Mud-Sliding Step / Tan-ni bu

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Mud-Sliding Step / Tan-ni bu

Post  wuxia_warrior on Sun Dec 13, 2009 2:40 am

So, I bought myself a christmas present in the form of the book and video on Emei Baguazhang by Liang, Shou-Yu and Yang, Jwing-Ming. I think it's very good stuff and I decided to try to learn some of the forms. (They have four demonstrated/explained.) Like much of the modern bagua, it's done with the mud-sliding step. That step is trained in the Jiulong system, but I haven't had any instruction on it and it's certainly not the preferred stepping method. I read the little about it that's in Dr. Painter's books and it says it's good for training certain things (e.g. the psoas muscle, et al.) but doesn't comment on martial use. I have a feeling that that's because it pretty much isn't used for martial purposes. However, many others seem to. But I still have some things that bother me about it.

1. Speed. I know I could eventually go faster with enough practice, but it doesn't seem to be a step that lends itself to going very fast. It seems there's a good chance for messing it up when going fast, too, unless you're on a very slippy surface.

2. Momentum. One of the big reasons Jiulong uses the rolling step is because it keeps the momentum going and that is one of the ways they develop power in the techniques. It takes a lot more energy to start something moving than it does to keep it moving. Even their turning is designed so that momentum isn't lost and has to be restarted. Mud-sliding step doesn't keep continuous momentum at all. It's all herky-jerky and it's even more obvious with how the demonstrator's pony tail sways to-and-fro. So why do it?

3. The stepping leg looks to be near-straight when stepping way out there in front all prone to getting the knee kicked in. That just doesn't seem prudent to me. What am I missing?

It's all fun to do and it looks nice doing the forms, but I can't understand it from a physics or martial perspective. Any insights? Dave? Blake?

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Re: Mud-Sliding Step / Tan-ni bu

Post  Whiteape on Mon Dec 14, 2009 3:53 pm

wuxia_warrior wrote:So, I bought myself a christmas present in the form of the book and video on Emei Baguazhang by Liang, Shou-Yu and Yang, Jwing-Ming. I think it's very good stuff and I decided to try to learn some of the forms. (They have four demonstrated/explained.) Like much of the modern bagua, it's done with the mud-sliding step. That step is trained in the Jiulong system, but I haven't had any instruction on it and it's certainly not the preferred stepping method. I read the little about it that's in Dr. Painter's books and it says it's good for training certain things (e.g. the psoas muscle, et al.) but doesn't comment on martial use. I have a feeling that that's because it pretty much isn't used for martial purposes. However, many others seem to. But I still have some things that bother me about it.

1. Speed. I know I could eventually go faster with enough practice, but it doesn't seem to be a step that lends itself to going very fast. It seems there's a good chance for messing it up when going fast, too, unless you're on a very slippy surface.

2. Momentum. One of the big reasons Jiulong uses the rolling step is because it keeps the momentum going and that is one of the ways they develop power in the techniques. It takes a lot more energy to start something moving than it does to keep it moving. Even their turning is designed so that momentum isn't lost and has to be restarted. Mud-sliding step doesn't keep continuous momentum at all. It's all herky-jerky and it's even more obvious with how the demonstrator's pony tail sways to-and-fro. So why do it?

3. The stepping leg looks to be near-straight when stepping way out there in front all prone to getting the knee kicked in. That just doesn't seem prudent to me. What am I missing?

It's all fun to do and it looks nice doing the forms, but I can't understand it from a physics or martial perspective. Any insights? Dave? Blake?

I'll begin with clarifying that even though this step is usually used in modern bagua performance routines, it is one of the primary stepping methods of cheng style bagua. I've read varying accounts that place the prominence of this method beginning either with Cheng Ting Hua's training with Dong Hai Chuan or with the convergence of many internal masters in Beijing in the late 1800's. It may be that it wasn't emphasized as much until the latter.


Got sidetracked, more to come........

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Re: Mud-Sliding Step / Tan-ni bu

