and thus ends the 100 days of Baguazhang challenge

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This has most definitely been a challenge! I would like to thank John for taking the time out to create this challenge and put up the videos :). Yeah OK so the videos stopped halfway through (something about John getting distracted by his job which does actually help to pay the mortgage lol), but it was still an awesome idea. I decided that I had committed to practicing and blogging about Bagua for 100 days no matter what, so I stuck with it, not letting excuses such as lack of videos or ankle surgery (don’t worry I followed the physicians orders to the T) get in my way.

The coolest thing I think about the 100 day challenge is that John did not edit, or stipulate in any way whatsoever about what we could write on our blogs. I think myself and blogger6 are prime examples of this. He didn’t care that I posted the truth as I saw it, when I was having a really shitty Bagua week, or hated a class. He also didn’t edit when Blogger6 turned his blog into the guns and porno channel ROFL.

I hope sitting Bagua and qigong count as finishing the 100 days since there was a little misshap involving a chip fracture near the end.

The 100 days did help me to motivate myself, likely more then I would have without the “challenge”. It was also a lot of fun to read the other bloggers blogs.

Also another large thank you to John for the hard work he puts into all of our teachings, especially mine. I know I’m not the easiest student to teach by far, and he’s been VERY cool about putting up with my shit. I just hope my overzealous practice makes up for this in some way :).

I would also like to thank the others who have helped me more then I can describe in my Bagua practice. Perhaps it’s best if I don’t mention all their names, but I’m pretty sure they know who they are…. including Blogger1, Blogger6, Blogger10, Blogger13, Blogger15, Blogger? damn forgot the number, but he didn’t post… and so forth.

I wish everyone the best of luck in your Bagua practice :).

The cement “post” making adventures of Bloggers 1 and 12

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So lately John has been drawing these circles in the ground at the 8 points and in the center to represent posts. These posts are meant to be walked upon, usually many feet up in the air. This is to help with proper stepping and so forth.

Well drawing chalk circles just didn’t seem right to me, especially after all that work acquiring a set of bricks to walk on. However the bricks are rectangle, and thus nearly impossible to turn around on. Needless to say I had to come by something round like posts, but which would sit on my floor in my practice space.

Thus the concrete Bagua stepping stones project was created! First I called a Bagua friend of mine and asked if he could help me get some concrete over here. I was fortunate and he actually had some spare cement left over from a project of his own (some really boring project such as something to do with house foundation I think lol). So after some bartering, a 60lb bag of cement made it into my basement! The day it came over was the day after my foot injury so needless to say I was very happy all I had to do was hand him my keys and say downstairs please, this is the location of the dolly to wheel it…

Well I couldn’t do a project like this without blogger1, especially not after the amazing brick adventure we had!! I invited her over on Thursday for practice, but had to cancel due to being unable to stand up. I also figured her presence would help greatly with such things like carrying stuff from point A. to point B., especially the large bag of concrete.

I first did some careful calculating to see if the one bag of concrete mix would do enough circles for both Blogger1 and myself. My roomate informed me just how much concrete mix it takes to make things. After my calculations I realized that we would be exactly 5 litres of mix short! After consulting with another Bagua friend, who apparently does much stuff with concrete and cement, I learned that I can use lots of gravel as filler, and it actually makes the discs stronger anyways :).

So the first order of business was to come by some gravel. I figured it was best come by at least a few blocks away from the house, and preferably after dark… We had remembered seeing large piles of it down the street as they were doing roadwork and we figured that they would barely even miss only a mere 5 litres of the gravel. Unfortunately after hobbling about 7 blocks down to the location on crutches, we found that they had used up all of the nice gravel :(. We did find some other gravel nearby, but only were able to obtain about a litre or two of gravel.

Next we went to the area where John teaches me Bagua on some days (the days he’s being extra super awesome, since it’s right near my house) and we obtained a little gravel from there, just because it was significant and has good Bagua memories for me.

