Bubishi’s 48 Illustrations: Translation

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

  1. pehokun

    pehokun Grasshoppa

    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 Grasshoppa

    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.
  6. pehokun

    pehokun Grasshoppa

    David, Again fantastic! A thought ........ do you think that apart from the translations that the actual Illustrations contain "hidden keys" as to techniques, where to strike (Dian Xue) and hand configurations like those seen within the Six Ji Hands?
  7. David Nisan

    David Nisan Grasshoppa

    That's a good question!

    I think that the answer to your question is (generally speaking) yes, but with a certain twist.
    I'll have more time on the weekend, and I'll try and give a more detailed answer then. For now, however, I'll ask you a question. What is it that you actually learn when you study White Crane Fist? Are you really learning to be like a crane? or is it that you are learning the Way of the Crane?
  8. pehokun

    pehokun Grasshoppa

    Thank you! looking forward to your thoughts.

    David, What a great question but not one I am sure I can truly answer as for me it is a highly personal pursuit to be explored within the confines of my own anonymity.

    To be totally honest, I can say that I truly love the art. I "feel" the art in me. In many ways it permeates my life. Honestly my answer as best I can is twofold ... I am learning the way of the Crane to be White Crane. Does that make sense to you?

    Thank you David, that is a very provocative, powerful and deep question and one I will ponder upon for some time to come within my own explorations.
  9. David Nisan

    David Nisan Grasshoppa

    I believe you. gongfu has such a power.

    If we take this line of reasoning a step further then we'd have to conclude that Tiger Fist practitioners learn to be tigers, Monkey Fist's practitioners learn to be Monkeys, Dog Fist practitioners learn to be dogs, and so on and so forth. But there is a problem here. All the above arts were created in Fujian, which means that people living quite close to one another--maybe even neighbors--created martial arts which were fundamentally different. Yet we know that these arts have much in common. In other words, they are not fundamentally different.

    And furthermore, assuming that the Bubishi's authors were also Crane Fist practitioners, then why were they trying to be like dragons, tigers, monkeys and so on? Why didn't they use only white crane metaphors?

    Finally, if White Crane practitioners learn be cranes, Monkey Fist practitioners learn to be monkeys etc., then what are Taichi people trying to become? And Baguazhang? Xingyi?
  10. David Nisan

    David Nisan Grasshoppa

    Let me ask you another question. Are there times when a White Crane master is not a Crane? I mean, is he still a Crane when he sleeps? What about when he is just sitting there drinking tea? ;)
  11. pehokun

    pehokun Grasshoppa

    Wow! These questions are getting very deep David. To answer ....

    Firstly I appreciate the different perspective you wrote above: Tiger, Monkey, Dragon, Crane ... all are derived form natural (with the exception of Dragon) animals/attributes/nature. I think they were not trying to be the animals per se but to embody the actual natural principles inherent in all. In this, many ways become one.

    As to your second question, firstly, I'm no "White Crane Master" ... God Forbid. I'm just a very lowly seeker, nothing more, nothing less. So I'd only be grasping at straws to attempt to answer such a question.

    The best I can say to you David is what I have already stated above:

    Sorry but that's the best I can do :unsure:

    I'm no "Master" of anything. I'm just and old, chubby grey-haired man of little skill and even less knowledge. Truth be told, I suck! :facepalm: But damn, I do love the arts and White Crane Fist in particular because it just seems to resonance internally with me somehow.

    Whats interesting here is you seem to have changed somewhat and instead of talking about White Crane and the Illustrations etc, you seem somehow more interested in me and my "level" of understanding (most likely my lack of!:() .

    Not that this concerns me as it forces one to consider things not thought of or asked before. I feel such things are best answered for me at least, within my own anonymity.
  12. David Nisan

    David Nisan Grasshoppa

    Many people find gongfu difficult, and even depressing, and then they quit. In my experience this usually happens when the teacher does not teach the principles. If you understand the principles, even if you are aware of only one, then you do not suck. You constantly improve. And you feel it, and that keeps you going.

    I am not "interested", as you say, but have been trying to answer your question(about acupoints). My intention, however, was not simply give it you, but have you consider things a little yourself, so as to make you grasp the principles. with these principles you become independent. This was, and still is, my goal. This was my goal when I wrote the General Tian Bubishi.

