Saturday, December 19, 2009

The One Thing

Two years ago I finished learning the movements in the system of Gao Bagua and was very excited to begin my journey of developing. Learning all of the movements is only the beginning of our quest. I have spent all of my recent time refining and perfecting all of the techniques. The sword, spear, footwork, combat, conditioning have all been a daily routine for me in finding my understanding of the art fully. I have mapped out new training techniques and ideas that will revolutionize the way people train or perceive the martial arts. My training has been going very well but progress as always has been slow and steady.

I have trained everything that my master showed me. Well, almost everything. There is this one exercise that I just hated practicing. It made every part of me ache so much that I didn't have energy to do the rest of my workout. I have never been a lazy person, but this one exercise just took everything out of me. So every time I have set up my workout schedule for the day, this technique was "forgotten". Later when I started teaching my own classes about six months ago, I had to teach this technique to my students. My style of teaching is to go through the pain with the students no matter what the exercise is. So of course I am giving myself a good dose of this technique that I have been avoiding. Slowly the pain of the technique starts to subside, I am able to almost relax while I am doing it. I found a way to get through it and eventually made my peace with the technique.

After practicing this technique I found that everything that I was trying to develop had taken an explosive jump. Techniques that I felt I could never do completely correctly felt so simple. I was much faster, stronger and even discovered a few "lost techniques". It turned out that this techinique was the last piece in puzzle I needed to level up.

Even when we are diligent in our pursuit for truth we can often put off the things that we need the most to complete us. It is always the one thing that seems unnecessary that we put to the side that is the very thing we need the most. Sometimes we just have to bite the bullet and do the one thing that we hate in order to get to the next level. It might be doing a job, it might be quitting a job, but whatever it is it isn't easy. One step closer to being a better man, one step closer to becoming a master.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Attack the Cold

Today when I woke up and felt how cold the floor was, I was tempted to crawl right back in bed. This is the time that the weather can make us want to change our plans around a bit. "Let's not work out today because its raining." It's hard to push yourself to your goal and it's twice as hard when it's raining. But if we have to be at work or school at a certain time, we can still get up and get there. We all push ourselves for financial reasons, job security or a "secure future."
But training is something that is important for the future of our mind and our body. Is our body not as priority as making money? 9 to 5 at a desk and not an hour or two for ourselves.

Well I always view the weather as another opponent. The heat, cold, rain and snow are all additional ways to improve our technique. In fact training when the weather is nice, is also the time when our progress is the slowest. These are some training tips for cold conditions.

When it's cold outside it is very important to do a thorough warm-up. Slowly give your joints enough time to lubricate and adjust. This is especially good for practicing your chi. The cold can give your body more sensitivity to feel where your chi is. Tai Chi or any soft art is great for working with the cold. You can also use the hard style approach which is fast combinations, running, and foot work training. If you are lucky enough to get some snow then take advantage. Snow up to your ankles is a great way to work your stances. Making sure they are deep and stable. If you have any part of your movements that is uncertain, the ice will be your best teacher. For my fellow Bagua practitioners, the ice is a tool for training your circle walking. Practice the whole Pre Heaven form on the ice to find your stability.

As warriors of the new age we must turn every obstacle into our advantage. Look forward to the cold floor, it lets us know we're alive.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Don't Be Held Back

This is a topic that is a little harder for me to express because the nature of martial arts and life is patience. To grow stronger we must first go through the process of enduring discomfort for a period of time. The longer the time period, the more fruit that can be harvested in the end. Even if we want to become more patient, we must first be tested by situations that will test our patience. Therefore if things are going good for you, it is much harder to develop character. The unfortunate sayings, " No pain no gain," or "What doesn't kill you makes you stronger," are just as true today as they were years ago.

On the other hand there is a time when you are no longer enduring and you are only tolerating. Therefore you are wasting time without the benefit of developing character. In fact you can begin hindering your character development with feelings of frustration and disappointment.

A friend of mine has been training with a "kung fu master" for the past 3 years. He has been very diligent in his training and really works hard to better his technique. The only problem is that the master has only given him a few techniques to learn over such a long period of time. Of course in the martial arts world this is common for all beginners. But every master knows that you teach the student at the pace he is able to handle. If he is lazy, no need to teach him much. But if he is true to the technique, then bless him with knowledge. This master gave him the same techniques for 3 years without ever giving him the explanations needed to understand the meaning behind it all. Mindless techniques practiced in repetition without purpose for years on end.

Not everyone can be trusted to be your master. Just as not everyone can be trusted to be your employer, or spouse. We must remain humble so that we may find the answers that we are in search of, but we must always respect ourselves enough to know when we are being taken advantage of. At that moment we have to draw a line in the sand and move to a surrounding that we truly can develop. Just as my friend waited patiently for a long time for more techniques we can find ourselves hoping for our situation to change. Sometimes even if we know we are on a path that leads nowhere, we persuade ourselves into believing that we are still moving. Just like laying on your back in the grass and watching the clouds go by. You may feel like your moving, but the world is just moving around you.

If you have fear to leave a situation that you know is not right for you because your afraid of losing.....whatever. If you make any decision based on fear it is the wrong decision. Just because this guy is your master, boss, best friend etc. It doesn't mean that he is more special than you. It doesn't mean that his purpose is more important than yours. We all must play our role to the fullest. Never let anyone make your path harder than it already is.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Make time

Often times I meet people who say, " I want to learn martial arts but I don't have time." I think its funny what we say we have time for and what we don't have time for. If you sleep for 8 hours a day and live to be 75 years old, you have spent 25 years sleeping. I imagine that the majority of us who work 9 to 5 spend another 25 years at work alone. Which means in 75 years of life you have only had 25 of those years to do something for yourself. If you are lucky you will live to see 75 springs. How much of this time goes by being wasted making excuses. I am not saying that everyone has to do martial arts. Martial arts is my path, it's what helps me refine and develop. At the highest level of any expression we can find our worth. In China once a person reaches a certain level of achievement people refer to them as master. It doesn't matter if they started as a martial artist, a teacher, or a cook. The end title is master.

Every path that you may choose to be successful in will be hard. You will go through great frustration, pain and hardship in ALL walks of life. The most important question is, "Do you like the direction you are going in?" Are you doing a quest that is something that lets you enjoy your journey. Even if you practice martial arts and your goal is to become great, but you don't enjoy the process of training, you are on the wrong path. We are bound by time and forced to plan our day to day activities. Save money for this, get my degree for this, etc. But in the process of reaching for these "worldly" possessions, we must have something of our own. The gift of self development can help us reach a real understanding of our purpose.

Try not to use "stuff" as a way to gauge your progress. Its the same as someone feeling that they need to have a black belt in order to be good at martial arts. The only thing that is real is your own effort. Just imagine if all the stuff that you "needed" to survive just disappeared. No house, no clothes, no money. Many people in these circumstances actually find peace of mind without the distractions of finance. Yesterday and tomorrow don't exist. There is only now. Right now you make the decision of what you want to do and who you want to be. If you want to learn to learn martial arts, get out of the chair, go outside and do it......Now.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Your Weapon and You

In our style of Bagua there are many different types of weapons. The sword, sabre, spear, hooks, deer antlers, staff, double sticks, Guans blade, two sided spear, etc. All of the weapons have there advantages for different situations, as well as different variations. I have seen many masters that carry "special" weapons around to practice, compete, or just show how bad ass they are. My master has always told me, "Real kung fu is all about your weapon." Initially I thought I understood the meaning, but after training for a long time with the various weapons I have deepened my understanding of what the weapon's purpose is.

Of course in the times of war these weapons had many places of more obvious use. Choosing your weapons was a matter of deciding what type of strategy that you want to use kill. Disarming, penetrating armor, distance, surprise, or whatever was your most effective tool was the deciding factor. This is actually one of the more surface level understandings that I originally had about weapons. Through training I have been able to see more significant effects in my techniques barehanded directly related to my weapons training. When I train the staff my stance strengthens, the deer antlers give me better footwork, the sabre increases my trapping power, the spear gives me more snatching and palm power, Guan's blade increases internal power and endurance, and on and on. Therefore if someone favors using sword techniques, it is probably true that it helps them master another unarmed attack. This makes me especially curious about those masters with the"special" weapons.

