Thursday, November 3, 2016

Gao Bagua Files: Thunder Section

It's crucial to remember that all of the elements of Bagua not only represent techniques, but they also teach us to stay within the parameters of the fighting strategy. After all, in a real fight, there is no time to select a technique, especially with a style like Bagua that involves literally thousands of different movements and hundreds of strategies. Yet, the movements themselves serve the same purpose as weight lifting for a football player or climber. You don't lift weights to use the exact same motion as you do when performing a bicep curl, yet by doing bicep curls repetitiously, the body changes shape and is able to perform at a higher level. By repeating the movements of each section in Bagua, the body changes shape and gains the understanding of power generation in both the muscles and ligaments so that when it's time to fight, it is able to perform at a higher level of combat.

Just as a seasoned boxer amid combat, who no longer thinks about throwing a hook or a jab, he is merely reacting to openings and the needed technique arises at the appropriate time. Using the same analogy, it's most important to stay with the parameters of your art when delivering or taking a blow, the same way a boxer must remember to keep his hands up after being hit. It is the mark of a undeveloped fighter to abandoned what he's learned once he's in trouble. Not only does taking a blow while maintaining your stance teach you where your openings are, it also teaches you to rely on the physics of your system. You will eventually need to stop doing Bagua movements and become Bagua itself. in order to move fluently.

It's also important to remember that each of the eight sections of Bagua has a counter section that compliments the other's strategy. Heaven is the opposite of Earth, Fire is the opposite Water, Wind is the opposite of Lake and Mountain the opposite of Thunder. A Mountain is enormous and silent, whereas Thunder is loud and invisible. The Lake is contained and deep, whereas Wind can't be held in any container. Understanding the nature of each section allows you to pair the opposite movements with each other to find hidden components within the transitions of the techniques. In short, research  movements from opposite sections simultaneously for a deeper understanding of flow, problem-solving and combat strategy.

Thunder Section: The Thunder Section is called the "Way of the Body" as it emphasizes using the body in its entirety for offensive and defensive purposes instead of focusing on any particular limb as in the Way of Striking(Heaven Section) , the Way of the Hands (Water Section) and so on. Energy is channeled into the desired areas by changing the shape of the body through coiling, expanding, closing, opening, sinking, rising, twisting and untwisting. The range of every movement can be adjusted, making it possible to strike in fashions both obvious and invisible. In time, the practitioner will no longer have to think about punching, kicking, elbowing or any particular technique. Whatever part of the body that touches the opponent will go bang.

Tui- Tui is the Pushing Palm and the 25th of the 64 palms. It begins by absorbing the oncoming attack through raising the front leg and bringing in both hands and knee to the center. After the energy of the attack has been redirected to the ground, the practitioner extends the body into a long stance, thrusting dual fists into the opponent's nose, then quickly whipping the hands outwardly, planting the fore knuckles into the opponent's temple, jaw, eyes or throat. As the opponent stumbles back, a small t-step in an angle is taken to whip the rear hand into a circular grasping motion to prevent the opponent from falling or retreating. A slight downward yanking pressure occurs as the rear foot pulls to the front, angling toward the opponent's side. Then he is forced in the opposite direction of the yank with dual outward curving palms.

a. The first movement of Tui, is excellent for forcing back an opponent who is shooting in, much like a sprawl for a wrestler. However because of the positioning of the technique, if the opponent continues to drive forward, allow him in by rolling around his spine while capturing the neck. Use the split in the legs to scissor him and hold him in a choke from the rear or side. I'm not a fan of grappling in real combat scenarios, yet one should never avoid going to the ground if it's the next best move.

b. With dexterous footwork, Tui is probably one of the best ways to explode through or redirect energy back into the target . Sink the weight into the foot through the hips and fire into the opponent, much like a football player tackling a target. However the key to making this movement work effectively is where you plant your foot as the attacker comes toward you. Be sure to respond to the presented range and step exactly where you need to in order to absorb the energy. If your step is too short, you will topple over. If your step is too big, you will give the opponent too much time to recover. Imitate the size of your opponent's step with your own, which leads to another important strategy referred to as "Ghost Stepping."

c. The last portion of this movement: the t-step to the side with the whipping circle grab, stands alone as an excellent tool. Be sure to practice this movement as well as the rest of the components of this technique separately to obtain extra skills that may prove more useful than the main point of the movement itself. Also practice each component of each technique utilizing different footwork, i.e. a retreating step, crouching step, spinning step or even for ground fighting.

Tuo- Tuo is the Supporting Palm and the 26th of the 64 palms. Tuo begins by making the hips fade back out of range of the attack while sinking the weight in a deep posture as the wrist guides the oncoming punch or kick toward the ground. As the practitioner drops the weight down, the hips circle forward slightly, snapping the wrist upward from underneath the attack, pressing the opponent's limb both upward and backward. In one motion,  the practitioner takes a large step forward to send the opponent flying back with a single palm or takedown.

a. The magic of this movement as with many movements is in the wrist. By learning to control the wrist with the hips, you are able to keep a strong frame of defense while the hands force openings in the opponent's guard. Be sure to keep the elbow inward along the center line so that the elbow will block or deflect the attack if the opponent is faster than you can perceive.

b. This movement works well against hand attacks, but you must have a keen understanding of how the body rises and sinks without compromising your own guard. Still, this movement is an excellent way to send a kicker onto his neck. But if it's a round kick, be sure to use footwork to adjust the foot and body to a position to absorb the impact without cracking a rib. Either trap his leg before it extends at the thigh or just above the knee; or step to the place where he is over extended and capture the leg as the power is mostly exhausted.

c. This movement done with the elbows instead of the wrists is a thing of beauty. Sink the weight atop the target and crush it with the elbow or use the elbow in circular fashion to wrap the attack, allowing you to capture the threat and use an inside elbow to counter as you send him away. This movement can also be done with the shoulder, but only with students of more masterful footwork and sensitivity. Otherwise it's just a fancy way to take a punch to the eye.

Dai- Dai is the Taking Palm and the 27th of the 64 palms. The body extends into a long stance to greet the oncoming attack at its root with both hands. After the attack is stopped, the hands circle while yanking on the back of the elbow and bicep, pulling the opponent into the practitioner's grasp, facing the wrong direction. The arm locks around the neck as the practitioner drops his weight to the floor while pivoting in a circle, which slams the opponent on his head or upper back.

a.In the form, this movement is followed up by a turning strike to the ribs and then and a follow up stepping strike to finish. However, this movement is added in the case the opponent slips his head out of the choke slam. Still, you will find that this follow up counter is very useful for a number of movements as it uses the turning spin as a coil and can deliver damage in the form as a ducking counter followed by a turning attack or back strike.

b. Dai also works great by replacing the choke slam with an elbow strike to the back or side of the neck. Just pull the opponent in with the first part of the movement, and turn with the hips to launch a powerful attack to the blind spot before he can orient himself. Depending on the angle of the initial yank, the elbow can be horizontal or come down vertically.

c. The grabbing circle of Dai is designed to grab the opponent's opposite hand, but it works well on both sides, making it a great counter for multiple possibilities. The stepping grab works well for deflecting a one-two combinations even more effectively than against a single attack. Just step in with the hands extended and the elbows tight to parry or deflect the first movement. As the second movement comes, step back while grasping that arm underneath the elbow and put the opponent into the machine. Truth is that most people in the street are coming with a one-two so it's best to have every movement ready for the possibility.

