Claudia’s story is an adventure inspired by my two decades learning martial arts in two different countries (plus visits to a few others). For the character, it’s a painful journey towards her unwanted balance. Her avoidance of her true place in the world.
For myself, the research revealed a lot of the philosophical knowledge and wisdom I’ve been exposed while I believed to be learning to fight. Interesting, yet not surprising. I knew there was more behind each lesson, just didn’t expect to unpack so much!
One of these sources had to be the Tao Te Ching, the famous Daoist book of virtue. I looked at a lot of different translations, some pure, some with commentary. For obvious reasons, it was a version by a martial artist, revised by a Chinese poet, the one I immediately loved, although I didn’t know that until after I already had picked it as my favorite. So if you are interested, the aikidoka Stefan Stenudd does a great job of keeping some of the hermetic meaning of the other translations (which is probably right for a text intended to make you reflect), but does that with a much more natural flair, which keeps you focused on the meaning and the ideas, rather than the wording.
Then came the surprise that made me leap from my writing chair. His version of the Old Master’s tenth chapter felt like my entire story had been lifted from it:
Can you make yourself embrace The One and not lose it?
Can you gather your vital breath and yet be tender like a newborn?
Can you clean your inner reflection and keep it spotless?
Can you care for the people and rule the country, and not be cunning?
Can you open and close the gate of heaven and act like a woman?
Can you comprehend everything in the four directions and still do nothing?
To give birth to them and nourish them, carry them without taking possession of them, care for them without subduing them, raise them without steering them.
That is the greatest virtue.
Tao Te Ching, Chapter 10.
Translation by Stefan Stenudd
For now, that’s it. A different kind of peek behind the curtain of Claudia Yang’s story. Stay tuned for more. And for those interested, here’s a link to Stenudd’s book: