Traditional Drunken Fist training results in a practitioner who has taken all the skills they have learned previously to the very edge of their effectiveness. Taken all the sharp edges off of each technique and removed all the static postures and poses that judges like to see in tournaments. It changes a sharp, crisp, strong martial artist and makes them appear sloppy, off-balance and unskilled. It takes every single thing to the very edge and over in order to find the real limits of a person’s ability, but even more so it takes the practitioners’ mind over to the edge of what they think martial arts are and then pushes them off the cliff. It is in that freefall that the students’ mind begins to change and at the bottom of the cliff it shatters.
Too fast, too hard, too stiff, too sharp, too many poses. Too many people lack the continuity between the movements of their art and instead of their art changing like water becoming waves, their art sits still like a painting of a single scene in a dusty old museum. These arts are themselves alive until as poor practitioners or teachers we kill them and hang them up on our walls like trophies. Indeed, we are supposed to be living alongside the arts we practice and not segregating them to Tuesday and Thursday nights at the club. If we cannot see the folly of learning only single movements and never looking directly at the linking between them, we doom ourselves to a lifetime of mediocre skills as so many have.
Drunken training is the training in the spaces of the arts. The moves between the moves. The gentle curving lines between the letters of our grandmothers’ handwriting. Its beauty and effectiveness are directly related to giving up what we once thought of as correct and embracing the moments themselves in between. A truly skilled martial artist is like a wind blowing leaves, not rigid snappy techniques that win trophies. A skilled Drunken player will have the fight won in a way that it appears as though by accident, not flashy, not traceable, not even noticeable to most. The art hides in plain sight and I know at least in my case that is one of the reasons it has taken me so many years to find it. Causing many ‘happy accidents’ as Bob Ross would say, takes a great amount of time invested into shaping your skills.
Don’t train by accident, win by accident.
2 thoughts on “Sloppy & Ugly”
Agree , I used to tell my students that when I watched them do forms they should look to me like they don’t care, like they cant be bothered rather than tensing, grimacing, stamping and slapping their suits to try and look fast, strong and powerful. BTW, I loved your 3rd drunken boxing book especially page 139 and how you explain the character JIN and the radicals that make up this character.
Thanks! It really made a big difference to me when I learned how the character is built as to its meaning.