Recent Comments

Weakness With A Twist 

Internal Martial Arts, Theatricality, and Daoist Ritual Emptiness

Monday
Aug032015

From and Emptiness in Art

One of the major obstacles to seeing martial arts as theater and religion is that North Asia and the West have different aesthetic dichotomies.  The West's dichotomies became international during the 20th century, so we often refer to those dichotomies as "modern," rather than Western.*  

The primary aesthetic dichotomy in the West is form and function; in North Asia it is form and emptiness.  The difference is visceral; one is a tool, the other is a cloud.  

Form and function is the notion that there is an organic reciprocal feedback loop between form and function.  Thus, the utility of an object determines its form.  And form changes as utility changes.  The need for an object to perform with variation creates variation in form.

But if we are looking at a "form" for which there are countless affordances, this dichotomy is not a good fit. 

For instance we can look at the use of self-mortification by Tangki in Taiwan and South East Asia. (YouTube Video by Fabian C. Graham)(pay-option by Margret Chen)  Why are they doing it? What is the purpose?  What is the meaning? If that question uses the form and function dichotomy, then we will want to know the function specifically and we will keep looking at the form expecting it to fill that function. But those explanations are often trivial or dismissive, or perhaps romantically reverent.  But that approach makes the Tangki's look crazy or stupid.  

If one asks the same question about purpose and meaning but framed by the aesthetic notion of form and emptiness, the results are quite different. The form is simply empty by default, we don't ask "what is its utility?" we ask, "what kind of meanings and purposes could it possibly fill?"  We look at the meanings all together. Physiology, warfare, entertainment, healing, magical trance---some of it is just labeling, some of it is a weak association which ties it to other cultural forms with stronger resonance, some of it is felt, some of it is fantasy, some of it is emotional, some of it is indeed rational functionality.  But it isn't utility that defines it.  It is defined by it's affordances, preferably infinite affordances, unbounded purposes. This is what the aesthetic of form and emptiness does to art and expression.

If we look at the work of Monet, we see his intentions; he wanted to accurately represent light and was willing to give up figurative accuracy to achieve a specific type of utility. It is utterly clear. It was made with form and function in mind, so it follows that logic.

If we look at his work with the form and emptiness dichotomy in mind, we see something different.  There is automatically religious resonance there--the light of god--nostalgia for farm life and all that implies politically, this water invokes water spirits (hidden nagas), as fengshui the watery image cools the room, and the light's reflections slice through psychic demons or conflicting emotions.

Try looking at form as just form, with no content.  Content can be infinite and utterly transcend form.

Now try thinking about martial arts this way.  

__________________________

Some credit goes to Sophie Volpp for getting me thinking along these lines.

Hat tip to Douglas Farrer, for the Margret Chan article linked above, and for his discussion of great martial arts movements taught with the wrong application: he calls it "captivation," being stuck in broken logic.  

And thanks to Fabian C. Graham, who has been shooting fantastic documentary footage of Chinese rituals (I met him at the Daoist Conference in Los Angeles in 2008, where he showed a film about how to open the eyes of a god.)

*Note: I'm making an argument about characteristics of culture, not the outer edges of what subgroups or individuals might be thinking.

Sunday
Jul192015

Self-Defense Dance Styles

 A few hundred years ago, martial arts may have had a self-defense component and it may be recoverable.  But few martial arts classes teach self-defense directly.  Dance can solve this problem.

Self-defense involves situational awareness, scenario training, practice overcoming social-emotional barriers, verbal articulation skills, applying legal knowledge; and context specific movement skills for escaping, scaling force, and neutralizing a threat.

Here is my list of people who teach that: Marc MacYoung, Rory Miller, S.P.E.A.R, IMPACT, and especially check out Protective Offense. There are probably lots of individual martial arts schools that emphasize self-defense as a moral position, but unless they are teaching all the skills I listed above I wouldn't put them on such a list.  (Please feel free to add to the list in the comments below.)

Martial arts as we know them today, did not develop to teach self-defense, certainly not women's self-defense.  I enjoy trying to re-discover and invent self-defense in traditional martial arts.  However, if we want people to develop self-defense skills, martial arts are not the obvious choice.  Martial arts are often a poor choice because they condition complexity. Self-defense should also represent a break from the long training curves of most martial arts classes--self-defense should unleash people from hierarchies of learning and empower them immediately.  

"If he gives you any trouble, Waltz him out the door."  

