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9/10/2003 12:30pm,
This an article I found somewhere online(cyberkwoon maybe?)I thought worthy of sharing with you TMA folks.

I've studied a wide variety of traditional and non-traditional(MMA)martial systems and find this article a VERY compelling read. Even though this comes from an ancient Bagua text, I think any student of martial science will face these issues at some point.

I often find it difficult to stay mindful and present in my TMA training - especially when blowing through older forms I've learned. Thoughts and preocupations with the job, my girlfriend's heart-shaped ass, how much my balls, itch etc seem invariably to seep into my head and instead of focus and engaged visualization I go through the motions. Anyway, it seems my best instructors all had teaching styles that had me continually refining and questioning basic stances, techniques and principles I thought I'd nailed down pretty well.

So be mindful of these demons that may have latched onto your training - I know I've met pretty much all of them...

This translation by Chester Lin presents a text which was originally featured in "Yin Style Ba Gua Zhang Shi Mi" by Ke Yong Zhuan. To this text, I have added corresponding commentary (presented in italics) based upon the teachings of Zhu Jiemin, a 5th generation master of Yin style Baguazhang. -ffab

The acquisition of kung fu is a painful and continually trying process. For many reasons, people are bound to have questions and become confused. Sometimes this situation becomes so drastic that these people even abandon their training all together.

Yin Shi Ba Gua Zhang's (Yin style Bagua Zhang) response to this problem is to refer to the different situations which can arise as "falling into the demons". The following is an introduction to these demons.

1. 'Speak But Not Train' - One who says that he understands the theories and possesses "gong" [skill], but rarely practices and fails to receive the principles. In reality, he doesn't understand but still he speaks everyday about lofty theories. In the southern mountains, he can hunt tigers, in the north seas, he seizes dragons. In truth, it is just talk. This is the 'Demon of the Lip'.
As the Dao de Jing reminds us at its very beginning, "The one who knows doesn't speak, the one who speaks doesn't know". When learning an "internal art", one must be very careful to not over-intellectualize it. True skill can only be achieved through long and dedicated training. While training, the mind must be focused. The student should not talk and argue as his/her understanding of the art's principles will later change with his/her own evolution.

2. 'Blindly study, blindly train' - Today Shaolin, tomorrow Wudang... If there's a boxing style, then he trains in it. In appearance it looks correct, but internally the principles are not there. To blindly study and blindly train is only skin deep. This is the 'Demon of the Blind Eyes'.
A true student should not wander from style to style. When the proper style and master is found, it is a lifetime of work. Picking up techniques here and there will never give the core principles of "Gong fu" [achieved skills]. A style is like a path to the top of a mountain: to change one's path, one usually has to go back down the mountain, and at best, can only move laterally. Dedicated training in only one style, however, allows one to make faster and better progress overall. From one principle there are 10.000 techniques, just as with one letter there are 10,000 words. Before learning all the words, one should know the alphabet perfectly.

3. 'Movements are stiff, without principles' - The external is not clear and the internal has no root and power. The Qi [energy] does not move and the body is stiff, but he thinks it is coordinated and solid. The movements are distorted. This is the 'Demon of Stiffness'.
External use muscles, internal use joints and tendons. Joints and tendons can hardly be called stiff and rigid. To let the Qi flow freely, one must be "externally relaxed" but "internally focused". Proper alignment gives jing [power]. Alignment is not only anatomical but also spatio-temporal. Only a relaxed body and mind can lead to proper alignment.

4. 'One feels his movements are smooth, the heart is relaxed and natural, but years have passed without increasing the skill' - Perhaps the chest is high, or the Qi is raised. Maybe the body is too loose and lazy. The rules are not followed or are unknown. This is the 'Demon of Absentmindedness'.
With time, laziness wins and principles are forgotten. One can feel satisfied with only the beginning of results and then stagnate forevermore. The true student should always remember the principles and apply them at all times. Though the body and mind must be relaxed, the Yi [will] should never be loosened.

5. 'Relaxed and natural, the internal is aware; but years have passed without increasing the skill' - He has slid far into naturalness and has forgotten the rules and methods. This is the 'Demon of Nature'.
With time, one can feel that one has grasped the principles and that the rules no longer apply. He/she feels the rules can be tweaked and changed, when in reality the rules and principles are universal. They have merely been discovered by the Masters of the Past, and were not created by any man. Human nature is lazy and selfish. The true student should be aware of this and always respect the rules.

6. 'The movements are organized, the internal and external are coordinated. Others see the solid strength, and he feels unmatched in power, but when the fight begins, he cannot release any power. - The reason is that the two shoulders and the two hips are not open, so the power does not reach the extremities. This is the 'Demon of Closed Binding'.
One can understand the principles yet still be unable to apply them at will. This means that the principles are not yet integrated. The power must circulate through the whole body. If one part of the chain is weak, the wave will break before reaching the shore. Ultimately one should seek to apply the principles of training in unfavorable situations.

7. 'The body is flowing, the Qi is sent, but suddenly he feels wrong. The heart has doubts and fails to know what to do.' - It is because he craves results too much, and does not realize that he has not yet improved. He does not know that if he continues training, he will acquire the skill and be successful. This is the 'Demon of Doubt'.
True skills cannot be achieved by willpower alone. Training will bring confidence and confidence should then reinforce training. At a certain stage, one often feels limited and can be disappointed by one's training. A teacher must be present to push the student further and to show that the next stage can be reached. If there is no teacher available, then the student should find the "master inside".

