A recently published article (August 2017) in the Aiki Journal of Pat Hendricks Sensei (7 Dan/Aikikai) prompted me to write this text for our Dojo homepage. Pat Hendricks Sensei recommended taking a look beyond one’s own horizon. The title of the article was:
Have the ability to look outside your style and appreciate another path
Well, I took that fateful leap 21 years ago.
When I came to the Regensburg WingTsun School for a formative introductory course in 1996, it was not yet clear to me that I and WingTsun would one day come together so intensely.
I have to emphasize that when I started martial arts/sports in 1978, there were no other arts in my area other than karate, judo, and jujutsu. Aikido at that time was very exotic. And oh my God, how I loved and love my AIKI…
WingTsun and I, we loved each other from the beginning. We could not let each other go any longer, it was an intense love at first sight. I started out in 1997, and can now look back on more than 21 years in this wonderful Chinese inner art.
Everything I had found in it invigorated me, made me very critical of my long and wonderfully practiced art: the AIKI. Especially with regard to the actual moment of the chaotic conflict in a physical confrontation.
But, I was also critical of WingTsun. I found some direct approaches often too brutal, is it the purpose of a martial art to completely destroy the opponent with chain punches or the mysterious form of Biju Tze? Perhaps also because the AIKI did use this form of energetic and dynamic beating, it is more controlled? The traditional AIKI has an intensive form of Atemi Waza (shock techniques), the intention behind it is different.
So during these long years, I passionately looked from one edge of WingTsun’s plate to the other edge of AIKI’s plate, continued to practice my beloved Japanese tradition and technique, and felt fully occupied for years by the constantly changing varied sections of Chi Sao: the sticking hands. The heart of WingTsun, the Chi Sao, is unique, there is simply nothing to add.
These wonderful flavorful experiences, this exquisite menu, which I was allowed to “eat”, never filled me up. I ate more and more. The deep personal experience I have gained over these long years by studying two inner martial arts with such different approaches has become deeper and deeper.
The AIKI and the WingTsun have so much in common due to their strong inner core and the development of an inner martial art. Today, I am more than sure that the founder of the AIKI must have come into contact with an inner martial art of the Chinese culture during his stay in Mongolia, because e.g. the separation from a gripped wrist strongly reminds of the flow of the BAGUA Palms (hands)-and so much more…
And truthfully, there are so many other personal experiences and formative examples that caused a very big aha-effect on my entire martial arts thinking.
One of the biggest breakthroughs for me personally occurred in the last five to six years, when my SiFu Prof. Dr.K.R.Kernspecht started to reexamine and further develop WingTsun himself. This was and is a gigantic academic and exploratory approach.
My SiFu showed such an unbelievable openness towards ALL INTERNAL FIGHTING ARTS. He began to question everything, in the constant search for principles and much more. It was and is an unbelievable achievement and wonderful energy of my SiFu’s to once again take this path after all that has been attained in the art of WingTsun.
Unfortunately, many martial arts leaders do not dare to take this great step forward, because they are not allowed to do so, they want to preserve tradition. For me, who grew up in a very traditional style, this is more than understandable.
The old traditional system cannot be touched or changed. If we look at the development of the Aiki, especially the various styles within the world association Aikikai, there were still some Sensei’s, which in some ways had also started with a type of further development. The son of the founder also changed…
Whether some of these new Aiki-developments in the function of self-defense were or are realistic, is a constantly criticized moment and popular topic in the martial arts world.
Whether some of these new Aiki developments were or are realistic in the function of a form of self-defense, is a constantly criticized moment and popular topic in the martial arts world.
In general, I would like to make it very clear that everyone is looking for something different in their art. Some use it as a form of self-improvement and others simply as pure self-defense. We always talk about martial arts, budo ect., not about fighting!
A few years ago I began to study the arts of Yiquan, Tai Chi and Bagua on my own; I was given another perspective and my horizon expanded immensely.
When I was allowed to experience training with my SiFu for a short time again, but still at regular intervals, I was stunned. I was emotionally so touched, because what happened here was unique.
The iWT currently taught by SiFu is incomparably mentally structured and biomechanically highly functional. It is the result of years of intensive research in the spirit of Chinese Chan/Japanese Zen. I might add that in AIKI we are constantly moving in the cycle of Wu Xing, the Five Elements. We talk about this symbolism in AIKI, but we can also explain it functionally.
We talk about this symbolism in AIKI, but can we also explain it functionally?
This is my own experience process, I finally realized through researching my SiFu’s during my training at AIKI in my dojo. Again, my assumption was confirmed that the founder of the AIKI must have had contact with China’s inner arts. My thought, my practice, and feelings have changed immensely since this study of the practical, biomechanical, attention-orientation of one’s inner being.
I’m very happy to look at the big picture. Despite past criticism from some of my colleagues from the martial arts world, I will not have that taken from me. As Immanuel Kant said: Sapere Aude-dare to think. Every serious martial artist, no matter what style, should take this approach to heart.