If the problem is that men or women have been socialized to be nice (or compliant and caring), then the solution is to socialize them to be violent.  The best way to do this is with what I call the "I'm playing" hormones.  The "I'm playing" hormones feel familiar to almost everyone, people say to themselves, "I feel like a kid again!"  

One of the more common forms of violence people encounter is a social situation with a very badly behaved drunk, horny, or angry dominant partner or family member.  It turns out that statistics on domestic abuse are gender equal, just as many men beat women as women beat men (I had heard this from Marc MacYoung, but it was recently verified in a conversation I had at a party with a social worker who works with domestic violence advocacy state-wide in Colorado.)

There are two skill sets that were well known in the 19th century for dealing with this type of violence in many parts of the world:  1)  Improvisational theater, and  2)  social dances like the Waltz and the Samba.  

Good theater skills will teach one how to change the scripts and the social dynamics.

Learning to dance with the assumption that some of the people you dance with are going to be dangerous a--holes, will quickly enable the development of these skills:

 

  1. breaking holds
  2. striking vulnerable areas with whole body momentum
  3. taking control of momentum for making an escape 
  4. breaking the freeze 
  5. injuring and escaping from a threat who attacks from behind  

 

There are problems with dance "classes."  Social-dance classes are often about courting, feeling awkward or "doing it right,"  none of which are helpful for self-defense.  But the original movements of these dances were designed from the beginning for self-defense so the only thing that has to change is the intention.  The methods don't need modification the way they do in martial arts, because these historic dances all developed from martial games, they are already designed for self-defense. Just take out the modern inhibitions and add intent.  

Waltz his face into the wall.  Fun.

Two hundred years ago in Europe, if a person wanted martial skills he or she went to a dance master--who also taught etiquette.

The other half of self-defense is improvisational theater; developing, changing, taking control of, breaking, dropping, and re-writing social scripts on the spot.  One version of this I call "meet the Buddha," and involves a lot of personal insults and complements.  I then progress to slapping games, my goal is to make slapping joyful again.  

I got a chance to work with this material during the workshops I taught in Portland, in the UK, and in Amsterdam--and it was awesome.  Video in the works.  

Wednesday
Jul082015

How Fast is the Nervous System?

I just saw this article and I thought I'd post it.  It is about how fast the mind works.  There isn't much there but it serves to get the conversation going.  Many martial arts tricks and high-level techniques work by getting the "dupe" to respond on a slower nerve pathway then the "trickster" who triggered the reaction.  It can also work the other way, get the dupe to respond so fast they don't even realize they have already responded to the trickster creating an illusion of enormous power.  

Here is the wiki page explaining it:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nerve_conduction_velocity

I also recommend the book The Illusion of Conscious Will, by Daniel Wengner, it covers this and many other similar subjects.  It is directly applicable to martial arts.  

Tuesday
Jul072015

Chicago this Weekend

This weekend, I'm teaching again at an advanced year-long Shiatsu Program in Chicago run by Michael DeAgro.  This is exciting stuff, I get to translate ideas about bodywork into movement training and personal practice.  The conversations, the depth of knowledge, the spontaneous interactions, and the experience base of the students, is inspiring.    

I teach the mornings of July 10th, 11th, and 12th.  If anyone in the Chicago area would like to meet with me for a chat or for a private lesson in the afternoon of one of those days, please send me a message.  

Saturday
Jul042015

Cardiff Keynotes

Here are some links to the Cardiff Martial Arts Conference Keynotes.

http://martialartsstudies.blogspot.co.uk/2015/06/martial-arts-studies-conference-keynote.html

Watching video lectures is hard for me personally, but they are all excellent!  If I had to pick a favorate it is the one by D. S. Farrer on the changes in anthropology.  Farrer has almost single handedly invented the field of Martial Arts Anthropology.  All of the lectures attempt to make bridges between different focuses of inquiry, showing broad possibilities for new ways of thinking about martial arts.  

Friday
Jul032015

Xilam a Martial Art from Mexico

One of the highlights of the Cardiff Martial Arts Studies Conference was the idea that martial arts are being used for identity transformation.  As I mentioned in an earlier post, this notion is being pioneered by women and is very exciting.  Since the early 20th Century people have been trying to change their identities.  The Boy Scouts come to mind, as do the less rigid journey-into-the-wilderness Outward Bound programs, created as New Age coming of age rituals. Psychotherapy, and psychology in general, have dabbled in this notion with limited success.  Psychedelic drugs are defended on this basis in some circles. But the notion that there are specific tools of culture conceived specifically for the purpose of transforming identity may be a new idea.  

