So here we are at part 3. The video here is self-explanatory and shows how Bagua functions in that most challenging of situations, multiple opponents. As you see, Shifu Painter offers 2 scenarios. An open space and an alley. The adaptability of Jiulong Baguazhang is the main feature since it does not matter where the people are standing. A Bagua person can move around quite freely without concern as to where the opponents are positioned.
This brings us to the final secret of this series – “disciplined complete freedom of movement”. What does this mean? In the video, you can see Shifu Painter moving quite freely amongst the students, explaining what he is doing. But what is not seen is the way power is being produced in his body and what would happen if the situation was real life at full speed. This cannot be shown of course since people would be getting hurt and that is the last thing we want in our classes and workshops. So you have to use your imagination a bit to visualize the real potential effects of each of the strikes and throws. For example, when you see Shifu toss one person into another, try to imagine that happening at full speed. It would be like bowling pins crashing into each other.
I refer to this as “complete freedom of movement” because that is exactly what it is. There are no stances, patterns, or specific techniques being used since the situation of multiple opponents is one of unlimited variation. But what about the “disciplined” part of my statement of this secret? Well, that is a reference to all the hours of practice of the Bagua skills in which one works on the various components that create power through the whole body. Without spending time learning and practicing the skills taught in the Bagua basics, the ability to produce power in virtually any configuration will simply not be there. But by exercising some discipline and focused practice over a period of time, such as the footwork needed to weave amongst a crowd, the practitioner can move as freely as is seen in the video while actually having the desired effect – namely survival.
So the freedom of movement is very real and is a goal of practice. But without the discipline of practice to internalize the basic principles such as correct alignments, non-differentiation, expansion and projection (not to worry, we will discuss all of these in future posts), the power needed to make the art effective in a situation as fluid as dealing with several opponents will not be there. This is why we focus so much in classes on the principles. We keep the martial goal in mind – to survive an attack and go home. Having imprinted the Jiulong principles in the mind and body, one is free to move in any direction and be effective.