If you always wondered why Chinese are generally better in Wushu and Taiji than this article is for you. After training myself for a long time in the Wudang Mountains i discovered the truth:
At the beginning everyone is the same
If we don’t look on the cultural side there is not really much difference between western people and Chinese people. In training both are equally good or equally bad, both can be lazy or very ambitious.
Western people often tend to be “smarter” by questioning the traditional instructions for its purpose. This is generally not a bad thing, but it puts westerners always in a logical conflict with themselves by seeking purpose in their doing. While some can hold it for a longer time at some point the mental state tends to break down by repetitive training. Western people always want to be very perfect and efficient in their training, which can lead to even more conflict by questioning the current schedule.
Chinese are born to follow. There is little initiative coming from Chinese people without instructions. This is also why instructions and orders are always happily received and taken very seriously. If there are no further or more detailed instructions they will be repeated till new instructions follow. The Chinese believe in their master and will not question him. This can have up and down sides because misunderstandings can be inherited very quickly from unqualified masters. China is not much different from Europe, there are many masters with considerably low martial arts- but high sales skills.
Typical mental break points for westerners
- Highly repetitive exercises – everything over hundred or even thousand times is mentally very demanding.
- Practicing without food or drink for longer than four hours.
- Vague or not very specific instructions because we want it perfect and more efficient
- The constant feeling of pain and uncomfort in practice, we have trouble to accept changes in our body.
- Accepting goals which seem hard or “impossible” to achieve.
In Chinese kindergarten and elementary school the basics of Chinese society are taught to every children and the importance of keeping up the teamwork and community. Chinese people will naturally work together in a group without question or conflict. The leader is basically chosen automatically by skill without intention to actually lead. The group just naturally follows.
We western people first need to learn how to put our ego down to accept a leader. The importance of accepting our mistakes is as important as accepting ourselves and our weaknesses. Keeping your ego low when you work with others can help to accept your mistakes. Out of the blue western people mostly cannot work in a group for long term without conflict or comparing each other.
Chinese people will accept egoistic western people very easily and show admiration. They do feel and believe this is what this person needs right now (to show off). This does not mean you become their friend, you are accepted and tolerated. This is what Chinese people learn in school and they cannot run easily into conflict with working better together as a team.
Perfection and imperfection
Because of keeping a low ego profile the wrong can be easily accepted by all Chinese. That is also the reason why you practice. Western people always yearn for clear instructions and perfection. It does require mistakes to learn what is right or wrong. Nature itself is full of imperfection or else every tree would grow straight.
What we western people are good at
Once western people learn to accept this points than there is certainly no difference between the Chinese people. Keeping up the effort without mental conflict will bring you closer to real mastery. Less questioning more practice. Do a lot of mistakes and learn from them.
What we western people are good at is to live by straight rules. This rules must be perfect without consequence. In our job for example western people tend to do exactly as asked. What in China would be tolerated it certainly will be not in western culture.
- Western people need a fixed society with straight rules and hierarchy.
- China is an more autonomous society with teamwork.