Jiulong Baguazhang training consists of learning and repeating simple mental and physical exercises over and over until they are literally imprinted in the central nervous system. These exercises are the building blocks of martial skill.
Dr. John Painter’s workshop this past weekend in Toronto exemplified how this works. He gave clear explanations of basic concepts of distance, timing and sensitivity and each explanation was followed by partner exercises that demonstrated application of a basic principle. Furthermore, each exercise was simple enough that every student was able to achieve enough success to inspire confidence in the training method. This is extremely important. Complicated, poorly understood exercises are less likely to be fully grasped and take longer for students to understand, dampening their enthusiasm. Success breeds desire for more learning.
Once a basic skill is learned, such as how to deflect an incoming strike, it can more easily be refined and combined with other basic skills such as stepping, and the student learns to deflect strikes while moving. In this step-by-step fashion, martial prowess grows on a solid foundation, a foundation made strong by repetitive and mindful practice.
All Jiulong schools operate using the same approach to training. These methods have been developed by successive generations of professionals, including Shigong Painter, who have tested them repeatedly in real combative situations. The emphasis on the building block approach to developing skill over time is a true example of gong fu training.