Ling- Ling is the Leading Palm and the 28th of the 64 palms. While evading toward the side, the lead or rear hand makes a small circle parry with the forearm that transitions into a grasp around the wrist of the oncoming attack. Three quick steps are taken  around the opponent towards the rear while dragging his hand across his body. As the third step hits the ground, the hips yank the opponent in the opposite direction with a horizontal motion while using an explosive half step to strike the center line with a dual palm.

a. This running step can be done with any one number of steps: 1, 3 or 5. 3 steps is ideal for a short burst, but a single step is a great way to trap the opponent's second attack against itself. Just be sure the steps continue to surround the attacker, so that it makes an attack from the rear hand an impossibility. If you allow too much space for your opponent to move, this will become a fancy way of getting punched in the eye.

b. By making the last step of the short burst a kou bu (inward pivot step), you can immediately change direction and confuse the opponent as you come behind him from the opposite direction. This is extremely effective if the pivot step is used at the exact time that the attacker is launching another attack. Use the pivot to dodge and then strike the newly made opening.

c. Ling is excellent if the hand grab is replaced with roping or scarf traps. Hold the rope in both hands and parry the attack while using the bursting step to drag the opponent in a circle.

Zhan- Zhan is the Staining Palm and the 29th of the 64 palms. Zhan meets the oncoming attack with a spearhand while using a horizontal circle in the hips, stepping forward to swing the rear hand into a palm strike that meets with either the attacking arm breaking the limb, or meeting with the jaw, neck or temple. After the palm strike lands, the same striking hand circles underneath the elbow of the opponent's extended hand. While clutching the elbow, a hidden palm buries into the sternum. As the attacker is knocked back, the hand that just landed clutches onto the same extended hand while the practitioner extends into a long stance and releases a finishing reverse knife hand blow to the throat, nose or eyes.

a. Zhan is called the Staining Palm because the initial spearhand does not stop the oncoming attack, but absorbs or invites it in, slightly rolling it around its desired target. This assures the correct range for the countering palm, beit to the head or limb. A spearhand that merely deflects this oncoming attack will void the follow up attacks.

b. Zhan works as an excellent counter to an upper body grapple attempt around the neck. As the opponent reaches forward, use the spearhand on the inside of one approaching hand as the following palm pushes in the same direction on the opposite elbow. By holding a low stance the opponent will be thrown over the lead leg.

c. The last part of Zhan, which is the long stance extending attack can be done separately from the beginning motions. With good timing, the practitioner can actually take a body blow to better grasp the opponent's striking hand as he fades back. This makes it much easier to snap the arm at close quarters, ensuring the hand has reached full extension. It's important to remember that when the range of the opponent changes, so does the limb that comes in contact with the attack. A break normally done with the palm will become a break done with the elbows or shoulders at closer range.

Lian- Lian is the Continuous Palm and the 30th of the 64 palms. This movement begins with a rising spearhand - on the lead hand - that meets the oncoming attack and immediately descends for a central grab atop the wrist or forearm. While grabbing, use three bursting steps forward as the hands continue in a circular motion. The first hand grabs atop the wrist, the second grabs the inside of the bicep trapping the arm and finally as the last step is reached, the first hand is released and extends horizontally forcing the elbow into the throat and slamming the opponent to the side.

a. This technique is not for beginning students as it requires great speed and control of both foot and hand work. Also spacing becomes the greatest issue while accelerating toward the opponent so the timing of this counter attack must be precise. However, variations of the technique can be done to make the technique easier to execute i.e. change the triple-burst step to a single step or stationary step and let the opponent's rushing energy trap himself.

b. This movement is traditionally taught so that the practioner uses three movements while the opponent is still in the middle of one. With practice and understanding of footwork it can be done effectively because it is actually only one motion in three parts. However, when faced with an opponent of equal skill it is important to realize the nature of these circular techniques: it's a moving shield. Much like the chain punch for the wing chun practitioner, this series of circle grabs can deflect numerous oncoming attacks. In fact, many masters prefer to use these three techniques against three oncoming attacks from a speedy attacker.

c.The first two movements of this technique is a trap. When the first movement is pulled down followed quickly by the rear hand, there is no room for the attacker to free his second hand. Using the horizontal takedown is the traditional method of this technique, however, once the opponent's arms have been pinned to his body, it's open season for whatever ever technique you've been itching to use.

Sui- Sui is the Following Palm and the 31st of the 64 palms. First the hips sink backward as the arm directs the strike just out of the way of the mid section. As the energy of the attack has been absorbed, the practitioner uses a half step while raising the opponent's attacking hand with the elbow to create a passage way to the ribs. The forward momentum of the opponent in addition to the half step of the practitioner will create additional force as the back of the hand and rear palm simultaneously smash into the rib cage. Once the opponent has been knocked back, the practitioner takes another step into a long stance while yanking on the opponent with one hand and burying another palm strike into the heart.

a. The initial part of this technique is one of the most handy tools in the Bagua tool box. Using good footwork and sinking motion while guiding the opponent's hand towards the area he intends to strike is one of the most cunning forms of deception. When done properly, it should feel like hitting a loose sheet, that fades away just before you can contact it. This spacing control is crucial because you give the attacker a sense of success that disappears at the last minute. Follow the attack as it retracts and you return his power to him 3 fold.

b. The second part of this attack consists of the rear hand reinforcing the back of the lead hand as it strikes the target. This is very "crouching tiger hidden dragon" and looks epic when you knock someone down. However, the power is not in the two handed strike, but the bowl that is created throughout the back, shoulders and lower back as the two hands meet. This attack can slide into someone's guard quite easily so be sure to practice it with all forms of footwork to access it easily. It should feel like your stomach is inflating your arms and the hands guide that power into a single point on the opponent's body.

c. The sinking weight motion of the following palm can be repeated with good footwork, much like the waves of the ocean. If you miss, keep your weight in the back and you can repeat while stepping forward and gain even more power on the second attack. Just be sure that you are dropping your center line atop his center line to stay a step ahead. If you are using the limbs of the body on any of the attacks of the Thunder Section without the connection to the core, you might as well be doing exotic slap boxing. Everything is connected, everything is twisting and untwising, everything is both central and circular. 

Nian- Nian is the Sticky Palm and the 32nd of the 64 palms. Nian first draws back one one leg, much like a bow and arrow to guide the opponent's attack first down and then immediately upward as you step forward. A three-step bursting step follows, launching the hands toward the face of the opponent: first striking the nose with an inverted spearhand, then striking the eyes with a searching palm and finally striking the heart with a single palm that lands the practitioner in a deep stance. 

a. Nian, as most of Bagua movements, is a move that is reserved for life or death situations. First you, break the nose, then blind the eyes before striking the heart. Do not use this technique in any superficial form of combat or you will go to jail. There, you will have plenty of opportunities to practice footwork to avoid shanks,skanks and pranks, but there are more rewarding paths to work your kung fu.

b. My master Wu Guo Zheng often reminded me that every movement of Bagua is supposed to be done with a blade in the hands. Whether you prefer deer antlers or as I call them Moon Daggers, or any other bladed item, this movement is pretty much unstoppable, unless the opponent has incredible footwork or a shield. 

c. The bursting step forward can also change direction mid step. It takes a bit more practice, but it is well worth it as you can move to any angle or even backward to utilize unpredictable and at times automatic takedowns. If you haven't gotten the bursting step down by now, you need to go back and get it. 