The first stage of learning a weapon is much like ourselves when we are first born. Useless. Without training or direction we lack purpose. In a sense when we begin to master a weapon we begin to identify and master ourselves. Or maybe its better to say that the weapon is just a reflection of your personality. The hardest part of course is first getting past yourself so that you can begin to learn. I know everyone has picked up a pair of nunchucks and swung them around until BANG. Then their little dreams of being a teenage mutant ninja turtle were crushed. No pain no gain, no guts no glory, whatever doesn't kill you...blah blah blah. Do whatever you need to get back up and do it till its done.
In any case I strongly suggest that you become acquainted with a weapon from any of the arts. To master a weapon is just the same as taming a tiger. Something that may have been dangerous can turn into your protection.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

The Connection Between Kung Fu and Calligraphy

I have heard many times about the connection between the Chinese characters and martial arts movements. This is what actually stimulated my interest toward learning Chinese and gathering a deeper understanding of the "root" of martial arts over ten years ago. I believe it would have been impossible for me to gather such an understanding of Bagua or the internal arts without seeing and understanding the characters with my own eyes. At first glance the list of movements appears to be the explanation of the techniques and how they are practiced or applied. But there are many places where they use "words behind the words" or "meaning behind the meaning." It's almost like trying to decipher a song that Shakespeare and Tupac wrote together. Every year reviewing these scrolls and continuing my training I am able to peel a deeper level of understanding of the words and adjust my training accordingly. Don't worry you don't need to be able to understand Chinese to understand martial arts at all, I am just explaining my personal journey in the understanding of new concepts.

Recently I have focused an extra amount of time in my writing practice. Writing these complex characters over and over smaller and smaller have given me a great deal of hand control.

It is the same feeling that I have when practicing accuracy with my sword. At first you are just doing or immating the movements that you see. Through practicing yearly you begin to gain a sense of structure. A standard in how things need to be done. Through this structure you finally find real power. Then you realize that it is the same structure that has given you power, that must be forgotten in order to achieve free flowing power. Only with this free flowing power do we have a real understanding of martial arts, Chinese characters, or life.

This is the process of refining ourselves. Real martial arts, calligraphy (or whatever vehicle you choose) is about cutting away at the part of us that is a weakness. A weakness can take many forms inside of ourselves and continually distracts us from becoming free. Pride, Vanity, Fear, Greed etc. are the parts of us that are not our personallity. They are flaws that we can choose to refine out of our lives completely. First we just need to find our one focal point. Then, slowly let that expand through out the rest of our lives.

If it was easy, we'd all be masters by now. Keep up the fight of positive energy.

Thursday, September 24, 2009


In martial arts it is always necessary to feel out the level of reaction time with your techniques. Sparring has always been the step that is used as sort of a bridge between fighting to make sure that your balance, timing and accuracy are up to par. Everyone has there own rules on whether they wear equipment or strike to the face etc. Controlled sparring should never go passed 80 percent of your effort because then it gets more dangerous for both or all participants. The unfortunate truth is if you have not taken the time to practice all of the techniques to the point they are natural and effecient, then you are just wasting your time. Sparring is the step you take after you want to test your attacks and defenses that are "solid." The sparring will give your techniques timing and understanding but not help with speed or power. Therefore if you begin sparring too soon, you will never have powerful techniques. On the other hand if you never spar you will never know timing or feeling out your opponent. So as with all things there must be a balance.

The first step is too make sure my technique is mastered. Lets use the spin kick for example since there are not too many people that have trained it fluently. First I practice my spin kick in the air over and over. Until my balance, speed and force are all connected. Next I train my accuracy to make sure I can hit exactly what I am aiming for. I usually tape a few pieces of paper to the wall no longer than a finger nail. Tape each piece of paper at various heights because as the height changes, the range changes. First I practice the single spin kick as fast as I can, kick the paper without kicking the wall. After it is easy to do a single movement I can now apply it in a combination. Throwing 3 to 5 kicks as fast as I can. This lets you fix and adjust the footwork and range between each kick.

Now I am ready for two person drill training. The idea of two person forms or drill training is that you begin to teach muscle memory of your reaction time. So it is important that with many of the drills that you are really trying to hit each other if you are training your defense. Whether you are practicing with swords or barehanded the idea is to do the exercise repeatedly so that the movement is trained into the back of your brain. You may find that while doing this type of training you might punch in your sleep or automatically strike a friend if he sneaks up on you. (By the way...Don't ever sneak up on martial artists.) But with two person training exercise it is ideal that both people are training the desired technique at the same time. Person A starts the attack and person B counters on and on and on and on.

Now my technique is ready for sparring. I have learned control so my partner won't get injured. I have learned balance so that I won't get injured. Timing is the most valuable factor that can be learned from sparring. To use an effective spin kick is the same as your opponent stepping on a landmine. Just as he is committed to the exact range BANG. This is where it is important to catch your opponent between thoughts. As he changes strategies or ideas he is unable to calculate his position. Which is why Bruce Lee used to use vocal distractions when he was fighting against Chuck Norris.

The unfortunate truth is that most people rush to sparring without ever rigoursly training their technique. In a microwave society everyone wants everything right now. We want the power without the purpose. True martial arts is having to refine ourselves to the very core of our weaknesses. When we are fighting with another opponent we are actually using each other as a gauge to understand how we need to improve. Therefore winning or losing should never be our focus. If I define myself by beating others then I only need to be as good as the person infront of me . This is the cause of a lot of arrogant martial artists which in itself is an oxymoron. Arrogance is birthed from our insecurities of not being accepted, good enough, or strong enough. True masters never compete unless it is connected to the battle of self. The only battle worth fighting.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Guilt and Progress

In martial arts it is easy enough to see how good we want to be through our masters, kung fu brothers or other inspirations around us. The process of learning a technique well can be an ongoing and sometimes even frustrating transition. But the process of trying to become a better martial artist or individual is a much more severe path that we must journey on. It is good to be able to visualize the warrior that you are trying to become. Whether you are trying to gain more speed, power, focus it can be disheartening to realize how far you are from where you "should" be. This is not unlike the process of chasing a dream that has yet to be realized or the on going pursuit for the house with the white picket fence. The unfortunate side of pursuing after a goal is to give ourselves pressure for the things that we have not yet attained. The pressure then becomes self resentment or even shame which can cause us to quit reaching toward our goal all together. It's funny how many students that I have had that would apologize to me for missing class. It is almost as if they were using me to apologize to themselves. The danger does not lie in missing practices or being busy. The danger is the self inflicted guilt trip that we give to ourselves and say, "I'm so far behind that I will never catch up." Or, "I have forgotten everything if I go back it will be embarrassing." This is the real danger! You're perception of yourself in the end is your reality. If you create walls that stop you from reaching your goal because your scared, embarrassed, ashamed or whatever, then you are you're own worst enemy. Yes it's good to get on a program and stay on it but if you don't...then your human. Get up and go back to it. Even if you have to start from square one it will be worth it and you will start to feel good all over again. Otherwise, you begin to dig an endless whole that inevidably will lead to self pity. Nothing effects you more than how you feel about you. If you are too hard on yourself you will never be able to make it to your finish line. It is never too late, you're never too far gone and you never out of the game.

Thursday, August 20, 2009


My master wrote an article about making training a part of your lifestyle. So that it is never something that you have to get around to because it is a part of your daily chores. It is tricky when you have the world trying to convince you that what you do is a "hobby". A hobby implies that it is something that I should do when I am killing time. Meaning that I have finished all of the important tasks in my day and now I can practice my kung fu or dance or whatever your hobby is. The truth is that your hobby is probably more important for your life than your job. So many become so obsessed with trying to promote themselves in their job or in school that they lose track of the things that actually matter. In fact for many people what you do on the side might be the only thing that gives you any real sense of purpose. What happens when you set that aside and become only your work? You begin to sacrifice the "little things" like: health, joy, time, and family. Its ironic that so many of us work so hard to provide for our families but the work itself pushes us farther from home. Still we must give to Caesar what is Caesar's and we must provide rent at the end of each month. I feel that it is important to always know which direction you are going.

