Category Archives: walk the circle

The Sin of Martial Arts Pride

My martial arts hubris, and how I overcame it

Guest blog by Alaric Dailey

In my other articles I started that my original karate dojo may have been the best thing that ever happened to me.  If you haven’t read them you might find them interesting, especially the ones on Dojo-kun and Do vs Jitsu.

butterfly pa kua chang

Click here to learn Butterfly Pa Kua Chang

 
Among other things that I rarely see in other schools, each belt test consisted of kata, punching and kicking, hojo-undo etc, but they also included reading a book and a verbal book report.  The very first test was, like many styles, a yellow belt.  I will never understand having a rainbow of colors that DON’T get darker as they go…

That first test was quite an eye opener for me though, Sensei had added his own requirement, because he was not about making money, nor was he interested in having half-hearted students, nor students that would leave.  He wanted people that were going to forever be changed, and continue to practice for the rest of their lives.

The requirement he added?  Go to another martial arts school, and take a minimum of one class with them.  Give a verbal report.

This requirement, was a bit baffling, why take anyone just starting in your school, and require them to go try another school and possibly lose them?  Because it makes sure you are in the art that you will stick with.

For my yellow belt test, I took a 3 day introductory course to Tai-Chi, knowing nothing about any other martial art I made the mistake to trying to compare it to what I knew.  To give you some idea of what kind of apples and broccoli I was trying to compare, I was taking Pangainoon, and the first form you learn is Sanchin and the school I went to was doing Yang Tai Chi.

I made all sorts of uninformed, biased assumptions, I loved karate with a blind passion, and wanted to impress upon my sensei how much karate meant to me.  Thus I took the classes looking for what I perceived to be flaws and weaknesses in the art such as

* no application of technique – never did I get any instruction of “this is a block, this is a strike, this is what you are defending against”
* the stance was too wide – I was not given any explanation for a neutral bow, or why it would be a good stance.  In my mind Sanchin was the ultimate fighting stance.
* No power in their techniques – I had no understanding of chi power, even though Pangainoon teaches it, I hadn’t really even gotten an introduction.

I wilfully and with eyes open wide walked into a trap that ensares so many others.  I blinded myself to the benefits of other arts.

I was lucky that I didn’t entirely discount everything I learned. I continued to keep in contact with the Sifu, and shortly before he left for China, I had the opportunity to witness him do Tai-chi very fast, it was amazing.  Suddenly all the soft flowery techniques appeared to have power, and were obvious as to blocks and strikes.  At this point, I had also had enough Pangainoon to understand some of the techniques and chi.

I was lucky for many reasons, I was lucky that my Sensei had the confidence to send us other places. I was lucky that I choose a school that was so different that I was forced to re-evaluate what I was learning (even if it was only in the back of my mind).

Luck aside, my own belief that my karate style was the only “good” style, quickly crumbling down.  I wouldn’t have been able to overcome this false pride, had I not had these opportunities.

If you run a school, you will do your students a massive favor if you encourage them to go practice with other schools.

If you are a martial artist of any style, you can benefit from swallowing your ego and practising at other schools, especially those that are radically different than yours.  For example, if you do Tai-chi, you might want to try a boxing school, if you do Wing Chun, try Judo or Jujitsu, etc.

You never know, you might might new friends, you might learn something new.  As I often say “more bodies, means more opportunity to learn, especially when they are doing something other than you are doing”.

Alaric Daily began practicing the martial arts in 1992. Martial Art she has studied include Pangainoon, Karate, Kenpo, Wing Chun, Krav Maga, Judo, Jujitsu, Aikido, Bagua Zhang, and Tai Chi Chuan

Walking the Circle in Pa Kua Chang to Enter Insanity

Pa Kua Chang and Walking the Circle

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

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.