Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Wujifa Learning Through Questions

Learn Wujifa through asking questions. What questions should you ask? That is a very good first question!

In all the public martial arts classes and seminars that I've attended, students act primarily as empty vessels into which the teacher pours selected and measured amounts of information and skill sets. I believe this is an appropriate format for the purpose of acquiring information and mechanical skills.

However, in my experience, this kind of "mechanical skill acquisition mindset" is not the most suitable when it comes to developing internal, feeling, non-mechanical skills.

In Wujifa, we are encouraged to develop the mindset of a scientist where my body-mind is simultaneously the researcher, research subject, and development project. Given this orientation, students are expected to come to class prepared to present the questions they are working on.

Questions are the medium through which you convey where you are in your training.

For example, when I was interested in gathering data, my questions lacked feeling and were generally disassociated from the functional kinesthetics of my body. As I shifted from data to feeling, my questions became more grounded in my internal kinesthetic experience.

Over the years, I've learned how this orientation shows up in questions on a couple levels. Of course there is the lexical expression of the question itself. However, behind or underneath the lexical component is the feeling or intention driving the question. It is this aspect that may reveal more of the person asking the question and thus convey an entirely different issue than the question itself conveys!

For example, when I ask a question, in the course of answering that question, I may discover how that answer answered three other questions. How? The intention that inspired each question was essentially the same. Learning to recognize that in itself as well as learning how that same intention shows up in my body-mind patterning often provides huge training insights!

In terms of where I am now, I still have not fully developed the scientist mindset. Even though I've made progress transitioning from the "empty vessel" model on which I was raised, I'm still largely stuck in a "closed-loop" diagnosis mindset: What's the problem and what do I need to do to fix it? Unfortunately, this mindset is not suited for curiously exploring an "open-loop" development like internal strength.

Curious about what other people had to say about questions, I searched on-line "Quote" sites. Of the many quotes about questions that I found, here are 15 of my favorites that speak most directly to me about my experience in using questions to learn internal strength in the Wujifa system.

Disclaimer: The various sites from which I copied these quotes do not reference the original work or context in which the quote appeared. As such, I cannot vouch for the accuracy of these quotes nor the attribution. For my purpose here, the meaning is of primary value.

If you're curious what kinds of questions are asked in Wujifa class, take a look through some of the entries at my Zhan Zhuang Journal page.

And if you have a great quote about questions that pertain to your internal martial arts training, feel free to share it here!

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  1. The scientist is not a person who gives the right answers, he's one who asks the right questions. Claude Lévi-Strauss (French anthropologist and ethnologist, 1908-2009)

  2. A thinker sees his own actions as experiments and questions--as attempts to find out something. Success and failure are for him answers above all. Friedrich Nietzsche (German philosopher, 1844-1900)

  3. We hear only those questions for which we are in a position to find answers. Friedrich Nietzsche (German philosopher, 1844-1900)

  4. Judge of a man by his questions rather than by his answers. Voltaire (French author, humanist, rationalist, & satirist, 1694-1778)

  5. A good question is never answered. It is not a bolt to be tightened into place but a seed to be planted and to bear more seed toward the hope of greening the landscape of idea. John Anthony Ciardi (American poet, 1916-1986)

  6. We learn more by looking for the answer to a question and not finding it than we do from learning the answer itself. Lloyd Alexander (American author, 1904-2007)

  7. The art and science of asking questions is the source of all knowledge. Adolf Augustus Berle Jr. (lawyer, educator, author, 1895-1971)

  8. It is not the answer that enlightens, but the question. Eugene Ionesco (Romanian and French playwright. Decouvertes, 1909-1994)

  9. Before you wonder, 'Am I doing things right,' ask, 'Am I doing the right things?' Stephen Covey (American educator, author, motivational speaker, 1932-2012)

  10. Your mind will answer most questions if you learn to relax and wait for the answer. William S. Burroughs (American novelist, 1914-1997)

  11. Questions focus our thinking. Charles Connolly (unknown)

  12. Knowing the question is the first step to knowing the answer. Zen proverb (unknown)

  13. The one real object of education is to have a man in the condition of continually asking questions. Mandell Creighton (Bishop of the Church of England, 1843-1901)

  14. I do not pretend to start with precise questions. I do not think you can start with anything precise. You have to achieve such precision as you can, as you go along. Bertrand Russell (British philosoper, 1872-1970)

  15. The important thing is not to stop questioning. Albert Einstein (German physicist, 1879-1955)

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