What we do everyday defines what we are to become. There must be time in your day for you to be the person you are designed to be. You should never push the things that are most important for your development in the background. Some of you may be lucky enough to have your quest and your job wrapped into one. For the rest of us we must find the strength and the courage to be ourselves when everything in our environment hinders us. Of course we need money even to fuel our hobbies from time to time. But the pursuit of money without purpose is the first step to losing yourself. If you had enough money, what would you be chasing?

I train not just to remember my movements or self defense reasons. I train so that I have the strength to win the battle of "self" from day to day. So that I can continue to do the unpleasant tasks requested of me with a smile. No matter how stressful things may become I know that it is not this job that defines me. But it is my "hobby" that is my real quest.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Eight Philosophies of Bagua

I know that I have already listed the different parts of the 8 Trigrams before but have never really explained some of the concepts about what they represent in more detail. I am still working on the book which will include a lot more detail of everything, but I still would like to put a little something something on my blog.

The first section that we start from is the Heaven section. It is the simplest yet in a lot of ways the most powerful of the eight. It is direct in its approach and is known as the way of striking. The strikes cover the main focal points of entry on the body. It opens, carries, drags, lifts, pulls, and carries the opponent into an imbalanced position in order to launch a more powerful attack. In a since the Heaven section is also the most honest, where as the Earth section is the most deceptive.

The next section is the Water section. Also known as the way of the hands or arms. In this section there are more approaches to deal with being grabbed as well as arm locks and breaks. In fact 5 of the 8 movements start with first by snapping the arm. Aside from that these strikes mostly involve combinations. The idea is to first snap the arm but to continue holding on to it. This way we can keep our opponent in range while striking him several times before letting go. It is much like a yo-yo effect.

Then there is the Mountain section also known as the way of diverting. This means that these movements mostly involve counter attacks. Even though all of the movements in Bagua are counter attacks this section specializes in dealing with multiple attacks. Usually parrying two to three times to manipulate the opponent into a "checkmate." This is the section most involved with trapping. Trapping means locking the opponents hands into his own body so that he is helpless in defending the on coming attack.

The fourth section is the Thunder section. Also known as the way of the body. This means that with every attack or dodge the whole body is used as the weapon. This is where you see a lot of the snake low attacks, turning spins and running attacks. Keeping the full body in motion in order to overwhelm the attacker. It also is the section I have found to be one of the most effective with the deer antlers. The charging attacks coordinate the hands and feet so that you can stick to an opponent even when he is fleeing away.

The fifth section is the Wind section also known as the way of the elbow. This section utilizes the elbows in every aspect from defending and attacking. It also focuses on breaking the elbow joint. This is a crucial technique for Bagua users everywhere. Using the elbow to redirect the flow of your opponent's attack as well as crush an oncoming attack can be a great "de-fanging" tool. Four out of eight of these techniques are elbow breaks and the others are elbow strikes.

The sixth section is the Fire section or the Way of the legs. As it sounds it is related to the kicking techniques in the style. There are a lot of trips and take downs in addition to the kicks. There are quite a few high kicks in this system of bagua. Crescent kicks, Thrust kicks even a kick that resembles the kick kick in Muay Thai. Though many people who practice Bagua don't do high kicks, there are many in the system. ( I even stuck in a few of my own dirty tricks from Hapkido.)

The seventh section is the Earth section or the Way of Entry. This is the slickest section of the Gao Bagua system. Techniques that use set ups to take your opponent one way and then the other. Much like Bruce Lee said, "When your opponent expands you contract, when he contracts you expand." That is the main theme for all of the movements in this section. Getting through your opponents guard in the most unexpected ways. This section also contains the movement which is the "special move" of Gao Bagua. Known to be so powerful that people have used it to knock horses unconscious.

The eighth section is the Lake section also known as the way of foot work. Of course all of these movements involve a lot of footwork since Bagua is actually applied while walking in the circle. However this refers to bursting steps in the Bagua movements. Through steps, dropping steps, crossing steps. Quick steps into the gaps of your opponents mind. When done correctly it is very hard for your opponent to counter because you are already behind him.

In each section there are eight movements adding up to sixty four. 64 movements along with additional 64 counters to all of the movements. I recommend training the opposites together in order to develop more power. Heaven is opposite to Earth, Water is opposite to Fire, Wind is opposite to Lake, and Thunder is opposite to Mountain. Thunder is the opposite of Mountain because it is loud and invisible while the mountain is enormous and silent. Wind is free to move about and cannot be contained while a lake is not only contained but deep.

I have also had fun training other movements together such as Fire and Mountain(Volcano) or Water and Mountain (Waterfall) Training the different movements together will allow you to flow smoothly and naturally. All of the movements are meant to be forgotten...but only after you have done them all millions of times.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

New Class Schedule

Well now that I am settling down in Taiwan again here is the new class schedule.
At Guo Fu (Ji Nian Tang) Memorial hall. At 11 am on Tuesday and Thursday.
Class should be pretty small which allows more time for personal focus. Stop by and get some Bagua in your diet.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Gao Bagua Masters United

Last weekend we had a great exchange between the two different Gao Bagua lineages taught by my master Wu Guo Zheng and Master CS Tang from Hong Kong. My friend Benard and I helped the two masters to get in contact for this wonderful learning experience. Even though the styles are of the same lineage their are vast differences between practice methods and technique applications. However the main point of each technique was identical. Just as I have said before Bagua practitioners are much like trees because we all choose to grow and develop very differently. But the root of each style is the same which means the fruit is also the same. It was great for me to see another masters ideas and concepts about familiar techniques. I could even see the eyes of my master and CS Tang light up with new ideas after discussing martial arts concepts.

It shows that we all need to come together not just for the purpose of learning but also for the purpose of inspiring and motivating. It doesn't have to be from the same style because power always recognizes power. Sometimes while we are training we can find ourselves in a rut or hit a plateau. The best thing is to go out and pull together with other groups to trade ideas.

I know that in the past styles have been very secretive about what they show and display to other schools because of one day maybe having a conflict with a rival school. But look in the society we live in now. Do you really think it is possible that you are going to get robbed by another kung fu master? If you are humble and considerate it is very unlikely you would have a confrontation with another lineage. These days there should be no rivalry. All martial artist in all countries are looked upon as strange individuals. If we don't start showing the true beauty of what martial arts is we will disappear. Many styles have done such a good job of maintaining their secrecy that they no longer exist. Our purposes is to extend the range of the brotherhood of martial artists. One master and one student at a time.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Fighting more than one, Know your circle

When I was in the university teaching martial arts about 10 years ago. One of the big focuses and concerns was how to fight more than one person at a time. Realistically if you are a bigger guy like myself, no one is going to fight you unless they feel they have the advantage. A weapon, friends or both. So in my experience with self defense I have rarely been in a one one one fight situation. There is always at least one friend hanging out in the background.

The first and most important step is a tactic that I take from ninjitsu which is awareness of your surroundings. You have to know how many exits you have, how many exits you can create, what could be utilized to your advantage. Of course when you are in the middle of a fight it is too late to analyze these things. So it should be a habit that anywhere you go you are "counting" your environment. In most cases you will find you can see a potential situation developing before it escalates and your already gone.

If you are really in a life or death situation then your biggest concern should be survival. So it is important to train your movement aside from combat. Running, rolling, climbing etc. You could have the most deadly punch in the world but if you can't get from A to B it's worthless. Aside from basic mobility it is also important to learn how to stack the deck in your favor. For example if you put a table between you and your opponent you have given your self a shield from his attacks but placed yourself in perfect kicking position. Also attack at opportune times. If you are surrounded by a group don't look at the person you strike first, it will give you away. Use anything from salt shakers do gravel to stun your opponent so that you are guarenteed a clean strike. Don't waste energy doing attacks that won't land.