Once we got back to my house, Blogger1 and I brought all the supplies out into the backyard and setup the tables. Well OK it was mostly blogger1, since I could barely carry stuff while using the crutches. I was in charge of the mixing. I carefully measured out the water, added the gravel, and added some nice red ochre mixed with crystals into the concrete mix. I have to say mixing concrete is a hell of a lot of work! Forget going to the gym, just handmix some concrete! I was told to go for the consistency of thick peanut butter. With all the gravel we obtained, I would most definitely say we were going for “chunky” as opposed to “smooth” peanut butter consistency.

I had spent the afternoon making the molds ahead of time, which was basically cutting circles out of a cardboard pillar mold. It took longer then one would think to cut out a mere 18 circles! So I took the measuring cup and scooped the concrete mix into the circle molds. Each one took a little over 4 cups of concrete mix. Blogger1 was in charge of smoothing out the tops :).

We were quite disappointed to find that we were exactly 3 molds short of concrete mix :(. This was due to our shortage of gravel. We will have to make the other 3 at some other point in time. The molds filled with the mix are now sitting out curing. Soon I will go out and etch the Bagua trigrams into each one, since they should be partially set by then, but still soft enough to draw on.

Before we started the Bagua “posts” adventures we ordered in Szechuan food and had tea. We ended the evening with some tarot reading and more tea :). It was a rather productive day, ending with us both VERY tired out afterwards!

Only 2 days to go and I’m completely and totally slacking :(

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I really should have at least done my qigong today, or sitting Bagua Jebingong (or however you spell that), but I didn’t, I just slacked all day. I will try to make up for it tomorrow though.

I spent the day resting, putting a little too much weight on my foot and making it a little worse, then resting some more. I’ve also put some nice chinese goop on it, for lack of a better term, since I don’t know the proper term for it lol.

Another 6 more weeks no walking, wtf? :( :( :( :(

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The doctor said several weeks no walking. The good news is that further surgery wasn’t needed, had a CT scan to confirm this. I sometimes wonder if my body is just too weak for martial arts :(. I wonder if I should take up knitting instead :P.

Since I can’t walk for awhile and am just hobbling around on crutches with an air cast (to restrict mobility and keep the pain down), I will perhaps work on those cement “posts” I wanted to make, so they will be ready for when I can walk again.

The worst part is that finally I’ve been told (by more then one source even), that my circle walking is finally starting to show some improvement, a lot of improvement apparently. I just have to keep motivated for the next six weeks, again. Talking about Deja vu.

So in the past year and a half since I started martial arts, due to no fault of my own, or others even, I have so far had: a torn ligament in each shoulder and each wrist (the right wrist was suspected as being a fracture and still hurts), ankle surgery (completely unrelated to MA but made me take time off), and now a fucked up foot, which means another 6 weeks off. Needless to say I’m rather discouraged.

I didn’t do any Bagua today, not even QiGong since Tylenol 3’s and qigong really don’t mix. If I get ambitious later I may do some fan zhang or something.

And so shall there be posts! ;)

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I have acquired a bag of cement mix ;). Boy times have changed before you would have to get the cement, then buy a bag of sand separately and mix them yourself, now they come all in one handy 25kg bag. I also just so happen to have a tube which is for making columns. I plan to take a hacksaw to it to cut it into slices so I can make 9 shorter posts. Short enough they won’t topple over no matter what. Somewhere between 2-6″ tall each.

So far I have gotten as far as using the morter and pestle to grind up the crystals and ochre I will be using to imbue some good strong energies into my 9 “posts”. I also plan to etch the various trigrams into each of my cement circles :). I figure I may as well have a little fun with this project.

I did some circle walking today, focusing on keeping my weight back. It seemed easier today then during class the other day. However I also think that I do slightly smaller octagons when practicing on my own. During class the other day John said that was a vast improvement, and if I keep up circle walking within a year I will be half decent… A YEAR? Only HALF decent within a year? 🙁 Oh well, I have an entire lifetime ahead of me, what is only a year? Speaking of a year, in 10 more days will mark the official start of me practicing Bagua! This was 5 months before I met John.

