As with all training, it is important to practise with a variety of partners: tall people can learn to use the reach of their long arms even more effectively; short people can learn to use a low centre of gravity to get inside a taller person's reach; heavy people can learn to use their mass even more effectively; slim people can learn to use their flexibility to even greater effect, etc.
Fortunately, few of us will ever have to use our martial skills for anything more demanding than friendly practice. In addition, no martial training can guarantee that you will be able to successfully defend yourself against any aggressor. However, such training should give you a fighting chance and, properly taught and practised, baguazhang is an insurance policy that also pays the dividends of physical and emotional good health.
Finally, I would like to quote from John Bracy's excellent book on bagua, as his advice is pertinent to this chapter and to the next: "The ultimate bagua, like any internal martial art, involves employing subtle pressures and leverages to subdue an opponent. It is far easier to to use obvious or brute force to beat an opponent, but it is is difficult to subdue him with subtlety. What is meant by subtlety? It is the art of using the slightest touch, redirecting and turning it back against the opponent who originated the force. Sometimes neutralising, sometimes leading aside, it involves matching the fine variations of pressures of the opponent with near-imperceptible neutralisation and redirection. However, subtlety can be mastered by only the most dedicated and persistent students of the art. It involves refined skills of becoming sensitive, staying calm under pressure and direction the situation by the power of one's will. Thus the higher level requires study of the mind and the nervous system____This is the superior man's way to know and ultimately defeat an opponent."
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