Saturday, August 3, 2013
In my lineage of Gao Style Bagua there are literally thousands of movements, but they can be broken into three simple parts: Pre heaven, Post heaven and spacing.
The Preheaven, or the development of explosive power, the understanding of energy and Qi development. Post Heaven is the application of combat and how to effectively move in a way to capture or control your opponent. Both of these are necessary and familiar to most Bagua practitioners and martial artist in general. You have to know how to build power and then you have to understand when and how it's used against living breathing opponent. One of these practices can only be done by yourself, while the other should be done against resistance.
The third part in our Xin Zhu Bagua Association that I have found to be significant is the 25 different footwork steps or methods to engage the opponent. In addition to the power development and applications of technique there must be an understanding of how to close the distance between us and our opponent. The most skilled fighter in the world is at a loss if he is unable to put his hands on you.
In my experience most fighters can be overly aggressive and distracted by there offensive attacks. Other fighters are too defensive and continually evade and dodge themselves into a corner where they are left without any options. What is more important than offense and defense are the "non-movements" or movements that are neither offensive or defensive. This is the frequency that the true battle takes place on. It is a mathematical system that can often be understood as "footwork" but is actually more related to conquering the space and territory of the opponent. This takes place in both the physical and mental realm. We see it often when a striker is taken down to the ground or out of his element. But it's the same if you are able to outwit and counter attack every time your opponent approaches, he will feel trapped in his mind and will eventually give in to your strategy.
Have you ever played chess against someone levels beyond your understanding? His initial movements don't seem to threaten you or even make sense until you find there are no moves left for you except defeat.
Well you don't have to do martial arts or play chess to feel the power of "non-movement". You feel it when politicians change laws that we are not fully aware of or when teachers go on strike. The introduction of terrorists has put the world in a position that is on higher alert. Everything is changing before us so quickly from music to gun laws and none of it seems to be affecting us directly. In fact most people don't believe that we are actually in a fight.
Life a reflection of martial arts and martial arts is the art of surviving. The truth is we were all born in a war whether you choose to acknowledge it or not. It doesn't always come crashing down our front door like it does in some countries. But do you actually believe what happens in another country doesn't affect you? Just like playing against a Chess master it's hard to determine what is dangerous until it's too late. In fact we have already become a society that makes excuses for evil and criticizes the efforts of good. When someone does a good deed to feed the homeless and puts it online people say, "They just want to get famous". Yet there are millions of useless online videos that promote violence, lust, greed or whatever...and everyone says, "That's creative. that's business or that's life"
If you don't believe we are in a war, go out and do something good for people. Whether you are a lunch lady who decides to give the left overs to the homeless instead of throwing it in the garbage, or you are a teacher who wants to implement a program that makes the youth like learning you will be confronted. Every idea that you can come up with for the benefit of mankind will be attacked, criticized and eventually and rejected. Those who are willing to fight for good may suffer for it, but those who are unwilling to fight for good, will continue to suffer.
In the end we only have two choices. We can do the right thing or pretend not to notice what's going on.
This brings me back to my initial point of Pre Heaven, Post Heaven and Footwork.
Pre Heaven refers to strengthening yourself, knowing yourself and understanding what it means to be you. Pre Heaven must be practiced alone and away from distraction. By walking the circle for a couple of hours a day you will first feel pain and discomfort. After your body adjusts and the ligaments become more flexible this isolation will become enjoyable. You will eventually enjoy feeling your power stir within you. Then once your power has become solidified you can practice where people can see you cause you won't be affected by petty words or opinions. You know you have gained something far more than those who have chosen not to improve.
Your Pre Heaven is what God designed you for. Whatever it is you have wanted, you simply need to go through the discomfort of the initial isolation and development. If you are an artist, never let a day go by without drawing. No matter how busy you are, your Pre heaven must be the same as eating. If you are too busy to eat..you it will affect your body. If you are to busy for your dream, it will affect your soul.
The isolation process refers to separating yourself from the ideas of others long enough to know what you truly want to do. TV will continue to tell you who you are and laugh at your original ideas. Your friends probably won't understand and your family may even reject it. But continue to walk the circle. People will eventually see that it is not you who is lost, but themselves. Once you have gained enough power you will be able to bless them with your learnings...if they so choose.
Post heaven refers to the application of your technique and power. After all having a good idea is meaningless if you don't follow through. Just as practicing with an opponent you must first set up the outline of the technique. Don't rush!!! First let his fist come at you slowly and apply the technique in the appropriate fashion. Then let him begin speeding up the attack, alternating sides, low attacks and high attacks, multiple opponents etc. Eventually this one application will grow into something that can be used for many situations. In fact I truly believe one technique can be used for anything if you really understand that technique.
In life this compares to how you use the skills that you have attained. Starting slowly may be frustrating because you may have to take on volunteer work or do things that seem beneath your dream. Yet you will gain essential experience for the later levels of what you wish to do. If you were an artist you could give pictures to local stores, friends or even complete strangers. We become so caught up in our ideas sometimes that we forget many of the things we don't value would can be the highlight of someone's day. You are actually utilizing your skills and following your dream for the good of the world...not just yourself. But anything that let's you interact with the world will train you how to be effective for all situations in your art. Then when your opportunity comes, you will be well prepared. So force yourself into a situation that people will continually see your art.
It's important that you again do not become distracted by the ideas of others. Only you and God understand your dream completely. If it doesn't feel right to you after while, then it isn't right. But also don't be afraid to try to face new and unusual attacks. Sometimes we learn an attack not for the purpose of using it, but to prevent getting hit by it.
Lastly, we have to understand the "Non-Movement" or footwork and positioning. Unfortunately the world now will tell you that the best way to get from A to B is through money. It's not that money isn't important, but in many ways it is a deadly distraction from your goal. Your goal no matter what will eventually make money because other people will love what your skill has developed into. If you do anything for over 10,000 hours you will become one of the best in the world. Then quite naturally you will be able to accumulate finance and have the lifestyle you want. Where as if you seek money first, then it can pull you away from all of your initial good intentions because money has no master. It holds no loyalty and it is designed to make you reliant on it.
King Solomon was approached by God in a dream. When God asked what it is he desired, he said he wanted more wisdom. Because he sought Wisdom he was healthy, rich and the wise. If you calculate how much money Solomon had today it would come up to 200,000,000,000 dollars US.
If he asked God for Wisdom, why did he have so much money? Today many people will hear Bill Gates make a speech and say he is a wise man, but they are only saying this because of his financial success. Many people who are rich were only lucky, corrupt, or born in the right family. Some of them even lack the most common of sense and they have become our world leaders. The truth is that wisdom only comes from God. It is God. When you seek wisdom you seek the best answer for your situation. Most times we believe we have a money problem, an education problem or a health problem. But there is only a wisdom problem.
Once you have taken the time to understand your "footwork" or Wisdom you will always be prepared to attack or defend as necessary. By waking and asking His will to be done as you train, as you draw and as your learn, you will truly see to the root of your desires. Then and only then will you be able to move freely into the doorway of your dream.
Stayed blessed, keep training...don't be afraid to fight for what is already yours.