I also did my morning qigong today, as well as some Bagua Qigong.

My foot is killing me, I’m not entirely sure if I will be able to walk tomorrow, not that I’m supposed to talk about such things :P.

John is a….

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Patient teacher, yeah that’s it lol. Patient enough that he put up with my not so friendly reaction to his telling me to STFU about any pain/difficulties with class/training.

We focused on circle walking and balancing with my weight back until my front foot is completely planted ahead of me on the ground. I’d say my ankle was a pain level 7 during most of the class. I did not enjoy class, however the training was good. At the end of class, we didn’t have time for search hands (the fun stuff), and did pad striking instead. The pad striking was pretty cool, and gave me some more things to work on at home, which is always cool :).

Apparently my circle walking has improved, after doing the whole keep my weight back thing.

I don’t know about the rest of you, but I find Bagua challenging in general, 100 days or not :P.

Oh yeah, I also bikerode to class and back today.

Only 5 more days to go! :)

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Wow, nearly completed the 100 days of Bagua. I may only be mediocre (so far) at Bagua, however I’m apparently quite good at blogging and at finishing stuff :>. I’ve only missed 2-3 days of practice in the past nearly 100 days due to lazyness or slacking. I did miss a few other days, but that was either the fact I was on bedrest that day, or because my surgeon forbid me from practice.

However, I’m really glad that the 100 days is nearly over because quite honestly I’m rather sick of blogging LOL. I am complimented that there are 7-8 people who read my blog daily, hopefully I haven’t bored you all to tears over the past 100 days.

The most amazing part is that I made it 100 days without John telling me I should take up knitting instead, or me trying to strangle John LOL (Hey Bagua was rather challenging for me on many levels during the first 3 months!) Even better is that I got a bit better at Bagua over the past 100 days. However since my amount of practice did not increase at all during these 100 days, it really isn’t any difference then my regular practice, accept for this blogging part.

Today, as per usual, I practiced Bagua. More specifically I practiced circle walking in more of an octagonal shape instead of a square with small corners cut off. Apparently I’d been doing short diagonal stepping, so I practiced trying to get the steps all even. I’ll find out in class tomorrow if my octagonal walking has improved at all. One of the best things about lessons are the corrections, even if there seem like so many of them. I could only imagine how much I would suck at Bagua if I didn’t have someone to tell me when I am doing something dead wrong, as well as the corrections to help me perfect things.

I did a little Bagua qigong as well, and of course my daily sitting qigong. Next up my memory foam pillow and I will be discussing Kung Fu sleeping ;).

On a side note it was pouring rain today, so I did not ride my bike, nor did I get to try out my fancy new dorky looking shoes today :(. They are seriously awesome for walking, but also about as dorky as one can get as far as style goes ROFL. At least I didn’t get the bright orange pair.

Happy Baguazhang toes!

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So I thought I’d get a pair of the Vibram five finger shoes. Because you know, I’d decided that I wanted to spend an extra 20 minutes per day putting on my footwear ;).

vibram five finger shoes bagua

They even come with funky socks (for an extra $18 per pair of course) which also have five sections for your toes. My feet loved the shoes, but were wierded out by the socks.

Well I found the vibrams to be just AWESOME for Bagua circle walking! 🙂 It’s so nice to be able to get my toes involved in my walking while outdoors, and not have to worry about little pebbled. I did walk in socks one meetup (due to losing patience with some Nike airs), but it just isn’t the same. I actually found my balance in the vibrams to be better then in the taichi shoes I normally wear. The meetup was 2 hours long, and my feet did stat to hurt near the end since I wasn’t used to the new shoes, nor the very thing nearly non-existent sole.

They were definitely fun to circle walk in, and after a few minutes I completely forgot I was wearing them which is good. They also worked well for the bikeride to and from the meetup.

I finally got my bicycle out for the season! Both of my wrists (previously had torn ligaments which are mostly healed), and my ankle (recent surgery) were fine to bikeride :). It was nice weather on the way to meetup, but a little soggy by the time I left to go home.

