259 episodes

There is more to martial arts than just self defence, becoming a fighter, Kung Fu master or retiring to a monastery. The Tao leads some to become a martial arts boss in search of their true spiritual identity. Perhaps by listening in, you too could discover your own guided path up the mountain. This is one man's internal martial arts journey to Bagua Shan 八卦山.

The Way through Baguazhang - 八卦掌‪道‬ Peter Hainzl

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There is more to martial arts than just self defence, becoming a fighter, Kung Fu master or retiring to a monastery. The Tao leads some to become a martial arts boss in search of their true spiritual identity. Perhaps by listening in, you too could discover your own guided path up the mountain. This is one man's internal martial arts journey to Bagua Shan 八卦山.

    259. Just wondering: Do you want to become a Baguazhang Immortal?

    259. Just wondering: Do you want to become a Baguazhang Immortal?

    It has taken a decade or so, but I am now coming to the realisation that I have committed myself to the baguazhang path toward enlightenment. Which from the Taoist mountain summit, it is sometimes called being an immortal.

    Immortality as it is defined in Taoism is a very broad concept that needs the clarity of having deep internal knowledge of one’s martial style and the knowledge of who you are speaking with in regards to internal alchemy.

    I know that there will be people out there listening to this podcast and mocking my shit, but if a person insists on baguazhang being just a form of fighting art, then their understanding of this art will be extremely limited. For baguazhang as a defined martial art in its own right is a very recent historical development. Before anything else, baguazhang is and always will be a form of walking meditation that underpins a highly active form of qigong 氣功 cultivation. That will in turn lead to the development of a baguazhang practitioner’s jingong 勁功.

    You can learn more about it in my book: The Baguazhang Jin of War 八卦掌戰勁.

    Now, getting back to the topic of baguazhang immortality, in the West it unfortunately seems to mean just one thing: Living for ever, and ever, and ever, and ever, and ever, without end. While being usually framed as a kind of curse that must be avoided. Even when the hero of the story, who becomes an immortal as a reward or blessing bestowed upon them by a divine being, it tends to be coupled with some sort of burden that only they can bare.

    Which is really sad, because over in the East, the idea of being an immortal is a positive attribute. Because it implies that you are generally fitter and healthier than most of the people around you. Which in turn, relatively speaking, tends to also make you appear younger than your age and as a result, it will usually mean that you will outlive most people.

    Nowadays, however, outliving others is harder to experience because modern science and medical advancements have caught up. Allowing ordinary people to also live truly long lives. But remember: This development has only been around about one hundred years.

    Now let’s just assume that outliving the people around you is a bit rich. Being an immortal amongst Taoists is also a kind of rank or title. And at the very least a term of respect that implies that you have reached the highest summit of whatever mountain your particular martial art spiritually resides on. While on a more practical level, it means that you have become the living embodiment of the art itself. And that you know pretty much all there is to currently know about it: You have become the proverbial ‘Old Man on the Mountain’ 仚.

    And…

    Even if the title still seems to be still too much for you, the third real life implication of being an immortal means that your life compared to ordinary people is unrelatable. From your perspective you are just doing what you do and living your life the way you want to live it. And you can see no reason for there to be anything wrong with it, but to ordinary folk, who don’t do what you do, you might as well go live in another country. You’re just too far out there with your weird shit. It’s one of the reasons Taoists have a habit of becoming ‘mountain men or fairies’ 仙.

    And so now you must be wondering: What about me?

    But the real question is: What about you and your own ascension?

    Where are you along your own baguazhang journey?

    I am betting that by listening to this podcast, the idea of becoming an immortal is no longer just a distant fantasy but is now a serious consideration. Something which will evolve over time.

    • 12 min
    258. Have you read “The Baguazhang Jin of War” yet? — 你讀過《八卦掌戰勁》書了嗎?

