My Story - Chapter 6: A Martial Art.Have you ever seen the film, "The Ultimate Warrior"? It's a cheesy B-movie made in 1975 which starred Yul Brynner and Max von Sydow in some "future" timeline which appears to be a post-holocaust society. The movie synopsis, according to "The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction", reads in part as follows:
"... New York in AD2022 is in an advanced state of decay after a man-made biological catastrophe that occurred decades earlier. The leader of a group who have barricaded a street against gangs of thugs roaming outside hires the services of a super-Samurai (Brynner). This was promoted as the first kung-fu sf movie, following, as it does, the basic formula of the kung-fu genre (two camps each with their own champion fight it out to the death in the final reel) ... "
This movie was recommended to us for viewing for one reason only: near the beginning of the movie, the above-mentioned super-Samurai (or whatever he was) is standing somewhat mysteriously, for days on end, without moving. Well, never mind the reason for watching it, sadly enough I enjoy B-movies and this was no exception. However, it was nice to see that, even in a fictionalised version of a martial art, our practise of "standing meditation" was recognised as part of that art.
You see, even after months of learning, very little fighting was happening. No boards were hurt in the process. No bruised ribs after a practise. When we finally did play Baguazhang together, it was mostly to provide feedback to each other ("If I push on you here, do you still have your balance? Yes? How about here?...").
Now, I am certain that there are those of you who would be fed up by this point in time. However, we were also being taught some Eastern principles that are sorely lacking in our rushed, consumeristic Western society. A class would end by honouring those who had previously mastered the art we were trying to learn, and a promise to seek to develop the virtues of honesty, humility, patience, and sincerity. In so doing, we learn to control ourselves, and in the final analysis, how can you control anyone else if you can't control yourself?
The next level of playing Baguazhang, aside from feedback, is still aimed at developing sensitivity, but we learn to be sensitive to the other person next. More specifically, playing games to learn to recognise where someone's centre of balance is, so as to be able to eventually displace it...
One of these games is called "Twin Dragons Playing in the Clouds", its purpose is sensitivity training. Note that if you don't remain relaxed, you lose the sensitivity and therefore the more relaxed you remain, the greater the effect of whatever martial application you use. Counter-intuitive? VERY. Fun? Oh, YESSSSSSSS... in July 2000, my man and I had an opportunity to play Bagua on the top of a mountain, in the Lake District in England (Click Here for the photo...) All I can say is: if you think this might interest you, then you MUST try it - unforgettable!
Yes, more recently there have been a few bumps and bruises (if I applied myself better, they would not have occurred!), but after all, this is a martial art, dangerous when applied properly, deadly for some, and even more dangerous if not applied properly (ahem, dangerous to me, that is... one day I may rise above the shame and explain how I obtained a beautiful purply-blackish-bluishy-red two-inch-wide bruise on my left buttock... but not today).
I am, after all, just at the start of this road. The experience has been likened to that of peeling an onion; each layer of depth reveals yet another layer. So, as I continue with this art I will share with you my experiences in learning the martial applications; we have recently purchased and set up a double-end target bag (speed bag) in our basement in the small carpeted area we use for our home Bagua playing (when not outside). I'll put up a photo when I can, it's not much of an area, but really, how much room does one need to stand and to walk in a circle?
Yes, that's what I said, walk in a circle. This "circle walking" is so inherent to the art that I would need really a whole book to discuss the concept, and I am no expert. However, the martial application is easily understood: we are taught that, "When your opponent comes straight at you, circle. If he circles, walk in a straight line". If you can walk in a circle and yet face your opponent, if you can feel where his intention and movement is and position yourself so as to displace his movement by using his own energy against him, then you have indeed a powerful weapon at your disposal.
There are many, many more martial applications I can't yet share with you. For example, although I am aware of "joint locks" and "throws", as well as "the weapons of Baguazhang", they are not yet part of my personal experience. When they are, you'll be the first to know!
To be honest, there is little more I can say personally about the art since there is so much I have yet to learn ... for a great deal more detail, please Click Here to visit Dr. Painter's website. I hope that I may continue to share my story of my experiences, and that you may find something valuable in it. To that end, I will add photographs, more health benefits as I remember them (to chapter 5), martial applications experiences and ongoing diary entries if you are interested or curious to find out where this art takes me next... for now, please allow me to leave you with a thought which we, as students of Jiulong Baguazhang™ always strive to encourage within ourselves.
I honour the masters who came before me and seek to develop the Four Virtues:
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