Who says that serious is everything kung fu can be? Actually, even before Jackie Chan, there’s something floating around where kung fu is partly improvisation. That’s what makes it so fantastic to watch in the good movies where it appears.
There’s something deeper (at least a little) there, too. Mastery is the attainment of the total, the sum of everything. The truth of mastery in kung fu is that it is an illusion. The true master of kung fu is empty.
Kung Fu Panda (2008), a children’s movie, actually revels in this. There is, to be sure, plenty of training and preparation, but when it comes down to the final fight, Po, the panda, uses his own kung fu.
It is easy to say that the kung fu master beats the shit out of his enemies, protects his friends, and does the right thing. Move a little closer and it becomes clear that the only time that fighting is necessary is when mastery is desired. Which is to say, the true kung fu master holds mastery to be pointless. Yet, this is exactly what is so easily, and frequently, missed and misinterpreted.
It is very easy to idolize power, because the idol is always the symbol of desire.
The scroll containing the secret technique that Po is “chosen” to learn is empty. What needs to be written? Every symbol requires interpretation, and every interpretation is incomplete. The only complete technique, the only ultimate, is the empty.
See here, that kung fu is just a metaphor: the villain wants the ultimate technique, he wants it because it promises power. Anyone who desires everything for its own sake is left empty handed. The point is that the hand that is empty can always be filled, but looking to fill the hand only ever realizes that it is empty.
The cookie jar brings ingenuity.
Desiring something is not wrong, but it is not right. It is not justification, it can provide something, but even then the something can fade. Letting the cookie jar go, and everything becomes the cookie jar.
The question emerges though: what does the body have to do with all of this? It is both the binding and the source: it limits what we are capable of doing, but also provides the impetus for doing.
Po let’s his body go, his body is his kung fu.
It is magnificent that he is able to do this, but leaving the theater how much of this remains and is crystallized-->
The point is that only stillness, once in awhile, only reading desires truthfully, can create movement.
JJ, the transformation of desire (the transformation of the materials) is the space of the hand.