I met up with an old friend who I hadn’t seen for some time. We had had the same teacher over 20 years ago. He had moved on and had had numerous new teachers since then. He had been training for some Wu Shu weapon forms competitions and he gave me a demonstration of his ‘fine-tuned’ performance. He then, of course, asked me what I thought. Now, as any of my friends or students will testify, I’m known for being honest with my appraisals and I tried to change the subject, remembering that the last time he had asked me what I thought of one of his forms, he didn’t speak to me for nearly 3 months afterwards. So, I just said, “what would our teacher say to you?” He sat down with a thump and a big sigh with head down and said, “If its ineffectual in the form then its ineffectual for real”. Then after a long, long silence he looked up at me said, “it looks good though”. And I had to admit that it did look better than good. I phoned around and moved the rest of that days appointments and we spent the next six hours (with a few tea breaks) running through his form, sparring and testing out all the moves. We had to agree that moving in a reality centred way wasn’t going to win him any gold medals but it looked genuine with power and it felt great.
Modern Wu Shu forms have become about how it looks, it has to look dramatic and must have more and more gymnastics tricks, mixing stances with techniques that would not hold up in reality. In fact it’s not about martial arts any more, it is just gymnastics under a different name. Form competitions have become about tricks and poses not about real martial arts abilities.
I was taught that each move of the weapon in a form must work in reality as in my teachers quote “If its ineffectual in the form then it’s ineffectual for real.” That’s why in the Harmony Arts Association we teach the weapon form and the technical applications to the form and the different aspects of each weapon, as well as the mixing of different weapons against each other.
Patience, practice and perseverance bring the mind, body and spirit together.