    258. Have you read “The Baguazhang Jin of War” yet? — 你讀過《八卦掌戰勁》書了嗎?

    So recently I wrote and spoke about how rare the internal martial art of baguazhang (八卦掌) is. And I have even used some rough numbers to support my claim. But, no matter what, it is always amazing how many people do not actually dig deeper into things and would prefer to argue that the martial art is one of the most popular styles out there.

    I never said that baguazhang was not popular. What I said was, that relative to other styles it is quite small. And as some of you who have been to Asia know, sometimes being small is beautiful. You may not be into small things, but the thing you are chasing is! It is all a matter of perspective.

    One thing, though, that is a non-negotiable fact about pretty much any martial art is that the higher you climb up your particular metaphorical mountain, the fewer and fewer participants you will find. And you will, like those Saturn V rockets that took astronauts to the moon, leave in stages a lot of your fellow martial artists behind. You can’t bring them to where they are not ready to go.

    As I study more and more about the Immortal’s Path (仙人道), reading between the lines that seems to be a common feature: Many take it as a physical fact and do pack up their things and disappear. But for others, it simply means letting go of the things that do not serve us, but for which our continued interaction with, will actually hurt us.

    For example: Debt, as in owing money to other people and organisations.

    Money isn’t actually a real thing. It is a work of external alchemy. And because it isn’t actually a real tangible thing, the numbers around it can swing wildly (Note: Cash, as in paper money, is a form of IOU underwritten by government to give it legal worth in a given jurisdiction, which basically states that you can exchange the paper money for bits of metal in the form of minted coins). By comparison, qigong (氣功) and jingong (勁功) are results of internal alchemy. A lot of times, the two paths of alchemy intersect each other, so that a person with strong positive qi will also have a positive financial portfolio.

    I mean, have you ever noticed when a money debt is finally paid off, your own inner qi cultivation gets a boost and that doing baguazhang has more ‘flow’ to it?

    Now I am aware that some of you will say that money isn’t important (which we all know is a blatant lie if you live amongst other people and partially true if you have gone bush), but there are certain beliefs and faiths that do incur a kind of spiritual debt called sin. This debt called sin, you are usually born into it or it is sold to you as a way to salvation. Paying off this debt is next to impossible because the terms are unknown. And for a lot of people, they don’t even know what the sin was. Now, you may go on about a concept called ‘The Original Sin’ and let us just say that it was a real event. The question you have to ask is: What was your part in the event?

    If you can answer that question with all sincerity that you were there and did ‘X’, then you, my friend, are enlightened. Unfortunately most of our fellow human beings are not. Their financial debts match their spiritual debts, which in turn match their qi indebtedness.

    All is one.

    And so now you may be wondering: Where does this sit with jingong (勁功) and my book “The Baguazhang Jin of War” (八卦掌戰勁)…?

    Well? If you have read it, then you will kind of know. But if you are still humming and hah-ing on whether to read it, then I will not tell you. The mere fact that the real host of this podcast is going over your head means that you are not there yet.

    • 7 min
    257. I was pondering on the baguazhang path to Taoist immortality, when…

    257. I was pondering on the baguazhang path to Taoist immortality, when…

    Recently at work, while it just so happened that I was pondering on the baguazhang path to Taoist Immortality, I got asked by a coworker what type of martial art do I do?

    It had been a difficult night of standing at the front door requesting for the 200th time for an adult customer’s Covid vaccination passport. Most customers are really good about it and we try to fold the rules in such a way so that everybody wins, including the government regulators. But every now and then, there will come a customer who will deliberately try their luck and they discover that they can’t come in. And it is my job to convey it to them as nicely as possible.

    So when I got asked what my martial art was called, I kind of loudly replied that it was called The Art of Bitch Slapping!

    We both had a chuckle at that one like Austin Powers purring on the revolving bed: Oh behave Baby!

    Anyway, after the laughter had died down, I told him that it was actually called ‘Baguazhang’.

    “What’s that?” He asked.

    He genuinely didn’t know – he’d never heard of it. And so I proceeded to explain that we are the crazy f*****s who walk around in circles as our main kung fu thing.

    “Walk in circles?” He asked.

