Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Sip Sam Seh - Part One

The poem below is entitled "Sip Sam Seh" or "The Song of the 13 Influences." Like many martial arts records, it cannot be reliably attributed to any one person. There are many alternate translations, but the below version is that which is most commonly seen in Tang Soo Do, as it is the translation that appeared in Hwang Kee's books.

Alternate Translation Here.
Alternate #2.

Never neglect any of the Sip Sam Seh.
The source of the will is in the waist.
Pay attention to the slightest change from full to empty.
Let energy flow through the whole body continuously.
Stillness embodies motion, motion stillness.
Seek stillness in motion.
Surprising things will happen when you meet your opponent.
Give awareness and purpose to every movement.
When done correctly all will appear effortless.
At all times pay attention to the waist.
Relaxed clear awareness of abdomen, the energy can be activated.
When the base of the spine is erect, energy rises to the top of the head.
The body should be flexible.
Hold the head as if suspended from a string.
Keep alert and seek the meaning and purpose of your art.
Bent and stretched, open and closed, let nature take its course.
Beginners are guided by oral teaching.
Gradually one applies himself more and more.
Skill will take care of itself.
What is the main principle of the martial arts?
The mind is the primary actor and the body the secondary one.
What is the purpose and philosophy behind the martial arts?
Rejuvenation and prolonging of life beyond the normal span.
So and eternal spring.
Every word of this song has enormous value and importance.
Failing to follow this song attentively, you will sigh away your time.

"Great" you ask, "What am I supposed to do with that? What are the thirteen (sip sam) influences and how do they affect what I do? Can we spar now?"

First let me ask you what does Tang Soo Do have in common with Tai Chi? What do 90 year old ladies in Beijing do that have any bearing what we do in the dojang? The answer is a lot more complicated than you might imagine, and the above anonymous poem has some major hints within.

To Be Continued...
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