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Gao Bagua Files: Mountain Section

Each of the eight sections of Bagua are named after elements that follow certain characteristics both for the purpose of documenting information and making it easier for practitioners of the future to comprehend. In a word Heaven is direct, Water flows, the Mountain is immovable, Thunder is startling, Wind is un-containable, Fire is consuming, Earth is deceptive and Lake is depth. Each of the 8 elements consist of 8 techniques, totaling to 64 concepts to deal with possible dangers, be they physical or health related. However these movements are just a framework of what the technique actually means: a physical riddle, designed to teach freedom of movement outside of these patterns. Yet to obtain freedom, without mastering restriction, is to obtain chaos without purpose or control. A baby with the strength of a man would only cause damage to itself and loved ones, especially when having a tantrum. The strength of baby is naturally restricted for reasons of safety and responsibility, as it is with Bagua learners who are still learning the patterns.

64 Palms---Mountain Section (17-24)

The Mountain Section is also called the "Way of Countering" for its numerous methods of diverting energy and placing the practitioner in the ideal range to land an attack in a neglected or forced opening. It also specializes in trapping and jamming motions, utilizing a a technique called, "Distant water is unable to quench nearby fire." The mountain is immovable, but this term can be deceptive as many of the techniques move rapidly, fluidly and dexterously to all angles around the opponent. Yet as the body moves, it is completely in one piece, rooted with the ground. Even when the practitioner is bumped between motions, it should be the opponent who stumbles. The part that is unmovable is referring to the core or swivel piece within the center, like the gear of a clock. Whatever pushes against it, immediately receives double the force. Practice of the Mountain section, establishes a clear sensation of this piece that automatically sends a response to the oncoming attack. It is a physical mathematical equation that meets the force with the needed answer to dissolve it.

*The Mountain Section is one step passed the Water Section because instead of only flowing within one's self, it allows you to steal the flow of your opponent. It is also key to understanding the following Thunder Section, which weaponizes every part of the body.

Chuan- Chuan is called the Piercing Palm and is the 17th of the 64 palms. It begins by first recoiling as the hand draws near the body to slow the momentum of the oncoming attack with a circular motion from either top or bottom. After the energy has been diverted, the opponent's arm is raised as the practitioner steps forward with a spearhand that traces under the lead hand. This hides the following grab. As the step is completed, a circling motion in the hips swings the hand into a circle to grab the opponents attacking arm behind the elbow. Like the hidden palm, a half step inserts the palm into the rib and as the opponent falls back, he is again grabbed with the attacking hand. A long stance finishes the opponent with either a back fast, forearm, shoulder, elbow or headbutt.

a. The first movement of Chuan is very adaptive to almost any oncoming or even retreating attack. By circling while stepping, the practitioner is able to use the movement to block, parry, guide, stick, evade, dodge or intercept any movement. Master this step, and you can easily stick to the opponent and capitalize on his weakness.

b. Chuan is the perfect counter when using hook weapons because of it's forward to backward mobility. Use the first movement to hook an attack (even with a long weapon) and as you step in, replace the grab with a hook around the arm or behind the neck to finish.

c. By changing the range of this motion from spearhand to elbowsstrikes, you find the versatility of this energy allows for a new doorway into completely new combat concepts. Using the same movements, keep the elbows close to the body as they become your new offense and defense. It appears almost as a cat cleaning its fur as you step from one trajectory to the other. Also notice the new defensive possibilities that occur when doing the movement backwards.

Ban- Ban is the "Moving Palm" and the 18th of the 64 palms. This movement begins by either escaping a grab or blocking a mid to low attack by dropping the elbow and entering a cross-step, much like the beginning of Kan (Chopping Palm). After the elbow frees the grasp or parries the attack, the rear hand grasps the opponent's hand. Then, the weight of the opponent is knocked back with a long stance toward his back whil twisting the hips to bring an elbow attack from above onto the opponents chest or throat. Next, step back and yank with both hands onto the nearest limb of the opponent to off balance him forward. This whiplash motion can do jarring damage to the internal bones and organs. The yank pulls him into an oncoming fist, elbow or shoulder to the midsection to finish him off.

a. Ban utilizes a countering forward circle motion that redirects the opponent's force straight toward the ground. This attack is ideal against opponents with longer limbs or a long range weapon to take advantage of their distance.

b. Ban is perfect for the saber as the circling motion uses the back of the blade to parry and then comes down atop the opponent with an unblockable counter.

c. The first part of Ban is a coil that avoids danger while gathering power. The following long step can be changed to a kou bu or bai bu (outward inward stepping) to surround the opponent instead of over power the opponent. Try different footwork options to fully understand this handy technique.

Jie- Jie is the Catching Palm and the 19th of the 64 palms. Jie begins by extending into a long stance while the hands make a circle forward to deflect the incoming attack (face or body level). As the attack is circled, the hands grab or catch the opponent before he can retract his attack,and then yanks them down into a deep cat-like posture. Once the opponent stumbles, the practitioner again extends into a long stance still holding the opponent's wrist, and then knocks him back with a palm to the mid section. Before the opponent is knocked out of range, the practitioner takes a full step while the striking hand lifts the opponent's already broken guard to deliver a second, more devastating palm to the mid section to finish.

a. The circling yank at the beginning of this movement is the signature of Jie. By catching him and throwing his guard toward the floor, you expose your opponent to many different attacks. However if the practitioner catches the head and uses the same yanking attack, this becomes a devastating throw. Caution: If the circle is done quickly, the throw becomes a neck snap.

b. The third part of Jie is a full stepping palm attack. By raising the opponent's guard, you clear a pathway to target the heart. An opponent with fast footwork, may move out of range automatically, which is why this movement begins with the catch. However, with good footwork practice, you can out run a fleeing opponent and the footwork can be repeated, making Jie a charging offensive attack. Continue to raise the opponents arm with your elbows, to create a shield for possible surprises and be sure not to exceed 2 or three times. If you haven't gotten him by the third attack, he's about to get you.

c. Jie is generally done by stepping forward then back or just stepping back when the attack comes in. The circling hand deflection is key to covering the preferred footwork. After a good deflection, try stepping toward the opponent's back with a turning or through step. This will combine the yank with centripetal force, which is great for throwing someone through a window.