    You should not worry about me trying to "expose" you.

    I think that by saying that
    You get closer.

    But the question is, who becomes one? "They" or you?
  13. pehokun

    pehokun Grasshoppa

    David, The "I Suck" is me downplaying my ego. Concepts and principles are the art that drives the movement so I am constantly training in and exploring same.

    Being "exposed?" ... That I don't follow you on. I have nothing to hide!

    Lets go back to the mindset of concepts and principles:

    1. 在你的意念中。只是理論

    2. 在你的心中。只是精神

    3. 在你身體中。只是經驗

    4. 在你手中。只是技擊術

    5. 在你重視的。只是白鶴





  14. David Nisan

    David Nisan Grasshoppa

    Why were you downplaying your ego?

    You kept speaking of anonymity. Now, I cannot follow you.
  15. pehokun

    pehokun Grasshoppa

    I am forever cautious of not succumbing to ego. It is the one thing that destroys not only good Martial Arts but those who follow.

    David, I'm not asking you to follow me. My anonymity is a place where I can enjoy the lessons learned at a deeper level, that is all.

    If you have nothing further you wish to share than I thank you deeply for that which you have shared thus far! It has been truly educational and enlightening! Again my heartfelt thanks!
    Last edited: Mar 6, 2017
  16. pehokun

    pehokun Grasshoppa

    Together, history and tradition make up the roots of where we came from and supply us with the foundation upon which we build.

    Even so, as important as they no doubt are, we still need to keep them firmly in their place as it where, and take care not to allow them to completely dominate all that we do.

    History is good. It teaches us a lot about the socio/cultural origins wuxue 武学 and development of the martial arts and sciences but, as important as it is, it still is not our present and is certainly not our future (though it can, and should, remain an integral part of both of these) We always need to respect our past simply because it has so much to teach us, but we also need to understand that all things must and do change, due to differing needs, requirements, environment and so on.

    武术的原始, 用近代治历史学的方法来探求, 断然不能单单依靠着以符号记载的文献来穷其源竟其委的. ([When studying] the origins of martial arts, you cannot rely on one type of documentary source only to define their temporal limits) (Tang, [1930] 1968).

    All of nature, all of the universe itself, is in a state of constant flux, adapting and evolving to become that which has not yet been. Change, then, is part of the natural order of things, and we need to embrace it if we are to remain happy and healthy in body, mind and spirit.

    Art (any art) must be allowed to express itself freely, completely unfettered by the chains of anything so petty as tradition. Once you try and make art a prisoner it can no longer properly be called art.

    I might not agree with, nor even like, some of the things I see happening in the martial arts but, the beauty of all it is: I don't have to! What is important here is that other people do like them and I am glad they exist for them to like. For me to feel otherwise would be a terrible folly on my part simply because such developments are an inevitable part of life.

    Respect the past. Learn the important lessons it has to teach.

    Anticipate the future. Look forward to it and work hard to make it something special for those who come after us

    Live in the present. Live for today. Focus upon what is important in the here and the now
    Last edited: Mar 6, 2017
  17. David Nisan

    David Nisan Grasshoppa

    Well, history does not exist, only the study of history does. And that study takes place in the present.

    Not all the principles were transmitted in "principle-packages", as in "take this box, it includes principles A, B, and C". Some principles were taken for granted--everybody knew them. But we are not everybody. We did not grow up in the Qing. So we have to look for those principles in the ancient texts. In other words we have to study history, which means that history is not only "good", but essential. That is exactly the case with the poem you quote. I was talking to you about martial principles, principles which also explain your poem, but...well, you taught we were getting sidelined?
  18. pehokun

    pehokun Grasshoppa

    Sorry, I do not understand? I "taught" what?
  19. David Nisan

    David Nisan Grasshoppa

    sorry, "you were taught/told we were getting sidelined"
  20. pehokun

    pehokun Grasshoppa

    Oh okay. Not at all.

    If you have nothing further you wish to share regarding the Illustrations or the Six ji Hands than I thank you deeply for that which you have shared thus far! It has been truly educational and enlightening! Again my heartfelt thanks!

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