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, the 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 second installment, let’s look at the Facing principle. If we face an opponent’s centerline, then both our arms can strike an opponent’s centerline equally. We maximize the weapons we can bring to bear on an opponent simultaneously with two arms and one leg for kicking. If we use footwork to change angles or vector during confrontations, then we use a complimentary vector change to return to a facing structure.
This same facing concept applies to philosophy and many Western traditions again explained using the Middle Pillar of the Cabbalistic Tree of Life. The core of your body relates to the core of your being and connects you to your true self. We see the parallel lines overlaid on the shoulders/arms, hips/legs as the two outer pillars. We want to face situations or people with an equal balance of severity and mercy. Meaning, our reach with severity must equal our reach with mercy in all our thoughts and actions. Should we need to be more direct in our dealings by way of being more severe in a situation, then the return to a balanced facing is critical to our moral and mental structures. 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.
Again, holding true to a moral structure of thoughts and actions relates to the alignment of our core being. The theory of Facing gives us a means to measure and balance any Masonic moral structure based upon the Virtues, Pillars, and Principles of Brotherly Love, Relief, and Truth. Continual testing and measurement by way of contemplating and refocusing keep us sharp and aligned. Facing with equality and balanced amounts of severity and mercy gives Masons a means to be tested by the square of virtue and to make use of the other working tools.
Eastern use of Facing to bring all weapons to bear also relates to our contemplative efforts. We are told to reflect upon our situation, to consider deeply any implications, and to contemplate upon the symbols of our degrees and lectures. Masons bring these tools to bear in dealing with philosophical or moral dilemmas whether personal or with others. We must face with equal severity and mercy our own failings and forgive ourselves so that we may move on and make progress in our lives. We must find our own balance.
Notice that some might refer to this concept as equal regularity. We know there are cyclical events in Nature. We know we interact regularly and often cyclically, and we have our own patterns we repeat. Facing allows us to examine these interactions and adjust ourselves as needed to bring balance into any situation. Notice also some parallels in guided imagery where Western traditions might use an exercise called Kabbalistic Cross to visualize bringing light into the body. The Kabbalistic Cross demonstrates the theory of Facing by the two-dimensional visualization of the Sephirot, and also by the balance between the left and right sides of the body with the balance focused on the core centerline.
Let us put this into practice: The Facing principle is explained as two lines, one intersecting and connected at 90 degrees, thereby forming a two-sided square. We face our opponent’s central vertical line (aka middle pillar) no matter what direction the opponent might turn or face. If they turn sideways as to maybe throw a sidekick, we still face squarely so that we may bring all our weapons to bear. If someone tests our morality or virtue, and mentally we stand squarely opposed to them, we’ve demonstrated the theory of facing in an esoteric means. We bring mercy and severity to bear on both the test and the person who’s testing us or trying to push our limits.
Our work isn’t limited to opposing actions or viewpoints. The theory of Facing applies to good and bad issues equally. We feel good when we are completely honest with ourselves and others. Sometimes the news we want to share may not be received well, and that nuance means maybe we adjust our pillar of mercy to be a touch stronger. The lesson of balance comes back as the option of severity remains, but perhaps severity would have been out of balance to ruin someone’s day. In other words, there’s no reason to hurt someone with fully facing and bringing all your intensity when a simple whisper in the ear tempers suffering or a heavy emotional response. When we relate good news, maybe the pillar of severity gives us an edge to push for celebration? Maybe you know that celebration will cause jealousy? We don’t control how others respond, but by carefully applying the balance of the pillars we can use this concept to our advantage in maximizing good and finding nuance for the bad.
In closing, our connectivity to each other isn’t imaginary, rather, we feel good when we sit in lodge together. We raise our feeling of brotherhood, our mystic tie that binds, spreading the cement, whatever we call it. This tangible feeling brings us together while keeping our individuality, and we celebrate that connectedness with fellowship events and festive boards. The concept of balance and facing others should drive us to continue our efforts toward The Great Work.