 Lan- Lan is the Blocking or Barring Palm and is the 20th of the 64 palms. Lan first extends a forward block, much like a slightly slanting, horizontal spearhand that meets the oncoming attack. It is follow by a lower block of the same manner, but sinks the weight downward and inside the opponent's guard. After the movement has been parried and before the opponent is able to retract, the following hand slides inside the lead hand on the inside of the opponent's forearm. using the elbow, turn the waist and open the opponent's guard to the side. This gives you an open shot at an unprotected heart. Then fire double palms into the exposed area, utilizing the force of a half step.

a. This movement is excellent against both fast and powerful attackers. The key is learning to block an attack and sneak the elbow in with the hip. By mastering the elbow hip connection, you can easily sling your opponent to the left or right at will. For the best results, wait for a committed attack, as it makes it almost impossible to block the counter if the opponent's weight is on you.

b. Believe or not, attacking the heart is a friendly version of this attack. Learn to fire this movement to the throat, chin and eyes for more immediately paralyzing results.

c. This movement is taught with a small step forward, but it's great when you're in a standing grapple to use a small step backward. Convert the blocks from forearm range to elbow range and this movement can be used to guide the head of a charging opponent. Be sure to practice sinking your weight as you guide the head to make sure you aren't lifted in the air. Yet, it's best to use evasive stepping to avoid getting inside the opponent's completed circle. A circle whether it be a bagua strike or a grappler's squeeze, can be impossible to break out of because a circle in itself is perfect. Lan is a natural energy that discourages the completion of the opponent's circle, but if you fail to do so, get ready for a little nap.

Ting- Ting is the Stopping Palm and the 21st of the 64 palms. Ting begins by reaching forward into a long stance and retracting back quickly, yanking the opponent off balance. As he is yanked back, the practitioner accelerates forwarded, using energy from both the yank and explosive stepping to stand where the opponent was just standing. Trading places violently causes the opponent to be disoriented while the practitioner has a clear shot at the spine, back of the neck or anywhere else that floats your boat. Finish with a double palm to the back  and then use a through step while latching on to the opponent from the rear, pivot and slam him on his neck.

a. This move, initially is hard to master, but that's because it's teleportation. You can either emphasize the yank or the explosive step and the movement will be effective. If you have a good yank, it's easy enough to step behind him at the same time. If you have a good step, make him miss and step behind him, you won't need a yank. If you don't have a good yank or a good step, don't attempt this move. You will only get beat up and make us all look bad.

b. This movement is ideal when fighting with multiple opponents. Not only does it confuse the attacker, it also confuses the people standing around. Have a circle of friends attack you in succession as you keep using this movement. It will help you orientate yourself and see the results against different attackers, sizes and timings. You'll have to do this movement at least 1000 times, before it's even "pretty good."

c. Mastering this movement with dual knives is an assassin's wet dream. Replace the yanking and strikes with slashes to the wrist while stepping behind the opponent and finishing with stabs to the spine. The takedown then becomes a downward thrusting knife attack that crashes the opponent to the floor.

d. I know most Bagua practitioners don't utilize nunchucks, but I sure like to. The yank can be done with the chain of the nunchucks or you can use a circle parry to the inside as you bash the back of the knuckles or leg. With a good explosive step, you will be able to strike his temple or base of the head while he's still rubbing his throbbing hand.

Fan- Fan is the Turning Over Palm or Flipping Palm and is the 22nd of the 64 palms. The term fan in Chinese actually refers to flipping through pages just as a book. In terms of attack, you are flipping from the bottom to the top of the opponent. As the attack comes in, it is met with a spearhand that immediately slides into a downward grab. While the opponent's arm is still extended, a lower forearm strike attacks the center line in a downward motion. This can be a blow to the midsection or nuts, or it can also be an arm break. After the lower attack is completed, the grabbed hand is yanked and changes positions with the attacking hand in a circular motion. This generates the attacking hand into another strike to the jaw or throat. It should be over by now, but if it's not, circle the lead hand to grasp the elbow and then follow with a hidden palm and finish.

a. Because of the circle motion of Fan, it is much like the chain punch of Wing chun and many practitioners will emphasize its speed and probably miss out on the power. The true key to this movement as in all Bagua movement's is in the legs. Generate all the force from the legs, through the kua and into the arms to crush both the downstairs and upstairs successively. Slow your pony. If your opponent is broken, you don't need to be that fast.

b. The weapon applications are so awesome and should be obvious by now. Stab downstairs, stab upstairs, slice the back of the elbow and grab. Stab the ribs and finish at the throat.

c. Try not to think of things in terms of striking, grabbing, kicking or weapon strikes, but as energy. Then this movement easily becomes the counter to many grabs. As a fighter gets close, use the back of his neck to represent the incoming attack. Then whip your elbow or forearm from his rib cage to his throat, utilizing the same circling motion of Fan. This motion can also be used to counter the clutch and kneeing attacks of a muay thai fighter while creating enough room for your own attack.

Zou- Zou is the Walking Palm and the 23rd of the 64 palms. The Walking Palm begins by sinking the weight in the back while making a small circle in the hips to guide or redirect the opponent's attack slightly to the outside. The attack is then subtly moved out of the way while stepping and the following hand strikes the opening.

This palm strike is actually a style within itself in our lineage that emphasizes closing the gap. We teach it in a form of 25 different steps to teach practitioners to master the space between the fray. The 25 steps all emphasize nullifying the opponent's effective range while landing heavy attacks, breaks and takedowns. I will eventually write out a whole descriptive page on this style, but in the mean time you can get some details from my Martial Arts Novel, "Master Trey's Flawless Outlaws" available on amazon.

In the novel, the style is called the "25 Evasive Steps" practiced by Simon Sayz. I put a lot of combat details and all of the characters are based on styles in our lineage.

Zhuan- Zhuan is the Revolving Palm and the 24th of the 64 palms. The Revolving Palm begins by extending a slanting spearhand to the side to intercept the oncoming attack. As the attack is deflected, plant a kou bu or pivoting step to slide the attack off the practitioner's back while spinning and sticking to the retracting attack. As the opponent's attack return's it is accompanied by the force generated from the practitioner's spin in the form of a turning palm to the ribs. Once the opponent takes the initial jolt of the first attack, his guard is raised in the air by the lead hand as the rear hand extends through the target a second time to finish.

a.  A lot of people think of spinning attacks as dangerous and for good reason because of the dangers involved. However with good footwork and understanding of space, it shouldn't feel like you are spinning, but you are using the weapons in both the front and back of the body. Literally half of the weapons of Bagua are launched from the back so if you aren't turning, you are only doing half of Bagua. Still this takes a rather good understanding of kou bu so I will try to give some details:
When your weight is sunken, Kou and Bai Bu allow you to move fluently to either side, turning the foot outward or inward from the waist not the leg. When an attack comes in at the practitioner, it should be easy to absorb, move with, and stay with the attack as it retracts. With a low and balanced stance, it's easy enough to just ram into the opponent while his attack is still extended. The problem being, if your weight isn't centered properly, you will fall over instead of your opponent...and he will more than likely put it on youtube.

                   i. my suggestion is to practice in half turns at first to get comfortable with the idea of turning. It should feel like the opponent is pushing you into a turn, not a turn on its on might. As you turn, keep the legs tight together at the thigh, so that you can feel the different areas of your body bump into the target. First turn and strike with the back or butt, then with the shoulder, then with the elbow to forearm, to palm and so on. Never take your eyes off your opponent and never stop in mid motion.

b. The turning motion can lead you to the outside or inside of the opponent depending on which limb you counter. Your leg will determine where you land so if you don't aim it to the outside or inside with your step, you will crash into your opponent. If you step to the side, your attack can go through the opponent, which is ideal.

c. Once the turn is mastered, use the fake turn. You can begin a turn and suddenly change direction to make your opponent miss. Or you can just look over your shoulder to lure him into a powerful attack.