    And just like that without thinking I did a single palm change and walked the circle. And then, we were back to checking vaccine passports. I must say that the shop Lino tiles felt rather nice on the sliding footwork compared to the grippy outdoor tiles that I usually train on.

    It also felt really good to get a quick reality on how rare the style of baguazhang still is. Social media and the internet is really good at tweaking the numbers so that it appears to us that we are well known and popular. But I have heard time and again from martial schools and shifus on the lack of bite for it.

    But that’s just it: Most of us who picked it up and love it, is partially because it is so rare. We take it for granted because of what’s out there in popular culture, that people will know.

    But it just isn’t so. Just because the internet is flooded with porn, it does not mean everybody has joined the local swingers club or even know what it is.

    And don’t rely on the Chinese numbers for proof. Their government institutions will say millions practice an internal martial art like Tai Chi or Qigong, but when the facts from the practicing Taoists are brought in, reality shows a more realistic figure of around fifty thousand.

    So if you are feeling lonely, there’s your answer.

    And if you don’t feel lonely, these numbers also give clarity on why, at any given time, there are so few Taoist Immortals…

    • 8 min
    256. Genchitaofu Baguazhang’s Shen-hood - 艮氣道福八卦掌の神方向

    256. Genchitaofu Baguazhang’s Shen-hood - 艮氣道福八卦掌の神方向

    At some point in the baguazhang practitioner’s journey along the Tao, there comes a moment when the practice of baguazhang loses its glamour and the practitioner will quit.

    This isn’t a case of things getting too hard, but rather it is becoming too easy and in a sense it loses its challenge. When this happens it is because deep down inside the baguazhang practitioner has been persisting in trying to learn the style as if it were an external martial art, where all the physical experiences come from the outside in.

    Now, just to be clear, this does not happen to all baguazhang practitioners. Only to those not wishing to face the truth of what baguazhang is, and sometimes to those who have learnt a bagua form as part of a martial family or clan style.

    For a real baguazhang practitioner, getting to the place where the physical movements become easy to do is just the start of what lies ahead for them, because now they must confront a world in which those same skills will be tested in ways usually not foreseen by the practice itself.

    Most baguazhang practitioners will go into this situation blind, but a few will study the I-Ching 易經 and the Bagua 八卦 for guidance on what comes next.

    While someone may disagree on what I have just said, the reality is that baguazhang is underwritten by the eight elements known as the Bagua. It is these eight elements and their relationship to each other, which is usually for baguazhang in a circular pattern, is what powers the bagua forms.

    In order to align itself further to more traditional Chinese martial training techniques, in baguazhang the eight elements have been transmitted into eight totemic spirit animals that give a visual guideline of what the moves are supposed to look like, and in a certain sense be a key to what the given action is supposed to do.

    Now, here, I must put in a special note to remind the listener that each style of baguazhang has its own variation on how a move is supposed to be done. There is no true perfect style. That idea is a myth. What matters is that the style chosen is in alignment to one’s body shape and temperament. And that the would-be practitioner realised that each style has a history to it based on the baguazhang master who created it.

    And that history is only meant to take the practitioner so far and no further. At that point has been reached, it is now time to walk their own bagua path and to create in its wake a new history that others can learn from. Which means taking all that training and practice and applying it to real life.

    For example: Lockdown because of the coronavirus…

    How many of you stopped training because you were told to stay home?

    How many of you stopped practicing because you got overwhelmed by all the news or simply wanted to be like your neighbour?

    And how many of you adapted to the changing circumstances, kept on training and saw it as an opportunity to advance one’s own understanding and comprehension of this fine art?

    Judging by the dwindling numbers out there, the answer is a pitifully low number. Mind you, the technicians of the arts are nearly always out of touch with practical reality, and blaming Millennials for everything is just a poor excuse. And Chinese numbers are nearly always exaggerated by the numbers of school children doing it at school as a wushu elective.

    And the feeling that baguazhang is a dying art is also an illusion.