Also it is important to realize that you have the advantage because you have the element of surprise. (Unless you are fighting against a tactical strike team which is organized and coordinated with their attack.) But ordinary groups attack one or two at a time. This is why it is always most important to practice footwork and spacing. Especially using the footwork from Bagua or Aikido which is circular stepping. The understanding of your art and how it uses the circle is what will make you successful. Bagua weaves between the opponents much like a thread moves through material, Hapkido can manipulate and clutter opponents into each other with various locks, Taekwondo places the the opponents outside of the circle and the fighter's back can easily become his front with a turn of the head, Muay Thai can allow you to take more blows than most if you have undergone the right training, Judo is extremely powerful if the take downs are done on the edges or corners of objects.

Once you understand the circle of your art it becomes much easier to manipulate your environment in any situation. Naturally this is something that should be practiced on your own first with a few friends or even alone. The hardest part is learning how to flow from one movement to the next, one direction to the next without any awkward stumbling or pauses. If you do the right move with the wrong amount of space then you're in big trouble. You must practice every possibility. Then after your body has learned the system of your style you can relax and just flow.

Fighting more than one at a time

When I was in the university teaching martial arts about 10 years ago. One of the big focuses and concerns was how to fight more than one person at a time. Realisitically if you are a bigger guy like myself, no one is going to fight you unless they feel they have the advantage. A weapon, friends or both. So in my experience with self defense I have rarely been in a one one one fight situation. There is always at least one friend hanging out in the background.

The first and most important step is a tactic that I take from ninjitsu which is awareness of your surroundings. You have to know how many exits you have, how many exits you can create, what could be utilized to your advantage. Of course when you are in the middle of a fight it is too late to analize these things. So it should be a habit that anywhere you go you are "counting" your environment. In most cases you will find you can see a potential situation developing before it escalates and your already gone.

If you are really in a life or death situation then your biggest concern should be survival. So it is important to train your movement aside from combat. Running, rolling, climbing etc. You could have the most deadly punch in the world but if you can't get from A to B it's worthless. Aside from basic mobility it is also important to learn how to stack the deck in your favor. For example if you put a table between you and your opponent you have given your self a sheild from his attacks but placed yourself in perfect kicking postion.

Also it is important to realize that you have the advantage because you have the element of surprise. Unless you are fighting against a tactical strike team which is organized and coordinated with their attack. In that case....good luck.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Fox's Online Tutorial

I just set up my new website with the assistance of my good friend we call Knight.

The website organizes things a little nicer than the blog does and later I will use both the blog and the website for new articles. In a couple of months I am setting up a very detailed on line training program so that those intrested in the art but can't find teachers can learn movements from the basics to advanced techniques. The only thing that will be needed is your own motivation to take you to the next level of understanding the art. This we you can stay armed and prepared even if you live out in Louisiana or where ever. It won't be for a couple months since I still have to take care of some little things while adjusting in Taiwan but feel free to check out the site now and I will be sure to keep updating new articles on both sites. Keep training and learning.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Real fights and "Complex movements"

Here in my time in the states I have found most people believe that the concept that the simpler movement is the most effective movement. That many movements take to long or are too complex to remember in a real fight when your full of adrenaline. It is true that in a fight you don't have much time to think about a movement or you will freeze. However this has nothing to do with the complexity of the technique, but rather its related to how familiar you are with the technique. Also don't believe that when your adrenaline kicks in you will become some kind of werewolf with no mind at all. In fact you must always be keenly aware and mindful of your surroundings at all time. Where is your opponent? How many people might get involved once it begins? Where are my exits? How can I use the environment to my advantage? These are all things that must be immediately evaluated before your fray begins.

As for which techniques are going to be most effective, it's going to be the techniques that you have practiced the most. Muscle memory is developed after doing movements thousands and thousands of times. So at the time that you are in a battle everything should be second nature and nothing should seem complex.

Actually you can see how muscle memory works in sports. If you play basketball all the time you don't have to think about the rules. No matter how intense the game is or how much adrenaline you have going on both sides you can't just pick up the ball and start running. You have to obey the rules of the game at all times just as you have to obey the rules of your art at all times. Is Kobe Bryant thinking about dribbling while he is playing? Or is he thinking about the open opportunity. Most people don't practice as much as Kobe at basketball and may have to think about things such as passing, dribbling and shooting. A movement like passing behind the back would seem foolish for someone who has not mastered the basic passing. This is also the case with martial arts. Just remember how many thousands of years have been spent to perfect the martial arts . There is nothing that is designed to be "flashy". It is only arrogance to believe that in your short life span you can develop something better than what has already been refined for generations. This includes Bruce Lee who even though is the greatest hero of martial arts. Even after he developed his own style, he could never beat his master.

My advice is to make sure that you can do all of your techniques in real time. Have your friend start punching at you slow while you perform the counter. Do it over and over, faster and faster. Do it everyday with the same technique for a month, a year, a decade. I promise you that movement will be effective no matter how complex it may seem.

In the end I hope that all of you can understand when it is time to fight. When someone disrespects you? Betrays you? Steals your girl? Takes your money?
Of course it is up to ones own discretion to decide whether or not this is the time. When I was younger I used to fight a lot more over many different situations. As I grew wiser I was able to realize the unfairness of the situation. Even though this guy is bigger than me, stronger than me or even has friends with him, it is still unfair. I spend all of my time understanding the weak points in the body. Thousands of techniques a day trying to develop the most power and speed that is possible. Maybe this guy did call me a nigger. Maybe I do have the right to respond with force. But in the end he is only trying to fight with me because he is ignorant. No matter how angry or crazy someone is, they cannot overpower the physics of martial science. You should consider your art the same as carrying around a gun. Would you pull out your gun for any argument that you had at a bar? The techniques that you may be fiddling around with are the same ones that were used in the battle fields of China to kill thousands of soldiers. Make sure you weigh out your options.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Fox doing the Six Connecting Kicks or Six Harmony Kicks

This is a small clip from a demonstration from a while back. This style is a part of our system of Gao Bagua as a supplement to teach kicking. It is known that you cannot understand soft style until you have first learned hard style. Otherwise your movements we be empty. So this lineage has many other styles that have been adopted in order to emphasize certain techniques that later could be attached to your Bagua learning. We most often use Baji, Seven Star Palm, Wu Dang Fist, Five Elements, Six Harmony Kicks, Crouching TIger Sword, Six Harmony Sword, Strange Spear, Gao's Staff, Double sticks, Qing Ping Sword etc. All of these systems are not part of our system of Bagua but all teach fundamentals needed to understand the nature of combat. I know that a lot of people don't like forms because they believe it is some sort of performance but that is not what it is designed for. Think about any form as being the ABC song. We have to learn it when we are young so that we don't forget any of the important letter when trying to spell a word. Just as a form you must take the letters and movements out so that you can begin to write your own story. So it is best to take the movements that you need the most and then practice them over and over in a combat scenario.

Master Wu Guo Zheng Doing Preheaven Demo

This is a demonstration from a few years ago with my master showing a few movements from the preheaven set. Watch for his alignment of structure and how he seemlessly transfers power from his legs to his body to his hands.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Bagua Seminar in Seattle Before I Leave

I have recieved a lot of emails from individuals that wanted me to teach them or open a school in the Seattle area. Before I leave I would love to at least provide an opportunity for individuals who are intrested to learn a major section of Gao Bagua. I am going to offer lessons for those who are dedicated from the 22nd of June untill the 26th of June in the Seattle area. I will teach the complete Heaven section which includes 8 post Heaven movements, foot work, applications for combat and Pre heaven movements. For those who have an intrest in Bagua this will be a great opportunity to begin your training. For others who are more experienced it will be an opportunity to advance your skills. All individuals with good attitudes are welcome. It will be 5 days filled with a lot of information so is it is recommended that you bring something to take notes or video record. Classes will be held for 2 hours and the total price will be 50 bucks. Making classes 5 dollars an hour. I will decide the location as the date gets closer but all of those who are intrested please make a comment or send me a personal email. It might also be a good time for you to learn more about Tian Wu Dao.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Questions about the Arts?

