Thursday, August 20, 2009

Priority


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.