In our training journey, we often encounter problems and ask questions, hoping that answers to them can clear some obstacles and help bring about progress right away. Not all “answers” can lead to progress as expected, though. And I suspect it is mostly due to the mix-up of two worlds – the mind world and the physical world.
The direct function of an “answer” is to explain. That is, it analyses the mechanism and operation in the physical body, sometimes even has to resort to the anatomy discipline for in-depth understanding. Such an explanation is for satisfying the cognitive faculty so that the learner can feel more comfortable due to better and more comprehensible understanding, which might make the learner more settled and convinced to further pursue and persist in training and practice. This is the physical world – answers are elaborate and can often grow in complexity.
On the other side, the purpose of training is not that much for the physical, but mainly for connecting the mind (idea/nim tau) with the physical operation, in such a way that a simple idea can already initiate, execute and control the entire physical process being intended. An answer on this side is not to analyse and give a detailed account of the mechanism upon which things happen. Rather, it enhances and speeds up the way the mind masters and controls the physical movements being intended. This is the mind world – answers should ever become simpler and make mind operation more instant.
The two worlds usually don’t match. For example, my last post on the spine. The physical spine can never be physically straight. It is curved here and there, inward or outward, in different extents, sometimes even sideways due to permanent physical problem. Yet, we always aim at a “straight” spine as the core for Wing Chun power. Here “straight” is a representation, a virtual mapping. It is representing the degree and condition of the vertical articulation of your body here and now, including all the existing restrictions, contraction and tensions in your body. “Representation” means that in your mind your body (the vertical dimension) is just reflected by that current straight spine-line, nothing else; and your mind is operating that spine-line (not directly the actual physical spine) to give out different movements and thence power.
The position, the thickness, the straightness of the virtual spine will change as the physical conditions of your body (particularly the vertical dimension) change. That is, it won’t remain the same in the mind along your training journey.
To describe how to launch a punch from the virtual spine-line in the mind is simple: pivot from the spine-line and fly the fist. To explain the same movement in terms of the happenings in the physical spine is a lot more complicated: how the different vertebra joints work together in the midst of muscular influence and how such power can be transmitted through to the fist, etc. If the latter is put into the mind for operating the body, you will only become crazy and get stuck! Worth warning: Don’t let the two worlds crossed!
The above basically says: When you train and practise, stay tightly in the mind world; the analysis in the physical world will not help and may even cause harm. However, before becoming adept at pure mind operation, how can you manage not to be influenced by the latter? This is where “thought process”, the term we commonly use, comes in. Your present “thought process” that governs your practice can be viewed as a mixture of the two worlds, because some elements of analysis from the physical world might click in your mind and enhance better connection, such that through training over some time your mind world will be enriched and sharpened as a result. In short, while “thought process” bridges the two, it should aim to grow the portion of the mind world by feeding and digesting elements of the physical world into it.
In my future posts wherever appropriate, as illustrated in the last post, the two worlds will be clearly placed under different headings. EXPLANATION is to depict the physical mechanism as much as necessary. This is the part that can grow in complexity. SIMPLE INTENT is for training use. And it is as simple as possible. There is the CONCISE GUIDE in between. It is of the summary nature for easier reference, somehow bridging the two worlds as what “thought process” does.