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.

Fitness first

Great defence of the primary importance of fitness in martial endeavour: “Within the fantasy based martial arts, you wouldn’t find it uncommon to find a “streetfighting” seminar where people talk about tactics, ammunition, and serial killers, and find the room full of obese, camouflage wearing, grossly out of shape, knife carrying paranoids, all actively pretending that their main motive for being there – is to live longer.”

Fighting – and, not or – Fitness

Impressive Mantis…

This is such a great interview. Brendan Tunks seems to me to have truly bridged the gap between the depths to be found in traditional martial arts and the harsh realities of learning to fight: “You need to find a decent teacher with a good reputation and train as often and as hard as possible. You also need to be in optimal condition. Some CMA people say you don’t need strength or physical conditioning, but should be ‘soft as a feather, yielding as a reed in the wind’ etc. – they are the ones who can’t teach you to fight, so avoid them. Most importantly you need to practice agonistically – i.e. with a non-compliant partner that is attempting to beat you. You need to do this regularly and at a high enough intensity that some risk of injury is present each time…”

Cheng Man Ching kicks arse

Proof that Cheng Man Ching Taiji is not just for the old folks in the village hall! This great clip reminds me strongly of the highlight reel of the Czech sumo wrestler throwing all the Japanese behemoths. This time it’s a diminutive Italian, Mario Napoli, a CMC guy, chucking a succession of much bigger Chen village stylists off the platform. The judges faces are a picture!

Hans Menck’s Bagua flavoured Capoeira

Very enjoyable trailer for Hans Menck’s online capoeira course.

I like it partly because of the film quality and setting (woodland in South Africa), but perhaps also because the teacher Hans Menck has a background in Bagua Zhang, and I think that adds even more fluid circularity into his movements

Unconvincing Mantis

This clip is meant to prove the superiority of traditional Chinese martial arts: yet the so-called MMA guy’s only claim to competence is having KO’d a deluded old man…while the Mantis guy’s only skill is waving his hands in the air while wearing silk pyjamas.

Moshe Feldenkrais on creativity and spontaneity

“…all creative people do things in their own way. Painters, mathematicians, composers, and everybody else who has every done anything worthwhile, always had to learn to paint, think, and compose—but not in the way they were taught. They had to learn and work until they knew themselves sufficiently to bring themselves to the state of spontaneity in which their deepest inner self could be brought up and out. Such people are not free of compulsion—much to the contrary. The difference is that what they produce out of the state of compulsion has some value because of the true spontaneous nature of the production.” Moshe Feldenkrais, The Potent Self,  Introduction