Previous blog articles have spoken about Earth, Metal and Water so today we move onto the Wood element. To best understand the nature of wood, think about a tree and how it grows. A humble seed will grow, given time and the right conditions, into a powerful tree standing upright with branches spread in every direction; this is a succinct way to view the Wood element in Xing Lin Quan.
When considering the philosophical nature of the wood element in our system, it is a reflection on growth. As seen in the imagery of a growing tree – knowledge is something that only comes to us in time and if nurtured properly. The old saying states ‘Knowledge is Power’ however one can have knowledge, never try to apply or grow it and achieve nothing. “Knowledge is Potential, Applied Knowledge is Power” is much more apt.
It is highly improbable to expect to learn any art form be it physical, mental or spiritual in a short amount of time. A tree does not simply sprout into a juggernaut overnight. It is also nonsensical to expect skills to remain useful if they are not practiced much as a tree without sunlight and water will wither and die. Alluding back to the Earth element, foundations must be strong in order for the Wood element to lay roots and grow. You must dedicate both time and effort in order to build something outstanding.
The practical application of the Wood element comes from the idea that one must be able to overwhelm the opponent using acquired knowledge. This does not mean the ability to react but rather the ability to use minimal force for maximum effect. A student of Xing Lin Quan must understand how to instantly observe the openings in an opponent’s guard as well as economy in motion which embodies anatomy, angles of attack and environmental awareness. In short, fighting smarter not harder.
Martial arts are a skill set that everyone should learn and continue to polish, mastery of the art should never be the goal but rather mastery of the self. Remember any learned skill not practiced will be lost much as a battery loses power overtime even if not used. The Wood element is a reminder that we grow slowly but with the eventual potential to become something timeless and also that everything we learn should help us grow in some sense so keep practicing and trying to better yourself daily.