Friday, October 12, 2007

Sip Sam Seh for Westerners

Master Dan Segarra, formerly of the Moo Duk Kwan and now out on his own, has shared on his Warrior Scholar website his understanding of the Sip Sam Seh.

My way
Originally uploaded by Hobo pd

The major problem, from a Western Perspective, is that a great deal is lost in translation. The "song" is supposed to be a map, keeping you on the right path. Ironically, I think most practitioners cannot understand the Sip Sam Seh in its most popular English translation until they've practiced for several years. Some parts are obvious while others - Stillness embodies motion, motion stillness / Seek stillness in motion -- read like bad stereo instructions to a green belt or beginner.

You can view the Segarra work in progress here.

In many ways, I think this is a superior translation in that it has been re-arranged and broken down for a western audience. And no, I don't mean diluted or that a Chinese mind is more superior, etc. I think it just makes better sense than a more literal translation.

I try to explain to my students that Tang Soo Do is not just "Korean Karate" or "Traditional Tae Kwon Do" because those labels just beg further questions. Instead, I say that Tang Soo Do is a Korean expression of an Okinawan art based soundly on Chinese principles of movement. The Sip Sam Seh goes a long way towards explaining what I mean by that, but I think its often been too inaccessible to the lay student.

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