Martial Arts Aesthetics – 武术审美观 – English

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There is an aesthetic spirit to martial arts. According to Du Fu’s memories, the old calligrapher Zhang Fu developed his cursive script from often observing aunt Gong Sun practice the sword dance by the river. If you carefully consider Du Fu’s ‘On Viewing Gong Sun do the Sword Dance’ and Bai Juyi’s ‘Playing the Pipa’, you will find that although the poets describe martial arts and music, two different practices, yet in terms of spirit, aesthetics, and their enormous human appeal, they are not without similarities.

Due to our unconscious stereotypes, we almost never think of martial arts as a form of art. Traditonally, we only count literature, calligraphy, music and painting as forms of art. Later, under western influence, we started considering sculpture and architecture as art as well. But martial arts remained outside the door – it’s just a rough man juggling, or at best, some sort of ‘ancient sport’. Yet there is good reason to believe that Chinese martial arts are not only consistent in spirit with the country’s culture and philosophy, but also that, like other art forms, a certain aesthetic spirit leads them.

Since the Song dynasty, the Chinese spirit has increasingly evolved inwards, so that the performance of aesthetic thinking is more and more focused on the inner spirit within the art, rather than its external manifestations. In the late Ming dynasty, the so-called ‘inner martial arts’ appeared, as the dynasty came to an end, it only stayed in private copies of the Shaolin Temple’s ‘Yi Jin Jing’, advocating ‘internal bravery’ and accumulating internal forces, but ‘the whole theory of boxing says nothing about fighting movement techniques’ (Gong Pengcheng’s ‘New Buddhist Solution’). The aesthetic point of view articulated here does not emphasize the beauty of the movement, but delights on heavy, broad, clumsy movement (I think this mode of thinking has penetrated our day to day understanding and vocabulary as the expression ‘all style and no substance), and thus attained a state of complete independence from external form – this is the legendary ‘no movement triumphs over movement’.

In the traditional literature on martial arts, the works that can most testify to this transformation are those of Jin Yong. Under his pen, the characters who achieved the highest mastery of martial arts often have one characteristic, that is, a very intense inner force, and ugly, awkward movements like a beginner (the most typical is Shi Potian in ‘The Knights in line’). Many of the protagonists even have coarse, ugly, large features (Guo Jing is often described as looking stupid). 虽然在《笑傲江湖》中他表露出倾向于讲求形式的剑宗,但实际上他在其他作品中无一例外地是坚定的气宗——需要补充的是,即便是剑宗,其美学精神其实仍是与上述哲学保持一致的。

As a Bildungsroman, ‘Evil’ shows the constant evolution of a Master’s aesthetic style. 剑魔孤独求败留下的剑冢表明了他一生中的四个阶段:最初是“凌厉刚猛、无坚不摧”的利剑,随后是“重剑无锋、大巧不工”的玄铁重剑,最后却是拿在手里“轻飘飘的浑似无物”的一柄木剑。这段陈述其实与一个不断追求提升境界的艺术家相似,而杨过也自此走上了同样的道路:他抛弃了早年所学古墓派轻灵、带女性气质的路数,在剑冢前反思“世间剑术,不论那一门那一派的变化如何不同,总以轻灵迅疾为尚”的流俗审美观,最终独创黯然销魂掌(其招式名也都是重、拙、大一路的,诸如“拖泥带水”之类),与重剑、瘦马一起构成他脱胎换骨之后的成熟男性形象。

重、拙、大、慢、简单,这是金庸武术美学的核心词汇,与之相对应的则是轻、巧、小、快、繁复,而在通常情况下前者总是胜过后者。在《射雕英雄传》中,郭靖与杨康、欧阳克的两场比试,均以笨拙取胜(郭靖的这一人格特质已无须多解释);《倚天屠龙记》中张无忌在招式上也极为粗浅,但他在武当山现学太极剑,却以慢打快,击败当世最强的剑术高手;《天龙八部》中萧峰、慕容博等高手出招也大多招式简洁,乍看起来平平无奇,但却远胜于招式驳杂的慕容复;更不必说《侠客行》里的石破天,他的招数在丁不四看来“使得笨拙无比”、“令此招妙处全失”,但却偏偏每次都威力无穷——史婆婆、阿绣觉得他“剑招似是而非,破绽百出,委实不成模样,可是越看脸色越变,轻视之心渐去,惊佩之色渐浓”。

