Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Chores


I think one of the trickiest parts of learning Bagua is a matter of time management. This style traditionally has been passed through the hands of individuals who didn't have an additional obligation like a job. Kung fu used to be an occupation for those who had devoted their life to their art. Their missions were related to fighting, teaching, passing knowledge or even research for the purposes of their style. In the process of my own training, I must also make sure that I not only practice the movements, but improve upon them to the best of my ability. The question is, where do I find the time?

One thing that I have learned to be true is that because Bagua is a collection of limitless angles and equations of combat, making literally an endless amount of ways you can train and project energy. I have found it best to take advantage of a mundane task such as chores and make it into a way to train, killing two birds with one stone.

Loading Dishes

When I take the dishes out to put them in the cabinet I can gain about 10 minutes of training time with my inward and outward stepping  (Kou Bu, Bai Bu扣步擺步). When the dishwasher door is down I have to take a dish out while pivoting around it and place it quickly (yet carefully) into the cabinet. I put pans into the lower cabinet making me hold a much deeper stance with the heavier objects, while practicing lifting power placing items in the higher cabinet. Make sure you never sacrifice technique and structure and you'll be sure to clean up a few techniques.

Sweeping

When sweeping there are a lot of options you can use, but currently I have been doing cross step (Tou Bu 透步) training. This is a step we often use in Bagua. First we step behind the leg and follow through with the energy forward. Meaning we start with the right leg in front, step through behind the leg, and end up with the right leg in front again. Of course we can change to start with the left leg in front. We can also practice the stance deep, or take short dashing steps. While sweeping the floor you have to adjust the step to the room. Holding the broom in a closed structure in the center of your body. You shouldn't be moving you arms aways from your body but only using your hips to swing the broom in position.  The deeper the stance, the deeper the train. You can get about 20 minutes of training with a medium sized floor. A good way to get at some of those footwork cobwebs.

Drying clothes

In Taiwan sometimes hanging clothes up won't dry them off quick enough, so putting a little kung fu into your hang dry will do the trick. Ringing out clothing (preferable clothes your not worried about stretching out i.e. work out clothes.) By pinching it between your finger tips and dropping your weight, making sure to ring the water out with your stance, not your arms. Do it only once and afterwards use whip chain techniques until it airs out. If you don't know any chain techniques you can also use double stick exercises or butterfly swords. You'll find your arms will get a hell of a work out in only a few minutes. Careful, unlike boards, socks do hit back!

Driving

When driving a long distance you may have never noticed that by locking your arms into a structure you can control the wheel even easier. This lets you develop your circle power. It may take a little getting used to so take your time. I would suggest doing it for a few minutes at a time, but when you get sleepy it's great to recharge you.

Cooking

This has an endless amount of possibilities that you can explore. A master once told me he didn't like anyone to see him cooking because he uses kung fu to cook. Basically everything you reach for, grab, scrub, dice, or anything can be used to train. At the very least while your standing you can keep all your weight on the back leg. When it gets tired you switch legs.

I saw that master do a move where he used one hand to throw up an onion, then used the same hand to grab a knife and cut it into two halves. He then told me his goal was after he had cut the two halves, he wanted to put the knife down and grab the two halves with the same hand before they separated. Your kung fu can always get better!

These are just a few simple things that I can explain with words. The point is to use your mind to see things in a way that they become opportunities, not burdens. I could take any of these tasks and use them to improve my other skills as well. I can scrub the floor while I practice music, fold clothes while listening to a language CD, look at flash cards in my bathroom mirror. Design your life in a way that you are forced to see the skills you wish to acquire on the daily basis. Stop saying I will practice this when I have time. Take some of those times that you aren't using your brain and stimulate it.

At anytime you have to do something that is unpleasant, change your perception immediately. Take something little that you can work on so that at the end of the unpleasant situation, you will have gained. Trying to find a convenient time to learn something new is almost as difficult as trying to find an opportunity to attack your opponent. Sometimes it is only when our opponent attacks that we will see an opportunity to gain. Every chore is a chance for self development.




Friday, September 23, 2011

Everyone wins


It is often said that your desires are what cause you to suffer. Chasing after uncertainties and dreams will eventually lead you to be disappointed. You should let life happen around and through you while capitalizing on the opportunities that come. Wise words and mostly true. Your life is a puzzle piece that fits together in the whole of time and the universe, making a beautiful masterpiece. As Ghandi said, "What we do is insignificant but it's very important that we do it."