The Mountain Section is represented by Amanda in my novel, "Master Trey's Flawless Outlaws." Get the book on amazon to see the motions in action:

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Gao Bagua Files: Water Section

As we move into the next section of movements, it's crucial to remember that the techniques themselves are only patterns of energy designed to illustrate how to disrupt the human body and psyche. They are keys that open possibilities, but they can not be forcefully or unnaturally applied. Think about it like downloading information into your body. When the program is ready, it will happen automatically. If you try to use it mid download, you are going to get server errors. Or you will get served because of your errors.

Just as in grappling, you can't do an arm bar anytime you feel like it, but must be skilled enough to place yourself into a position that the possibility more easily arises. After doing a technique 10,000 times, it becomes much easier to use it at the right time, but never underestimate the determination of the human spirit. These are not only the notes of my own personal research that I have gathered through sparring (heavy and light), security and even real combat, but also the notes of other masters and warriors that I have had the honor of working with, especially credited to my master Wu Guo Zheng. Still you don't need to get good at everything. Find your bread and butter and camouflage it with other techniques, set ups and footwork, footwork, footwork.

64 Palms ---- Water Section (9-16)

The Water Section is also called "The Way of the Hands" because it emphasizes various hand techniques used to deflect, absorb, intercept and manipulate oncoming attacks. The Water Section controls the space between the practitioner and the opponent as a rushing tide, overwhelming when it needs to be, or subtle if it's more suitable for the situation. It also uses splashing damage, which entails yanking the opponent into a strike to double the power. Because of the circular parries and light footwork in this section, it is ideal for both knife defense and knife fighting. As with all the sections, It's crucial to keep the shoulders pressed down, the elbows locked in behind the heart and the kua opened in order to effectively generate the needed effect of the Water Section.

Jie - Jie is the Intercepting Palm and the 9th of the 64 Palms. Utilizing the force of a step (forward, backward or stationary), a circular energy is transferred from the hips (dantian) into the fist in front of the body. By whipping the lead hand into a quick vortex motion that quickly straightens itself, the deflection invites the opponent even closer after his attack has been misdirected. The deflection is similar to the manner wheels of a speeding car can deflect rocks or even a bullet.  Once the opponent's guard has been opened, you can grab either the striking hand or the passive hand to yank him toward your next attack. By extending the weight forward, force is snapped into the opponents ribs with either a fist, shoulder or elbow attack. After the opponent stumbles from the impact, quickly capture the other hand while stepping forward to release a finishing blow.

               a. The Intercepting Palm is not only the counter to the Opening Palm, but the two movements can be used in sequence. Use kai and jie together to parry a combination fighter, allowing the back hand to counter effectively.

               b. Jie is great for creating a lock, but even better for snapping a quick attack with very little effort. You can even allow yourself to take a blow to better capture the attack and then snap the elbow with the forearm as the attack extends. The other hand acts as a lever while capturing the blow and you can hyperextend the elbow even accidentally. Cautious practicing.

               c. Jie works well while yielding weapons and is also one of the most effective methods to opening up a shoulder attack. If you are using a longer weapon and the opponent cuts off your space, use Jie to open his guard, then plant the shoulder on his center of gravity to create space. This places you in perfect range to finish him with the weapon.

Cang- Cang is the Hidden Palm and the 10th of the 64 palms. As the attack approaches, the lead hand grabs the attack using a circular motion, parrying with the back of the forearm and latching onto the back of the elbow. This assures that the opponent is unable to draw his hand back after its extension. Because the hand is outstretched in front of the opponent, the rear hand can follow the blindspot back to the opponent's ribs, hence the name "Hidden Palm." With a quick half-step, the palm can be launched into the blind spot under the opponents arm and as he stumbles, quickly use the striking hand to grab his limb from underneath and yank him into another attack with the lead hand.

             a. Cang's circular motion can deflect a straight attack from either side. If you grab the outside hand, your hidden palm can easily strike the heart, If you grab the inside hand, you can crush the ribs along side of the body.

              b. The yanking of this motion is just as important as the striking. The point is to hide the palm so that even a by stander couldn't identify what happened. Done correctly, this movement can calm an assailant amidst a crowd, without anyone being aware there was a fray. Because you are still holding on to his arm, you can yank him close after striking, and walk away with his arm around your shoulder as if he had a few too many beers.

             c. As with all locks that are done on the arm, they actually represent the head and neck. In extreme circumstances, research how each hand motion can be used as a neck snap or choke.

Kan- Kan is the Chopping Palm and the 11th of the 64 palms. Either to block a low attack or release a hand grab, Kan first sinks the weight (usually a cross step) to shove the elbow toward the weak part of the hold or atop the incoming attack. Once the hand has been deflected, the rear hand simultaneously grabs the attack before the opponent can escape, pulling his weight off balance towards the front. Because the legs are crossed, by uncrossing them(stepping forward), you step to the opponent's rear with enough force to close line him with either a back fist, elbow or shoulder attack, depending on range.

               a. The true secret of this movement lies on the "hand trade", meaning if someone grabs you, you've actually grabbed them. By learning to drop the weight quickly, shoving the elbow towards the weak part of the grasp, you place the opponent's hand into your grip in one fluid motion. This motion also cocks the body like a gun and allows an immediately release into the opponent's unprotected side.

               b. Kan is also very effective against a good side kick. As you sink, circle the elbow atop the incoming attack and as you unwind, your force will shove him off balance before his foot can reach the ground.

              c. As with all movements, this movement can be done both forwards, backwards and to every angle. Be sure to utilize this crossing step in all directions to fully understand the versatility of Kan in combat.

Xiao- Xiao is the Peeling Palm and the 12th of the 64 palms. It extends a spearhand while creating a wheel like motion in the legs, which allows the spearhand to be followed with a chopping motion of the rear hand. The spearhand first misdirects the oncoming attack, either upward or backward, allowing the following hand to smash the guard out of the way toward the ground. Once the opponent's force has been directed downward, the legs push forward as a sprinter and blasts him back with a single palm toward his centerline while the elbow acts as a shield for any surprises.

              a. Xiao is great for deflecting the guard, but if the opponent is too close, the rear hand is excellent as a strike to the face. Be sure to get comfortable using all the ranges to effectively utilize this tool. Also try practice converting the strikes into elbows for extra close encounters.

              b. Xiao also works as a great take down, by closing the gap with the spearhand and allowing the following hand to capture the head and yank him over the lead leg.

               c. Xiao is a safe move to use because it is very easily followed with an upward motion to either the groin or mid section. Sometimes you can miss deliberately to bait the opponent into charging into a finishing movement.