A lot of the post that I place on my blog are based from questions that people have about training or anything. If anyone has any questions about anything (hopefuly martial arts related) I will be more than willing to place it on my blog for the benefit of everyone who might have the same questions. Thank you guys for your support, its appreciated.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Learning a new style

Recently I had someone ask me if learning martial arts for so long makes it easier for me to pick up a new style. His thought was that developing different muscles through time would allow an individual to pick up another style faster than the average person. I'd have to say this is unfortunatley for me never really the case. Granted if the style that you are changing too is related to the previous style you study such as Taekwondo to Hapkido. Then the transition is very smooth because all of the ideas are the same but Hapkido provides more movements. However if you have learned Ninjitsu and are transitioning to Wing Chun then it can actually play against your learning. Its the same as a gymnist switching to swimming. Even though he is used to exercise and hardwork he will still have to make a major adjustment mentally before understanding the new movements. He will even have to untrain some of the muscles that now are a hinderance. When I first met my master Wu Guo Zheng I had already been training martial arts for twenty years. But when he had me doing the new stances my legs were so tired that they began burning and shaking like never before. I used to pretend I had to go to the bathroom to make the pain stop. Until of course he asked me, "Why do you go to the bathroom every time you start to learn?"

I think the most important factor is having an empty mind. It seems like something that we hear all the time in the martial arts world. Yet it is something that expereinced martial artist can not do easily. I admit there have been times when I was younger that I would come into a new dojo thinking, "I already have my black belt in two other styles, this should be easy to learn." It is that very thought that restricted me from understanding the new philosophy that the master was trying to teach. If you use the same kick from Muay thai, kick boxing, Tae kwon do, Ninjitsu or whatever, it may appear the same from the outside. But on the inside the concepts are very different for reasons of power, speed, stealth, evasion etc. If you see your teacher do a kick that you assume you already know, then you have missed the whole point. Now you have become too smart to learn and this is where your training will plateau.

An open mind means that you have to completely forget that you have learned anything when you step into a new classroom. Even your thoughts can make you miss many points of the lesson. After you leave class you can begin to compare, contrast and research your other knowledge. Simply put, humility is the path to power.

It does pay however to be mindful of who you are learning from. Anyone who has more knowledge than you is qualified to be your teacher. But only someone who understands the art as well as your goal is qualified to be your master. I have had many teachers in my life time but I have only had one master. A master can not only teach you the movements but also he can teach you how to conquer yourself. Our bad attitudes, impatience, anger etc. We all have very complicated problems that distract us from not only learning our martial arts style but also prevent us from becoming the best version of ourselves. I believe your true master will be able to teach the art while placing you on a path to your success in life. Which means you have to have a personal relationship.

If you are getting in to a classroom and it is your first time or you are a veteran you shouldn't be thinking about whether it is what you expected or not. The basics are NEVER exciting. The same stances or structures for hours on end is not something we look forward to. It is the transition from boy to man, man to warrior, warrior to master. If you just rush through them, you will always have the same weakness and eventuallly will have to start over anyway. So get it right the first time.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Sorry about the delay

Well I know I was planning on working in the crossfit Gym with my good friend Morgan but there has been a change of plans. Because of financial reasons I won't be able to settle in the states for too much longer. I will be heading back to Taiwan to take advantage of some new opportunities that will lead to the construction of the University. I feel that it is better if now I just do seminars from place to place in order to find which place is best suited for me in the future. In the meantime I will return to teaching classes in Taiwan along with training with my master Wu Guo Zheng. After I get a little real money and see exactly where this economy is heading I will be able to make better decisions on where to teach. In the meantime if you are in my area I am more than glad to help you out in anyway I can. Also I should mention I will be back and forth through America quite often to teach many of the Tianwudao so send me and email and maybe we can work something out.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Don't Leave Empty Handed

This is an article written by my master which had three different sections. The first section focuses more on the technical movements of the way of the hands. Snatching hand, capturing had, dropping hand etc. Though there are many methods to getting to the point
that we can grab our opponent, more is needed before we can control him. This is the section I decided to translate which is part two: Strengthening your grip.

Written by Wu Guo Zheng

Translated by Warren Fox

Grabbing, strictly speaking is the meaning behind not leaving empty handed. It doesn't matter if you use the leading palm, inside lead, dropping palm, taking palm, snatching palm, capturing palm etc. All of these hand techniques are related to grabbing. Simply put, after grabbing your opponent the power is placed at his hands. You can take him left to right, up to down or front to back. This is the standard method of grabbing. So all of the techniques mentioned above capturing palm, dropping palm, taking palm all come down to the grab and then we can follow up. Grabbing the opponent and moving force from left to right is the leading palm. A single handed grab which moves the power backwards is the capturing palm. A two handed grab which forces them back is the taking palm. A two handed grab that the power drops their weight is the dropping palm. So grabbing is the meaning of not leaving empty handed, which means if don't get a grab on them we leave with nothing. This excludes movements such as the wrapping palm, dragging palm where we use a staining or sticking method.

In the realm of Bagua the grab is extremely important. So when we practice our post heaven movements, we must practice the gripping motion very clearly. That's how we practice our precision. First off the power relies in the fingers. So without finger strength we can not capture anything. In the application methods of Bagua, finger strength is crucial. For this reason it is important that we go through many different types of finger strengthening training methods. The following is practice methods for finger power.

Generally speaking there are a lot of different types of practice methods. But now I will introduce our systems most commonly used concepts. Training grabbing involves two types of power: pointing power and holding power. Even though the types of power are different they are also related and cannot be separated. Pointing power is purely the power of the fingers while holding power is the power of the palm. When the powers come together it is grabbing power.

This systems most commonly practiced finger strengthening technique is called the Iron Ox Plows Earth. The method of practicing must be slowly progressed. You can't immediately practice this on the floor. First it must be practiced while standing. Face the wall with your hands about a foot away then your hands push against the wall much like a push up. But this type of push up is very different than normal. Normally for push ups your elbows are pointed outward, but for this your arms absolutely must be squeezed inward. Use your finger tips to support your weight, keep your shoulders forced downward and your finger tip position must be in front of your chest cavity. This is the form you must use when pushing away from the wall. When you first start don't do too many, 20 to 25 is about enough. After practicing with the fingers you can also practice with your fist and palms and do another 15 to 20. Remember that your arms have to be squeezed inward otherwise you will be strengthening your muscles and not the internal power.

Again I emphasize that this must be slowly increased in difficulty before you can do a standard Iron Ox Plows Earth technique. For the reason that your tendons in the beginning are not strong enough and you will certainly injure yourself. So it is better to begin slowly. With this type of iron body training we are focusing on the finger power as well as the triceps. We know that when we are doing a pulling technique the power comes from the triceps. Make sure you drop your shoulders and squeeze your elbows in and then do a pulling technique to feel your power is coming from the right area. When doing a taking palm, capturing palm or dropping palm you should feel the triceps tighten. When practicing the Iron Ox Plows Earth technique using the wall is not enough to develop power but it is the first level of training. How do we know when we have finished the first level of training? Simply put do it consistently for a month to the point where you can do 30 to 50 in a row. Remember to keep your arms close to your body and don't let your butt stick out. Otherwise all of your practice will be in vain.

After finishing the first level of training we can move to the next part. This time we will train a motionless push up. In short we use the same method that we practiced on the wall on the floor. On the floor we use our fingers to support our weight, keep your legs together and the more level your body is with the floor the better. But don't let your body touch the floor. Again are arms must be tight to the body and make sure the back of your arms are level with the floor. Don't rely on the floor, slant, lean or stick your butt up. Keep your body completely still for at least a minute. Repeat this five times. This is the second level of the Iron Ox. The most important point is that your arms are level with the floor or this exercise loses all meaning.