Post  Whiteape on Mon Dec 14, 2009 7:14 pm

So, I will pretty much be re-iterating the things I've said in previous threads and discussions on this matter. For starters, it is my understanding that it is used to train a certain feeling within the stepping and movement of bagua. The martial application of this lies in the feeling and sensitivity gained from this training, much like stance training or circle walking is used to train certain qualities within the body that translate into moving a particular way. The ability to move through with control in this type of stepping can be used directly to displace an opponents foot which I think was demonstrated in the "conditioning for sweeps and throws" thread. Keep in mind, Cheng Ting Hua was a shuaijiao master before studying bagua. While the sliding itself is not the functional part of application, it provides a certain stretching and strengthening ("strentching" per Lu Laoshi) component to training. There is also the "light skill" aspect of this type of training. There is a certain feeling of gliding along on a cushion of air. This may get confusing semantically, but you can sort of let the root float along parallel to the floor and the whole foot is able to sense where the weight is to be distributed, leaving the option of gripping the ground with the whole foot on solid ground or rooting right through the "bubbling spring" point with precise control on more precarious perches like bricks, poles, or uneven ground. This pinpoint rooting was also demonstrated in clips I previously posted with a guy walking on bricks and ceramic bowls. In these instances the foot does not slide, but in my experience the feeling gained through training is very much present in stepping on precise spots. The gripping the ground aspect is also important for quick and efficient issuing of power from the ground up and is similarly seen in xingyi. Bagua doesn't even rank in the top 4 of my main arts, but when I step with my whole foot, whether the foot slides or not, the feeling gained from this stepping method is present and useful to me. I could only imagine if this were trained every day as one's main art.

To address your points as numbered:

1. You of course start slow which builds strength, balance and control through every part of the step. This will lead to going lower, more extended in the steps and faster with great control and sensitivity as well as good alignment.

2. The stepping becomes quite smooth as well as having the quality of really springing up from the ground and being able to grip the ground for power.

3. You would never be stepping straight into an opponent with an extended leg as such. Also, the knee does not lock. You could take a similarly extended step to move diagonally or behind an opponent. I think perhaps you're missing that the purpose is not to be looking to slide around while fighting, much like you don't just walk the circle while fighting or try to fight form a mabu stance.

It is the quality of the shenfa (body method) gained through practice that makes methods useful. Why train it? Because the predecessors of the arts trained it for centuries and you cannot know the shenfa and skill gained from this without training it. If you don't like it, or don't care, don't train it. Will you be missing out on some great secret by not training this step? Probably not, you are likely best off sticking to what your teacher is emphasizing and showing you first hand. You ask good and logical questions Jason, but if you cannot see some value to this from what I and the masters teaching this have already explained in texts, then I think you should accept that you will only know through training it for an extended period of time, or that it just isn't that important to you to have sufficient input to understand it. I don't think it will have much of a bearing either way on your training as a martial artist. You work hard and smart at what you have and that is what's important.

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Re: Mud-Sliding Step / Tan-ni bu

Post  wuxia_warrior on Wed Dec 16, 2009 7:00 pm

Whiteape wrote:... The ability to move through with control in this type of stepping can be used directly to displace an opponents foot which I think was demonstrated in the "conditioning for sweeps and throws" thread.

Yes, this is also one of the ways Jiulong utilizes the sliding step. I don't have the book with me, it lists some applications such as hooking and sweeping an opponent's leg, sliding under their foot and lifting up to unbalance for low kicks, and some other stuff. The impression I get (which could very well be wrong) is that it's a one-time-use step. What I mean is that it seems you only use the sliding step for those applications, but it's not the stepping you should be doing the rest of the time.


Whiteape wrote: Keep in mind, Cheng Ting Hua was a shuaijiao master before studying bagua. While the sliding itself is not the functional part of application, it provides a certain stretching and strengthening ("strentching" per Lu Laoshi) component to training.

That's one of the things I'm looking into to try to figure this all out. Yin Fu was a Shaolin arts person prior to bagua, and it certainly shows in Yin style. Gao Yisheng was Hong Fist, I believe, and studied under Cheng Tinghua. I haven't found yet what Jiang Rong Qiao did previously. Some youtube comments have lead me to believe that Yin style bagua uses "natural stepping" and not mud-sliding step. The "natural stepping" I've seen on youtube is what Dr. Painter calls "flop-footing" and is a big no-no (in Jiulong). Some of the flop-footing I see on youtube is so bad that they are actually falling forward onto the front foot rather than shifting the weight properly.

Whiteape wrote: There is also the "light skill" aspect of this type of training... This pinpoint rooting was also demonstrated in clips I previously posted with a guy walking on bricks and ceramic bowls. In these instances the foot does not slide, but in my experience the feeling gained through training is very much present in stepping on precise spots.

We also do this in Jiulong. There are several different exercises like this, from using the bricks (starting with it wide and progressing to where it's standing up on the smallest end), five point stepping, "Treading the Mountains" which is done on pillars of varying heights, ones on flowerpots, etc. I'm pasting at the bottom Dr. Painter's answer as to what step to use for these exercises since you obviously can't do a rolling step on an area smaller than your foot.

Whiteape wrote: The gripping the ground aspect is also important for quick and efficient issuing of power from the ground up and is similarly seen in xingyi.