 It is all God's show and we can only do our part. Yet  your desires were also created by God. The things that you wish to do are more complex than you could ever know. Of course on the surface it may seem the same as other people. Everyone would love to have that job or everyone believes the same woman is beautiful. Looking deeper into the details you would find that even at the same job as your co-oworkers, you would rather do things differently. You would also find that there is a mate for you that can reach you in a way no other could. Your desires are a unique fingerprint unlike anyone else in the world. But we are not wise enough to identify all of the things that are good for us. So we must always seek council before we begin any quest.

Recently I have been emphasizing my circle training. I have seen my master do the movements to such a level of power and control that I felt the earth move from under me. Leaving me watching while understanding that his decades of training surpass my own age. It will take me at least twenty more years to begin learning the things that he is coming into an understanding of now. Yet my desires are not to be as good as he is. My desires are to be better than him in my own way. To use what God has given me to overcome the obstacles in my life.

As I went through the motions and harnessed the energy into the coiling points in my structure. I practiced the movements first at the slowest possible pace. Taking almost a minute to complete one movement. I made sure that every stance was so deep that it would be unbearable. Then after 40 minutes I added a snap at the end of every technique. I used much force on the snap but never exceeded more than a half inch motion. About 20 minutes later I switched into a endless energy. Moving swiftly but not fast. A continuous flow of energy from beginning to end......

Somewhere around this point in my training I lost where I was. I lost who I was. I was my master. I saw him inside of me as if I was a vessel and he was the pilot. Then there was a twitch in the air and I was operating my master's motion. For the first time, all of my technique was in the perfect position. Our energies flowed as an indescribable color. I enjoyed the feeling of moving within a different realm. Every turn and pivot was just where it needed to be. Then for only a fraction of a second, I saw my masters father, Wu Jin Yuan.





When I finished I felt like I had stepped out of a time machine as I almost fell to the ground dizzy. I didn't mention the details of my strange experience to my student. I hadn't finished digesting what had happened yet. Now I realized that I tapped into a frequency of some sort. I was practicing the movements at the same time as my master and my master's father. This of course seems crazy because Wu Jin Yuan has been passed for many years.


 Our bodies are antennas that can transport energy past our own dimension. To a place where we are all is connected in both purpose and desire. In this place there is no time.

 The endless energy that lives with in all of us is the same. The world being run by our flesh confuses our purpose into different ideas and religions. Only through knowing we are one will we know joy as a universe. I want everything great for you, just as you want everything great for me. Everyone wins.



Tuesday, September 20, 2011

With the Wind


Bagua is the art of eternal change. I have been training various methods of moving from one movement to the next while gaining power in every following technique. It feels much like harnessing the energy in the air through an electrical current. The more I relax the more I can feel the power surging within my core and just when I try to control it....it's gone.

The energy flows through me, but I do not own it. It is mine as long as I cooperate with the true current in the earth. I borrow it and can use it for many things just as long as I don't try to control it. The moment my thoughts are focused on "How do I control Energy" is the moment the energy leaves. For the energy to continually flow we must learn to let go of our "self".

The self is the part of you that seeks to do things for the reward that will come. We work for money and train for power. Everything that the self does is for something else. In our lives we become conflicted with many energies through making plans because we continue to ask "what's in it for me?"

This is a seemingly innocent thought but the roots travel into the soil of selfishness. Soon we find ourselves not doing things that would be good because there is no immediate reward involved. We also find ourselves doing bad deeds because there is a reward. Reversing our natural wiring and corrupting the nature of our existence.

When we can not see good things happening in our day, we must become the good thing for others. The energy you put out will always come back and sitting around waiting for life to be good to you is just lazy. Do every good thing that comes before your path because that is what you are called to do today. You will find that by ignoring your selfish needs you will actually help your "self" even more.

Now as I train I am learning no longer to see the destination of my attack but to allow the wind to tell it's story through me. I enjoy the cooperation of energy that allows me to paint my fingerprints in the universe in my own way. God is inside of both my movement and the wind, he is therefore the conductor of every thing good. Have you ever thought about all of the details that are in something good?


