If I reveal the secrets from the Secrets of the Wedge workshop, they will of course no longer be secrets. On the other hand it would be frustrating to you dear reader, if I title this article as I have and then not reveal any of the secrets.
Our workshops are known for the quality of the teaching, the generosity of Dr. Painter in his willingness to share what he knows, the moments of excitement felt by students who suddenly understood something they had been struggling with and in this case, the seeming simplicity of the Wedge coupled with its seemingly infinite variety of applications. All of these are valuable yet are not the core of the reason the workshop was billed as the “secrets”. That core is about the personal discoveries each participant makes in the art of Jiulong Baguazhang. So let’s dive in and find some of the secrets together. Over the next 3 posts I will share some video and commentary about the workshop.
To begin, we start where the workshop started. With the Wedge shape itself. In this video you will see students holding the wedge while straight poles are pushed towards their face. The Wedge is designed to deflect an object coming at one in such a way as to alter its trajectory just enough to miss. Trust me when I say that this is easier said than done. Its not that the actual technique of creating the wedge and then applying it to the incoming object is complicated. Rather it is one’s own psychology that gets in the way. The natural reaction when encountering something coming at us is to push it as far away as possible. This brings us to secret number one. “Causing the object to miss without stopping its motion is enough to defend against that moment of attack.”
You can see what is happening in the video, yet what cannot be shown is the feeling within each of the students as they see that pole coming towards them. Also, the fact that the target is the face makes it even more challenging. The feelings of wanting to duck and/or push that pole away is very strong when it is coming at the face. Yet after a while with repeated, slow and safe practice, everyone started to see how this could work. They could do less with the positioning of the arm and yet achieve a better result. This brings us to secret number two. “Simpler is better but more challenging to actualize due to our own fears”. This one is well known to anyone in martial arts, but it a highly instructive experience to witness it in such a controlled and safe environment. As you see in the video, no one is being attacked and no one is attempting to defeat their partner. Yet the instant reaction of fear of that incoming object causes a great deal of trouble. Very educational.
In part 2 we will talk about what happens when the Wedge is applied to a live person and the discoveries made there. In part 3 we will get further into the way the Wedge is used in the unique situation for which Jiulong was devised – multiple attackers.