I found a site (www.chiflows.com) that says Jiang Rong Qiao style uses several kinds of stepping, including chicken (the xingyi stepping). This kind of different steps for different purposes (which exists in Jiulong, apparently JRQ, and probably elsewhere) makes a lot of sense to me, which is why I have the questions on the people who train only mud-stepping. I have nothing against mud-sliding step and I'm not trying to criticize or be a jerk, I'm just trying to understand the purposes and uses so I can use it correctly. If mud-sliding step isn't used except for those certain purposes, then how should I be stepping the rest of the time? I'm not questioning the wisdom of ancient masters, but how do I know Cheng Tinghua wouldn't look at me today and say, "Are you an idiot? You'll get yourself killed trying to do mud-stepping in Nike's on a sidewalk! We always wore cotton-soled shoes on loose dirt and gravel!" If I don't understand WHY things are done I don't know when they do or don't apply, when I'm just ignorant and should train something, or when I'm ignorant and shouldn't be training something a certain way.

Whiteape wrote: Bagua doesn't even rank in the top 4 of my main arts, but when I step with my whole foot, whether the foot slides or not, the feeling gained from this stepping method is present and useful to me. I could only imagine if this were trained every day as one's main art.

I know it's useful. I'm just trying to figure out when it's supposed to be used, when it's not, and what to do instead when it isn't.

Just out of curiosity, what are your top 4? I don't know what conglomeration currently comes out of me, but I'd say bagua, baji, and Chen style are the top three I eventually want to cultivate.

Whiteape wrote: To address your points as numbered:

1. You of course start slow which builds strength, balance and control through every part of the step. This will lead to going lower, more extended in the steps and faster with great control and sensitivity as well as good alignment.

Do I step the same way when I'm actually fighting someone, or do I step differently but with the added control, strength, balance, and sensitivity that I got training that way? I think that's the main question I'm trying to get at.

Whiteape wrote: 2. The stepping becomes quite smooth as well as having the quality of really springing up from the ground and being able to grip the ground for power.

Does this depend somewhat on the surface? In bowling shoes, I can do it great. In brand new Feiyue shoes on carpet, I keep tripping up. Usually I'm somewhere in between. I have to adjust how I do other things depending on surface. When doing baji in the racquetball court, I could do the elbow and slide five feet in my horse stance. When I do the baji elbow on carpet in Feiyue shoes, I just stick the landing.

Whiteape wrote: 3. You would never be stepping straight into an opponent with an extended leg as such. Also, the knee does not lock. You could take a similarly extended step to move diagonally or behind an opponent. I think perhaps you're missing that the purpose is not to be looking to slide around while fighting, much like you don't just walk the circle while fighting or try to fight form a mabu stance.

I know the knee doesn't lock, but when it's fairly straight like that it doesn't take much pressure above the knee to make it lock and then break. Maybe the next time I see you you can show me how to move to the side/behind opponents better. That's something I don't feel I do very well.

Mabu is a good example! You don't fight using mabu (usually), it's a training thing. But you DO learn other stances that you DO use for fighting. If mud-sliding step isn't what is used all the time in fighting, then what IS used for fighting? (Some styles, Jiulong, JRQ) train some other methods, of course, but some of the styles, as far as I have currently noticed, don't.) If mud-sliding step is mainly used for training and a few specific applications, why wouldn't there be some serious time spent on training other kinds of stepping? Why not have specific exercises for mud-sliding step and have the forms, which are supposed to simulate combat, have combat stepping?

Whiteape wrote: It is the quality of the shenfa (body method) gained through practice that makes methods useful. Why train it? Because the predecessors of the arts trained it for centuries and you cannot know the shenfa and skill gained from this without training it.

I'm not saying to not train it. It even helps with my knees popping. I do and plan to continue training it. But I also want to understand it, when and when not to use it, and how to use it. Even if it's just to train certain things and never used it combat, that's fine, but I want to know that so I don't fall on my face trying to fight someone.

Whiteape wrote: If you don't like it, or don't care, don't train it. Will you be missing out on some great secret by not training this step? Probably not, you are likely best off sticking to what your teacher is emphasizing and showing you first hand. You ask good and logical questions Jason, but if you cannot see some value to this from what I and the masters teaching this have already explained in texts, then I think you should accept that you will only know through training it for an extended period of time, or that it just isn't that important to you to have sufficient input to understand it. I don't think it will have much of a bearing either way on your training as a martial artist. You work hard and smart at what you have and that is what's important.

I do like it and I do care. I like hammers, they're awesome for installing nails. But I also want to know how to use a screwdriver and when I should be using a hammer versus using a screwdriver.

I feel like you think I'm talking smack about the technique, which is not my intent. I'm trying to learn more about the wider world of bagua. There seems to be a fair amount of trash talk between the different schools. Some people adamantly proclaim that there is no bagua from Sichuan province. If that's the case, I know no bagua since Jiulong comes from Sichuan and Emei baguazhang comes from Sichuan. From what I currently know, no one really knows how it got there, but it seems obvious to me that it did. I've seen a claim that Yin Fu studied with Dong Haichuan for 20 years while Cheng Tinghua only studied with him for 4. Does that make Yin style better or more baguazhang? I don't know. I don't like Yin style as much because it's very Shaolin-esque and I like the swimmier-looking kinds. That's mainly my personal aesthetics talking, I have no idea if one is more or less effective than the other.

