In the last few months, I have been doing Bagua with my Taiji teacher in my private lessons. Why? Because. Is that a good enough reason? No? OK, then I will expand on it. I have talked about it before, but I really need to talk more about it.
Back when I first started Taiji, I had difficulty with the meditation. I would have flashbacks of bad memories, and it shook me. I told my teacher, and she had me walk the circle instead. That’s a Bagua thing, and it was much better than doing Taiji meditation. Honestly, it still is. I still don’t like the latter, even though I do it in class now.
I went into it thinking I was a pacifist. But that was just a social construct. I was a lay-deeeeee. No way I could ever even think about doing anything the slightest bit violent. I would rather die than lift a hand against another person. I actually thought to myself that if someone tried to kill me, I would let them.
Then Bagua happnede to me. I was walking the circle, which is the basic, uh, form as it were, of Bagua. The goal is to focus onthe opponent in the middle of the circle and direct your energy towards them. There was a time I was doing this when my whole body electrified. My brain said, “If it’s you or me–it’s gonna be you.” Meaning, if only one of us was going to survive, it was going to be me.
Up until that point, I had issues of low self-esteem. I didn’t think I deserved to live, so if someone wanted to kill me, well, then I would let him. And, yes, in my mind–it was a him. That was the logical conclusion of everything I’d been told all my life. I was not worth anything as a woman execpt how I could please any man around me. That was the basic message I got my whole life–the only worth a woman had was how she could serve the men around her.
Well, and be an emotional ballast for her mother, but that was a personal thing, not a cultural one. I mean, it was just my mother parentifying me well before that was a thing. She was ill-equipped to deal with the travails of being married to a raging narcissist. To be fair, that was not a situation in which many people would be comfortable.
When I realized that I would choose to live rather than let someone kill me, it was a seminal moment for me. My life was worth something, and I no longer was a pacifist. I was not looking to hurt someone, obviously. I did not want to be in a fight with anyone. But if someone wanted to start a fight, i wanted to be able to finish it.
It’s why I did not choose aikido. Aikido is completely for defense, which was not my jam. I wanted to be able to put the hurt on someone if need be. I was not looking to get into a fight, mind, but I wanted to be able to defend myself if possible.
At some point, my teacher gave me practice DeerHorn Knives. This had to be after I started the sword because I was adamant about not doing weapons until my teacher pressed a wooden sword into my hand. Even though I was no longer a pacifist, I didn’t want to be violent. That’s how I viewecd weapons. Until I got the sword in my hand.
When she handed me the practice DeerHorn Knives, I fell in love. I wanted them in my life, and I was eager to learn how to walk the circle with them. There really are no forms in Bagua per se, but her teacher has designed some practice forms.
Why have I wanted to study Bagua lately? There are a few reasons. One, I felt like I was in a rut when it came to Taiji. I want to learn a new weapon, but I’m not in the mood to teach it to myself at the moment. I need to refine the things I already know beacuse I’ve gotten sloppy. I know that I’ve been fudging it in a few areas, so I want to clean up my forms. I videotaped my teacher doing the Cane Form because I’ve been teaching myself the left side. I noticed that I’ve been gliiiiiding past certain parts so I had my teacher do it during our last private lesson. I videotaped it and immediately noticed several things I had to refine, including one major thing in the first row.
I don’t know why I decided to try Bagua, but I am really glad I have. My teacher is teaching me how to do these arm motions that are like…it’s hard to explain. But it’s moving your hands around your body with your palms flat and facing up as much as possible, like you’re serving tea cups. Then, it’s moving them in circles around your body. Everything in Bagua is about circles. I have to do the Bagua early in the day because it energizes me and gets me revved up.
My teacher is really good at pacing. We started with walking the circle with a single palm change. Then, walking backwards,, also with a single palm change. She showed me walking the circle with a double palm change, but then she shelved it for later. I still practice it, though, beacuse I love it.
Then, she showed me how to do reps with drilling up the hand. Then, after months of that, it was time for the tea cup exercises. First, going backwards with one hand–then the other. Then, after a month, both hands at the same time–which is wild. And she taught me hands forward, which is the exact opposite of hands backwards. Again, right hand for five times, then left hand for five times, before both hands for five times.
There is a wildness to doing both hands that is exhilarating. The energy surges up inside me, and I want to fight something. Or someone. Next up will be one forward and one backwards, which will be interesting.
I love Bagua. I love it as much as I love Taiji–and *whispers* maybe more. At least as much, though, which will take some getting used to. I have been studying Taiji for 17 years, and it’s been the bedrock of my life. I adore the weapons, especially the Double Saber. We shall see how Bagua lives up to that.