To meet the right person you must find someone who's sum of experience and ideas completely matches and reflects your own. Someone who has seen a mirror of life that is suited and tailored to only you. Every good thing you find has been on a road for a long time before finding you, meaning you should be enjoying the gifts that come to you, not controlling them. Remember that the best gifts can only be developed through time.

The more you try to plan your day, the more your going to be frustrated with the way things go. Let yourself become one with the wind.


Friday, September 16, 2011

Flaws


Sometimes the flaws in our technique can act as mirrors for the flaws in our character. Maybe we have a weakness in a punch because we lack the patience to practice it slowly. It could be that your unwillingness to commit is stopping your kick from gaining speed. Inconsistent practice doesn't allow for any technique to develop fully. Frustration is the same thing as anger especially when it causes you to be hard on yourself. If you punish yourself for not doing well, you are only going to do worse. We must encourage our technique and ourselves in order to enjoy our art.

No technique is perfect just as no person is perfect. In the end we are measured not by how many times we fell, but on how many times we got up. Learn to see your flaws for what they really are, "blessings in disguise."

When I was a young man I used to lie and exaggerate stories. I thought by making people think that I was more interesting they would accept me. The ironic thing is that I lied about all of the things that I really wanted to do. The desires inside of me were actually of a good nature, but my insecurities perverted it into something negative. In a since that is what a flaw is: truth that has been twisted.

I eventually had to deal with all of the consequences of my actions head on. Be assured all wrongs will come back to you, no one gets away with anything. The consequences of what happened left me battered and almost broken. Even as I felt deserted I continued to do all of the things that I loved. When you love something, it doesn't matter what your situation is, you will continue to do it. I didn't care anymore about trying to prove myself to the world. Yet all of the things I used to lie about came true.

It turns out that I was never a liar, I was only a dreamer. I projected many of the ideas that helped me to find my success. When I became secure in my being, I was able to use these thoughts to accelerate my growth.

So it is only by conquering our weak points we are able to gain strength. Before you can have strength, you must first have a flaw. So instead of being hard on yourself for your mistakes, overcome them. Then be proud that you have come to be a better individual. We all got problems, but every problem you conquer makes you wiser. Meaning the more troubled you are, the more wisdom you will have to gain.


Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Basically....



 We here it so often in the martial arts world, "The basics are the most important for your development." Even as patiently as we may endure the basics we are very eager to move into the more interesting and complex motions of our art. Through time we grow in ways we never imagined and feel new potential power growing from within. Our research, training and trials opens a new world into infinite possibilities.

Soon we find movements we like and movements we love. The continual practice is a mathematical equation for your progress and success. We know that we have come to learn so much and have much more to learn. Soon we contemplate why some movements have developed well while others haven't really developed into what we want yet. How is it possible that I have trained so long and this move lacks so much of what it should be. We develop and design countless ways to make the move progress but it is obviously at a plateau. Every new concept and idea bears fruit but the move still doesn't have the magic it should have. Finally we find the magic in a place that we have long forgotten....in the basics.

It's funny how what we are looking for is always right in front of us. We just don't know what we are looking for yet. In practice when we are doing a deep and uncomfortable step it is easy to really think about what we are going to do after this move ends. When the discomfort sets in we naturally stand taller and taller until the discomfort becomes some what tolerable. In fact you can find plenty of motions that we choose to skim through instead of really feel the pain. Until one day you finally realize: the only thing that matters is the pain.

The pain is your body's way of trying to communicate to you. It doesn't have a mouth to speak so it uses nerves to say, "That's uncomfortable." Yet the nerves only hurt because that very basic and simple stance is changing you from the inside out. In another dialect your body is saying, "I'm getting stronger!" To try to make it more comfortable would be the same as trying to drink soda without the carbonation.

In life we often want to choose the road that is the most comfortable, but in comfort we hardly can grow. It is through long suffering that we actually find what we are looking for. What we seek is not in comfort but in purpose. Purpose and comfort rarely go hand in hand. The only true comfort rests at the end of your purpose. Once you have become the person you wish to be, you spend the rest of your days enjoying being who you are. Not contradicting yourself with negative thoughts and doubts of your own character. Look deep into your life at the many basics that you may continue to skip pass because those problems will always return to your path in a new form. Conquer your lack of patience, your temper, bad attitude, or apathy and enjoy who you are meant to be. Your pain is the pathway to your dream.