My choice in the arts comes down to two main things - whether or not it's effective and how it feels to my body. I think xingyi is a very effective and wonderful style, but for some reason my body just doesn't seem to care for it a whole lot. Bagua feels really good to my body. I feel more energized after practicing it rather than tired. I sometimes break out in random episodes of bagua movements just because the breeze is blowing, the sun is shining, and the mood takes hold of me. That has never happened to me with a longfist form. It has happened, though to a lesser extent with taiji and baji.



Dr. Painter's Reply to Qinggong exercise questions:
Hello Mr. Pajski,

Bless you for asking a question directly related to training Zhandouli
Baguazhang methods. I have included your questions here and have given my
response below each.
John Painter

In Vol. 1 of Combat Baguazhang, there are several exercises listed on page 99,
(Five Point Stepping, Treading in the Mountains, Running on 9 Posts) where the
surface is very small. Is it possible to do the rolling step in those exercises
(and other instances where the area you're stepping is smaller than your foot),
or must the serpent step be used?

JOHN PAINTER: I believe you are referencing Volume 2 page 99 not Volume one.
This is the beginning of light body training designed to improve you
proprioception capabilities. Proprioception is perception of stimuli relating to
position, posture, equilibrium, or internal condition. Receptors (nerve endings)
in skeletal muscles and on tendons provide constant information on limb position
and muscle action for coordination of limb movements.

Awareness of equilibrium changes usually involves perception of the pull of
gravity. In humans, gravity, position, and orientation are registered by tiny
grains called otoliths moving within two fluid-filled sacs in the inner ear in
response to any change in position or orientation. Their motion is detected by
sense hairs. Rotation is detected by the inertial lag of fluid in the
semicircular canals acting on the sense hairs. The central nervous system
integrates signals from the canals to perceive rotation in three dimensions.

Thus light body training in its first phase is really to put it simply balance
training. The answer to your question is you step with whatever stepping method
works in the particular exercise. For example the first photo shows walking with
heron stepping around eight flower pots turned over. The only safe way to do
this is to step down placing the middle of the foot on the next pot and so on.
This makes for very precise foot placement and you have to learn not to "look"
directly at the pot, you must see it with your peripheral vision or develop an
awareness of the spatial relationship between each pot and trust your instincts
when stepping. If you gaze downward you will throw off your balance and destroy
the ridgepole concept and no a rolling step will not work on this exercise.

THE POTS. These pots were made by pouring concrete called "sackcrete" into clay
flower pots. Once it hardens the pot is broken away and you have a nice training
device which has many uses. Be very careful when walking on these as a fall can
be quite uncomfortable. Intermediate exercise is do by turning them upright so
the base is smaller, they become much more unstable in that position.

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Re: Mud-Sliding Step / Tan-ni bu

Post  Whiteape on Wed Dec 16, 2009 10:33 pm

The impression I get (which could very well be wrong) is that it's a one-time-use step. What I mean is that it seems you only use the sliding step for those applications, but it's not the stepping you should be doing the rest of the time.

That is pretty much my understanding too, but once again it is not the sliding of the foot itself that is the functional part. It is the foot "hovering" parallel to the ground. I would say that it would be perfectly practical however in bagua context to walk around in pretty much the same way with the whole foot pressing and gripping into the ground, minus the slide. The strength and control of the sliding training will be felt in the rooting of the foot IME. The same goes for when you are attempting to train slide step in shoes or on a surface with more grip. And if you should happen to be in a fight in slippery conditions, your stepping will be better equipped to handle this with control and strength.

The "natural stepping" I've seen on youtube is what Dr. Painter calls "flop-footing" and is a big no-no (in Jiulong). Some of the flop-footing I see on youtube is so bad that they are actually falling forward onto the front foot rather than shifting the weight properly.

I don't really know exactly what is meant by "flop-footing". We all perceive things through different filters based on our experience, but I would just warn against judging things as good or bad/right or wrong, based on the filters of other training. I don't know if this is something that is orthodox within yin style or is just a flat out mistake, but there are many things that are considered un-orthodox through the filter of training another style. Jiulong bagua is good example of this as it is considered by some bagua purists to be un-orthodox.

I have nothing against mud-sliding step and I'm not trying to criticize or be a jerk, I'm just trying to understand the purposes and uses so I can use it correctly. If mud-sliding step isn't used except for those certain purposes, then how should I be stepping the rest of the time?