Er- Er is the Double Palm and the 13th of the 64 palms. The spearhand first misdirects the oncoming attack to the side, and while stepping a horizontal fist can be slammed into the opening under the arm at the kidney area. Once the opponent has been stunned from this shot, the hips rotate into another step, sending a twin hammer fist into the heart from the opposite direction. Done quickly this attack strikes the front and back sensitive targets almost simultaneously, diverting all attention away from the striking limb, which is either opened or snapped with a circling motion. By using a thrusting step the opponent is shoved in either the ribs or the temple to finish.

             a. The Double Palm is generated with a figure 8 motion that swirls from one hip to the other in rapid motion. However, this figure 8 motion is an infinite energy source and can be used to do a triple attack or even more. Of course successive striking is a flaw in any style without sufficient planning and timing. Still, if the opportunity is presented, quickly hammer fist from the front, to the back and to the front again (always targeting pressure points and knock out points), until the opponent loses consciousness, much like a boxer finishing off a dazed fighter.

             b. The Double Palm lends itself to paired weapons quite effectively because of the nature of its two-handed successive attack. Anything from double sticks, daggers to nunchucks can be used to intensify damage with this whipping energy.

             c. Though the transference of energy is generally emphasized from the waist into the hands, the energy can also be transferred into the legs, allowing for two successive sweeping attacks, attacking first the lead and then rear leg as it's lifted.

Hu- Hu is the Tiger Palm and the 14th of the 64 palms. First step to the side using a T-step motion while gathering the force into both hands, lifting the fists in front of the face while twisting upward to parry the oncoming attack. After the movement has either been parried or dodged, drop your weight, palms facing outward using a clawing motion toward the side of the face of the opponent. Use a small half step to gather enough force for a second clawing strike that will finish off the opponent.

                a. Although this movement traditionally is a clawing attack, it works just as effective, if not more effective as a downward strike with the palms or elbows. Because the weight first lifts the opponent up with the block before dropping, his body is already falling, making a clawing attack to the face possibly a bit difficult to get off. Also clawing is gross. Who wants DNA stuck behind the fingernails?

                b. Because of the great force this movement develops, it's excellent to disarm a pole weapon. It can also be used as an attack with a staff weapon or anything held between two hands.

                c. As the hands rise up they twist and when they come down they twist into the claw attack. This twisting movement, in addition to bursting footwork is excellent for escaping various grabs on the wrist and upper body.

Duo- Duo is the Contending Palm and the 15th of the 64 palms. This movement is lead with a running spearhand that throws the opponent behind the practitioner in three short explosive steps. As the final step of the sprint is reached, the opponent is thrown behind, while the practitioner turns around in the opposite direction, using centripetal force to strike the lower spine with dual palms.

                   a. The hardest part of this movement is the footwork. Taking three steps while the opponent delivers a single strike is challenging, but even if you miss the grab, offensively you are placed in a better position for another attack. Also if the opponent throws a committed strike, you can throw him behind using only a single step.

                    b. If you master the three step burst, you don't need a spearhand or any movement to make contact. You can simple make him miss and be behind you if you utilize this step while he is in mid combination. When you reach his back, an attack to the spine is not the only option. Kick out the leg from the back of the knee or strike to the back of the neck. Be sure to stay close enough to the opponent that you can feel where he's going. Wherever he decides to move, move swiftly to his blind side and deliver a finishing blow.

                    c. Using a single step, this movement works beautifully against a one-two counter. Get adjusted as you parry the jab and step passed the second incoming punch. You will land in perfect position for a back elbow to the areas of preference.

Huan- Huan is the Enclosing Palm and the 16th of the 64 palms. The spearhand deflects the movement upward briefly as the following hand drops down in a circular motion with the elbow, trapping the arm in an arm bar. After snapping the arm, step forward and launch an attack to the exposed ribs. Then, yank the opponent toward you to drop him with an overtop elbow to the throat (Covering Palm) If he's still standing, follow up with the sweep on the leg, while throwing his corpse in the opposite direction.

                    a. This movement is actually a combination of 5 movements and any one of the movements is enough to end the fray. Use what is needed for the appropriate moment and let the nature of the battle lead you to what should happen next. Every movement is just a key for an opening and once you are in, the house is yours. That being said, the finishing sweep movement, is great for when people rush in at you.

                     b. The beginning arm bar/break, can be followed with any number of holds, strikes or escort movements. For complete control, following the arm bar, step forward and wrap the lead hand around the opponent's neck. This will place you in a great position to use the target as a human shield so you can perceive the environment or avoid extra aggressors.

                      c. All of the movements within Huan are generally seen as grabs and holds, but every movement can become anything. By converting the movements into strikes, you will find these circular techniques are great as a striking combination to get into a closer range while parrying multiple dangers.

Note: The Water Section is represented by Ayuko in my novel "Master Trey's Flawless Outlaws" Get it on amazon:


Sunday, September 25, 2016

Gao Bagua Files: Heaven Section

Sorry it's been a while since I've touched up on my blog, but different seasons come with different tasks and adaptation is necessary to keep any form of momentum. We must maintain every talent within us for the betterment of the world, yet it's foolishness to forcefully use a tool that we may favor over the tool that is needed.

Entering the middle of my new training, I see that many of my students, kung fu brothers and supporters  all over the world are in need of a map of the techniques. With over 2000 movements to instruct and illustrate, I will try to be concise, yet detailed while providing a few pointers on dealing with fighters of other styles as a guideline. Of course the effectiveness of every art is more related to the individual than the mechanics, but the right individual with skilled mechanics, can be a dominating force.

64 Palms --- Heaven Section (1-8)

The Heaven Section is also called the "Way of Striking" because it emphasizes hitting and not being hit from all 8 possible trajectories. Any style can hit, but in Bagua every hit is a step. These basic motions teach the connection between foot, waist and hand that allow you to impact your opponent with the force of the ground. Just as a sprinter gains all of their force from the ground before launching into a sprint, the Heaven Section gives structured basics to allow you to put the power of your sprint into the form of a palm, fist, elbow, shoulder, knee, foot or head strike. Through timing and footwork practice, continual strikes can be done easily to overwhelm your opponent or fend of multiple attackers.

1. Kai- Kai is the Opening Palm and the very 1st technique of the 64 palms. In its most basic form it opens the attack with the forearm - connected to the waist - in a circular motion, exposing the ribs, chin or throat of the opponent. Using short bursting power, the attacker can be disabled or off balanced in order to land a more effective follow up attack.

              a. Kai is excellent for escorting or wrist, elbow, shoulder locks and breaks. By adjusting the size of the circling motion, damage can be aimed to the desired weak point.

              b. Kai is effective at dealing with any form of attack with well timed footwork. Be sure to utilize combinations after parries to ensure reaction fluency and adjust for positions on the inside and outside of the opponent, long short range, etc.

              c. Kai is the first of the 64 palms and often seen as the most crucial palm because all the palms grow from within it.