Saturday, September 10, 2011

The Joy in Improvement


Today I was sitting outside reading my Chinese novels that I enjoy at Starbucks. The stories of martial arts masters and lifestyles is like James Bond meets Batman. Some of it is just fiction and other parts are filled with true information about the history of many lineages. With the many responsibilities I have it is important to find those things that are pure joy and relaxation. To my surprise I continued to hear, "Don't work too hard, it's Saturday." from many passing customers.

I have always loved how friendly people are in America, it allows me to really see into the culture that I have so long been away from. A common denominator that I have found in both the Western and Eastern world is that relaxing entails turning your brain off and not thinking about anything.

It would seem like wisdom at first to want to calm your mind from all of the chaos of work and studying through out the week. So much time thinking about how to do your job better or raise your grades can be very exhausting. Yet most of our thoughts are consumed with trying to make more money or gain a position in life. Meaning we don't spend many thoughts on how to improve our own worth and being.

When I was in the university their was a point that I thought that Chinese might be useful for a job some day. When I began studying Chinese I lost all ideas for trying to use it for some superficial gain, it was something I did because I felt the characters were beautiful. I wanted to be able to understand it and maybe one day communicate with people in the martial arts world. My goal was something real to me and therefore attainable. My classmates who studied to find a job found themselves burning out early on and never actually became fluent.

Perception in the end is what decides if something is stressful or enjoyable. If you watch how much energy people use to play basketball it is obvious they are working very hard. Yet we find most people play basketball because they enjoy it, not for some kind of personal gain. We have many tasks that we are required to do that may not be easy to enjoy. This is mostly because your work is usually for someone else's well being, not your own. All of your effort calculates into the betterment of a company that you may or may not believe in. As my dad often says, "You can't throw out the baby with the bath water." Meaning not all work should be a bad feeling.

I can say one of the best parts of my life is being able to read the Chinese stories that I would have never known about if I didn't work at it. Now I completely forgot about all of the time I had to spend to get fluent. It's because once you have accomplished a task for yourself, you don't spend time thinking about how hard it was. You think about how fun and wonderful it is now.

Initially all work is going to seem agonizing. Especially if you are doing something that you have heard is difficult. When I came into learning Chinese I was scared because I wasn't very successful in Spanish. "You are crazy to learn Chinese! You couldn't even learn Spanish!" some one said to me once. Life is not a matter of difficult and easy, it's all matter of perception. I looked at Chinese just the same as those playing basketball.  I found that it was much easier to me than Spanish ever was. I had fun in the moment of learning something new. I didn't distract myself with discouraging thoughts, or listen to those around me who were full of negative energy.

There are things that you have been called to do that reside in the middle of your soul. You may have been discouraged or intimidated for what ever reason, but you must keep true to it. Not for money, fame or anyone in your family. Like a fingerprint it is personally calling you so that you my find out who you really are. Only then will you find balance.  I was scared my first day of Chinese just like anyone else, but now I laugh at the idea of being scared of a new challenge. A new challenge is only a chance to show the world and yourself you are special.


It's turned out that after I embraced Chinese I found most of the things in my life needed Chinese to even be possible. My master, my wife and my entire life took place after I took control of my fear of change. For you it may be something you wish to know about cars, cooking or science. It's different for all of us so only you have the answer. It probably looks like a mountain in comparison to all of the regular things in your life. But through your faith, all mountains can be moved. Learn to enjoy moving them.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Martial Arts and Heroes



When you practice martial arts you are in a sense opening yourself to become a container for information. Martial arts and traditional dance uniquely share information that can only be held in their truest forms in living containers. No book or even video could ever capture the energy of the tiniest details buried deep into the arts. Therefore what we are able to learn lives through us and we become keys for the future of the style.

Every so often the art finds itself in the hands of someone who thirsts for it. Someone who will not be satisfied at just having bits and pieces but should adopt the art into his/her lifestyle completely. The art and this person blend into a harmony that becomes more than human. It becomes something we have grown to know as heroic.

