Playfulness in Martial Arts Practice
Playfulness is often not included in martial arts practice. My Ba Gua teacher Luo Dexiu encouraged us to play with the movements in different ways. He taught us rigorous standards in form practice, and also wanted us to be loose and adaptive with the movements. In that way you are able to make it your own. In his curriculum the higher levels of practice include improvisation. Taking movements learned as set forms, and then taking them apart, doing them in different order, adding, subtracting, and multiplying the constituent parts to come with unique combinations of movement. This can look like shadow boxing, combinations of strikes and kicks in a clear expression of how it would be used for self-defence. It can also look like a martial dance, a continuous flow of circular and spiral movements with a distinctively Ba Gua flavour, that to the uninitiated might look beautiful but without any obvious connection to martial arts. Ba Gua Swimming Body practice (see video below) is one expression of that. The delightful video above is of Matt, the Oregon branch of our extended Yizong Ba Gua family, playing with the horse of Xingyi.