Xilam is a new Mexican martial art created by Marisela Ugalde.  I learned about it in a video presentation by George Jennings (adademia.edu).  The name Xilam means removing the skin!

This art obviously draws on Asian martial arts, but it has been reconceived.  Watch this video on Vimeo.

Or this slightly longer one on Youtube:

Here is their website.  http://www.xilam.org/

 

Friday
Jul032015

Armor

This is Daniel Jaquet who I met at the Martial Arts Studies conference in Cardiff.  He smokes a pipe.  He got a $20,000 grant to have this armor made for him so he could do scholarly experiments.  In order to become at ease with the armor he wore it when he went out to Starbucks, out on walks, and to places like the library or to do his laundry.  This is the kind of alternative lifestyle that is available to people these days.  It is a great example of the freedom available to creative people in the world we live in today.  Daniel is one of the fascinating and exciting people I met at the conference who are investigating and practicing traditional Western martial arts.  They were a large contingent at the conference and have something fascinating to offer the world.  There is something very satisfying about being around people who dream big, the very nature of what we call art is changing.  We have a name for this already, it is called "the culture of makers" and it is changing the way we see, hear, and move.  It is changing what it means to learn and study.  

For the economists out there:  Speaking in historic monetary terms, at the time this sort of armor was worn by knights it cost the equivalent of a house, about half a million dollars.  

Here is Daniel Jaquet's academia.edu page.

Friday
Jun192015

Saturday Workshop Change

It looks like rain tomorrow, so the workshop has been moved:


The tai chi/martial arts event that was taking place from 2-4pm has been moved to a different (indoor) venue. If you'd like to attend this, (which is going to be pretty exciting and fun (see details here: http://www.meetup.com/Lishi-Chinese-Daoist-system-of-mind-body-spirit-training/events/223086052/)) let me know or RSVP to the event.

We are meeting for this at 1:45 PM at Bethnal Green Station and I will bring the tea for a tea break in the middle!

________________

And I'm excited about teaching Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday:

https://www.facebook.com/events/1547093382219214/

@ Eastbourne House Arts Centre, Bullards Place, Bethnal Green, London

_______________

Had an awesome day, will report soon.

Monday
Jun152015

Cardiff-Amsterdam

A week ago I arrived in Cardiff, Wales, UK, for the first Martial Arts Studies Conference.  I went straight from there to teaching a two day workshop in Amsterdam with Alex Boyd.  Over the next week I hope to have some time for reflection.  Until then, here are some undigested bits of excitement.

Paul Bowman deserves enormous credit for organizing the conference, and doing a wonderful job of it.  I admit, I worried beforehand that we might have disagreements, but Paul gets my highest praise:  He is the kind of guy one can disagree with and feel the bonds of sworn-brotherhood grow deeper.  His character, thus set the tone for the entire conference.  This is the first academic conference I have attended where everyone present had the ability to kick me in the head.

This is a dream network.

I taught in Amsterdam at a converted shipyard with a vegetarian restaurant and artist studios, will post a video.  The students taking the workshop practice Lishi, a Chinese Daoist collection of martial movement and ideas--I'll post more on it later.  It is very worth researching.  It is connected to Daoist thunder rituals and was brought to the UK in the 1920's, so it is a window into the past as well.  Some excellent training, and orthodox Daoyin.  They were very open to what I have to share, it is a good fit.  (And Alex Boyd is a great teacher.)

Snibits:

Martial Arts Studies--will it become a discipline or not, how about an "indiscipline?"  I think the point here is that martial arts stretches the boundaries of many categories, and at the moment is in need of some working definitions.

Considerations of authenticity must be included in the definition of martial arts.

There is much support for the notion that dance and acting were closely related to western martial traditions. Dueling was expected to up hold standards of beauty.

Do we need a theory of history?  How do we know what questions to investigate?  Is it enough to follow what is intreging?  Probably not, we need to consider metaphors, and make lists of differing views, perspectives and conditions.  Yes, theory is dangerous, it can obscure or become an obsession.  Theory is powerful, we need to be able to put it down, it should not become part of our arm.  Sometimes great questions seem to come from nowhere.  

There are Japanese Kata, that tell stories.  I didn't know that before, a new subject to investigate.

