It always amuses me when I find out what people think kung fu at the shaolin temple, or any temple, was like.
Walking the Circle has Subtle Applications!
Usually these thoughts come from fellows who find their way into my martial arts school. They grill me mercilessly, then, no matter what I have told them, they tell me that they want to go to a temple and sit at the feet of the masters. They want to swing swords with the monks and experience all the bizarre training routines that will enable them to beat up elephants and dragons, and pound their fists into unbreakable lumps of death.
Now, the truth of the shaolin temple is this: it had to support itself. That means the monks had to feed themselves, and this means every day.
Yes, they did martial arts, but, only after a day in the fields, or after building and repairing the walls and roofs, and even after sweeping up the leaves.
And, yes, the martial arts they did study after that were absolutely incredible…wing chun, preying mantis, hung gar, and so on.
But they worked before they did the martial arts.
Now, do you think the fellow who comes into my school, who usually isn’t working and who didn’t get through school, is going to have the stick-to-ivity, the necessary amount of muscles and concentration, to make it through the daily work at the Shaolin temple?
Is he going to be able to fix picks and shovels that broke? Repair the brickwork of crumbling walls? Get up on that roof and stop the rain from pouring in?
Is he going to be able to saunter twelve miles to the local village to sell vegetables from the temple gardens, and walk back, and then feel like doing a three hour workout in the martial arts?
And, is he going to be able to pick up a sword and fight bandits successfully?
Is he going to have the ability to help sick people from the neighboring village?
Is he going to be able to listen to long (boring?) lectures about religion?
Is he going to be educated enough to study the sacred scrolls,and maybe copy them for future monks?
I hope you see what I am getting at here. The real kung fu of the Shaolin Temple was more than just a good work out, it was a commitment of soul that most people would be in awe of…if they could even understand it.
Pa Kua Chang, or Bagua Zhang as some describe it, is a weird martial art where in one participatings in walking the circle till one discovers the reality of one self.
Like a puppy chasing his tale till he discovers Buddha.
Walking the Circle has Subtle Applications!
Like Black Sambo forming leopards into … liquid gold.
Like just what is the race of guy racing to?
Dong Hai Chuan was a likable chap with a fascination for martial arts. He engaged in Shaolin Kung Fu, so the tale goes, and reached a point where he was so really good he took to the road and started roaming, seeking instructors able to instruct him more.
His search led him throughout the Wudan Mountains of rural China, back where the mystic sanctuaries stood, and legends had it that old expertise existed in pure design. His search led him to a rare religious sect whose specialists thought that one could possibly find out the reality of the universe by … walking the circle.
So Dong walked the circle, day in day out, in search of his divine nature. For 9 years he walked the circle, and one might well picture the taunts of passersby.
“Examine the old man chasing his shadow!”
“Hey buddy! Place it on a straight line and you could get somewhere!”
“Har de har har!”
Yet, rain or shine, under blazing sunshine and during freezing snow, Dong carried on his trek, seeking the honest truth of himself.
At last, some 9 years into his voyage, he stated to the monks of the mysterious sect that … wasn’t it odd that … the tree he was walking around appeared to be chasing him? That the tree in fact appeared to bending over?
Was the tree bending over? Or was something in his mind bending over? Or was something in his mind just coming to be … unbent?
The monks eyed one other, and one lightly put forward, “An additional 2 years.”
So on went Dong, round and round, circle after circle, nose after tail. And possibly this is where he integrated his Shaolin with the never-ending walking of the circle. Probably this is where the circle came to be imbued with the art of violence, and came to be not simply a repository of religious fanaticism. Maybe this is where the creative mixture of self with the fanatical quest of God comes to be … whatever it comes to be.
Did Dong at last manage to catch the reality of himself?
No reference of ‘the bolt out of the blue’ striking the formerly young lad is made in the histories. Just what is understood, nevertheless, is that he attained a high degree of skills, that he was so profound at circle walking that he had the ability to defeat the Emperor’s bodyguards, and come to be main teacher of that celebrated ‘clan.’ And there are tales of him fading away under the attacking hand, of tiing up mighty warriors in fragile knots simply to observe them fall, of consulting his followers even after passing.
Bolt out of the blue or proficiency, this author thinks that skills is the more valued. However, that stated, we visit the heart of the fable.
We recognize not whether Dong discovered himself, however we do recognize that an individual who walks in a circle is insane. Such purposeless endeavor, specifically in this godless earth, is the heart of insanity. Yet … is insanity not simply a characteristic that others can not discover? Does not one have to go ‘in’ sane to discover real sanity?
The guy who pounds his palm upon a stone, hour after hour, day in day out, year after year … does he make powerful the hand? Or at last divine that the universe genuinely is built of space?
That young child who will come to be old doing his kung fu forms, does he battle hordes and legions in his mind? Or does he exhaust his mind of all hordes and legends?
That acorn … will it truly come to be an oak?
The acorn could fall down a deserted gopher hole, and it could root into fertile ground … however it is time that makes the mighty oak, and the infinite and insane wish to grub into the ground … merely to discover the sky.
We are all grubs … however have we discovered the earth? Will we see the heavens?
Trust Dong Hai Chuan for the answer to that one, yet only ask if you are walking the circle, if you are pursuing yourself with Pa Kua Chang, round and round, year after year, breath after breath.
The writer walked the circle, did Pa Kua Chang for 2 years, till human beings started to bend over, lightening filled his legs, and energy stripes barber poled out his arms … you can easily discover his Pa Kua Chang at Monster Martial Arts.
Many years before I did learn pa kua chang crowd walking methods, I was reading a martial arts journal, I think it was Black Belt, and I discovered this anecdote involving Morihei Ueshiba. O Sensei would go to different towns and put on Aikido exhibitions. I have no doubt the exhibitions were spectacular, however the thing that inspired the heck out of me was the story his uchideshi (inside student) provided involving O Sensei’s crowd walking procedure.
Learn Pa Kua Chang Crowd Walking
When traveling across a train station (for example) O Sensei would just walk straight forward, emanating his chi, and the masses would part. Individuals might turn and stare at this imperious titan, then the masses would close up. The Uchi deshi, loaded with trunks and bags, would struggle through the closing people.
The thing that awed me about this relating of occurrence was not that a man could easily emanate effective chi and sweep back a masses, but that it reminded me of my very own crowd walking experiences.
When I was in eleventh grade I used to love to run through groups. I might be late for class, or simply playing tag with someone, and unexpectedly something would come over me and I would be in complete sprint. The halls would certainly be jam-packed, and I would be turning on the nickel, hurrying full tilt, not able to be tripped (and a couple of the teenagers might make an effort). Young women might gasp and also offer little shrieks as I ran full tilt towards them, then turned and spun around them. The ground resembled a magnet to my feet, I never ever slipped, it was like I was flash, yet with magic glue on my soles.
O Sensei’s crowd walking blew me away, however it was so different from mine.
Radiating chi like he was a walking heating system. It was the start of my martial arts calling, and control of chi in such splendid way was yet a dream. Still, I had my very own strategy.
As time went on I obtained the capability to emanate chi, though not to the degree of O Sensei, yet, remarkably, I started to hold my very own procedure up as perhaps not so scruffy.
The key, of course, was in engaging in Pa Kua Chang, in walking the circle. Especially, I would focus on walking EXTREMELY slowly. I would feel the chi go up and down the legs, and I started to comprehend a few things.
One, there was even more finesse in my strategy than simply turning it on and blasting individuals back.
Two, Pa Kua Chang in fact didn’t instruct individuals to crowd walk like I was doing it. Classic Pa Kua Chang was more into tricky hands, and not into fine tuning the walk itself. Walking slowly, concentrating the mindset on the generation and control of chi in the legs, made lightening in the legs. And this lead to the next understanding.
Three, I could guide individuals ways to walk through crowds ten times more effortlessly and effectively, and there was a WHOLE LOT more pleasure in the teaching.
Chi blasting a group is entertaining, however it is pretty much a bully strategy.
Understanding ways to worm through the people at high speeds thrills the creative imagination, it is subtle, it needs more entire body method. And this last is fascinating, and actually essential to the expanding martial artist.
Contrast it to a musical instrument. Chi blasting such as O Sensei did is comparable to the opening chords of’ 2001: A Space Odyssey.’ (Thus Spoke Zarathustra). Crowd walking such as I explain and explain with my particular Pa Kua Chang resembles playing Flight of the bumblebee.
One is spectacular, the other is elaborate. One is outstanding, the other is subtle. One is overpowering, the other is shading subtleties of hue unto infinity.
And, of course, when it concerns crowd walking martial arts methods, one should study both. Have the ability to be subtle, and blast at a second’s notice.
This page has a real short cut to learn Pa Kua Chang method for crowd walking.