与金庸相比,古龙笔下的人物却常常并不那么推崇这一审美观,他们更多地给人灵巧机敏的感觉,虽然也讲求简洁,但却很少“以慢制快”的精神——《多情剑客无情剑》中小李飞刀和阿飞的剑招,只是一个字:快。当然金庸笔下并非没有以轻灵飘逸为美的高手,《天龙八部》中的逍遥派武功就讲究“轻灵飘逸,闲雅清隽”,以至于丁春秋和虚竹交手时宛若“一对花间蝴蝶,蹁跹不定,于这‘逍遥’二字发挥了到淋漓尽致”,看得旁人心旷神怡,深感其姿势“优雅美观,直如舞蹈”。考虑到当时尚在北宋年间,出现秉持如此美学观点的武术流派也可理解。《射雕英雄传》中桃花岛武功也极注重美观,黄药师一家都极智巧,但东邪的武功,在天下五绝中实属最弱。《书剑恩仇录》中陈家洛在古卷上学的武功也类似舞蹈,但陈家洛的功夫在某种程度上来说与《连城诀》中狄云练的血刀经、《碧血剑》中袁承志练的金蛇郎君武功、《倚天屠龙记》中的乾坤大挪移等波斯武功属于同一路,即强调其招式的“怪”,总是从意想不到的角度击到,而使出来时也往往让旁人觉得此人入了疯魔一道。这实质上也是对端正典雅为美的正统观点的一种反动。

“怪”常常与“丑”联系在一起,所谓“丑怪”,但“丑怪”在美学上却恰是对过于俗丽的一种矫正。《笑傲江湖》中,令狐冲在华山山洞中看到魔教长老破解华山派剑法时“缩成一团,姿式极不雅观,一副招架无方的挨打神态”,但随后就感觉一阵寒意,“越看越觉得这棍棒所处方位实是巧妙到了极处”,“这棍棒骤看之下似是极拙,却乃极巧,形似奇弱,实则至强,当真到了‘以静制动,以拙御巧’的极诣”。随后在西湖梅庄,借任我行之口,金庸猛烈批评秃笔翁花哨的剑法一无是处。而在武当山下比剑一场,又一次强调了相同的观点:身负深湛武功的两位武当派高手,装扮成农夫,剑招使出来“全然不成章法,身手又笨拙之极”,令人看了“无不捧腹大笑”,但令狐冲却看出他们虽然看起来一个癫狂、一个呆滞,但“剑法中破绽之少,实所罕见。二人的姿式固是难看之极,但剑招古朴浑厚,剑上的威力似乎只发挥得一二成,其余的却是蓄势以待,深藏不露”。而令狐冲赖以取胜的独孤九剑,胜在超越了一切形式,既可笨拙之极,也可轻灵反复,到了“自由挥洒、更无规范的境界”。

不难看出,这种美学观点和内在哲学精神,在中国艺术史上可谓处处皆然。隋唐时书法原本讲究典丽方直、端重楷正的风格,追求均衡、稳定的形式美,南唐时李后主甚至还觉得颜真卿书法太粗,“正如叉手并脚田舍汉”。宋代则是个转变的时代,一方面是帖学鼎盛,另一面则是审美观的逐渐改变。元代时字体妩媚的赵孟頫还被推为大家,但到明末时书法艺术形式和内容全面朝向重、拙、大发展,开创碑学先声,而南北朝碑版书法的最主要特征就是重、拙、大。董其昌是最后一位帖学大师,到明末清初之际,傅山提出“四宁四毋”的美学观,在他看来,颜真卿代表的是拙、丑、支离、率直,赵孟頫则体现了巧、媚、轻滑、安排,这样,有意打破字体平衡感的丑怪支离,反过来成了新的美。

看看傅山这段话,恐怕你不难想起金庸小说中对剑法招式的相似评论:“汉隶之妙,拙朴精神。如见一丑人,初视村野可笑,再视则古怪不俗,细细丁补,风流转折,不衫不履,似更妩媚。始觉后世楷法标致,摆列而已。故楷书妙者,亦须悟得隶法,方免俗气。”在这种审美观念下,秀美端庄才是最俗最匠气的,而要达到自在自如之美,须拙朴不拘形式,“不规整”才“有意趣”。

到清代,书法已起了革命性变化。许多人对古代无名氏留下的碑刻不吝赞美之词,认为其简、奇、古、朴、拙、质,而古朴拙怪的审美特性,就是不流丽、不婀娜、不姿媚、不圆熟、不秀美。清代于是出现了一大批这种新审美观主导下的书法家,到康有为时代,“拙陋”已在书法审美中变成赞词,其势力之大,使今天几乎已没有和碑学毫无关系的纯帖学系统的书法家。

Calligraphy is the most important of China’s traditional arts, 其美学观念演变趋势与武术的惊人一致,可证不同艺术领域之间都是相互渗透的。在历史上,正如龚鹏程所言,“逸格这个问题与观念,都是由书法影响到绘画领域的”,事实上恐怕还溢出到了诗词的领域,南宋以降词学就推崇清逸一路,这与文人画的发展恰相一致。与之相似,晚明后重、拙、大美学的勃兴,也影响到诗歌领域,晚清时《蕙风词话》开宗明义就说:“作词有三要,曰重、拙、大。”武术于此岂能例外。只不过按照金庸的记载,中国武术史上此种审美观的兴起,最迟也可追溯到南宋中期的独孤求败、郭靖时代,相比起书法等领域的转折,还早了四百年,武术之领审美风潮之先声,实不容埋没。

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Source : Douban

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French-Australian writer, educator, sinophile. Any question? Contact [email protected]