My first baguazhang book ‘The Baguazhang Art of War’ has for all its concise simplicity, turned out to be a rather hard book for most martial artists to understand. The hardness doesn’t lie in some academic drivel, but in the very fact that through some basic science and logic around baguazhang theory, I have “kept things real”.

The thing is, though, the people screaming the most about what is realistic and what is not, are in fact the biggest desirers of reality’s opposite: The fantasy.

But the thing is, when somebody becomes a “Living Tao” (活道), or more accurately a living embodiment of their Tao or way, what is realistic becomes highly overrated at its best or for a martial artist a dangerous way to live at its worst.

Many martial artists who cling to the illusion of ‘keeping it real’ are in fact chasing the fantasy of the hero’s adventure as it is portrayed in movies and books, with scant regard for the environment a hero must journey through in order to have the adventure.

This is crucially important because while the Universe may or may not give you the adventure, Mother Nature on the other hand can easily provide you all the pain through natural disasters, wars, conflicts, financial hardships, interpersonal relationships, accidents and a dozen other things when we sign up for martial arts class.

And if we get through all of these things in one piece, we sometimes discover that we have built up an addiction to it. An addiction which makes living through peace and harmony, somewhat, a tad bit boring.

That’s right guys, peace and enlightenment without the beautiful exotic location can be boring. So boring in fact, that we will do almost anything to get back in the game.

The trick is, though, is to recognise what is happening before we end up going backwards. Thankfully for me, I have my Genchitaofu Baguazhang (艮氣道福八卦掌). And if you have read my book “The I-Ching of the Genchitaofu Way”, you will know that this baguazhang form is like a massive rock propping me up by making it impossible for me to go backwards, by ensuring a physical calamity upon me while at the same time pointing the way forward.

And so I move forward.

I bring all of this up because this morning I pulled out some of my old martial arts magazines and as I was flicking through the pages, I found myself making a mental assessment of the pictures of the authors and all their martial poses. Every single one of them was trying to live the dream by being tougher than the next guy. Back then, in the past, it was all so cool but now I am wondering about the life a person must have in order to live the life they profess.

And sadly, I don’t think that they knew what they were talking about. And fighting in the ring or on the mat doesn’t count. Compared to real life, it’s still just playing around. Real life is real life. And real life is the reason why most guys quit.

You quit because of the broken leg. That’s real life. You quit because you got married, needed to settle down, get a job and pay the bills. That’s real life. You got issues. Whatever. That’s real life. And on and on it goes.

Name your reason. It’s all real life. And none of it matched the fantasy. And yet through baguazhang, I am a “Living Tao” (活道) and I am still here… I didn’t quit because the government put me in lockdown. I just added it to my adventure as another chapter.

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