How do you know if you are skipping stages that might later prove to have had essential lessons to be digested? After all, it is easy (when you imagine that you have relevant experience) to think, "Right, enough of this intermediate stuff—as a genius I can leap from the first step to the highest." I know from bitter experience that every time I have convinced myself that I was finally an expert, I have discovered the hard way that something was still missing, and I could stand to get back to basics.
This is one of the few areas in which I would offer a gentle criticism of Erle's approach to making such a wide variety of video material available. Too much of it is aimed at the intermediate and advanced level practitioners, not enough at the beginner. In the beginning, a new student (no matter how much unrelated martial arts experience he or she may have) needs to focus on precision and the basics of bagua posture and body movement.
Instead, beginners tend to buy the advanced tapes and teach themselves the form shown at that level. The result is normally counterproductive for those practitioners' learning—espe-cially if they don't have the constructive criticism of a live instructor on a regular basis.
Let me put it simply: a baby learns to turn over on its own. Then it learns to prop itself up on its forearms. Then it learns to sit up. Then it learns to crawl on all fours. Then it learns to stand holding onto the parent's hands. Then it learns to stand unaided. Then it learns to walk. Then it learns to run. Then the parents learn to hide all the breakables and dangerous objects____A few genius babies can skip a few steps to physical independence, but the majority progress by learning in stages.
Perhaps, there is great truth to that old Buddhist and martial arts adage that "In the beginning a mountain is just a mountain. With study you realise how complex that seemingly inert structure is, and with even greater maturity comes the realisation that a mountain is just a mountain."
I suppose the occasional genius, or idiot, can skip that middle stage. Most benefit from experiencing it although many of those who bother also get stuck at that level.
Was this article helpful?