Abstract training of martial arts

Martial arts training is by its very definition an abstract of what real violence, a real fight condition is like. What we are attempting to do in training is attempt to take the chaotic whole of combat and dissect it into smaller, more edible pieces of that greater pie. This is where an art such as Baguazhang shines.

One aspect of the art of baguazhang is its cohesive look at the training process itself – the act of modelling parts of the whole. The book from which baguazhang gets its namesake, the Yijing – the book of changes, is also an attempt to look at the chaotic whole of all aspects of the universe and then its distillation into understandable aspects. Baguazhang, the martial art, continues this process. Baguazhang was known since the days of is founder, Dong Haichuan, as an art based primarily in principle. There are principles to training and there are principles to fighting and there are principles of movement. Dong’s early students were taught this look at the essence, or over-arching principles of the art. Since his students all had experience in martial arts and fighting, he didn’t have to have as much of a beginner’s centric set curriculum. He instead could concentrate on the bigger concepts and how they break down. He could see the whole and understand it, therefore he could teach it well in all forms, he could fit it into any vase and expand from there.

If the Dao is the whole and the Yijing is the basis from which to understand its nature, then you could also use the analogy that struggle is alike the Dao and the art of baguazhang is alike the yijing, a basis from which to understand its nature. Yet the nature itself of struggle, the mind, training and movement lends itself as a very unique starting point from which to understand the Dao itself.

More later.

About george

George Wood is the head instructor of Zong Wu Men Internal Fighting Arts, based in Northern Virginia. He teaches the martial arts of Baguazhang and Xingyiquan.
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5 Responses to Abstract training of martial arts

  1. Nick says:

    I had to read it a couple times, but I get it. Bagua is the Yijing of fighting. I’ve always thought of Bagua as a human representation of yijing because of all the connections to internal organs and emotions, but I never thought of looking at fighting as the Dao. Great stuff! can’t for the next portion.

  2. george says:

    If the Dao is all things, what is not the Dao? How do you understand the Dao through fighting or hiking or cleaning the dishes? That’s a tougher question, or a tougher task.

    Of course, this sort of introspection isn’t necessary to learn to fight with Baguazhang. But I’m not of the kind that only seeks to learn to fight from my arts, so…

  3. Nick says:

    I would say its a tougher task. I don’t think anything is not the Dao. I think the Dao can be felt and understood in all things. I think it can be felt and understood with a relaxed body and your mind focused on the present. I think it’s a tougher task to be relaxed and present in all situations. It’s like learning the 64 and the circle. First you gotta memorize it then you have to learn to be relaxed in it. It’s probably easier to tell yourself that you’re going to be focused and relaxed each time you practice Bagua, but to be like that on a day to day basis in your everyday life, that’s the ultimate challenge. However, maybe once someone has memorized the 64 as well as the circles and is able to be relaxed and focused in them, it’ll be easy to apply it to everyday routines in life. So perhaps Bagua is directly and indirectly a system of training for all aspects of life.

  4. george says:

    I think just memorizing and being relaxed in movement is probably stage 1. Being focused while maintaining stage 1 is probably stage 2. From there to understanding is still a leap though.

    Absolutely, it’s definitely a tougher task to manifest your understanding of this stuff in a larger world, but then again, its wonderful to have bigger and bigger goals all the time. 😉

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