When do you become classed as a martial artist, is it after your first class, on receipt of a black belt or somewhere in between? The term artist is is a big one for me; if you are just copying your teacher surely you are not an artist? Also if you movement are derived purely from drills, where is the self expression in that? If there is art in there somewhere, it has to be an expression of something inside, not something derived wholly from someone else.
Why does this matter?
People tend to beat themselves up that they are not the same as their teacher or hero, that they cannot live up to an ideal. Even if you were the same you would be a fake, a knock off. There is true liberation in seeing that your training is an effort in releasing your true ability, to express yourself as you really are. During training to be the best or better than others is irrelevant, difference can be celebrated as opposed to something to feel bad about.
Am I an artist?
I have never really considered this question before, but maybe today I will say yes. Not because I think I am good, but because I have to some extent liberated my mind and body from fixed patterns of movement in wing chun. On a good day I literally do not know how my joints will move when I contact someone else and in some sense there is a joy in watching the movement unfold. Almost like a detached onlooker. I am not saying I am a good artist, but in a sense liberating oneself from self criticism allows something to develop and evolve which would overwise be constrained and held back.
None of this makes it an easy job to teach wing chun. So instead of drilling students and laying down rules, we can teach principles and ideas. There may be no right answers, but wrong ideas or false impressions can be examined and eliminated by proper consideration. When someone 'does it right', it is evident in their whole body movement, you can see it in their face. Generally suprised, but deep down it just seems so obvious, a bit like when you finally understand a punchline of a joke.
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