2. Peng- Peng is the Extorting Palm and the 2nd of the 64 palms. This movement uses angular stepping to put force against an opponent from the side. By using a T-step, you are assured to be a step ahead as the opponent attempts to adjust to the awkward angle. As you step to the side, a spearhand is thrust toward the opponent's eyes to hide your footwork. When he flinches or covers his eyes, it's easier to take a fluid step to behind him by turning the waist and pulling on the back of his elbow for an attack.

                a. Peng is a great counter to change positions with your opponent, but it works best against the attacker's second or third strike in succession. It can be done against a jab, yet the timing is so precise that it's hard to classify as the best movement against a quick strike. This is best for committed techniques.

                b. Peng is excellent for knife and sword fighting. By placing any sharp or pole weapon in your hand, it becomes obvious how the subtle footwork allows you to make effective slices and stabs while staying out of the way of danger.

                c. Peng is traditionally defensive, but even better as an offensive attack. Initiate a strike while stepping in an evasive angle and it will put you in a better position for a follow up.

3. Dun - Dun is the Dropping Palm and the 3rd technique of the 64 palms. This movement also uses evasive stepping (angular or T-stepping), but pulls the weight of the opponent through the ground. Use a T-step to the side, while doing an upward spearhand. The upward force will put the opponent slightly on his toes. Then, yank down, keeping the elbows close together while pulling on the back of the elbow joint. As he kneels, shove his center line that would be positioned at the temple, neck or side of the body.

 a. Dun is an excellent defense to teach to women to prevent purse snatches. By dropping their weight, a would-be-thief, can  be knocked down by the surprise of the force alone.

                b. Dun is also an excellent hammer fist if the opponent is too quick to grab. Strike down on the pressure points of the forearm and elbow or slam down on the side of the neck.

                c. Substitute the vertical spearhand for a vertical elbow to parry the attack from underneath or crash into the chin with an undercutting elbow.Then follow up with a downward elbow of the opposing hand, to create jarring throughout the equilibrium.

4 Tan- Tan is the Searching Palm and the 4th technique of the 64 palms. This movement forces the opponent to defend by asserting a spearhand toward the nose, throat or eyes. As the guard is raised, yank the opponent toward you while simultaneously striking the face with the other hand to off-set the neck. As the opponent is disoriented, use a forward step while sinking the weight in the back to strike the heart.
                 a. Tan is one of the fastest attacks of the 64 palms and is extremely effective at disabling speedy opponents.

                 b. The leg switch is tricky at first, but crucial at creating space to release more power. It's much like winding up a pitch without the need of additional space.

                 c. Tan can be repeated and is great for tangling and trapping chain punchers.

5. Li- Li is the Twisting Palm and the 5th of the 64 palms. This attack steps (T-step) against and toward an outward strike, meeting it with great force, but twisting the attack at the joint instead of deflecting it. Once the force has been stopped, the following hand circles around to snap the joint and then shove the opponent out of position.

                   a. This movement is excellent to defend against any side attack with a weapon by stepping in toward the source of the attack, to cut of the power at the root.

                   b. It's unrealistic to use this against a boxing attack with an extended arm because of the shortness of the boxer's hook. Utilizing  the same motions, the elbow can be used to deflect instead and then use the following elbow in circular motion to snap the arm out of joint. It takes more skill, but using the elbow for locks while connecting to the waist, is far more realistic and effective in a close quarter's clinch.

                   c. Li is a great counter, but even better on offense done with an outside knife hand, hammer fist combination, or elbow combination. Learn all the ranges to understand the nature of the attack.

6. Tiao- Tiao is the Picking Palm and the 6th of the 64 palms. This movement extends a spearhand that rolls under the opponent's force with a step, raising under the armpit and placing him on his toes. Once the arm has been raised, the constitution of the ribs has lessened and they can be easily broken with a stepping palm strike. After striking the ribs, grab the loose hand and yank the opponent toward you to deliver another strike to the already shattered ribs.

                     a. The most crucial part of the picking palm is raising the opponent up onto his toes. This is done by raising the hips and shoving the opponent of his center of gravity upward, using his armpit as leverage. If the opponent is too much taller than you, you will not be able to knock him off balance upward, so more forward motion is necessary, which may cause differentiation in the following finish.

                     b. The grab, strike, grab, strike pattern is a glimpse into the Water Section (9-16). Fluency of being able to roll an attack into a grab will be greatly rewarded as you can even prevent your opponent from falling to the ground before you are done with him.

                     c. The Picking Palm can be performed more subtly, just raising your opponent's aim high enough to make him feel like he barely missed. By glancing off your forearm, a small pocket leading to the ribs can be made and the momentum of the opponent will give you twice the force in your attack. It's best to meet that amount of force with either the elbow or shoulder.

7. Gai- Gai is the Covering Palm and the 7th of the 64 palms. The hands make a frontward whirling motion while stepping forward, placing any attack into the vortex of energy that leads to a grab. Once the attack has been captured, use the hips and legs to yank the opponent toward you while running through him from over head with the elbow landing on the throat.

                      a. Gai appears as a palm attack, but the elbow is the emphasis unless the opponent is much larger than you or is slightly out of range.

                      b. Gai can also be a hold when the elbow is trapped against the throat. By bending him over the knee with the elbow on the throat while holding a low stance he will be pinched in an off-balance position while gasping for air. This may prove effective for interrogation, but isn't effective for escorting as the opponent's only next step is to the floor.

                      c. The initial yanking of the first motion is more than enough to send an opponent flying into a nearby object. Position yourself properly for a good yank and you can skip the second movement altogether.

8. Chan- Chan is the Wrapping Palm and the 8th of the 64 palms. The weight sinks down as a knife-hand blocking downward on an incoming low attack. Once grazing against the attack, circle the hand from out to in with the palm facing outward. By clenching tightly and keeping the posture low, the opponent's hand will be trapped by your body weight allowing for an unblockable counter. Step through with a full step for a knock out strike with the fist, elbow or shoulder or a neck snap depending on the angle of the off-balanced opponent.

                         a. Practicing fluency of Chan is necessary before it can be effective in any terms. Yet once it's been mastered, it's excellent for disarms and controlling an attack with a knife.

                         b. This movement works almost automatically with mid and low kicks once the footwork and sinking have become second nature.

                         c. By yielding a small knife while doing this motion, you ensure a clean cut or stab against your opponent with minimal chance of counter.

Read my novel "Master Trey's Flawless Outlaws" to see this style in action by my representative Celia. She uses all the movements in real combat scenarios against impossible odds. Get it on amazon:

Sunday, May 15, 2016

A Season of Difficulty

As I watch my sons grow and develop, naturally my martial arts enters into a new season of understanding. It's become quite obvious that both marriage and raising children offer unique challenges that bring forth a form of maturity that cannot be gained from anywhere else. Every trial we overcome in both our art or our lifestyle will lead to a new depth of growth that brings us one step closer to who we desire to be. Unfortunately, it's easiest to attempt to neglect the message within each trial, convincing ourselves that the discomfort is not what we desire and we end up closing a door that will in turn delay needed development.

Whether our development offers itself in the form of marriage, martial arts, career or even prison, the underlying message will never change. In fact, as a child you will be dealing with the same issues that you will be dealing with as an adult; a repeating test that is attempting to mold the careful listener. Our society as a whole continues to promote comfort as an objective or lifestyle, which is indirectly related to the decay of the concept of responsibility.

