This continues a 5-part series applying Masonic principles and esoteric concepts to Eastern martial arts, specifically Wing Chun Kung Fu. We will only touch on the fighting theory but then focus on applied philosophy.
Wing Chun Kung Fu simplifies as a fighting system derived from Snake and White Crane systems as its base. It was originally based on Buddhist Shaolin systems and was refined in the Taoist Wu Tang temple. This well-documented lineage history makes my brief description an injustice to the beautiful history of the Shaolin temple, the Wu-Tang temple, Snake, White Crane, and Wing Chun systems. This series of papers narrows the focus to the core Wing Chun principles of Centerline, Facing, Immoveable Elbow, Economy of Motion, and Simultaneous Attack and Defense, and we will match this Eastern theory to Western Philosophy.
With this third installment, let’s look at the Immoveable Elbow principle. As with Freemasonry, the meaning of Immoveable Elbow changes with application and with nuance. At the surface, the principle is exactly it’s definition. Wing Chun practitioners work on specific angles of 30, 45, 60, 90, and 135 degrees in the arm’s angles which provide significant strength over most other positions. Hung Gar, Southern Preying Mantis, and Kali/Arnis/Silat for comparison use some of the same angles, and Chen Tai Chi expands upon the Wing Chun angles to find angular strength in sweeping movements. Immoveable Elbow, therefore, is not just putting the elbow on the central line and forcing opponents to take a longer distance around the elbow. Immoveable Elbow embraces the idea of finding the best musculoskeletal positions of strength and stability as a means of resetting structure during a physical confrontation.
This same Immoveable Elbow concept conveys the concept of stronger structures or positions as opposed to weaker structures or positions. We find this directly applicable to mental structures when applied to Freemasonry, philosophy, and Western tradition. When we memorize ritual, no matter the means whether repetition, memory palace, whatever, we find the patterns we memorize become a mental structure. We find comfort in this structure, and it becomes a place of strength from which we may reset our minds or from where we might find symbols or phrases for discursive meditation. I’ll discuss different types of meditation in other writings, but for a more complete overview see the works of Bro. C.R. Dunning, Jr.
Similar to the theory of Facing, the theory of the Immoveable Elbow gives us guideposts and solid anchors mentally through ritual, through memorization, and through contemplation, and reflection. Western traditions make use of a balanced Facing (Theory of Facing, covered in part 2) both inwardly and outwardly as critical to our moral and mental structures. I mentioned that how we perceive the world and how others perceive us will be reflected by how quickly we return to a balanced interaction after we choose to respond in an out-of-balance manner. The theory of Immoveable Elbow structure becomes that anchor upon which we rely for our own thoughts, feelings, and expression so that we may always return to that place of strength and harmony.
Ethics cannot be overstated. Your own inward code of ethics and your own morality must be solid, and your own personal limits must be established. This mental foundation is critical and explained many times in the initiatic experience. Repetition of those concepts becomes an initiatic lesson in the importance to ever work diligently on morality, ethical thoughts, and behavior. That anchor becomes your foundation in creating the Immoveable Elbow concept in any practice, whether it be Masonic, Eastern, Western, Gnostic, Theurgic, Mystic, Rosicrucian, Martinist, etc. This lesson also applies to the clergy or priesthood.
Again, repeated: holding true to a moral structure of thoughts and actions relates to the alignment of our core being. As we begin to see in this 5-part series, these Eastern theories overlap and interrelate. Just as the theory of Facing gives us the means to measure and balance, the theory of Immoveable Elbow also relates to any Masonic moral structure based upon the Virtues, Pillars, and Principles of Brotherly Love, Relief, and Truth. The mental anchor created by contemplation, reflection, and refocusing gives Masons and Western traditions practitioners the advantage of getting more directly in touch with that foundational sense of being and our true self.
The practice of Immoveable Elbow creates our own cornerstone as a base from which we may work on our own inner temple. The obstacle created to force opponents to go around may be looked at as a barrier to our internal ruffians, our own internal problems or issues, that interrupt or inhibit us from progressing on our path of building our temple.
Describing this from an overly simplistic Cabbalistic framework, we must solidify what we feel, think, and do so as to apply balance and explore our individual path. From an alchemical perspective, the Immoveable Elbow mental anchor corresponds to the foundational workbench, tools, and formulas needed to light the fires for purification. Lighting fires without a solid foundation or without clearing the workbench might lead to some serious impurities or other hazards in our laboratory.
Immoveable Elbow in practice refocuses Masonic or other Western tradition lessons in ethics and morality. There is no substitute whether studying Eastern or Western traditions, and only meditation, contemplation, reflection, and inward inspection provides answers to the deeper meaning of our own personal cornerstone and foundational discoveries of our inner selves. Our code of ethics toward ourselves and others changes our perspective on morality, and vice versa. We must face our vices and internal issues (theory of Facing), directly focusing our intention upon the core of those vices and issues (theory of Centerline), and give ourselves an anchor of mental focus and solid mental structure of Faith in a Supreme Being (as described above as Immoveable Elbow). Only by putting into practice contemplative work do we begin to understand ourselves.
In closing, our mystic tie that binds us to each other isn’t imaginary. We strengthen ourselves in finding our symbolic anchor in faith, and that carries on to strengthen others. We make others better when we do our own inner work, and we are strengthened by others in the same manner. Our Brothers make progress, we encourage them as they encourage us by example. We also see the beginnings of interrelating the previous Eastern theories into a connected cycle, and next we will explore the ways of using the principles, or theories, in a more cohesive manner through cognition, logic, and reason. Finally in part 5 we will see how to apply these theories together to achieve even greater results. The concept of the Immoveable Elbow as simultaneously being a solid structure, a mental structure, and faith in one Supreme Being gives us a means to make great progress in our inner work.