Contemplative Martial Arts Major (BA)
"Swallow the chi of heaven, tap the strength of earth, cultivate softness to prolong life." —Master Cheng Manching
"If your heart is large enough to envelop your adversaries, you can see right through them and avoid their attacks. And once you envelop them, you will be able to guide them along a path indicated to you by heaven and earth." —O’Sensei Ueshiba Morihei
The 36-credit Contemplative Martial Arts major is a unique opportunity to steep oneself in the study of traditional martial arts as a contemplative discipline, both academically and experientially. Students learn the two body/mind awareness practices of Taijiquan and Aikido, as well as the histories, theories, and philosophies behind them. In addition to the sequenced curriculum of practice, students take classes in meditation and anatomy, while choosing from a variety of complementary electives, such as Ikebana, Zen Buddhism, Five Elements Theory, and somatic psychology.
This major trains and encourages students to develop practice as a way of life, one that informs livelihood, health, creative expression, and service to community.
Areas of Concentration
Taijiquan (Tai Chi Chuan)
Taijiquan is a traditional Chinese martial art and system for cultivating and harmonizing the body, mind, and spirit. The curriculum is rooted in the Yang lineage through Master Cheng Manching, which stretches back to the time of the Qing dynasty.
We explore deeply the practices and principles of the art, as well as the texts and philosophies that are the foundation of the culture in which it was developed. In doing so, students readily perceive its relevance to their lives today, and they are encouraged to apply its wisdom to whatever they pursue.
The curriculum includes solo form work, the two-person interactive exercises of tui shou, or push hands, and form and fencing using the Chinese double‐edged sword known as jian. A teaching apprenticeship is also available to qualified advanced practitioners.
Taijiquan embodies the philosophy of aligning with the Dao (Tao) and teaches students how to be actively engaged and responsive to what is happening in the moment using deep relaxation, attentiveness and presence, and nourishment of the intrinsic energy, or qi (chi), that supports all life. It is a potent form of exercise and meditation that can guide one’s daily life as a spiritual practice. The lessons of taijiquan—going with the flow and being grounded, present, and centered—apply to many areas of study.
The roots of Aikido stand in the soil of the great warrior tradition of Budo, where the fighting arts were practiced for defense of society and as a personal path for awakening. Aikido wisdom and skills are developed through lively partner practice of empty hand and weapons techniques. On the mat, students engage with varied attacks and defenses in order to learn to become calm, centered, receptive, and responsive during intense encounters. Whole-body training takes place while watching, listening, doing, and feeling the movements of the practice. Reading and writing assignments deepen the classroom practice. Students may be invited to test for rank by the instructor.
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