Bubishi Illustrations

Discussion in 'Kung Fu' started by pehokun, Jan 14, 2017.

  1. pehokun

    pehokun Grasshoppa


    I have been reading and studying the General Tian Bubishi Translation and have found it invaluable. What a great book! Highly recommended to all.

    I have some questions if I may:

    1/. The first use of the name "Bubishi" appeared in the 1934 printed edition of Mabuni Kenwa's book and then only in printed not handwritten form. What was the Text's name prior to that? Or what should the text have been named given its content?

    2/. Some have said that the illustrations within the Text are the "real secret" containing the energetics or the application of energy and Qi. What are your thoughts regarding the illustrations?

    3/. What part or important aspect does the "Six Ji Hands Illustrations" play in the Bubishi and White Crane? Some of the illustrations are different from others seen.

    4/. The depiction of General Tian in the Bubishi ...... I have been told by others that this is actually a reference to an older man who gave rise to White Crane Gongfu. Is there any probability of truth in this?
  3. David Nisan

    David Nisan Grasshoppa

    Hi Pehokun

    I am happy you find the General Tian Wubeizhi useful. One of our main goals was to make martial artists more independent, more free.

    You ask good questions. Please give me some time to answer them.


  4. pehokun

    pehokun Grasshoppa

    David, Thank you. The General Tian Wubeizhi is fantastic and confirmed some long held views of mine! It is a great achievement and dare I say far more important than any of the other books out there on this subject!

    I cannot wait for your answers!
  5. David Nisan

    David Nisan Grasshoppa

    My Pleasure!

    Thank you for your kind words! I appreciate it!

    Maybe you could share with the long-held views that The General Tian Wubeizhi confirmed?

    As for your questions:

    1) The text that would become “Bubishi” had originally no title. Even the colored “Bubishi”, which is now the property of Liu Kangyi, had no title.

    This is quite natural; such manuals were never meant to be published. A title is usually given to texts which are meant to be published (and not long before they are going to be published).

    The Bubishi was a kind of notebook used for taking gongfu notes. I have many such notebooks myself, but they are all “title-less”.

    2) If you talk about the two-man drills’ illustrations, then they definitely contain “secrets”. Each illustration is accompanied by two mnemonic rhymes, or koujue 口訣, and such instructions were secret.

    However, I would not think of qi-applications as much generation and application of power and a formation of a certain, specific, mind-set.

    The line “Blue Dragon sends out his claws” from the Bubishi’s illustration (see my previous post on this site) is not a technique per-se, but a teaching of a mindset. For the Chinese “Blue Dragon sends out his claws” meant to evoke a certain feeling and way of moving (together then, feeling and movement combined to inform the practitioner of the quality/nature of movement vivid he had to generate).

    To give an example, when we hear/read sentences like “Man-with-no-name draws his gun” or “Indiana Jones cracks his whip” we immediately see Clint Eastwood drawing his gun or Harrison Ford cracking his whip, and we go like “oh, I get it. I should perform this movement/technique in this manner. I should convey the same coolness under pressure, I should be fast, but my movement should be minimal, my eyes should focus attentively on what’s in front of me (=I should not lower my gaze and look at my gun)” and so on and so forth. Now, Chinese saw thousands of dragon illustrations, and the saw how dragons moves in theater shows and in temple festivals (where there were also “dragon dances”).

    Usually, the imagery invoked by the koujue would also be accompanied by a specific sound (made by the teacher). Sound of, say, swallowing, spitting, cracking, sticking to something, also helps students in getting the right feel.

    We can say that such (flowery) imagery plays a fundamental role in forming a fighter’s martial mindset. It is very important in Chinese gongfu, thus, not surprisingly, each and every one of the Bubishi’s 48 illustrations is accompanied by such flowery instructions.

    3) That some Bubishi editions have different Six-Ji Hands illustrations is simply the result of having been drawn by different people. Those people probably differed in their drawing skills and in their understanding of the teacher’s instructions (this, as you know happens all the time. Five students might see the same demonstration and hear the same explanation but form a different take on what had transpired).

    The instructions given in the Six-Ji Hands are, in my opinion, much more important. They attest to a deep knowledge of the body and of how to hurt it!

    4) General Tian, as we explained in the book, was a popular Fujianese deity, and it was not particularly associated with White Crane Fist. Although it was worshiped by practitioners of White Crane Fist, it was not worshiped as the founding patriarch of the school, but as its guardian deity. That is to say that as far as White Crane practitioners were concerned General Tian’s had specific identity and specific functions but had nothing to do with the founding of their school.

    However, there might be an old man kind of figure involved after all. The origin-story of White Crane Fist (which was universally accepted) told of Fang Qininag and the Crane Master. This Carne Master can be taken to be an immortal-kind figure. Maybe some people imagine a wise old man when they think of such an immortal.

    It's a pleasure to meet a martial-intellectual as you.



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