The tree orbiting diagram

Want to watch something trippy?

Actually it can be more than mystic entertainment if your approach it in the right way. Let me explain.

My classmate Marcus Brinkman in Taipei posted this video recently. Marcus was Luo’s first student, and is a very skilled practitioner of Baguazhang and our system’s arts.

I like the video, the combination of the Marcus’s translation, the graphics and hypnotic soundtrack.

I do not feel right posting the video without commenting on it.

The subject of the video is the use of a tree to describe the branching nature of the Yijing, from a single trunk that splits into yin yang, through 64 hexagrams and to even finer more numerous combinations.

The Yijing has been a corner of Chinese culture for thousands of years, it is an organizing framework that is easy to conceptualise since it is based on familiar shapes (trees) and on which it is possible to hang all kinds of information. If you like mindmaps you can think of a tree as a vertical, three dimensional mindmap. Four dimensional if you consider how the tree grows with time. This is the strength of the Yijing.

From many points of view this is also it’s weakness. For the organising structure to be useful, the information you hang must be relevant, but the tree does not care what you hang on its branches.

So when people with a new age bent look at a video like this, they hang all kinds of stuff on the branches, almost none of which has any relevance to martial arts. Actually the hypnotic quality of the video encourage this, combined with the lack of clear content in the text.

If you watch this video with the idea of learning something, then consider the subject matter you want to learn about. If it is martial arts then that subject matter is largely about movement, the coordination of human bodies in space. It is not about subtle breath, universal energy, categories in Chinese medicine.

Of course you might watch with the idea of opening to some new insight on martial arts that insight might leap to another field. Metaphor is an important part of human experience. For example you might have a sudden understanding of how Baguazhang has some of the same underlying structures as movement, for example. That does not mean your piano practice will allow you to move your body nimbly under pressure.

I’ll leave you with some instructions you can try out with this video if you like.

  1.  Settle yourself quietly
  2. Consider a question or skill you would like to have some insight into
  3. Hold the question lightly, watch the video and let your mind drift
  4. Notice what comes up
  5. If there is something interesting, investigate and experiment with it in the non-youtube world

If it’s interesting drop I’ll be curious to know how, drop me a line.