The third level uses all the basic principles of the second except for now we move from high to low while moving forwards to backwards. Now the but raises up as we move backwards and then levels out while going forwards. The more the body can extend forward the better. This really puts all the support on to the finger tips but we can still practice on the palms and fists. After practicing this well we can also raise our legs onto a step while keeping our hands on the floor. Then we can add weights while using the same method. Finally we can practice this method one handed. But this cannot be done in a short period of time. Absolutely do not rush this training. It is very easy to hurt yourself. Later all of these exercises can be done using only three fingers. But first make sure that your five finger power as been achieved.

The Iron Ox technique must be slowly developed level by level. Just the same as kung fu, this way it becomes harder to injure your fingers.
Another training method for finger strength is handstands against the wall. Of course in addition from the fingers we can practice on our fist and palms. Just the same as the other methods we can begin to perform the handstand push ups and switch from five fingers to three fingers. But remember to first complete the Iron Ox training before starting this technique.

Another practice method we use for this system is holding jars. Naturally the weight of the jars must be slowly increased. Always remember with Iron Body training to not start of too heavy. We usually practice this while walking the circle or practicing Tan Yi Bu (Preheaven). Now go through the movements with the Jars in your hands. I usually use a thick bamboo Jar and fill the inside with coins. I practice sometimes grabbing atop the jar and others around the sides. The effect is excellent. Bamboo is better than clay jars because clay jars tend to stick out on the sides making it easier to hold on to. But bamboo is slippery from top to bottom so I have to use more focus in order to hold onto the bamboo. Its a great training tool.

Aside from this there is another training method. That is to practice with rice bags or sand bags. The goal is something from 100 to 200 hundred pounds. Practicing holding the bag can develop a great deal of strength. Grabbing it our carrying it on your shoulder makes you use all of the muscles in the body. Especially if your grab it with only your two hands. It makes all ten fingers strengthen quickly. So grabbing a bag is a great training method. My two kung fu brothers Hwang Ji Yu and Deng Wen Tang their family opened a rice store. So from very young they practiced carrying bags of rice on there shoulder. Because of that they have always had more power than most people. I believe there power is definitely related to them carrying rice all day. Just like the Judo master Hwang Li Shi Zhang. Because he always practiced bag training when he grabbed someone it was impossible to escape. Also he could do the Iron Ox technique twenty times the first time he tried. When I was young I used to see him painstakingly carrying rice back and forth. I would ask him how long he could hold it for. This was over a 200 hundred pound rice bag. Most people who try to pick up a big that heavy can't move with it at all. He answered me unenthusiastically, "Probably for thirty minutes isn't a problem." So I thought at this time no way he could hold a bag that long. We made a bet and had a contest in the rice warehouse next to his shop. My little brother was there with me. Without saying the answer can you guess who won? I can tell you at that time I was the loser. He held the bag and only after five minutes he was covered in sweat. After ten minutes he was already exhausted but his endurance was adamant. Still he held the bag high with two hands with no intention of quitting. Me and my brother we cheering him on and helping him wipe the sweat away. Minute by minute the time passed as he was closer to reaching thirty minutes. But maybe we were cheering too loud and were disturbing Deng Mu (his mother). She came over and saw here baby covered in sweat holding a big rice bag and ordered us to stop the game. Everyone has to listen to a distressed mother, so he put the bag down. But when he put the bag down it was 27 minutes and 50 seconds. Even though he didn't get to 30 minutes I know if his mother didn't stop him he would have succeeded. So as for the bet in the rice warehouse, I was the loser. I don't remember how much money I lost. I don't know if he remembers either.

Just an example of the many different types of training methods there are. Not everyone has a rice store in there back yard and not everyone is willing to go through this much strain. But if you do have the chance go ahead and try it. See how long you can hold a two hundred pound bag of rice over your head.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Tian Wu Dao (All martial artists under heaven)

This message is for the members of the Tian Wu Dao or anyone intrested in taking the red pill. As I have explained before martial arts is just a vehicle that can be used to unlock your potential. Of course many other activities can also help you refine and discover yourself but martial arts is the root of the Tian Wu Dao. This organization is designed to gather martial artists together from all different styles in order to learn, develop and preserve the arts. Unlike MMA or Jeet Kun Do the concept is not mix styles but to better learn how to use your style to deal with various scenarios i.e. multiple opponents, weapons and modern day technology. More importantly we focus on the concept of unlocking the hero within. Martial arts without purpose is just as useless as money without direction.

I learned Chinese and came to Asia to further enhance my knowledge and understanding of my art. After gathering information and meeting with many different masters I can see more clearly the direction of my quest and one of the many roles that the Tian Wu Dao are to play in the next chapter.

The problem that all martial artists are faced with whether they are masters in China or beginners in Europe is time. When do we have the time to keep improving and focusing on training if we have families to take care of, jobs to maintain and various pressures from society.
This problem is more dangerous and runs far deeper than most people realize. Martial arts is unique as it is passed in history from generation to generation because it is not something that you can record in a book. It must be learned, practiced and improved. This means that if no one has the time to practice then martial arts will eventually die. My masters son had no intrest in learning martial arts which means if I had not taken the responisbility of passing the style along it would have eventually become watered down and maybe just dissappeared.

The next problem is location, or financial concerns. How do I find a master? How do I pay for it? The desire to train is the first step towards learning but not everyone has the means to jump on a plane and go to the source.

The plan I have has many different parts which would help people on all sides of the spectrum. The first part I will have to do on my own which will be creating a fad through martial arts. Using movies and music to inspire young people to become excited about martial arts like never before. At the same time meeting with all of the masters in Asia and creating a network of information that would place every teacher that was willing on the map. This process of course will take a lot of help from everyone and would be a number of years before completing.

The next part is to establish a Tian Wu Dao training temple. In this dojo I would have all of the masters that I have become close with teach there for a steady generous income. Meaning they would not have to work a job on the side any longer unless they chose to. Giving them enough time to focus all there attention on there students. Creating an environment that the only responsiblity for the master and the student is training. So that the arts could continue on to future generations. At the same time we would set up a scholarship program for people who were intrested in martial arts but financially struggling to give them a chance to learn the arts as well as language. So ideally this temple would become more like a small university.

I don't want to give out any details on exactly how I plan on putting these things together for various reasons. I do want you to know that we are very close now. Because our website is down I felt this was the best way for me to keep you posted on recent events. To those who are intrested in the Tian Wu Dao. You can send me a personal email at
I will happily answer any questions you might have. We are always open to those with good hearts and open minds. In addition I should say that even though our root is martial arts, not every hero is a martial artist. Any skill that you can offer can help us reach the next level.

Warriors to masters,

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

All Challenges Are Opportunities

In one of my previous post I discuss a little about how me and my two brothers were forced to learn martial arts at an early age because of reasons of protection. My father's rule was all of his children will start training at the age of 4. At that age I can tell you I really didn't like martial arts. But the town we stayed at in Ohio was extremely racist. I don't mean racism like he looked at me funny or he disrespected me. It was the kind that you would go into your locker to get your books and find a noose instead. My teachers even hated me in some classes. My family was one of the only black families in the entire town. So that meant for us we were fighting almost every week. I got in my first fight when I was 5 years old.

As we grew older the fights grew more serious. I found myself fighting with as many as 5 at once at times. This whole time training martial arts was only a tool that I used to get to and from class safely. I got used to having to be prepared to protect myself or my friends. It was a burden that eventually became my blessing. I never doubted whether or not martial arts was effective because I was already using it. I would hear people say things like, "High kicks don't work in a fight." I would think to myself but I have kicked so many people in the face.
For many people, martial arts is just a set of theories. But they are filled with uncertainty about there power, speed and effectiveness. Never knowing if what they are learning is truely real or not. Therefore most martial artists who begin at an early age quit before too much time passes.
SO I must be grateful for the racists that attacked me when I was younger. It was the rednecks, hicks and bullies that are responsible for my drive to perfect my technique.
Without them I may have gotten bored by now.