I don't think you are trying to be a jerk at all. You're questions are very reasonable, and I am far from having all the answers, especially when it comes to bagua. I just feel and have felt from the beginning that the answer you're looking for really lies in training it. You would have to train it long and often enough to understand it within your body. Then you'd have a good idea of how much you should and want to train it. I think you know I come from a practice first school of thought. Theory is secondary, but at times very useful of course.

Dr. Painter makes the methods he teaches work well and there is absolutely nothing wrong with rolling step and or any other steps trained. Training mud stepping as your primary step will create different qualities within the body though. From as far as what little I was taught, we use it all the time. There is more beyond what I was taught.

[/quote]Just out of curiosity, what are your top 4?[quote]

For me it's Taiji, Longfist (even though I don't train much anymore), Baji and Xingyi. Longfist styles to me include the bits of mantis, fanzi, and tongbei I've learned as well.

Do I step the same way when I'm actually fighting someone, or do I step differently but with the added control, strength, balance, and sensitivity that I got training that way? I think that's the main question I'm trying to get at.

I say don't slide unless the conditions would dictate that you are sliding around, but the way I would step if I were fighting with bagua (big if) would be with the foot planting without sliding, but otherwise the same. The control of the weight and leg extension, gripping of the ground, and added scissoring strength to the legs would be the same.

Does this depend somewhat on the surface? In bowling shoes, I can do it great. In brand new Feiyue shoes on carpet, I keep tripping up. Usually I'm somewhere in between. I have to adjust how I do other things depending on surface. When doing baji in the racquetball court, I could do the elbow and slide five feet in my horse stance. When I do the baji elbow on carpet in Feiyue shoes, I just stick the landing.

Yes, but I would make sure to get plenty of practice under conditions in which you can slide as well as make sure you are able to have the control to slide in conditions that are more difficult. That ability to deliver the same mechanical force while controlling your stance through sliding in Baji or while sticking the landing under other conditions, is in essence similar to the way I view the use of mud stepping. In baji I would not attempt to slide in a fight, but the power and control are the same if you should slide or not. There would be few practical situations where the addition of a slide would actually be beneficial. But you have that follow through and control through training it. It is somewhat through this baji filter that I view the mud stepping.

If mud-sliding step is mainly used for training and a few specific applications, why wouldn't there be some serious time spent on training other kinds of stepping? Why not have specific exercises for mud-sliding step and have the forms, which are supposed to simulate combat, have combat stepping?

From my view of it, the mechanics of mud step are combative, as well as having qigong and qinggong aspects to it. It is those same mechanics you use to fight with, but once again there is no need to slide unless conditions dictate it. This to me is also similar to training extended blocks in longfist. in application the end positon isn't usually so extended, but the power extends through.

I feel like you think I'm talking smack about the technique, which is not my intent. I'm trying to learn more about the wider world of bagua.

My choice in the arts comes down to two main things - whether or not it's effective and how it feels to my body.

Please don't read my comments that way. I can be blunt, but you know how my tone is in person and I know you aren't talking smack. I do feel like there is not much else that can be said in support of training this step. To me and many others, it makes sense and perhaps there would be a very detailed scientific explanation that could make it click for you, but I have yet to find that. So to me, it still just comes down to understanding it through the feeling in your body. Just train and then you will have your own understanding which you can explain in your own way.

I like Dr. Painter's answer. What did you think?

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Re: Mud-Sliding Step / Tan-ni bu

Post  Eryn on Thu Dec 17, 2009 7:20 pm

Very interesting and detailed response from Dr. Painter. Putting that tidbit of information into context with qigong, I can see how the pulse and its path along the vagus nerve is very much informed by the signals in this process. I had no idea that proprioception was informed by signals in the ear; I thought it was mostly by sight. Extremely interesting.
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Re: Mud-Sliding Step / Tan-ni bu

Post  wuxia_warrior on Sun Dec 20, 2009 5:02 pm

Whiteape wrote:
I don't really know exactly what is meant by "flop-footing". We all perceive things through different filters based on our experience, but I would just warn against judging things as good or bad/right or wrong, based on the filters of other training. I don't know if this is something that is orthodox within yin style or is just a flat out mistake, but there are many things that are considered un-orthodox through the filter of training another style. Jiulong bagua is good example of this as it is considered by some bagua purists to be un-orthodox.

That's why I didn't say I thought it was bad. Flop-footing is how most people usually walk. Your heel touches first and the rest of the foot smacks down flat. It's bad in Jiulong because you aren't rolling the foot to generate forward push and you aren't very stable or sensitive to the ground or any of the things mud-sliding step is supposed to give you. I can't think of any reason it would be good other than you don't have to train yourself to use it, since most people already do.

