Martial Homophones:精&筋

Something that inevitably comes up in Internal Martial Arts Classes is not only the discussion of Qi but the mention of the “Three Treasures” of Jing Qi & Shen. Unfortunately as with a lot of terminology from the Chinese martial arts there is tons of room for mistranslation and misunderstanding. I think that a lot more often than that is the issue that the words are used as metaphor and it leaves a lot of room for different interpretations. Without clear discussion between student and teacher the room for missteps in training becomes more and more likely and a single step off the path can mean many miles in the wrong direction over time.
Of course I am going to discuss how I tend to use at least one of the terms listed in the Three Treasures, but the main point I want to make here is just that open, clear discussion and not leaving things obscure is the key to passing the arts forward intact. Repeating words that ones teacher may have used without real clear understanding of them when teaching others just passes on the same obfuscation over and over. I say we are all responsible to investigate, research and ask questions not only for ourselves, or our students but for our arts.
Jing: polished rice / unmixed rice / the essence / the essentials / energy / spirits / the made sperm / semen / fine and delicate / exquisite / dedicated / intensive / very / extremely / completely / keen / smart / sharp / clever / shrewd / skilled / to specialize in / a goblin / a spirit / a demon
It’s easy to see how an instruction like “Cultivate and preserve the Jing” could be difficult to understand if a student looked that up. Context is always a huge part of the language and this is why clear instructions become very important. Retaining Semen for instance is a fairly common practice in many qigong circles, particularly Taoist ones to allow for the Jing to “fill” and be plentiful enough to be able to transform it into Qi. A practice that should be undertaken with supervision and good clear instruction from a teacher most definitely.
Another less common use of the word Jing in martial circles is to represent the flesh of the body, the part of the body you can touch and see the skin, muscle and so on. As martial arts players we work heavily on cultivating the Jing to be connected, strong and healthy when in a positive relationship with the mind and intention. Jing Gong if you will.
Jin: tendons / sinews / muscles / veins that stand out under the skin / plant fibers resembling a tendon / “Flesh that has the strength of Bamboo”
The very famous Yijinjing exercise is designed to use the muscle of the body to train, transform and strengthen the Jin or connective tissue. The reason I mention this is Chinese is rife with homophones or words that sound like one another. There is a real tendency for these two words to be used as one another in training sessions and this of course can result in miscommunication and misunderstanding. Especially when you consider accents, regional dialects and non native speakers saying these terms to students you have a lot of room for error.
What are you trying to say? Why are you saying it? Does the student understand what you are implying? Are we being clear?
Clear thought, understanding and information is what allows us as practitioners to move forward in skill through our training. As the oft quoted “Journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” One simple turn in the wrong direction can lead us or others miles away from our goals over time. I say we need to be more and more sure through research and taking advantage of this great resource we have online to share, teach and ask questions of one another. The person it benefits is everybody.
More of my weird ranting is published in Book Form HERE

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