The meetup itself, well my memory was even worse then usual, and I did much worse then usual even, trying to learn the applications for things. I really don’t think I have a talent for Bagua unfortunately; it most definitely does not come natural to me, and my brain doesn’t naturally think in a Bagua way.

A few of the students went for Pho after class, namely myself, blogger13 and Blogger15. The Pho was yummy. By bikeriding I beat them to the restaurant by about 5 minutes. The local transit system isn’t the quickest transportation option locally apparently.

Private lessons for the WIN! ;)

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From all I’ve heard from fellow Bagua people, private lessons help you to learn much faster. I would hazard a guess that they also help you to learn more deeply as well, and perfect things better. I guess I’m kinda fortunate in the private lessons department, especially considering the low cost of said private lessons (I mean compared with others who I feel are very overpriced).

Due to my inability to remember anything at all whatsoever most of the time, I really appreciate the private lessons, even if they are so full of corrections lol. Actually the corrections are definitely a good thing, or I would not be doing as well at Bagua. I really enjoy the lessons when they are outdoors in the warm (but not hot) sun, on a nice spring day!

Today’s private lesson was fun :). It was difficult, but it was fun. John felt that the standard circle walking wasn’t inflicting enough torture, so he drew some “poles” in the ground. this is to help me get the whole even foot placement thing going on. He has been mentioning lately that my octagons aren’t very octagonal when I walk. The turnarounds are also quite difficult on said poles. I wonder if my landlord would mind if I stuck 9 tall poles in my front yard?

I felt bad coming to class today after skipping practice on Thursday AND Friday <-- slacker. However he was nice enough not to comment. I still sort of wonder how on earth I manage to remember the turnarounds just fine at home, or at the park, but never when John is standing there :(. I went over the turnarounds in my kitchen half an hour before class today, just to make sure I had them still memorized. Then I got to class and "poof" there they went. At least I was training with the extra patient John today lol. The search hands was fun, as per usual :). John went nice and easy on me this week... he must have seen that I was in a little too much pain last week (my poor weak shoulders). Needless to say I also made sure to keep my arms very damn straight this week to avoid his dreaded armbars. Then we went over the best soft squishy areas for hitting people in. One thing I like about John is that he is very straightforward and doesn't exaggerate, lie or fluff things up. Well sometimes that is what annoys me about him as well when we talk about QiGong LOL... However he did say yes I am improving at Bagua, even lately. It has felt like my balance is worsenin along with my memory. Fortunately this is not the case.

This toughening up stuff is difficult :(

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Well first off it is painful, ouch. My apparently overly fragile body really isn’t used to this particular form of torture. You would think I would be used to pain, having chronic pain my entire life, sometimes quite severe chronic pain. However this is unfortunately not the case.

I am also not used to fighting or rough housing at all, only a little bit about saving my ass from either a very pissed off person, or from someone trying to rape me. Never done the fighting for fun thing until exactly 7 months ago. I was even more of a wuss back then. So after coming to the realization that I am quite a wuss, I went and asked my teacher if he could please help me in the toughen myself up department. What was I thinking? LOL

The other problem I’ve been having with the whole toughening myself up thing is the mental part. I’ve realized lately that I was annoyed with John and I wasn’t quite sure why. Upon much contemplation and reflection (since he hadn’t made any comments to annoy me in ages lol), I realized it was due to his hitting me a bit harder then before, and me reacting badly to it. Apparently I’m still having trouble differentiating being hit by someone who is teaching me, and being hit by someone trying to harm me. At the time it happens it isn’t too bad, I just wince from the pain, but afterwards I have an adverse reaction to it.

During the last class, it hurt more then usual, either because I was coming down with a cold, or because John was upping the intensity a bit (I did let him know the other day he could up it a bit), but OUCH! I really hope I eventually get used to it; I wouldn’t last very long in a fight if I was disabled by the first hit another person got in. Well that and I hate the idea of being a wuss. Fortunately I trust John enough for this, but it doesn’t mean I don’t still react badly afterwards. In a way I am dreading my next class, which has been postphoned for Saturday.