We need more people from the "outer edge," (that's the sharpest bit of the sword).  So much of the work on Martial Arts Studies up until now has been outside of academia, those people need to be included and rewarded.  I suspect this field is going to explode now because there are people out there who have been sitting on research for more than 30 years.  Up until now, it has been career suicide for academics to seriously take up the study of Martial Arts.  The commercial world in film, religion, and sports is a huge potential source of funding and interest.  

Open minded enthusiasts can accomplish a lot.

Project:  Understanding what sovereignty is by looking at differences in notions of individual self-defense.  

Shiva, lord of the dance, is the destroyer of illusion.  In the South Asian world view, dance is closely related to destructive power (perhaps).  

"One should avoid making sweeping generalization."--a view held by people who don't seem to notice that they are in the habit of making sweeping generalizations.  Better, in my view, to do it, and know you are doing it.  It makes it easier to take it back later.  

Bruce Lee was defiantly killed by talismanic magic.

Plate steal armor was easy to move in, do flips and rolls, hop fences, climb, swing, and wrestle in.  It just requires wearing it a lot--some wise men tested this out.  I hope this means that we stop seeing people move like stiff robots when they wear armor in the movies.  And I hope we see more people wearing plate steal armor to the movies, driving google-cars and drinking coffee at Starbucks.

Zhang Sanfeng texted me several times during the conference to clarify his positions.

Anthropology has changed from representing (peoples, events, milieus) to making.  This was obvious when I was in college, and partially accounts for me dropping out.  

Martial arts is a very potent tool for identity transformation.  This position was promoted particularly by women at the conference, but I think there is a consensus

The desexualization of confined spaces.

One can not teach self-defense/counter-assault scenarios without acting, and the better the acting is--the better the training will be. 

 

 

 

Saturday
May232015

Tickling and Enlightenment

Meditate as if you are being tickled, but don’t respond to the tickling, pretend you are immune.  If you’ve ever been the victim of tickling over an extended period of time, years in my case, you probably noticed at some point that it is possible to use Vulcan-mind-lock to feel the tickling, but not respond to it.  I developed this skill because I had to deal with my older sister tickling me.  She tickled me mainly because she hadn’t ever heard about water-boarding.  The basic goal of tickling is to get one’s sibling’s organs to explode.  

Once I developed the Vulcan-mind-lock skill, my sister quickly discovered that tickling me was boring, and she moved on to more sophisticated forms of torture.  

This is why people have trouble meditating.  Meditating is a lot like being tickled. People often think the tickling experience is going to stop when they get better at meditating.  When it doesn’t, they think they have failed, and quit.  If anything the tickling experience is likely to become more profound.    

Widespread confusion about meditation also explains why many people find the golden-elixir (jindan/neidan) practice so mystifying.  Judging by the number and variety of descriptions of neidan and jindan--and we are taking about tens of thousands before the twentieth century--I think it is fair to say neidan is an enlightenment practice invented by people with ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder)

A great direction for scientific inquiry in the next few years would be to explore the relationship between ADHD and tickling.  The mindfulness-meditation in the schools movement is great because it is directly addressing nervous system re-orientation problems. Basically, we can think of it as a way to trick disruptive kids into tickling themselves.  Very cool.  

Given all this, and my own self-induced ADHD, let me try (again) to explain jindan (the golden-elixir).  Once the experience of emptiness has been established by giving-in to the experience of being tickled all over one’s body for an hour every day for a year, then it is possible to transition to maximum explosive felt spatial imagination, called shenling (神靈), in Chinese.  Maximum-explosive-felt-imagination, that’s a lot of words strung together!  Well, if that doesn’t work, I give up. You may be on your own.  

Here is the monster in the room--people get good at meditating, standing or sitting, whatever; just like people get good at sitting in a chair in school and shutting off the learning hormones, known colloquially as playfulness.  Don’t get good at meditating!  That was the whole freaking point of Suzuki Roshi’s Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind.  Instead give-in to being tickled on every spot of your body, inside and outside, that is what perfection feels like.  Surrender, not retreat; in the moment, not in-control.  

Of course, I’m not pushing perfection.  Maybe you don’t want that?  Maybe it isn’t right for you?  Perhaps you like to walk around art galleries with your nose upturned sipping wine and nibbling cheese.  That’s cool.

It is a bit like insults.  I encourage students to insult each other early and often.  Complements too.  I also jibe my students towards mastery of the self insult and the self complement.  See, this is what enlightenment looks like when it is expressed and performed.  It isn’t neutral, dead, or boring.  It isn’t all blissed-out.  Daoist enlightenment, and I suspect most other types, too, identifies the fruition as: without preference.  

