Sunday, October 4, 2009
Benjamin Zander got the good gongfu
I used to read a lot of stuff about martial arts and watch a lot of videos, but I find it very difficult to find much that is inspiring or even interesting. I find I have to look at other fields for that. My favorite books for martial arts are often by musicians, artists or psychoanalysts.
Here is an example. I occasionally listen to TED talks. I like this one by Benjamin Zander because it has so much to say about martial arts and interactive connection. The topic is classical music, but he makes a lot of universal points.
Benjamin Zander TED talk
The first point is about impulses. When you start to learn a skill, you bring your presence or attention to the activity in bursts. You haven't learned to be delicate. To get better, you have to tame these brute impulses and smooth them out. How do you pick up a baby? That is being delicate and that is the direction we are heading when learning a skill.
He also brings up a good point in his demonstration about emotion and being present. Music means nothing unless you are actually listening and feeling. The same for wing chun. You can't really practice it. You have to actually do it a lot. You have to feel something.