Laughing Taoist throws you on your head

People tend to think of Bagua Zhang as being about spinning around in circles and fighting multiple opponents, but what struck me most about this weekend of Yizong Bagua in Paris with Luo De Xiu – one of Tim Cartmell’s main teachers   – is that he is teaching a highly sophisticated conceptual martial art that is not only consistent with western boxing (complete with feints, unpredictable footwork, misleading handwork, psychological set ups and all sorts of other practical trickery,)…but is also one in which the underlying concepts are indistinguishable from the body method. Luo said several times that Bagua wasn’t really about teaching his students tricks and techniques,  but about getting them to fully embody the art’s concepts so that they can move using large and small circles and spirals at every joint..with the techniques emerging spontaneously out of that. The other thing I hadn’t fully appreciated is just how funny, light-hearted and irreverent Luo is, whether he’s talking about Taoist meditation or throwing someone on their head.