I'm aware of the reputation Jiulong has. Had I known about it before I ever got into it, I might not have and would have missed out on some really good instruction. I don't, nor do I think they do, claim that Jiulong is "orthodox" bagua. Dr. Painter has modified it based on his experiences, just as anyone who learns a martial art does. Unlike some people who have no experience and just make something up (say their own form of drunken boxing, for instance), Dr. Painter has been a bouncer, bodyguard, law enforcement trainer, beaten, stabbed, and what have you. I don't have quite the devotion to him some of his students do (which I think sometimes borders on religious) but as he said himself the last time I had dinner with him, "You don't have to like me as a person, you just show respect to me as the bearer of this knowledge" (not an exact quote, I don't remember exactly how he said it). Unlike "orthodox bagua" Dr. Painter even practices and in rare cases teaches how to apply the principles to shooting guns and the like. He's created his own system based on the internal principles for training law enforcement officers. I personally feel it's in the essence of bagua itself to change and adapt over time. When it comes right down to it, it works and I like it. Whether it's called bagua or Painterzhangfa, that doesn't change it's effectiveness.

Whiteape wrote:
I don't think you are trying to be a jerk at all. You're questions are very reasonable, and I am far from having all the answers, especially when it comes to bagua. I just feel and have felt from the beginning that the answer you're looking for really lies in training it. You would have to train it long and often enough to understand it within your body. Then you'd have a good idea of how much you should and want to train it. I think you know I come from a practice first school of thought. Theory is secondary, but at times very useful of course.

I feel that I have gained something from discussing this with you as well as questions I posed to the Jiulong group. I know you come from the practice first school and while there's absolutely nothing wrong with that school, it doesn't work as well for me personally. Chris is from the stand-and-wave-your-arms-until-something-happens school of qigong, while the Jiulong folks give lots of explanations and instruction. I can stand around and wave my arms until the cows come home and I will never get it. I go to one of Painter's qigong seminars and I can feel the effects in minutes. People learn in different ways and I think it's only natural for there to be different methods of teaching and people should use whatever way works for them. None of them are objectively better than the others.

Whiteape wrote: For me it's Taiji, Longfist (even though I don't train much anymore), Baji and Xingyi. Longfist styles to me include the bits of mantis, fanzi, and tongbei I've learned as well.

I know the way I spar is mainly longfisty and generic punching, blocking, and kicking. Because I haven't really trained the others in sparring-type situations, I default into the old way. Part of it is because some of them don't lend themselves to sport sparring type situations. It's not appropriate for me to just baji elbow someone sparring at Laughing Dragon. So instead I punch and kick and flail and look like a moron as I get hit repeatedly. The Jiulong method is, in my own words, made to step in and break the person. It's not meant for repeated exchanges of blows back and forth. You blend with the opponent's energy, take their spine from the first touch, and incapacitate them and leave them on the ground while you look for the next target. How do you spar with a style that relies on using your developed internal power to finish off your opponent quickly when you have to pull your punches to not hurt your partner? I haven't trained in those styles enough to use them properly in such situations.

Whiteape wrote: From my view of it, the mechanics of mud step are combative, as well as having qigong and qinggong aspects to it. It is those same mechanics you use to fight with, but once again there is no need to slide unless conditions dictate it. This to me is also similar to training extended blocks in longfist. in application the end positon isn't usually so extended, but the power extends through.

The Jiulong folks are careful to explicitly separate martial from qigong techniques, though they teach both. Sometimes what's good for one is very bad for the other. Even the martial quiet sitting is different from meditation for health reasons which is also different from meditation for spiritual reasons. The example of extended blocks makes a lot of sense.

Whiteape wrote: Please don't read my comments that way. I can be blunt, but you know how my tone is in person and I know you aren't talking smack. I do feel like there is not much else that can be said in support of training this step. To me and many others, it makes sense and perhaps there would be a very detailed scientific explanation that could make it click for you, but I have yet to find that. So to me, it still just comes down to understanding it through the feeling in your body. Just train and then you will have your own understanding which you can explain in your own way.

I go through iterations and since I am a scientist-type of person I need to understand things intellectually to get the most out of them, but that leads to experience and they feed into each other. If I don't get a firm intellectual basis, though, I pretty much don't do any of it right and then I'm hopeless. This is especially true when I'm learning something through infrequent formal training combined with book and DVD learning. I don't have someone to watch my bagua on a weekly basis and correct the things I'm doing wrong, so I need to understand the right way to do it before I train it for months and show up at the next seminar having completely engrammed the incorrect way to do it.

Whiteape wrote: I like Dr. Painter's answer. What did you think?

Of course it makes sense. I can always want for more specific detail in what situations and ways to use certain stepping, but I think the Jiulong people would say that's something I need to play around with and figure out myself. One of the Jiulong guys just posted about training the rolling step in 14 inches of snow in Philadelphia as he was pulling his grocery cart to and from the store yesterday. I, on the other hand, was using heron stepping in the 2+ feet of snow yesterday since it didn't seem possible to me to do rolling step in snow that deep.

