Is it a Huey-Shan clay figurine? It was just a toy from my childhood, six decades ago. Although it was cute and lovely, it was never considered a real treasure. If it broke we would just buy another one since it was made of clay. It was so inexpensive that we rarely gave it good care.
Later the civil war in China started. It was like a huge wave moving my family to the beautiful island - Taiwan.
I grew up with games popular in Taiwan, such as catching earth worms, playing marbles, flipping paper cards, raising silk worms, etc. Who would miss the clay figurines?
Later, I moved to the U.S. I felt my vision had widened and my emotions ran more deeply. Wider vision came from seeing the prosperity and richness of western civilization. The deep emotions came from the military and political defeat in China, doubt on the value of our own culture, and the lack of direction for our future.
When mainland China opened its door to the outside, its cultural products, works of art, relics, etc. were introduced to the world. I enjoyed the exhibitions, displays, performances and other cultural activities. I was pleasantly surprised that plenty of treasures still remained after the massive destruction of the Cultural Revolution
I visited China alone several times and traveled a long way to track down the roots of Chinese martial arts. I saw and heard numerous wounds and heart-breaking stories from the people I met. I felt their excruciating pain and sorrow everywhere I went. The smell of the soil and the warmth of the culture urged me to think deeply and read again ancient Chinese masterpieces like Five Classics, Four Books and the Twenty-Six Histories.
I came back to Taiwan eight years ago and started teaching martial arts to the "new generation." The first whack to my head was Culture Shock! The challenge I faced with the students in Taiwan was the same as that with students of the western world.
The practice of martial arts requires unique coordination of the entire body no matter if it is the execution of a punch, a kick or a weapon. One's movement is directed by the mind and demonstrated by the arms. "Mind force" and "muscle force" are complimentary to each other. Together they become the "combined force" to accomplish the proper posture and movement.
Mind and muscle are two different power sources. Martial arts differentiate movements as attack and defense: upward, downward, forward or backward actions. In Chinese martial arts, the important key is: How to move up and down? How to attack and defend? By other respected martial arts styles? Or by genuine Chinese martial arts style?
Any martial art style has its straight punch. Punching straight ahead is a martial arts move all kids can do naturally and they use such simple punches on their family or classmates. But the straight punches executed by a Chinese, Roman, Korean or Japanese are all different depending on their culture and their characteristics.
Therefore, the straight punch is not just an action for fighting or fitness. It is a cultural expression.
In this exhibition organized by Echo Publishers, the Huey-Shan clay figurines are either delicate fine art or abstract craft. There are statues of cows, cats, fairies or Buddhas. Are they just dramatic actors, toys, auspicious signs, or only decorations?