The practice of meditation is to experience the way things are without preference.  The expression of that experience is to act without preference.  I mean, how do you know a Buddha when you meet him?  He has gangly arms so long they touch his knees, he has been sitting still so long his hair is full of snails, his ear lobes are long enough to bat flies off of his shoulders, when he walks through mud, lotus flowers bloom in his footsteps.  

Seriously, if you want to be enlightened, start seeing these qualities in the people around you and commenting on them.  Why not start by telling the stranger sitting next to you on the airplane that you fart rainbows, and then ask them if they like being tickled?  Or perhaps enlightenment is just too creepy for you?

For my martial arts readers who don't practice meditation, think about it this way, there are two major obstacles to learning martial arts: 1) Fear of being hit; including fearfulness before, during and after being hit, and 2) Fear of hitting; also before, during and after.  Meditation is similar, there are two obstacles: 1) Fear of stillness, and 2) Fear of movement.  

Saturday
May232015

Pre-Order: The Creation of Wing Chun

I'm delighted to announce that Ben Judkins' book The Creation of Wing Chun,
A Social History of the Southern Chinese Martial Arts
, published by SUNY Press, is about to be released.  It is available for pre-order now.  Check it out.

I haven't read it yet, but I am very excited about it.  From reading Judkins' blog and talking to him, one of his most exciting discoveries, which I fully expect to be in the book, is the real story behind the burning of the Southern Shaolin Temple.  I dare say, I expect this book will rise to the top of martial artist's reading lists for years to come.  

Monday
May112015

Modern Vestments

Check out this slide show of a new show at the Met in New York.

Here is an image of traditional Daoist Vestments:

Chicago Art Institute

Here is an image from the show:

Creation of Laurence Xu & Mr Galliano, photo by Hiroko Masuike--NYT

 

 

Friday
May082015

Two Types of Movement: Predator and Unstoppable

There are lots of different ways of moving.  What I'm provisionally calling "pure internal movement" is predicated on making clear distinctions between different types of movement.  Without those distinctions there is no way to define either "pure" or "internal."  

Here are two distinct types of movement which have the potential to profoundly improve the way people move.

1) Predator movement is always "on" your opponent.  I mean really on them, before, during, and after contact.  Make them double-weighted, make them carry you.  Make your mind like a dark cloud surrounding your opponent's body, shooting lightning bolts into his openings.  As a predator, your opponent should smell like food, or like that first cup of coffee in the morning.  And also imagine you are leaving your scent all over your opponent. Needless to say, predator movement uses all the senses.

Predator movement can not be pre-set, it must be improvised.  It must be immediately and continuously responsive.  Predator movement can be used to control, but it is leading and initiating the action, not resisting it.  In other words, using predator movement, I can move someone around in space, where ever I want them to go, but the patterns I make in space cannot be pre-set in anyway.  

2) Unstoppable movement is "on" me.  It uses pre-set movement patterns with resistance. When performing unstoppable movement, I do not modify the external appearance of my form or routine.  Resistance must be offered by a partner, that resistance cannot be pre-set, in must be spontaneous. 

When performing unstoppable movement, I can be doing a form, but if my partner disconnects I will not follow him.  My partner is responsible for providing spontaneous resistance against the set patterns of my movement.  In this situation my partner could just disconnect and then poke me in the eye.  It isn't a fighting mode.  It is a way to purify the quality of one's movement.  It is a testing ground.  

With unstoppable movement, my movement pattern is visibly predictable, my partner's is not.  I don't control my partner's body in space.  I am spontaneously adapting to whatever resistance she offers.  That is why it is "pure" internal; on the outside I am just doing a form, but on the inside I am creative and dynamic.  

With unstoppable movement I can not move my partner wherever I want.  I can only follow my own pre-set pattern.  

__________________________________________

Both of these types of movement are key.  Unfortunately, many martial artists attempt to do both types of movement at the same time.  This causes both to fail.

There are actually three possibilities, 1) follow and evade, 2) follow and evade while offering resistance, 3) lead by improvising.*  

Fixed patterns of movement don't produce set responses. There is no positive value in training them that way. 

There are ways of moving, two-person forms, for instance, in which both people are doing, linked, pre-set movement.  I like this type of practice, but it is important to understand why it fails. Don't try to do both predator and unstoppable movement at the same time--that will produce negative results; instead, change between the different types of movement, or practice in one of the two "pure" modes. 