In recent times our heroes have been replaced with actors and movie stars who carry the fame of heroes but lack any real heroic intent. We slowly follow them into a blind pathway of logos, sponsors, and name brands which are all part of a system that weakens our being. Heroes in fact are just the opposite.
In martial arts we have examples of different types of martial arts heroes that we identify with for many reasons. The truth is that many icons of the arts may be less involved with the art than you would suspect. However let me first say that all the people I am mentioning, I hold in the highest respect. I am merely making an observation based on conversations I've had with a variety of masters in Asia.

Let's start from the most obvious and influential hero, Bruce Lee. Bruce's first intentions with the arts were to learn how to be a better practical fighter. His course took him through many roads and teachers who were containers for the arts. However Bruce was very much unlike his teacher, Yip Man, who wished to be low key while preserving all of the information in the art. Bruce believed that if he found a faster more efficient way to fight, it would be better than learning any style in it's entirety. Bruce was very successful in his unique path of creating Jeet Kun Do which opened the doors of thought into the martial arts world. Still he had underestimated the root of his power which stemmed from routine Wing Chun training. Because he never gave his students a full blueprint of what he had learned, none of his students ever made it passed his level. And he himself, never surpassed his master.

Next we can take a look at Jackie Chan. He was the inspiration that followed Bruce and kept the martial arts in the spot light for years to follow.Without him, martial arts would clearly have a much different face today. In both the Eastern and Western world he is responsible for countless numbers coming into the arts. Yet he was birthed from a school that was focused on entertainment first. Starting as a performer in "Beijing Style Opera", he had to learn many different martial arts routines. The goal of the routines were to make something entertaining that looked like martial arts, not making martial arts look entertaining. He has inspired a new way to look at the arts through a lens which has birthed into what we know as martial arts film. Any master you meet will tell you TV martial arts and real martial arts are quite different. Therefore even with all of his inspiration, we still see the real arts struggling to survive today.


Jet Li is someone who has started with his roots in the arts from an early age. He is the one who is responsible for making me want to learn Chinese and come to China. He started as early as I did and spent the rest of his life doing demonstrations, movies and many forms of media. Though his roots are very deep in the art he has chosen to share the "performance" part of the art to the world. The performance being a side that is beautiful but not practical. This is a continual plague among martial arts films today. If people could only see the true arts, they would never choose to watch unrealistic movies. It is the lack of understanding that leads those to believe that real arts can not be captured in film. A real martial arts movie would feel much more like CSI with intricate details of how every battle has taken place. The continual spread of unrealistic marital arts movies creates an overall belief that kung fu is fake.

After the Great Culture revolution many masters of the traditional arts were killed, leaving many styles without teachers. When they witnessed the fame of Bruce Lee they decided to revitalize many of the arts that were lost. They created extravagant movements from the readings that were left behind but lacked the reason behind the moves. This is what has become modern day wushu. Very few individuals are like Bruce Lee and Donny Yen who put the art before entertainment. Still they are all heroes for if they did not exist, nor would I.

These heroes were recognized in a time of peace making them very different from the heroes who preceded them. The masters of today are birthed from masters who lived in a time of term oil where the look of the art could never compare it's effectiveness. Many masters would have to kill literally dozens of individuals before they were recognized for their art. Whether they were fighting for peace or for fame, it is clear that they have very different characters than we would be used to. It is said Ghengis Khan killed 10,000 with a sword. Imagine how that would affect the way you think when you go outside. What kinds of things would you talk about? How would that change what you dream of?

The point is that just because spends most of his time showing martial arts on the camera, does not mean he spends his life in the real martial arts world. The martial arts world I have come to know is full of heroes who have never had the chance or desire to be in a film or a ring. They thrive on the fact their art will be passed on and relish in the actual training. Nothing can be quite as fulfilling as doing a perfect move. A completely correct interpretation of power through your body is like a full body orgasm. (That's why the monks don't need to leave the temple) The best things in the real arts are the things now one but you gets to witness.

Now we live in an age that a different kind of hero is needed. The true arts remain in the hands of a few and we must train and fight for their existence. Between the need rise in technology and the laziness of people we may find martial arts in museums some day. Which means that if you are training right now, you are a hero that's legacy will be for future generations. We may not compare to those of Jackie Chan, Bruce Lee and others, but we are equally if not more important than they are in our quest. Tomorrow go to your teacher and become the thirsty container that needs all of the information. Culture will be the new riches and you will live a life of wealth.



