The first time I saw Bagua dates back to when I was 19 years old and already entering my second year in university. I had already studied martial arts for 15 years and had been teaching officially for 4 years. Most of my training consisted of Taekwondo, Boxing, Jeet Kun Do, Hapkido, Ninjitsu, Kung fu Sansoo, Jujitsu and many various hard styles. Because martial arts has saved my life so many times, I never slacked off in any of my training routines. My students also underwent extreme training in order to push ourselves to a new level. It was there we formed the Tianwudao.
My two brothers also continued there training in their styles (Hapkido and Wingchun) and my brother Aaron came to me with a video from his Wingchun teacher that had many different Chinese styles that I had never even heard of. The video seemed to be so secretive and everything spoken was in Chinese leaving us doing our best to decipher the movements. When I heard the word "Bagua" my mouth opened as it was followed with the most amazing techniques I had ever seen. It was so fluid, calculated and precise that I looked to my brother Aaron and said, "I am practicing the wrong style."
I continued my training as usual with no Bagua being anywhere in site and prayed to one day come in contact with my hearts desire. I felt the frustration of not being able to better myself because of the limited knowledge about the arts that was in America. I had only begun teaching because it became too difficult to find a teacher that could take me to another level.
"If you really want to learn the depth of the arts, you will probably have to learn Chinese." Hanzo said to me one day as we trained together. I took his advice to heart and changed my major to Chinese language. If I was ever going to learn Bagua, I was going to have to understand the language of the master.
I heard so many scary stories about how difficult the language was and it was impossible to learn for Westerners. I ignored the negative thoughts that would try to haunt me and spent 4 hours a day watching Chinese movies while continually writing Chinese characters. I really wanted to be fluent immediately. Of course it didn't happen immediately but after three years I was able to hold a conversation with out using any English. Still there was no sign of Bagua.
When I went to China as an exchange student my fourth year I was determine to find a Bagua master that could teach me. It was discouraging that most of the locals had never even heard of Bagua before. I saw a lot of other different kung fu styles and Taichi but I had already seen my destiny and it was Bagua. After a month of rushing around I decided I had just better start learning something before going home to America. That day in my dorm I saw a man wearing all white moving on the ceiling of the building across from my balcony. I thought he was a ghost because it was so fluid and smooth. I ran right over and asked if he could teach me what it was he was doing. He said, "You really want to learn Bagua?"
He did his best to teach me all of the 64 palms with the limited time that I had while in Kunming. It was a dream come true to have touched upon what I had been waiting for for so long. Yet when I came back to the states and began fighting with my brothers (As always) I found loop holes in many of my movements. Many flaws that I hoped that I would be able to work out through time. I trained every day but after I graduated I knew I would have to return to China in order to complete my training. My plans were crushed by SARS and I was forced to stay in America and find a job. I hustled with the Tianwudao doing everything to keep each others skills sharp while trying to make enough for rent.
It was a miserable time for me because I had touched with some many of the things that I dreamed of but was still working as a dishwasher on a graveyard shift. While I was in China I was a dance and TV star and America quickly took me out of the clouds. I often refer to this point of my life as the chapter of "training with tears". I had to completely let go of my plans and ask God to guide me to the place he desired me to be.
A year later I received a call not from China but Taiwan which I gladly accepted. I had just found a great job in the bank which I had only done for one week. Most people would have said I was crazy to leave an ideal job for some thing that isn't stable. I knew what I needed wasn't something financial but spiritual. I quit my job, sold my stuff and 3 days later I was in Taiwan.
I landed in Taiwan with a hundred dollars in my pocket and faith in my heart. It was like everything was designed to help me out. The landlord said I didn't need to pay him till I got my pay check, my boss loaned my some money, it was meant to be.
I began looking for martial arts teachers immediately and through the grapevine I found a Bagua fist teacher. This teacher was good and understood his information well. I took a few movements that I still use to cover possible dangerous areas. The only problem was it wasn't the style I was looking for. It was very different in movement and philosophy which is why it was called Bagua fist, not Bagua palm.
After a few months I found another Bagua teacher that seemed decent but there was something that wasn't right. After training for 20 years I was able to see that though this teacher was good, he wouldn't be the one who could take me to the next level. I left after a few months of training and continued to follow my heart while training what I knew.
Two years passed and I had almost given up on the search for Bagua. Luckily I hadn't given up on my search for women because I saw a beautiful fitness instructor that was teaching martial arts to her client through a big glass window. I got in contact with her and though we didn't date we spent a great deal of time training, fighting and learning together. At one point she hit me with a palm strike that I had seen before.
"You know Bagua." I asked her.
"Sure I do. You want to meet the master?" She asked me right away.
When I met my master, Wu Guo Zheng, I knew immediately he was the one. While demonstrating a small technique I felt his power almost pull my arm out of my socket. He knew the details of every detail and reasons for ever reason. Every question I asked him became a 3 hour training lesson.
"I will teach you as diligently as you practice." He told me the first day of class. Every day after that class I made sure to put aside at least 2 hours for Bagua training. The master loved my eagerness and determination and began taking me to demonstrations all over Asia. I just wanted to learn everything and he just wanted to teach it. The perfect relationship.
In this new society children in Taiwan have no time to spend such grueling hours training kung fu. They were trying to get into big universities and buy homes like everyone in America.
Thanks to all the time that I had put into studying Chinese, not only was I able to learn much from talking to the master directly, I also learned from the scrolls his father had handed him and my kung fu uncles. An endless amount of Bagua information was revealed to me because of my initial language investment.
"You know that you are successor of Bagua for the 6th generation don't you?" The master said to me casually one day as we ate.
"Are you sure that's ok? Do I need to do something special before I can accomplish that?" I asked him uncertain.
"You already have." He said while smiling.
I didn't really think he was serious at the time but over the years it became more and more apparent that I was his only student to retain everything. I had only wanted to learn Bagua and suddenly I had become Bagua. God gave me ten times more than what I originally desired.
After training in temples and garages learning secrets from kung fu uncles and masters of other styles I saw the true infiniteness of martial arts and that I had only begun my journey. I saw things that I will not tell of because people would only say I was lying. Nearing a decade in Taiwan I decided that it was finally time to come home to America to spread the gift that I had received.
"If you forget what you have learned, you will lose the family fortune." The master said to me before I left.
"I will make sure everything is better the next time you see it." I promised.