The journey of Siljun Dobup is not just one of learning sword techniques – which cut to use in a certain situation – but a journey of exploration and development of the whole self by using the sword as a mediative tool through which we can learn to be a well-rounded, “complete” person. Our path to self-understanding progresses through phases expressed by our various forms, each form corresponding to an element which, through it’s natural characteristics provides us not only with a physical guide, but a spiritual and mental guide as well. Through constant training and deep meditation and contemplation of these forms we can set upon a path that will empower us physically, mentally, and emotionally.
After learning the basic cutting angles and body mechanics, the first form we learn is “Jee,” or “earth.” Earth is the solid structure upon which all things are built. Indeed, to make a building you must first select a location in which to lay a solid foundation. As in the construction of a building, the foundations create the structure, or frame, that will contain all that we choose to place within. In our case, that will be the following forms. Without a strong and solid base, there is no chance that we can continue to develop the structure (our selves). If there is a flaw in the base, you must go back and correct this before you can move on. Set Jee will lay the groundwork, so to speak, for everything that will come later.
We can think of Jee in another way. In an army, all individual units must be taught to act in a consistent manner. Anything otherwise would lead to chaos in the ranks and dissolution of the army as a whole. The basic drilling is Jee, the base line that must be met before specializations can be established, not unlike the training a soldier undergoes at bootcamp. When the recruit has proven an understanding of the basics, he will be considered competent enough to move on to a more challenging field. If the recruit is unable to show basic competence, he can not be trusted to move on and must continue to work at the basics. This is Jee: patience, solidity, uniformity.
In set Su, or “water,” we must expand our understanding of both the sword and of ourselves. We must adopt characteristics of water – the ability to move in any direction, the ability to move around obstacles, and the adaptability to assume any shape in which it is contained. To do this, we must be able to expand the foundations we have laid in Jee. In effect, we are creating a larger container within which to hold our energy. Physically, this means being able to move with fluidity and in multiple directions with ease. Mentally, this mean to accept points of view other than the one we currently have. In Jee, there was a right way and a wrong way. In Su, we must accept that there may be multiple ways of achieving something and we can not deny things just because they may seem foreign or unusual to our current understanding.
Additionally, Su teaches us that we must be able to move fast like a rushing stream, slow like a lazy brook, steadily as a wide river or be still like a placid pond. There is not one way to do things, and there are multiple options to consider. Through Su, we learn to expand our selves mentally, physically, and spiritually. These are the characteristic of Su: accepting, flowing, adaptable
Pung is “wind.” At one moment it is there, and the next it is gone. It may be gentle as a summer breeze, or as devastating as a hurricane. It can blow in one direction in one moment and then in another the next. In Siljun Dobup, Pung is like a choice. We have learned through Su that there are many avenues available to us. In Pung, we have made a choice, the best possible choice, and then that moment has passed. Pung is the moment of decision. We have opened up ourselves in Su to all the possibilities, and in this mind we are open to all the potential positive and negative choices and outcomes. Pung cuts (stops) the negative energies from entering into our selves (our “structure,” built in Jee, and expanded in Su). We will only allow positive energies in.
In Pung, all of our actions are decisive. We have made a decision, and we are seeing that decision through. There is no more doubt, no more “maybe’s” or “what if’s,” there is only “what is.” Whatever that outcome is, we must live with it an move on. Of the many paths we can walk, we want the “best,” or most positive one, and to remove the negative outcomes. These are characteristics of Pung: decisiveness, stopping, freedom.
Hwa is “fire,” or “energy.” All things have energy to some extent. This is also known as “chi.” By harnessing and expending our energy we have capacity for great good or evil, for creation or destruction. We must concern ourselves with positive energy, creation energy, and with this affect our world around us. Through Hwa, we are capable of great feats. We can project our energy on the world to create magnificent works, help those in need, and add beauty to the world. Provided we can contain enough energy we can not be defeated by one opponent or by many. Indeed, we can resolve many situations before they even reach a crisis point. Fire can burn or it can sustain us, giving life. These are characteristics of Hwa: energy, power, creation
Herein the overall structure of Siljun Dobup reveals itself. In order to contain great amounts of positive energy we must first lay strong foundations (Jee). We must accept all possibilities and expand our understanding making our spirit capable of containing large amounts of energy (Su). We sort through all our influences and choices and prevent negativity from entering into our selves (Pung). Finally, we fill our open selves with positive energies, good choices and outcomes, and personal achievement and moral character (Hwa).
We can achieve this through constant training and of course, always returning to the basics. We must strive to ever reinforce our foundations, to expand our understanding, stop negativity, and add positivity in ourselves and in others. In this we make the world around us a more beautiful place. This is the heart of Siljun Dobup.
– Sabomnim Raab Rashi