I found this message in the Jiulong archives on the mud-stepping also:

---------------------------------------------------------------------------
RE: [JiulongBaguazhang] Mud Stepping

Dear Ken,

There are uses for mud stepping in combat, it just depends on the situation.
Dr. Painter refers to all specific stepping methods (as well as striking
methods etc.) as tools. And tools work best under certaing circumstances.
So, as Ethan has pointed out, it is not a matter of right or wrong methods,
but rather that of what is functional in a specific situation. Each method
is part of a toolbox to be pulled out when needed.

For the most part, in Jiulong we use the rolling heel-toe step for overall
mobility in combat. It is by far the most versatile of the the stepping
methods and therefore is the main focus of stepping. However, there will be
times when one needs to step carefully due to the terrain one is on, and
times when you may want to slip a foot in behind the opponents foot to
uproot, trip etc. For these latter situations, the mud walking step is
suitable.

Does this help answer your question?

Eric Reynolds
Study Group Leader
Toronto
-------------------------------------------------------------------

P.S. Don't buy videos featuring Gerald Sharp. I got his DVD on "Pa Kua Chang - 72 Leg Techniques" hoping to get some much-desired instruction on leg work in bagua and it's just him doing a (boring) form twice. There is no instruction, no breaking down of techniques, nothing. Just him doing it (poorly, I might add). I don't know why they even show it twice. I could easily rewind and watch it again, especially since there's nothing else on the video. I don't know where he gets the title of 72 techniques, either. I noticed only about three or four kinds of kicks and only one of them was one you don't see in just about every martial art in existence.

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Re: Mud-Sliding Step / Tan-ni bu

Post  Whiteape on Sun Dec 20, 2009 9:09 pm

That's why I didn't say I thought it was bad. Flop-footing is how most people usually walk. Your heel touches first and the rest of the foot smacks down flat. It's bad in Jiulong because you aren't rolling the foot to generate forward push and you aren't very stable or sensitive to the ground or any of the things mud-sliding step is supposed to give you.

I see, makes sense. Then again there are many things that make sense to train when the intent is there. I wasn't implying that you were saying it's bad either.


I can't think of any reason it would be good other than you don't have to train yourself to use it, since most people already do.

That would actually be a really good reason to train it, particularly if your intent were to become much more sensitive with this method of stepping. From my experience of things, when your qigong is felt all the way into the feet, the use of the connection that is felt with the ground can be manipulated in many different productive ways. Additionally, I don't have experience with yin style, but I suspect there's more to it than the foot just smacking down flat. I suspect they are more so gripping the ground when they do this step.

I'm aware of the reputation Jiulong has. Had I known about it before I ever got into it, I might not have and would have missed out on some really good instruction. I don't, nor do I think they do, claim that Jiulong is "orthodox" bagua....When it comes right down to it, it works and I like it. Whether it's called bagua or Painterzhangfa, that doesn't change it's effectiveness.

Agreed, I have no personal issue with Jiulong Bagua. I have only heard and seen good things from friends who've trained it. 3 Emperor's system isn't exactly orthodox either. It seems more designed to encompass a certain mode of training with qigong that is able to really absorb stuff into it's curriculum. Practicing this way, we can take, discard or modify things as we like with the focus of qigong that is fairly equal parts martial, medical and spiritual IMO.

I know you come from the practice first school...while the Jiulong folks give lots of explanations and instruction (I know this edit is somewhat out of context). I can stand around and wave my arms until the cows come home and I will never get it. I go to one of Painter's qigong seminars and I can feel the effects in minutes. People learn in different ways and I think it's only natural for there to be different methods of teaching and people should use whatever way works for them. None of them are objectively better than the others.