Thursday, September 8, 2011

Glitter


It's really not as complicated as everyone makes it out to be. You do good things and the same energy of goodness will be drawn to you. You do bad things and the reverse applies. This rule is as true for individuals as it is for groups or even countries. Usually the easiest decision is the wrong decision, making our society a true collection of easy decisions.

Imagine if in martial arts we decided to only train the easy or comfortable moves. No deep stances that would test your endurance and never a moment that would surpass your comfort. What would you gain in the end? The only way for a move to work well is if you have had an intimate moment together. Meaning like a relationship you have had trial and error, misunderstandings and even disagreements.  Through all of these discomforts we gain what we call strength. Strength begins with the acceptance of your discomfort and later maybe even enjoyment. A pearl is merely an irritation to a clam.

So as the reflection of a negative society may shine in your eyes when you wake up, you must hold to your faith in goodness and overcome. Mirrors at times may seem very real but all mirrors are easily broken. The mirrors that have been placed around you,  to believe that you are learning, working or even helping at times, may be working against you entirely.

By standing and looking at something long enough we can begin to see if it is something real or a reflection of society. Do I do this job because I can gain from it? Is this job only gaining from me? I have used martial arts as a way to keep myself focused on what I was doing. Still it in no form can replace our need for purpose.

Look deeper and longer into what you are doing. Is that really you or a reflection? A reflection can never express joy for the true treasures that we have been given. The treasures lie in the center of your heart tucked safely away next to your purpose.

Lastly I would like to make a comment for all of the scared heroes who have forgotten we're going to win this battle. Don't step away from your responsibility to be better for yourself and for your family. Sometimes we may get our hands dirty in the process, but we will understand what it means to be clean in the end. Draw good within, harness it and enjoy. Every dream you have ever had is rightfully yours and deserves do be realized. Of course don't get distracted by all the glitter that surrounds your dream. The glitter in most cases can make you miss the gold.


Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Now's the Perfect Time


Today as I feel the brisk wind occasionally accompany the once searing heat of the summer days, I realize  summer is approaching an end. I've decided to slow my training routine to match the rhythm of the winter season. The season adds color to every technique we practice while the theme is established by strengthening of our deepest weakness. Tragically most of us over look the blessings of our self inflicted pain and are distracted by goals that are admirable but meaningless.

A goal to become better, be a master, obtain a new weapon or even learn a new technique will only pull your mind to a place that you do not yet exist. Forcing you to guess and ponder on the possibility of a fictional you. The only you that is real is the one who is reading these words at this moment. The "present you" holds all the keys to being joyful in this minute, hour and year. The key is to view things in a larger reality than yourself and know that this moment fits perfectly together to a master piece of a plan. All you have to do is take a breath from time to time and focus on the beauty of the moment.

Bagua is a mathematical equation for both power and growth. The eight sides, angles and trajectories combined with the power of variating circles releases energy that spirals through out the universe. At first it changes the way you move, later it changes the way you see.

Looking at other combat styles it is much easier to see progress. When training boxing it is immediate that we see the results. Only a few basic offensive and defensive techniques that can be trained and understood immediately. Taekwondo may take longer to grab a hold of, needing both flexibility and balance, more body management is necessary to fight effectively. Jujitsu having the largest advantage over the two because the number one requirement is to be on the ground, making the style it is fighting against useless in its territory and a need for balance unnecessary.

Of course Jujitsu is easiest to learn for a sport but also the easiest to foil in a real fight. A sharp object, rough terrain (such as pavement or gravel), biting or busting an ear drum are all techniques that don't even need to be trained to deal with a grappler effectively. Yet these tools will serve no great advantage against a boxer or Taekwondo practitioner. Taekwondo is best for fighting against more than one opponent yet it offers the most vulnerability on the ground. In these styles we see a paper rock scissors scenario that shows us a balance. So how do Bagua and other internal arts relate to these external styles?

If the first three styles are shelters, we can compare them to huts of various materials. Quick and effective to keep you away from danger but vulnerable to a serious storm. As time passes this shelter is heavily weathered and unfit for living. This is especially true for those who continually use fighting competitions to show their art. It is the same as taking a beautiful car and smashing it every couple of months. Of course you can fix it but the continual smashing of anything will eventually lead to it's demise. It's not a matter of if, it's just a mathematical equation of when.