__________________________________________

Spontaneously communicating ideas, like talking to a friend in a cafe, is like predator movement, it is the perfection of mind/shen.  When we communicate spontaneously we can adjust, repeat, reframe etc...as needed.

Writing a book, is like unstoppable movement, it is the the perfection of form/jing.  The reader offers criticism, resistance, analysis, questions, and responses.  If the book is well written, all this thoughtful engagement makes the book more effective...but the words are pre-set.

_________________________________________

*Footnote from above, for my friends in the theater [In the Keith Johnstone's improvisational theater 1) is called "accept all offers", 2) is called "accept and block," 3) is called "making blind offers."]

Friday
May082015

New Workshops

I've got a new Workshop Calendar for 2015.  I'll update as new things come in, and I would like to set-up workshops for visiting teachers in Boulder.  Check it out!

Besides my Calendar, the new Workshop Page has images that lead to pages describing the new classes I'm offering: Pure-IMA •  GamesCircus-DaoyinMartial-Dance •  Classic

_____________________________________________

By the way, Yelp was at the top of the SNAFU list for the full eight years of its existence.  But low and behold! They seem to have it together now.  If you've studied with me and want to write a review--please do, that would be awesome.  And note, they still use some strange divination tool to decide whose reviews people can see easily, but there is hope.  Check out my page in Boulder.

You can write reviews for Google Maps too, search under:

North Star Martial Arts
2525 Arapahoe Ave, Boulder, CO

I do not teach at this address; I teach in North Boulder Park, so thumbs down for Google.  They have the hours wrong too.  I wish it was easier to fix.  

Anyway, if you are coming to class via a Google Car, make sure to enter the correct address, North Boulder Park, or you will end up at my mailbox. Google called me the other day to get the facts right, but they didn't make the updates.  Weird.  They have been trying to fix the Google+/Youtube interface for over six months, no progress and no direct link to my videos.  

Maybe if these tech schools required a semester of "Magic" we would be in better shape!  Enjoy.

 

Monday
May042015

Mind Body Split...Revisited


The problem is bigger than the fact that English language speakers cannot just stop splitting mind and body because these concepts are split in our language and that is how we think.  Awkwardly saying, "Mind-body," all the time does not seem to effect any real change in the way people perceive.

Martial artists sometimes exacerbate the problem by researching so called Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) for answers.  These investigations often end in disappointment because TCM is a modern invention which attempted to incorporate Western notions of anatomy and physiology into a traditional therapy.  It is problematic in the original Chinese.  

Martial artists often want answers to questions like, what are the Meridians of Acupuncture and how were they discovered?  Realizing that TCM doesn't answer those questions they may seek out older Chinese medical texts, or perhaps texts on daoyin.  However, these are often framed by Chinese thinkers in the 20th Century who were themselves trying to adopt the mind-body split.  And once we are into ancient translations, sadly, sometimes the best we can hope for is concluding that we don't know what the original text meant.  Seriously.  

A lot of Chinese medicine is passed down in lineages from teacher to student.  In these relationships, texts are used to transmit idiosyncratic explanations, ideas which simply can not be gleaned from the ancient texts themselves.  (For more on this particular subject see Elisabeth Hsu's excellent comparison of different transmission methods, The Transmission of Chinese Medicine (Cambridge Studies in Medical Anthropology) .)

No! The problem is even bigger than that!  Traditional Chinese cosmology does in fact split what we are into different aspects or components!  But the split between body and mind is a profoundly different split than the one traditional Chinese cosmology uses!

The concept of jing, qi, and shen is a conceptual split, an artificial categorization embedded in language.  To understand this type of thinking everything must be split into these three categories. Discussions of qi alone, will not escape the West's mind-body split.  The same is true for terms that martial artists love like yi (intention which is liquid-like, visualized, and felt), or jin (force generated from within the body which is not based directly on momentum or strength).  Those definitions I just wrote in parentheses are tangible, but they limit comprehension, they impede student development in the long run.

There is no way around this problem other than perhaps working in pure-animal mode, outside of language altogether!  And someone always seems to get bitten when we try that.

I have been suggesting the expression, active-spatial mind, as a translation of shen; and, the physical body without animation, as a translation of jing.  However, if we want to use these and get around the mind-body split we have to understand that neither jing nor shen exist without qi as an intermediary between the two.  Qi is how jing and shen communicate with each other.