That being sad we all have to face difficulties. Although they may be very different situations, all of the challenges present us with an opportunity to grow stronger. Family problems, addictions, money etc. What is it that challenges you? What is your excuse for not becoming the person you have always wanted to be? There is no situation that cannot be overcome. There is no battle more important than the one within. Be grateful for your challenges, for they are what forge you into a true warrior.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

He teaches Tai Chi, Bagua and Xing Yi?

I remember when I first began searching for a Bagua master I found many teachers that told me they taught Tai Chi, Bagua, and Xing Yi. The three internal styles of China all in one conveiniant classroom. I was so impressed with the concept that it became something that I thought I could do myself. When I met my master Wu Guo Zheng I asked him if he had learned the other styles aside from Bagua. He told me a various number of styles that he practice which included Tai Chi but said he didn't have time to focus on them because there was too much Bagua.

A short history of development of the Bagua principles. In the beginning there is Wu or nothingness. The idea that nothing is consistant because everything is always changing. This was a concept developed from the Yi Jing which later developed into Yin and Yang or opposing forces. I am not going to go into too much detail into any of these concepts because they are far to vast for my little blog. But I want to notice the numbers. The Yin and Yang later developed into the three principles: Heaven, Earth and man. The three principles lead into the four directions: North, East, South and West. The four directions lead into the 5 elements. Water, Metal, Earth, Fire and Air. The five elements lead into the Six Harmonies being North, West, South, East, Up and Down. The Six harmonies lead into the seven stars. The seven stars lead into the 8 trigrams or Bagua. Bagua lead into the 9 palaces and on and on.

All of these concepts are also a part of Bagua. Some of the movements or even the warm ups incorporate movements from the six harmony kicks, the form of five elements, and we usually practice the seven stars with the deer antlers. These concepts are so vast that they could stand alone as a complete fighting system. For example it is said that the seven stars was originally a system that seven warriors used a formation designed after the stars to fight as a team. Each of them all using seven different weapons all covering each other. Because they fought in this formation they were able to fight against thousands of warriors at a time.

In our system of Bagua we use these different systems to learn and develop into different areas. Obtaining as many advantages as possible for combat. Not to mention the system of pure Bagua alone is too much to learn in a lifetime. So when my master explained this to me, I began to understand the impossiblity of learning all three systems. Unless a man has three hundred years and no job, he can never obtain so much knowledge. From working with the masters of the different styles in Fu Zhou, Taiwan, and in the Shaolin Temple. I was able to see that Bagua is no bigger than Tai Chi. In fact all of the styles contain an almost endless amount of information. But not every style is fully intact for various reasons. Meaning that someone could believe he has learned all there is to learn about Xing Yi but his training is only beginning. This is why humility is so important as we grow from warriors to masters. As soon as you think you know everything, you stop learning.

So when I asked my master how someone could claim to know all three internals he told me it was most likely they know a lot of one style and a little of the other two. Or a fair amount of all three styles. But there can be no person who has mastered all three. Especially in modern times.

Friday, May 1, 2009

The Gao Bagua Map

This is a map I designed to visually see as much of Gao Bagua at once as possible. Sorry I had to write it in Chinese cause it was the only way to make it fit together. (Later in my book I will write an English version). Even though this is a rough draft it is easy to see the complexity of the system. There is a lot of information I had to strip out of this just to make it more simple. I was fortunate enough to be able to have a master such as Wu Guo Zheng who taught me in such great detail and completeness. However I think this is not the case for most of the masters out there. With Bagua I find it is crucial to have a good amount of knowledge of the movements in order to be effective. If you have a teacher that is only showing you partial explanations, then there is a good chance you could be thrown out of balance and maybe even suffer from injury. On the other hand masters will never teach completely to half ass students. Just like this chart there is a "living" balance. Every movement has a counter, opposite, or can be combined with other movements. Making a map can make it much easier to visualize.

I think I have explained part of this before but Bagua is so complex that it is essential to make a map that is visual. Once you have learned all of the movements is when the learning actually begins. It is a university of knowledge and the only way to become good is to have a major. In Gao Bagua we start from the Heaven section located in the South East Corner.Then we move clockwise to the South being section two, South West is section 3 and so on. On the very outside is the Pre Heaven or strengthening movement. There are eight strengthening movements which each strengthen 8 Post Heaven or application techniques located on the inside. On the inner most part of circle is written the 24 different footwork movements. There are actually 25 but the 25th one represents constant change. So if there was a location for it, it would be in the middle.

Heaven Section (South East Corner) The Way of striking

蛇形順式掌 Snake's Flowing Palm (Pre heaven)
1. 開掌Opening Palm
2.捧掌 Carrying Palm (offering palm)
3.扽掌 Yanking Palm
4.探掌 Searching Palm
5.捩掌 Twisting Palm
6.挑掌 Choosing Palm (Selecting Palm)
7.蓋掌 Covering Palm
8.纏掌 Wrapping PalmSection

Water Section (South) 手法 The Way of the hands
龍形穿手掌 Dragon's Piercing Palm (Preheaven)
1.截掌 Intercepting Palm
2.藏掌 Hidden Palm
3.砍掌 Chopping Palm
4.削掌 Peeling Palm
5.二掌 Two Palms
6.虎掌 Tiger Palm
7.奪掌 Snatching Palm (Robbing Palm)
8.環掌 Surrounding Palm (Looping Palm)

Mountain Section (South West) 卸法 The Way of Diverting
回身打虎掌 Tiger's Turning Palm (Pre Heaven)
1.穿掌 Piercing Palm
2.搬掌 Moving Palm
3.接掌 Catching Palm
4.攔掌 Hindering Palm
5.停掌 Stopping Palm
6.翻掌 Flipping Palm
7.走 Stepping Palm
8.轉 Spinning Palm

Thunder Section (West) 身法 Way of the Body
燕翻蓋手掌 Swallow's Reversing Covering Palm (Pre Heaven)
1.推掌 Pushing Palm (forcing palm)
2.托掌 Supporting Palm
3.帶掌 Taking Palm
4.領掌 Leading Palm (Guiding Palm)
5.沾掌 Staining Palm
6.連掌 Repeating Palm
7.隨掌 Allowing Palm (Following Palm)
8. 黏掌 Sticky Palm

Wind Section (North West) 肘法 The Way of the Elbow
轉身翻背掌 Spinning Backward Palm (Pre Heaven)
1.蹲 Crouching Elbow
2.盤 Capturing Elbow
3.墜 Falling Elbow
4.頂 Peaking Elbow
5.衡 Measuring Palm (Weighing Palm)
6.挫 Obstructing Palm
7.疊 Stacking Palm
8.鑽 Drilling Elbow

Fire Section (North) 腿法 The Way of the Legs
擰身探馬掌 The Searching Horse's Twisting Palm (Pre Heaven)
1.趨 Quick Stepping kick
2.踹 Sweeping Kick (Trample)
3.擺 Outward Kick
4.掛 Hanging kick
5.踢 Lifting Kick (Raising Kick)
6.截 Intercepting Kick
7.蹚 Drifting Sweep (Wading Sweep)
8.撞 Crashing Kick

Earth Section (North East) 進法 The Way of Entry
翻身背插掌 Reversing Body Backward Stabbing Palm (Pre Heaven)
1.掖 Tucking Palm
2.擠 Pressing Palm
3.雕 Statue Palm
4.攞 Splitting Palm
5.崩 Collapsing Fist
6.闖 Breaking Palm
7.扣 Hooking Palm
8.攀 Climbing Palm (Pulling Palm

Lake Section (East) 走法 The Way of Stepping
停身搬扣掌 In Place Hooking Palm (Still Hooking Palm)
1.搗 Pounding Palm (Stirring Fist)
2.狸 Fox Palm
3.吸 Attracting Palm
4.跨 Cross step Palm
5.搖 Trembling Palm (Shaking Palm)
6.閃,三 Lightning Palm (Triple Palm)
7.橫 Horizontal Palm (Crossing Palm)
8.竄 Scurrying Palm

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Training in Difficult times

I find even when training becomes a part of your life schedule. It becomes very difficult to keep a focused mindset when other priorities in life jump out at you. Especially in these days when things are down. The economies down, spiritual awareness is down but fear is up. Yet it is at these times when it becomes most importat to strengthen ourselves. Kung fu means time and effort. And when times get harder effort gets harder. I know the body can only withstand so much. As we age our body's begin to break down, injuries last longer, etc. Though internally it is an opportunity to magnify our power. This is why it is important to always learn to "focus" our minds.