Bagua in the early years serves very little benefit for fighting. All of the basics that are designed to give you strength take years to grasp a hold of. Power is continually but slowly being gained in both defense and health. Still everything has to be carefully attended to and researched before reaching it's true potential years and years into your training.

Why does it take so long to learn Bagua? Bagua when compared to the smaller shelters is like that of a complex building or skyscraper. All of the blueprints must be laid out according to plan in order to stand it up properly. Pipes, wiring, ventilation, foundation, windows, stairways and more must be established before the building is even usable. The advantage is once this building is up, you have it for the rest of your life. Weathering against any storm easily and comfortably.

So when laying out the blueprints of your training, you must pay great attention to the details of your overall plan.

Here is a rough outline of some of my notes from planning:

Basic training- The first learning season is about setting a solid foundation. Practice all of the movements you learn thousands of times which teaches the nature of the art.

Reaction- Taking every routine through reaction training is essential for every movement. Start slow and steady with a partner then escalate adding speed, weapons and eventually put it against other styles to get comfortable.

Footwork- Footwork teaches us to move from A to B smoothly and easily. Practice so that you don't even need hands to defend yourself mastering controlling the space between you and your opponent. In addition to practicing this on many different surfaces it is most important to practice against low kicks and grapplers. If you can get out of the way without your hands, it makes it easy when you can finally use your hands.

Flow- This is the practice of movement to movement having no stopping or starting point. Every attack smoothly leads into another attack making combination speed and power primary.

Movement Change- A combination of flow and reaction training teaching you to move from offense to defense at any given time.

Trapping- Trapping practice involves baiting your opponent from any position into a desired "trap" or attack that can not be countered.

Slow motion- Slow motion training teaches more body power and balance. The more complicated the motion the slower it must be done to learn the nature of it's power for 100 percent of the movement.

Nine Palaces- Zig zagging through the footwork of the nine palaces teaches us the nature of gaining the advantage against multiple opponents. Almost like building up an electrical current as you shock enemy after enemy.

Weaponry- Of course all of the weapons will need a season of their own. It's best to choose a weapon to master first instead of trying to master them all at once. After unlocking the secrets of one weapon it makes it easier to understand the nature of others.

Projectile- This is projecting energy from the coiling power and combining it with a step which lets you extend your energy out of your hand. When done properly even a hat can cause serious damage.(That's why I love hats.)

Kicking- To be effective with kicking in Bagua you really have to take the time to hash out an understanding of the footwork and kicking so you don't get tripped up. It's almost like a tornado effect.

Finger Strengthening- Fingertip exercise which gives us both grip and piercing power.

Chores- Doing sweeping, dishes or mowing the lawn allow for us to do many different posture techniques. Dishes give us hand dexterity and accuracy if we put them away quickly and carefully. Sweeping is an excellent chance for wrist to hip control, meaning that the wrist only moves because of movement in the hips. The wrist then guides the broom into the desired direction.  The lawn can be done using a simple "mud step", all weight in the back and hands in a structured position. (Yes chores taking longer, but you kill two birds with one stone.)

Shake down- This is a coiling exercise designed to reflect the opponent from close quarters. Allow him to try to grab you and use structure to project him in different directions. This takes great understanding of footwork and fajin.

I think this is enough to show you different ways to aim your training. This here includes about a fourth of the things I have been training for the last 10 years. I like to think of it as making yourself into a work of art, like pottery.

The basics cut of the biggest pieces of clay and smooth out the first details of your shape, reaction training puts you into the fire hardening you. Later footwork solidifies your movement and framing while the training that follows adds the paints and colors of your own choice. Slow motion takes us through yet another intensive heating which polishes us off. This accompanied with different weather conditions adds a different tint to our artwork. Finger strengthening in the winter on pavement is much different than in the woods in Spring.

The more we look into the different things that can be trained the more we see an endless amount of possibilities and variables. Meaning that everyday and every minute our training is only limited to our imagination. So instead of thinking about all of the wonderful stuff your going to do in the future, why don't you start enjoying the possibilities of what you can do right now.