David Nisan

    David Nisan Grasshoppa

    Thanks man! You are very kind!

    Illustration no. 10

    (Right):雙龍戲珠手勝: Pair-of-dragons-playing-with-a-pearl hand [method] wins.

    (Left): 白猴折手敗:White Monkey-breaking-bamboo hand [method] loses.

    Note: here we see, once more, 2 vs. 1, a pair of dragons fighting a single monkey. It seems, then, that this 2 vs. 1 was very important for the Bubishi authors. However, here both men use attack with both their hands simultaneously. So “pair” did not denote only a two-hands-at-once technique, but was probably meant to convey something more. It is hard to tell what that thing was, though.

    A pair, that is “two”, is a yin number. Yin also means “dark” and “hidden” etc. So maybe by “pair” they referred to a hidden( or deceptive) attack. Also, “white” (of “white monkey”) also means “bright”, “apparent”, “clear” etc. which makes it the opposite of yin-dark-hidden and supports the interpretation of hidden vs. apparent(“telegraphic attack”?). But I cannot tell for sure.

    Two more things: the dragon and the monkey are both creatures of the Chinese zodiac (as is the tiger, which we had in illustrations 2 and 5). Just something to pay attention to.

    “Breaking bamboo” can also be translated as “peeling bamboo.” You know, after digging out bamboo shoots you still have to peel them. It is hard to tell which motion, breaking or peeling, the authors wanted to evoke. You should experiment with both, I guess.

Share This Page