Water Methods vs Fire Methods - A Middle Path Is Available

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Water Methods


Fire Methods


NOTE: You should understand that my teaching style is often VERY direct. At times, I even use explicit language…which may offend some people. This teaching style often goes against what many people “expect” from a teacher or instructor. And, sometimes this offends what many people in the West call “the Ego”. If this teaching style is NOT for you then I strongly encourage you to find another teacher that better matches your current needs and expectations.
I started working on this posting and then quickly came to the conclusion that the disclaimer above is probably going to come in handy.


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If you have read much of this site so far, you will have seen that on more than one occasion I have mentioned that there are differences between the water and fire traditions of Taoism and that I would soon be writing about it more in-depth.  Well, soon is now (how Taoist is that? LOL). When we are looking at all aspects of the Taoist arts, it is really more that I have just defined. In this post I hope to take a true deep dive into the entire subject.

It is VERY important to note at this point that when we talk about Taoism, we are NOT referring to a religion in any way, shape or form. No one at the Kodawari Hombu Dojo cares what religion you belong to or whether you are religious at all! No one is looking to convert you from whatever your religious beliefs may be to Taoism or anything else. Taoism (or Daoism) refers to either a school of philosophical thought (道家 – daojia – “Dao family” or “school of the Dao”) or to a religion (道教 – daojiao – “teaching of the Dao”). Taoism holds that humans and animals should live in balance with the Tao, or the universe. Taoists, in general, believe in spiritual immortality, where the spirit of the body joins the universe after death (matter or, actually energy, is never destroyed…it merely changes form). We (those seeking Kodawari) endeavor to learn both the arts and sciences that assist with our development of the combative and personal protection arts. In particular this would cover breathing methods, meditation methods and energy work.

Whether you end up agreeing with me or not, please just for a moment assume that all that I say is correct. You can come to a different conclusion later. But just for now assume that I am correct. The reason for this is so that we can get on the same page. Comparing apples to apples if you will. Therefore, we need to lay out the terms that will be used here and, more importantly, what they mean. This way we can speak the same language moving forward.

Unlike Buddhists, Daoists (or Taoists) do not believe that life is suffering. Daoists believe that life is generally a happy experience but that it should be lived with balance and virtue.

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What is the water method in Taoism? Broadly speaking, it is the collection of older traditions of Daoism, its origin pre-dating the huge impact of the spread of Buddhism in China. Neo-Daoism [the ‘fire’ methods] arose 200 ~ 500AD which is also when, as a result of Buddhist influence, one starts seeing Daoist organizations with monasteries, rules, etc. Remember that prior to the rise of Neo-Daoism, the classic Daoist was usually a hermit who lived alone in a cave, has zero to a very few students, and in many [political] ways could be considered an anarchist…In the water traditions you ‘observe and allow’. In the fire traditions you ‘make stuff happen.’


Shui Fa Xiudao

Nothing in this world is as soft and yielding as water. Yet for dissolving the hard and inflexible, nothing can surpass it.Lao Tzu ~ Tao Te Ching

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Huo Fa Xiudao

If there is an enemy – we will overcome it, if there is a wall – it will be gone through, if there is the mountain – it must be climbed over, knocked down, picked up and dragged away.

I have mentioned in another post that I believe that due to being taught a fire method (small or microcosmic orbit – 小周天 – shoshutenqigong or kiko (気功) incorrectly is one (of perhaps many) potential reasons that I now face some fairly serious health related issues.

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About Michael Davis

Michael Davis
Beginning his martial training almost 50 years ago, Michael Davis has spent almost his entire adult life attempting to internalize, add to and propagate the body of knowledge that makes up the principles and techniques of the life preserving combative arts and sciences. Michael has taught or assisted with the teaching of seminars and events in 17 US states and four countries. In addition to training every day martial artists, he has taught members of the US military as well as law enforcement at every level...from local LEOs to Federal Marshalls and US Secret Service agents (protective detail). He has co-authored a martial arts book, written numerous magazine articles that were published internationally as well as appearing in and assisting with the production of martial arts videos and other training materials.
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