I think some things should be a bit clarified in the ideas you've presented here and by what I mean from practice first. Please don't take the tone of this as being offended or trying to present our training as being better in some way or as being directed negatively at you. These are points that I feel should be made regardless and I will write them directly as I think of them without taking much time to word them tactfully. I am all for detailed instruction of movement and I hope your experience with training with me has not been otherwise. I am currently teaching taiji to two guys with over 50 years combined wushu and taiji experience, one trained taiji with Yang Jwing Ming and the other a mantis guy who has done some yang and chen. Both have remarked about the detail of training I provide, so in my own defense impressions and opinions will vary. There are only so many things you can correct at once so sometimes only the gross things or a limited # of things are addressed. In all fairness, you must admit you don't have any experience with our qigong other than discussions. I can't remember if I've ever even done with you the "tiger plays with ball" exercise that quickly opens laogong in the middle of the palm. You used the experience of feeling qigong in seminars as an example, so I will speak directly to that for part of this. I recognize that through both your other training and our forms you have begun to "internalize" your practice and I give you much credit for that. I guarantee though that the methods we employ quickly and methodically get results that are physically, palpably felt. I have yet to see anything that compares that is openly taught. Friends of mine who have more experience in the internals and some who have trained at multiple Dr. Painter seminars in past years have tested the "pulse" by touching different points on me at random to feel it and concede that they know nothing of how to do this. If you were to train this, there would be specific direction and results along the way. Each step in the progression will be felt before you move to the next. The pulse however, doesn't come in minutes except with very rare exception and can come and go somewhat illusively for some people. So for instance, I can show you what it looks and feels like within my body, and am more than happy to explain theory and uses to the best of my ability, but until you practice first, any understanding you have of it would only be shadow of the experience of it. On another token, someone could come in and have no mind for theory, but practice diligently and have a very direct and internalized understanding of pulse. Which do you think would be more valuable? So in the case with mud-stepping, I can explain that when you slide your foot, you get extra stretching and strength in the legs that you would not get otherwise and you stimulate the meridians in a unique way and so on, but this is not adequate for your being able to understand the why. To me, both mine and other's explanations were ample, and you only lack the experience to understand first hand through practice of this method. I understand the need for and am all for explaining the whys and details, but when does it end? Where do you think this magical, scientifical explanation will come from if not from within you? A few minutes, a few days, a few weeks of training won't suffice. The details and theories should help guide the way through practice, but the understanding and development of this sort of skill only comes through practice. I say all this to try to give you more detail on my point of view on the subject. It is never my intent to short change an explanation when practicing, but I would most definitely not want to short change practice for any reason. I feel I'm very clear with the why's, but that doesn't guarantee that the whys will instantly click with a student. Regardless, I think you are fine with your current training and intent and I know you practice diligently as well. If conceptually, the rolling step makes more sense and for some reason the explanations of mud step just aren't as clear to you, I have no issue with that. I really like rolling step as I've trained it in Yang taiji for over 10 years. You make a good point about different teaching methods and I agree none are objectively better, but none work without correct and diligent practice, thus "practice first" is how I would describe my school of teaching. *The details and corrections are gradual and varying depending on the individual.* Wow, that took a while to write. I hope it's somehow, somewhat enlightening, if not, then damn.

Keep up the good training and search for knowledge!

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Re: Mud-Sliding Step / Tan-ni bu

Post  wuxia_warrior on Sun Dec 20, 2009 11:43 pm

Jiulong doesn't do the pulse thing, at least as far as I've seen. My personal opinion on it is that the two systems (theirs and yours) work differently but accomplish the same thing. In any case, I wasn't putting you guys into the category of lack-of-instruction.

I wasn't talking about martial aspects or even physical positions. I've never had a problem with your level of detail. What I'm talking about is what's supposed to be going on inside. In Chris' school of thought, we're told to stand there, maybe wave our arms around, and to breath in and out. Maybe one day we'll feel some pulsing or something, but they don't tell us that. We just stand there until if and when we maybe feel something, probably years down the line. Painter's way of doing it, which I gather is like you guys do, you explain what you're supposed to be doing mentally. Such as feeling some sort of sensation in the laogong, connecting it to your dan tian, turning it off and on, moving to your middle and upper dan tian, moving your awareness up and down the thrusting channel, circulating it up the back, over the head, down the front, stuff like that. When I do stuff with them, I feel palpable sensations (which vary depending on the individual, some hot, some cold, some magnetic, it doesn't really matter) and you do exercises with it, moving it around, expanding it, contracting it, etc. You connect mentally the act of raising and lowering your arms to moving your awareness through the "meridians." In the Chris school, you just move the hands and don't ever tell the student a darned thing with the idea that one day they may spontaneously feel something circulating in them.

The first time I felt such palpable sensations was with you guys. I remember exactly where I was standing in Jackson Park. I forget what we had been doing beforehand, but you said said how it was good for making you feel qigong-like feelings or whatever, and had me move my hands, palms facing each other but not touching, and I felt a distinct sensation exactly as if I were holding two magnets in my hands. The first time I went to a Painter qigong seminar, I had the same kind of experience but a lot more powerful. The second time I went to a Painter qigong seminar, I had to work real hard to feel much at all. At the third, somewhere in between. And so on. If I hadn't had those experiences, I'd still just be standing around flapping my arms wondering what the hell I was doing. While that method of physical movement in complete ignorance may work for some in the long run, I prefer to know what I'm doing and get a jump start by actually doing it now rather than wait a few decades to maybe have a eureka moment.

The fact that you guys even talk about the pulsing feeling puts you in the category I like. From what I've heard, you give the kind of instruction I'm talking about.

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