    The martial art of baguazhang is not dying. It has always been a niche style, where it is just a fact of life that you are going to lose people as you get better and better at cultivating your inner alchemy or neigong 內功 as part of your drive toward your Shen-hood 神方向.

    • 15 min
    255. Practicing baguazhang 八卦掌 when the humidity gets too much & jingong 勁功

    255. Practicing baguazhang 八卦掌 when the humidity gets too much & jingong 勁功

    Today is not one of my better days. The humidity is up and it is reminding me of why I do not live in the tropics. Everything else I can reasonably handle but just not the humidity.

    And so, just before the humidity really started to hit at around 9am, I made sure I had already done most of my baguazhang sets.

    But there is still one form I still must do, but I am wavering on it because on the days that I do it, I have committed myself to doing 15 sets per day. So it is 15 sets or nothing, and my willpower is slowly crumbling.

    On the upside of all this humidity is that I am slowly getting a craving for Malaysian or Singaporean food. But, then again, to go out and get some would require a bit of effort on my part that would drain some of my energy beyond what I am willing to accept.

    But (and yes, this is another counter but…) I am also willing to adapt to the changes brought on by the weather, and just see where it takes me on my baguazhang journey: What I cannot do physically, I will do mentally with a bit of baguazhang revision.

    Even I don’t know everything. There is a lot of theory around baguazhang that requires a practitioner to sit down, open a manual and study.

    Traditionally in China, martial arts was a gentleman’s pursuit. And as such, it meant it had scholarly endeavours attached to it. Without it, martial arts in the wrong hands would degenerate into nothing more than thuggery.

    Every baguazhang master taught this. If not through theory, then through technique. And if that didn’t sink in, then through the legends about them.

    With me, I do it through my podcast, qigong class, and publishing six easy-to-read books around the topic of baguazhang.

    And now I am learning how to transmute this wisdom through just being in close physical proximity to me. This skill is something I allude to in my sixth baguazhang book about jingong titled “The Baguazhang Jin of War”.

    👉 (八卦掌的戰勁)

    I won’t go into further details about it, because if you are not there yet, you will reject it outright as total b******t. But if you are there then you will understand and move on to wherever it is you are going. And that for me means moulding my true Dan Tian in harmony with this humidity so that I can go out and get my Roti with Kuri Ayam!

    • 6 min
    254. 📗 Baguazhang art of war - Jingong 勁功

    254. 📗 Baguazhang art of war - Jingong 勁功

    Some of you may have noticed that The Baguazhang Art of War series has recently gained a new member to the family: The Baguazhang Jin of War.

    Of the six books on baguazhang I have published thus far, this book has been the most challenging.

    And it has been the most challenging because in order to get anywhere with this book, I have had to confront who I am, and what I am as a martial artist and where it will be taking me.

    It has also meant as a martial artist, I have had to let go of other people’s opinions on what baguazhang is and accept the baguazhang path I am on, as it actually is. Which, if you have read any of my books or listened to my podcast, will know that when it comes to internal martial arts, I don’t do plain vanilla.

    The Baguazhang Jin of War is about jingong 勁功, the external manifestation of a person’s internal qigong as it is usually experienced through baguazhang.

    What it is not, is jinggong 精功.

    Even though, with my accent, the two words sound the same, they are not the same. Although it can be confusing. Jinggong 精功, spelt with three G’s, refers to the first treasure of Taoist internal alchemy of Jing or essence as in a person’s sexual bodily fluids.

    My book deals with Jin and is spelt j, i, n, and has no g.

    And it is a topic I will keep mostly to my book. It is a topic that I know you will only seek out when you are ready for it. Which is usually through self-experience. Or you’re getting that sense that you are on the path. What that path is, only you will know, but if you are still trying to appreciate the Tao through the mediums of conflict: Fighting, arguing and debating like it’s a case in law, then you are still not there.

    Anyway, I digress from the main point, which is to let you know that I have a new baguazhang book on Amazon called The Baguazhang Jin of War.

    • 3 min

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