Chapter 21

23 Oct

Self Taught Part Two: Baguazhang

After the Wing Chun catastrophy, I had watched the movie, “The One” (excellent movie, by the by), and decided that either Baguazhang or Xing yi was to be my next adventure. I chose Baguazhang for two reasons:

1) Neji from Naruto did it, which was pretty cool

2) There were more resources readily available

I navigated throughout the internet, searching vigilantly for any information pertaining to this art. I learned that it involved circle walking, and according to some websites, a lot of takedowns. I thought this was excellent; I had my BJJ skills. Baguazhang seemed perfect.

I went up to my local bookstore to find a book on it. Barnes and Noble had one, and it was FORTY BUCKS. I laughed at the audacity of the author; good sir, you must be mistaken. No one was going to buy a kung fu book for forty bucks. Most of this information is online, so there’s no reason to shell out that much cash; I hope he saves his food stamps, because he’ll need them.

I search deeper and deeper, and find a website with the techniques listed. The only problem is there aren’t any pictures.

I practice the paragraphs daily until I’ve finished the entirety of the information on that page. The page gives basic directions of circle walking, changing directions, etc. The only problem is that I didn’t know any actual fighting techniques, only how to walk in circles.

I watched youtube videos and emulated them, but sometimes it was hard to see, and most of the people looked stupid, gay, or both. I needed manly baguazhang. I needed Jet li baguazhang.

So I bought the book.

It starts off with about 30 pages of poems. Poems? What the crap is this? Did I seriously pay 40 dollars for a bunch of crappy poems? I want techniques, forms; give me kata, or give me a refund.

Finally I hit the bulk of the book. It contains one form, a “swimming dragon” form, and a double deer horn sword form. I was glad I had bought the book; I got two hand forms, AND a weapon form. I realized weapons were for the most part useless, but I was intrigued none the less.

I practiced the book, and eventually learned the forms therein. My dad was out of town on business, so I needed to pull in the usual test subjects: Tall boy, Napoleon, and a friend from the white belt platoon (Henceforth referred to as Dynamite).

Tall boy and Napoleon brawl, and I wait for my turn.

In my mind, I go over my past few weeks of studying. The bagua system was one of sweeping motions and palm strikes. One palm straight out to intercept attacks, the other reserved by the waist for max power.

Finally, it is me versus Dynamite. We don our fencing helmets, and this time, leather jackets. It seems Napoleon had some sore abdomen muscles, and being the brilliant person I am, leather jackets seemed like a decent enough body protection system.

I start circle walking, he gets in a makeshift boxing stance. He throws a half assed punch.

I palm slap it with my outermost hand, and palm him straight in the face. The force is so much that it knocks him off his feet. I help him back up, and we keep going. I am destroying him with over the top, top of the head slaps. I’ll use my right hand, downward palm, then uppercut palm with my left. He wasn’t very good at fighting; mostly, he just turtled. In BJJ he was mediocre, but in striking he was too afraid of getting punched. I used him as a confidence builder, and moved on to Napoleon.

Napoleon had evolved his style from crappy boxing to controlled flailing. Not to say it was better, but it was different. He would turn his head to look almost over his shoulder, and just go crazy. I palm slap one punch, then use the back of my palm to deflect another. I keep this up until I spot an opening. Uppercut palm in the gut! That uppercut palm travels down to the back of his knee, and my top hand travels to the shoulder. I push and pull; he stumbles. In the book they’re supposed to fall, but I’m ready to improvise. I turn the failed trip into a double leg, take him down, and finish it.

Finally, Tall boy. The highest tier I had before I tested it on dad.

I circle walk, he stands there in his stance. He throws a punch, I palm deflect, and go for a face palm and erupt into a sumo-esque palm flurry. He backs up, and punches me good in the gut. I go for a diagonal downward palm, he blocks, and I get him with the other palm. It’s more or less a back and forth fight.

I decided that yes, I will try this on my dad. My original test results were pretty indicative that it stood a better chance than the chun. He arrives home after about a month since I’ve begun studying (He went to Malaysia for some kind of business setting upping) the zhang.

We don the helmets, and I tell him that now we also use leather jackets for body shots. He laughs, and we both put them on. I don’t know why he laughed.

I start zhanging, he starts banging. Throwing jabs with the occasional weak cross, just to let me know he could’ve gotten me. My palm deflections are too slow for the jabs, and by then I’m too flustered to deal with the cross. I keep circle walking, and he says, “Are we doing kicks too?” “Sure.” Baguazhang really isn’t kick intensive, but I needed the maximum realness for this test. After all, if I won, he could use this as some kind of crap way out of it.

He jabs, and round house kicks me in the leg. Since he isn’t flexible, he has to use more force to get it up thigh high, and hits a little harder than he probably meant to. I feel the sensation, for the first time, of being dead legged.

Oh, the pain. I lay on the ground clutching my leg, and my dad rushes over. “Oh crap, I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to” he says. I would say my pride was more hurt than my leg, but damn, that hurt like a mofo. If there was ever any doubt in my mind as to the validity of leg kicks, well, those were thoroughly eradicated.

The fault of baguazhang lies in the circle walking. The hands are pretty okay, but it wasn’t the answer I was looking for. I love the downward slapping palms. Really, I love swinging my arms around like baseball bats.

If only there were some form of style that involved swinging your arms around.


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