During my work day, I generally have to translate 3-4 newspaper articles from Chinese to English, taking a tax on my mental dexterity. Still, I manage to organize my martial arts training program to ensure that both I and my students are continually making gains that will bring Bagua to life. Much like a scientist, I spend vasts amounts of time researching, testing and retesting ideas to make the most complex of ideas simple for the new learner. In order to promote this project, a new form of education has been revealed to me that will consist of my every skill from writing, music, film, dance etc. Any realistic person would say that the task is impossible, but I have never had much in common with people who refer to themselves as "realistic."

When I get home, my children greet me at the door and it's time to play, teach and train them for the next 4 hours or so. Then like any family, I put the kids to bed and we go over how much money we need and don't have, attempting to not let worry and doubt steal the joy from my precious 2 hours of alone time with the wife. I go to sleep, wake up and repeat; praying for the strength not to grumble or complain about the job that seems to be a divider between myself and my dream.

When I was single, working at a distasteful job was always a much shorter season. It was easy to pick up the needed skills and then use them to find something more suitable or at least related to my passions. Just as in the past, I was able to train the techniques that were more related to the way I wanted to fight, move and develop. Yet, about 5 years ago my master Wu Guo Zheng gave me a surplus of information in the form of a completely new system: Xing Yi. Now my favorite training regime has been completely interrupted with this new responsibility.

Of course I could choose to minimize my training time in Xing Yi, just the same way I could minimize my time with my family in order to focus on my desired development. But as a father, husband and successor, I have responsibilities that far out way my feelings for the current situation. I've always trusted the path God has placed before me, even and especially when it feels like it's moving in the opposite direction.

Even though I trained Xing Yi everyday of the first year, it felt completely unnatural. The positions made me feel awkward, unstable and clumsy. It was as if every single thing about it pointed to my weaknesses. Around the same time, I was beginning my translation job that was also quite challenging. Not only did I find it difficult to translate the terms of Chinese into English, but the isolation of being locked up in a tiny office was completely contradictory to the previous Warfox lifestyle.

Every so often I would ask God, "How did I go from the stage in front of thousands of fans to this little bitty office?" And predictably God responded by piling more and more translations onto my desk. My boss even began dumping law papers onto my desk, which was like a nightmare inside of a nightmare. Then after working for hours on end to give them the best quality of translation, my boss would respond, "This is terrible, do it again."

"Wow." I would say to myself right before hitting the roof of the building for a Xing Yi workout. It's ok when someone tells me I'm doing a bad job when I'm not really using any effort. Yet, when you are doing your best and someone tells you it's not even satisfactory, it can put you in it did a few times. After having a hard day, a nice workout on the roof was generally more than enough to raise my spirits, but guess what? My Xing Yi was terrible too. Not only were my workouts not helping me relax, they were now adding to my frustration and feeling of helplessness.

The following year of my job, it wasn't getting any easier. I had searched online everywhere for another job, but there was nothing available (which was the first time ever in Taiwan). I couldn't leave because I knew that there were three lives literally depending on me. Every action I took, would have a dramatic effect on others. The pressure of the job, plus the fact that my son was now entering into the "terrible twos," was tearing away at any chance of rest and peace.

At the same time, I was watching the world fall apart as strange happenings began to occur all over the planet. New terrorist groups, missing planes, be-headings and on and on. Being a martial artist, I was able to see a pattern in the dangers and I attempted to give a warning to my friends about what was the events were leading to. The end result was I lost all of my friends.

Completely isolated not only physically, but spiritually, my mind couldn't rest and I had no where to go. I asked God, "What am I supposed to do?" The next day I had the strangest sensation come over me. There was a story I could see in my head that was eight books long. I could see every detail in my mind, but was intimidated to try to write it. It was something I had never really considered: a fictional story. After a week, the story began to expand so much in my mind that it could no longer be contained. It exploded into my finger tips on the key board as I attempted to keep up with the images projecting in my brain.

Of course I could only write in between the translations on my desk, which means that I had to begin translating even faster. Miraculously, I managed to finish all the translations in the morning so that I would have the whole afternoon to work on my novel. Even though my boss still slightly grumbled at my work, I wasn't bothered by it as much. I realized that it was all a part of my training. I was supposed to be unappreciated in this season of my life. I was supposed to be abandoned. I was supposed to be frustrated with my training.

Actually, my third year of Xing Yi started feeling different. There were new sensations now in the places of my original discomfort. It felt..almost...good. Not only that, my Bagua had been enhanced dramatically. I could see that everything was leading some where, but of course, my Xing Yi still sucked. It just sucked a bit less.

In addition, doing the translations plus writing and editing of my novel made me twice as tired when I got home. Yet, playing with the kids and spending time with the family became the only fun I had in the day. Watching cartoons as my son asked me questions about Batman or Bruce Lee, let me feel like a child again. I also came to realize that the entire point of being a father is to sacrifice everything for your family. I'm no longer me, I'm them. I'm everything they need for whatever occasion and what I want comes last.

At first it sounds kind of negative, just like the positions in Xing Yi are awkward or painful at first. But by being a father and a husband, I lose myself to become something better than myself. I unify with God as a source of life. When my wife is upset and angry about something, it's not my job to give her a reasonable solution (as men often try to do). It's my job to overwhelm her frustration with assured and encouraging love. Every natural response to defend myself is incorrect. It's not about being right anymore. It's about being love.

This epiphany changed everything. Two years later, Xing Yi became my new best friend. I still have a long way to go, but I'm really happy about where it's going. My book is already published (Master Trey's Flawless Outlaws), I'm working on the screen play and sequels and my boss loves me. In addition, translation has opened all of these new doors that I never had access to before. It even helped me to translate all of the movements within our lineage, which I thought would be a life long project.

I'm about to enter into a new season. I can feel it in the air; a harvest for many years of planted seeds. The last few years have been a truly difficult season, but all seasons must come to an end. I'm glad it's over and I know that there are new challenges within the new season, but I wouldn't have gained so much strength without the benefit of this crucial trial. Jesus knows what we need even though we don't. That's why He's God and I'm just me. But I'm definitely a much better me now.

P.S. My Xing Yi doesn't suck anymore LOL.  

Monday, May 2, 2016

My New Martial Arts Fiction Series

Firstly, let me apologize because it's been a long time since I've been able to leave some training tid-bits, advice or inspiration in here, but there are seasons for all times and currently I'm involved in my new series

Master Trey's Flawless Outlaws

This is a first book of eight that is directly based on the arts that my master Wu Guo Zheng (吳國正) and the Xin Zhu Jin Yuan Bagua Association (新竹錦園八卦掌協會)  have passed on to me.

 Each character in the story is fiction, but roughly based on the martial arts style they represent (and a few of my dope friends and students), making a fun-filled adventure as they enter deep into a mysterious underground world packed with dangerous foes.

This is just the beginning of the creation of a new martial universe that has been in the works for quite sometime. I can't give it away, but there is a lot more involved than just the novels. Yet, by picking up every piece of the Warfox puzzle, you will be able to see a much more fantastic picture of Bagua as well as your own training. At heart I'm just an educator, but why shouldn't it be entertaining?

Anyway, after I handle a few more projects in the next few weeks, I will get back to trying to write blogs more regularly.

As the world grows darker, our light shines brightest so jump in to what God has for you with both feet and start shining. Love you guys, stay tuned.....oh yeah and get the book on amazon. You'll love it.