When we practice our qi exercies, it helps us to clean our spirits from the inside out. Also it can help clear away bad spirits that may attach to your life. Things that we might see as bad luck that occur in our lives from time to time is not always a coincidence. Its often times a battle that were not even aware is going on. Grow stronger spiritually and become aware of what your real purpose is. Every martial artist of every creed has wanted to learn the arts for one reason or another. But the initial reasoning is that we wanted to become heroes. Although society has a lot of ways to make us forget our true worth, training your body as well as your mind is a way to keep yourself focused.

Breathing techniques can be practiced any where at anytime. Sometimes if you can catch a quick break at work or school even if only for a few minutes, take some time to breath. Breath in light and heat into your dan tian under your navel. Then exhale black smoke which represents the stress, fear or anxiety in you. If you have an injury or pain in your body at all. Focus your intent on that point of your body, then breath iniside of the injury. I know all the arts have different ways to practice Qi, Ki, inner power, kinectic energy or what ever name you give it. But make sure that you spend time to heal yourself. What battle can we face if our mind is not prepared? And if we are fortunate enough to have a healthy body, then we should exercise it.

Stay focused on the things that matter and remember lifes not only three dimensional.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

新竹縣錦園八卦掌研究協會 Old Demo Fox With the Guan Dao

This is a little demo I did for Our Bagua XinZhu Association. It's nothing special but I am not sure if I have any videos of me with this weapon yet. Just found it in my Kung fu brothers youtube account.

Monday, April 20, 2009

The Spearhand Offense

Written by Wu Guo Zheng 吴国正
Translated by Warren Fox 孔太龙

Original Chinese Document:

Lets talk about the spearhand in terms of attacking. In all of the 25 different footwork movements whether its approaching, dodging, coiling, stepping or hand movements, at the end of every technique is a spearhand to launch the attack. As for practicing with the deer antlers, the most important function is the "spear" technique. Just as the first hand blocks, the second hand "spears" or we can also say pierces through. Of course there are many other changing hand movements and attacks but the one with the most energy is the spearhand. I must say that most martial arts practitioners today are nothing like our predecessors. Before they would practice martial arts as a means of life or death. Now the times have changed and martial arts has also changed. Everyone has put down the weapon practice and mostly focuses on empty handed techniques. But to practice Bagua effectively you have to use the deer antlers. Incorporate the deer antlers in your foot work movements, in your Pre heaven movements and also in your post heaven movements. Because all of the movements in Gao Bagua (Soft body repeating hands Bagua) were originally designed for holding the deer antlers. If you practice with the deer antlers it will help you develop your piercing power for Bagua. I hope everyone has a chance to pick up a pair of deer antlers and see for yourself.

When it comes to using the spear hand the main point is speed. Also the spear hand is a lethal attack. Most times when using the spear hand attack the eyes, nose or the throat. Also in if you extend your spearhand and your opponent catches it you can step forward with a "dropping elbow" to the chest cavity or heart. At this time it will be too difficult to block because his hand will already be trapped and his other hand to far away to save him. This is called "distant water cannot extinguish close fire." (In english also known as trapping) So the advantage of the spearhand is that it is two attacks in one. In the "Outline of Power or Bada Gang" there is a technique that really emphasizes the spearhand: the three piercing palms. There is a saying that goes, "The bravest man fears three spears." This phrase describes the three piercing palms offensive power. The three piercing palms is like firing three arrows in a row fast and with penetrating force. So even if a person with high level kung fu meets the three piercing palms it is better that he evade the attacks with skilled timing rather than block them. The combination of speed and structure can be quite difficult to parry. The other practice method of the three piercing palms is "intention." Focusing your intention on the palm that is extending and the one that is returning just as Yin and Yang. Practicing your intention is just the same as practicing Qi. That's right, the three piercing palms was established to practice opposing energy or Qi. So to practice this particular technique is to practice the main point of Bagua. When your intention moves, your qi moves, always balanced and relaxed. As soon as you move, you completely move.

So in the Post Heaven movements you have chopping palm, snatching palm, piercing palm, foot work entry, turning palm and the horizontal palm that all utilize the spearhand for attacking. But its worth mentioning that in the 25 footwork methods of entry, they all use the spearhand attack. Just as mentioned earlier, aside from the mechanics of the footwork the hand motions we must first swipe away the attack with one hand and follow through with a piercing spearhand. Which brings us to our next point on how to deliver a standard structured spearhand technique.

(Side note: My master has written about nine articles on just the spearhand alone. I decided that I was only going to put up the articles on offensive and defensive spearhand tactics. Unless I get request from people who want more info on this, Im going to stop here.)

The Spearhand Defense

Written by Wu Guo Zheng

Translated by Warren Fox

Original Chinese Version:

In Bagua there are many different uses for the spearhand. Almost every technique involves the spearhand, especially in the Post Heaven movements where it is used extensively. What is the reason for using the spearhand so much? To put it simply its because the spearhand's special trait is that it is simultaneously an attack and a defense. In all of the martial arts forms every movement and technique is either an attack or a defense. In Bagua the spearhand is both, which is why it is used so extensively. Because the spearhand is so crucial, were going to look into the best timing and method to apply it.

First lets discuss the use for defense. In the area of defense the spearhand is practically our armor. An opponents straight punch, back hand, chopping palm, peeling palm and the single handed crashing palm all can be redirected with the spearhand. Also at the moment of redirection it allows for a very effective counter attack. So in the Post Heaven movements this combination of first a spearhand followed by a counter attack is adopted in most of the techniques. So lets say that an attack is coming toward us, first we have to deflect it, then we can open them up for our own attack. If the opponent is able to avoid it then we quickly follow up with another attack. It was this idea that was used to design the our bow into the Post Heaven movements. When we bow in, the first hand is used to parry an incoming attack.

In almost all of the sixty four palms there are no exceptions. The first hand in most cases is used to parry, and many times the parry is a spearhand. Lets take a deeper look into the details: In section one (the way of striking) there are five movements that first use the spearhand and move into a counter: the extending palm, yanking palm, searching palm, selecting palm and covering palm. In the second section(the way of the hands) there are four: The hidden palm, peeling palm, double palm and snatching palm. In section three(the way of diverting) there is the stopping palm and the flipping palm. In section four(the way of the body) there are three: Taking palm, staining palm and repeating palm. In section 5(the way of the elbow) there is the crouching elbow, measuring palm, the obstructing palm and the stacking palm. In section 6(the way of the legs) there is the quick stepping kick, the outward kick, hanging kick, lifting kick, intercepting kick, drifting sweep and crashing sweep. In section 7(the way of Entry) there is the pressing palm and the splitting palm. In section 8 (The way of footwork) there is the fox palm, trembling palm, horizontal palm and scurrying palm. So look at the details for a minute and see that out of the 64 palms of the earth movements or Post Heaven techniques you'll see that thirty two of them first use the spearhand to parry or to engage. So it is easy to see the importance of the spearhand in Bagua. Because of its speed and effectiveness defensively it is the trademark of Bagua.
(You can see me use the spear hand to parry on you tube in Fox Applications 2. I use an extending palm to counter and also the searching palm.)