Already some time ago now I had an interesting discussion with another person from Germany. There was one aspect showing up, which in principle could be very interessting for all of us who want to learn Taiji.
Here and there Master Chen did point out that in Taijiquan (or at least our style of Taijiquan ..) there is nothing which is related to anything we know from normal life, to the contrary, in general things are totally opposite. Right?
Further he did point out that we cannot hear or understand what he is saying and cannot see the right move, because our mind always cheats us and we can only see what we like to see. So far as I could hear and understand him …
So the problem is already here, I also have my personal filters and cannot see things like they are, according to this …
This also goes pretty well along with the Buddhist teachings, as I know them.
Now here´s my little story:
We had a discussion about a sound in Chinese language. I have to say that I´m really not an advanced speaker in Chinese, but as a musician I really love sounds, especially the little suttle differences in particular sounds. That´s one of the reasons why I love Chinese with it´s tones.
One difference between me and the person we had the following discussion is that I did start to learn some mandarin some while ago and I went through a certain procedure quite a few times:
Learning some words and sentences with a book and audio recordings, then try to use them with Chinese people, they did not understand a word but finally corrected me, I practiced again a bit and only after that I was able to use these few things in daily live, and now sometimes Chinese people think I pronounce quite well.
So me and the other German person were listening to a recording of some Mandarin, spoken by a Chinese voice. The word “ri4 – 日” like “xing1qi1ri4 – 星期日”.
This sound might be a bit similar to our german “ü”, but actually it is totally different. Also the movement of the tounge is very different. Then a real discussion did arise, because this other person constanly heard only this “ü” – repetetively. And more than that, she was absolutely sure that she is right.
You probably had similar experiences, usually it is always like that when someone tries to copy a foreign language at the beginning. For me what is really interessting here is how strong we marginalise everything we don´t know and how blind (or thumb) we can become by doing this. In daily life, I´m quite sure, it must happen all the time without us knowing it!
For learning Taiji probably even worse, but perhaps also more easy, because more clear, as we want to revese everthing to the opposite. So this becomes somehow a major principle.
Back to Mandarin I personally think it is a good idea for total beginners, NOT to read pinyin in the very beginning, instead it might be better just to listen to the language and it´s sounds first, then copy them, still WITHOUT looking at the pinyin. The pinyin will only mislead you, because the sounds are different from those we use to express with our alphabet (for German probably even more different than for English).
Then for learning in general I think, it might be quite important to learn to be confortable to be in the dark, and to try to get into a “receaving only mode”, at best without any pressure and preset expectations.
Or to put it in simple words: first watch/listen, then just copy, without analysing and questioning the subject. Just like the first two steps in learning according Master Chen and his Master’s method, right?
I think, that in the example above we can see pretty clear how we are not able to “just listen” and then “just copy”.
The other day, by the way, we did play the recorded “ri4 – 日” on the table, one Chinese person and the rest western people. Everybody did suggest to hear something totally different, only the Chinese person did hear it right 😉
I’m sorry now for not beeing able to express that little story with fewer words, but actually for me there did show up how drastic this issuevis in general.
What do you think?
Please use this website to discuss, if possible. I don´t use fb, especially now we are in China the access is quite limited.
All best wishes from the mountain,