Cross Training for the Relative Beginner

I have met several karate and shaolin instructors who practise and teach bagua as a profitable sideline. And, in the vast majority of cases, their internal arts are anything but! Similarly, those students who have done yoga or meditation training of one kind or another or any of the New Age body/mind disciplines may spend too much time trying to compare what they are learning to what they already know (or think they know).

In many ways, it is more fruitful in the beginning to spend most of your time analysing how bagua is different from what you already know, rather than making assumptions about the similarities.

While I don't insist that you immediately stop training in any discipline or martial hard style in order to learn bagua from me, you will eventually reach a point when you must choose the path that best suits you. Human nature is such that the average student usually resists and resents this need to start over. I have been faced with such a need several times, and it is never an easy task on any level. There is a world of difference between baguazhang and taijiquan, not to mention Goju Karate, Hung Gar, or Wing-Chun.

If you continue to enjoy and practise the other arts as you learned them, it is unlikely that you will have the time or aptitude to do bagua the way it should be done as a martial art. Having said that, the average hard stylist may derive considerable health benefits from practising bagua qigong alone, even if they continue to practise their old martial disciplines.

It is equally true that you may have difficulty relating to the differences between what I teach and what you may have learned from other bagua instructors. Some of what you will be exposed to are simply variations of other valid interpretations and can be ignored. Sometimes, however, you will need to start from scratch, and this can be very hard on the ego if you have gotten used to thinking of yourself as an experienced practitioner.

Sadly, workshops are largely a waste of time in terms of an individual being able to benefit much unless he or she already has considerable skill and experience and takes an equally talented partner to train with during the workshop, to maximise that learning experience, and has someone to continue training with back at home over the following months and years. Too many martial artists are content to take endless workshops just to get a photo with, or a few memories of, the guest instructor—not to mention the certificates and t-shirts that they hand out at North American workshops. It is difficult to say which is better (in my experience, anyway)—having a beginner who is experienced martially or has no such experience. Those with hard style experience can be either the best or the worst of students, and this is equally true of those who come to class with a clean slate.

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