Welcome to a new year of the thrilling adventures of the Toronto Baguazhang folks!
We gathered for our first 3 hour session on Saturday and it was a combination of old…..sorry, experienced players along with some brand new ones who were experiencing a martial arts class for the first time. That we can have such a range of skill and experience with everyone learning something is one of the coolest things about this art!
Readers will recall my last post was about friendship. So I started the session by reminding everyone that the best learning takes place when we help each other while seeking ways to examine and improve our own skills. This means going very slowly and, for this particular session, seeing how one generates power. So this means focusing on the legs.
After some preliminary exercises with stepping and understanding weight distribution, we played with some combat applications. These were done with a focus on how the momentum of the body is used to move one’s partner, specifically how the legs are the generator of movement. We examined how one can control the angles of force that the body is creating while attending to exactly how it affects our partner. Again, always paying attention to the fact that power is coming from the legs driving the body forward. We looked at what happens when we stop at what seems to be the end of an application as opposed to continuing to walk, thus maintaining the power should be needed for the next moment.
It was a real joy for me to watch everyone making discoveries about how easy it can be to move someone if the whole body is involved and they rely on their legs rather than arms for power. Those new people who were experiencing this for the first time were outstanding students in that they were completely open to trying and trusting that this legs-not-arms idea was worthwhile. And they got results from the legs giving them power they didn’t know they had. They now have a good foundation (pun intended!) on which to build Bagua skills.
The most gratifying moment came at the end of the session when everyone was getting ready to leave. I asked the new folks how they felt about the afternoon. Not only did they enjoy it, one indicated a back pain had vanished during the session! Another mentioned feeling safe and in a friendly, family-like atmosphere.
For an older brother like me, that was music to my ears!