Tai Chi Chuan
The Dancing Wu Li Masters There are eighty different meanings of the word "Wu" in Chinese, all of which are spelled and pronounced the same way in English. A Tai Chi Master has taken five of these, each of which, when combined with "Li" can produce "Wu Li" with a different meaning although the pronounciation in English is still "Woo Lee". The first Wu Li means "patterns" or "organic energy". This is the chinese way of saying "physics". In this case "Wu" means "matter" or "energy". The second Wu Li means "mine", "my way" or "self". The third Wu Li means "nonsense" or "knowledge beyond sense or emotion". In this case "Wu" means "void". The fourth Wu Li means "I clutch my ideas". In this case "Wu" means "to make a fist" or "clutch with a closed hand". and finally, the fifth Wu Li means "Enlightenment". In this case "Wu" means "enlightenment" or "myheart/my mind". The same principle can be described with the following analogy. If we were to stand behind a master weaver as he begins to work his loom, we would see at first, not cloth, but a multitude of birghtly coloured threads from which he picks and chooses with his expert eye, and feeds in to the moving shuttle. In this manner the Tai Chi master has created a beautiful tapestry from his own epistemonological loom. When trying to find the true meaning of what a "Master" is, the dictionary is of know help. All of it's definitions involve an element of control. This does not fit easily in to our image of the Dancing Wu Li Mastsrs. I asked a Tai Chi Master about it. He Said "That is a word that other people use to describe me. To someone, someone is just someone". Later in the week, I asked him the same question hoping to get a more tangible answer. "A Master is someone who started before you did" was the answer this time. My western education left me unable to accept a nondefinition for "Master" so I began to read his book: Embrace Tiger, Return to Mountain. He begins from the center and not from the fringe. He imparts an understanding of the basic principles of the art, moving on to the meticulous details, and he refuses to break down the Tai Chi movements in to a robotic sequence. The traditional way...is to teach by rote, and to give the impression that long periods of boredom are the most important parts of training. In that way a student may go on for years and years without ever getting the feel of what he is doing. And here was just the definition of "Master" that I sought. A Master teaches essence. When essence is percieved, he teaches what is necessary to expand the perception. The Wu Li Master does not speak of gravity until the student stands in wonder at flower petals falling to the ground. He does speack of laws until the student, of his own volition says "how strange! I drop two stones simultaneously, one heavy and one light, and both of them reach the ground at the same moment". He does not speak of mathematics until the student says " there must be a more simple way to express this". In this way the Wu Li Master dances with his student.