8. 'Ambitiously speaking of Wu Ji [emptiness], but he does not know emptiness and is not empty.' - Emptiness is when the jing [power], qi [energy], shen [spirit], and li [force] gather into one. The hard and soft change, and the yin and yang combine. Emptiness is the internal qi and external qi as one. This true qi circulates around the body with the yi [will]. Emptiness is so magnificent! This is the 'Demon of Ambition'.
Wu Ji cannot be sought. If one seeks it, it cannot be reached. Only through training and favorable circumstances can one hope reach the ultimate stage. Speaking at length about it is like trying to prove to oneself that this high level has already been attained. As the universe is a sphere, the last demon is also the first.

It is said: "Each time you conquer a demon, your fortunes increase. If you conquer the demon ten-fold, then your fortune will increase ten-fold. Every time one passes a demon, the heart becomes clear once again, and the instincts livelier." There is no one who never falls into a demon, but those who fall into a demon but never escape will be forever trapped by it.

You can beat a demon once, but it will be back later. This a never-ending fight. Hopefully, with time and victories, one will become stronger and the demons grow weaker. There is no unbeatable demon, only fighters who are willing to lose. Train in faith, as training is not just physical.

Beatdown Richie
9/10/2003 1:58pm,
Good things to keep in mind, if a bit flowery... I have to object to No. 2 though: in my opinion, staying with one master for a lifetime is much more an example of "blindly study, blindly train" than trying to learn different styles. Aquiring a solid base in one art is valuable, but dedicating yourself to one teacher forever is silly.

9/13/2003 4:12pm,
I agree with Richie about No. 2.

9/15/2003 12:36am,
This is possibly the most bizzarro post in recent memory.

How many times have you watched "The Karate Kid"?

9/15/2003 1:32am,
"Dedicating yourself to one teacher forever is silly."

That's assuming that your skill has surpassed that of your teacher. #2 isn't telling you not to mix it up with other people and fill in your style's shortcomings, it's just saying that jumping from one style to another without ever gaining real proficiency is a waste of time.

Without exaggeration, I'd rather master one technique than have a so-so grasp of a thousand.

9/15/2003 1:38am,
Mastering a technique is not very hard unless you're borderline retarded.

Dont fall for the "30 years to master a single form" crock of SHEE-IT. Martial arts are like ANY OTHER FIELD of study. It doesnt take a lifetime to learn. Only frauds will tell you otherwise.

9/15/2003 5:29am,
Peedee has caught the correct.

That was so strange I didn't bother to read it all.


"Oh you bastard, I fucking hate pikeys!" - Georgeous George

9/15/2003 11:24am,
There was a time I used to appreciate this type of thing...but anyway...

how about just...

Focus on the technique, train hard.

Stay in your center.
R. Masters

9/15/2003 9:32pm,
you flame the article yet you don't provide a solid argument against any of the problems listed

9/15/2003 11:41pm,
How do you define mastery, Peedee?

9/15/2003 11:46pm,
Mastery of WHAT is the question.

It would seem that in order to be a martial arts "master" you need to speak the native countries language, wear a silk uniform, and be able to scream KIAI at the top of your lungs while memorizing a bunch of patterns that will get you JACK SHIIT.

This has sort of become my mantra, but I'll say it yet again:

Take a look at the download of Emin Boztepe vs. Grandmaster William Cheung and see for YOURSELF how a "Grandmaster" handles himself in a real situation.

He looks like a catholic school girl in a slap fight.

9/16/2003 12:05am,
It would seem that in order to be a martial arts "master" you need to speak the native countries language, wear a silk uniform, and be able to scream KIAI at the top of your lungs while memorizing a bunch of patterns . . .

You can save your rants. For the most part, I agree with you on this topic.

Why donít you just explain what you define as mastery so that we have a framework for discussion?

9/16/2003 12:23am,
Im not ranting man. I'll put it this way:

In a field as chaotic and unpredictable as combat I dont think a person CAN be considered a "Master" at all. I would say there are skilled and even HIGHLY skilled people that are able to utilize the techniques they study in the fashion which they are intended and have a clear understanding of the principles that these techniques are based on.

If you want to call that a "Master" I'm not quite sure I would agree but I think thats about the best you can expect from a field of study like the martial arts.

9/16/2003 12:32am,
You're the one who used the term "mastering" first.

Your description of: " . . . people that are able to utilize the techniques they study in the fashion which they are intended . . ." is not particularly clear.

Do you mean in the dojo or on the street? If you are referring to actual combat, then what level of proficiency? Simply going through the motions? Being able to make the technique work once in a while? Being able to make the technique work every time? Please clarify.

9/16/2003 12:33am,
ironically the founder of bagua only accepted students who were already masters in another style, so the first generation of bagua masters were all "cross-trained", so to speak. yin fu was a shaolin fighter and his style emphasizes strikes (for example, they use the ox tongue palm with thumb tucked which is better for striking), while cheng ting-hua was a shuai-jiao master and his style emphasizes sweeps and throws (and uses the palm with the thumb out in "tiger's mouth"-more used for grabbing, choking, etc).

just a bit of trivia for jive talking turkeys who don't know what the f-ck they're talking about.

9/16/2003 3:01am,
i agree with most of the principles there, but the critical factor is interpretation.

i hate guys who treat this as gospel and if they obey texts such as this they are going to be a demigod or something.

then again i also hate guys who feel they cant learn A SINGLE THING from stuff like this, look at it, find whats right, find whats wrong, and learn a lesson. If you already know everything then go an rule the world or something:P