Romance of Dragons and Snakes
Chapter 11: A difficult movement of the leg
“There are countless variations to Bagua Zhang, but when all is said and done, there are still only 8 stances. Look at my demonstration.” Tang Zichen began to stand in position by bending both knees and spread out her hands to form an open palm before slowly pushing outwards and then pressing and kneading the air.
Following the legs slowly turning the body, her eyes followed the foremost hand with a swift motion and then looking around in a nimble manner.
“Double Exchange Palm, Single Exchange Palm, Following Posture Palm, Returning Body Palm, Rotating Body Palm, Lifting Yin Palm, Grinding Body Palm and Soft Body Palm. These are the 8 stances of Bagua, take a look at my footwork!”
Paying close attention to Tang Zichen’s feet, Wang Chao noticed that from start to finish, her legs had never lifted from the ground and had instead glided across it.
“Every single guoshu must refine the art of the leg. You should not fall, your legs should be like iron and hold you firmly to place. The upper body should be constantly in motion and should never fall. Even boxing is the same! Even this movement of mine is called “Mud Wading Step”. It is like walking in mud. One must be light, calm, and careful. If you step too heavily, then the mud would be disturbed.”
Tang Zichen had been demonstrating the stances she had been doing in the park. Each of the 8 stances had involved her hands raising up to the space between her eyebrows before slowly falling down to her abdomen with a sharp exhale.
Wang Chao slowly followed suit, and after two hours, he too had managed to imitate the eight stances.
Bagua Zhang had eight different stances, but Wang Chao had slowly memorized it. As he practiced, he slowly began to feel like he had the proper stances, causing him to feel proud of himself. But just then, Tang Zichen had slammed down on his head, “Even though you’ve learned the stances, but even if you practiced for a thousand years, it will all be in vain without the three integrals!”
“What!” Wang Chao cried.
“Your posture is fine and your movements decent, but why aren’t you moving your vertebrae correctly!? Internal martial arts require you to keep in the Qi, that is why it is called internal!” Tang Zichen spoke once more as she demonstrated as she pressed her hands against Wang Chao’s.
“When practicing, the footwork must be correct, the eyes correct, and the vertebrae even more correct! Did the horse stance and three integrals you learn all disappear into nothingness? I see that you don’t understand anything! When practicing, you must show your mastery of the three integrals as well!”
Tang Zichen spoke out with a harsh tone.
“Oh! So you must incorporate the way you stand into martial arts. The three integrals is like being given a formula, and martial arts is the subject where the formula is applied! When you use the formula to solve the problem, then the three integrals and martial arts are combined!” Wang Chao spoke in realization.
Tang Zichen looked astonished, “This little idiot finally understands! Now that you know, hurry up and learn the style!”
Nodding his head, Wang Chao systematically began to practice once more. The arms began to move while the legs followed on the ground. Finally, he grew extremely familiar with the proper postures and footwork. With each palm change, his entire body began to emit heat, but then his skin would instantly gain goosebumps and seal the pores.
As the heat followed with with palm and receded when his hand receded, Wang Chao began to feel like a pitcher of water as the heat constantly rebounded inside.
Wang Chao had felt this feeling the last time, but that was restricted to only the upper half of his body. This time, he had felt it in th the entirety of it.
Right now he could feel a hot and cold sensation from his hands and legs before it spread to every other part of the body.
Wang Chao slowly pushed outwards, the heat within his body never escaping outwards. After training for a while, his arms and legs felt as if wind was being blown into his body. But Wang Chao knew that this sensation wasn’t really happening, but instead it was due to the pores being sealed.
Gradually, the vertebrae could no longer hold back the heat within the body. In that moment, the heat grew more and more unbearable before the pores were finally opened. Involuntarily opening his mouth, Wang Chao let out a hissing sound as he began to sweat as if he was drenched in rain.
“You had the feeling, but you weren’t able to keep the Qi in. The three integrals requires the slightest movement of your vertebrae and not much Qi so you were able to keep it in. But now the Bagua stances requires your entire body to move and to prevent more Qi from escaping. But your pores weren’t strong enough so you couldn’t keep it in.”
Tang Zichen looked at Wang Chao’s entirely drenched figure but couldn’t help and smile. “You were too anxious and went overboard. You must keep a balance. The next time you feel as though you can no longer hold it in, stop right away and walk around slowly. The Qi that was raging to escape your pores will slowly sink down to your abdomen. Some will go to the kidneys, but a majority of it will go straight to the temples where it will change your entire body and increase the strength of the pores. This will maintain your body in the best way possible.”
“Xingyi Quan is much fiercer than Bagua Zhuang so the Qi will be even higher. Your pores aren’t strong enough to hold back the heat, so wait a few days for your pores to improve. Then I will teach you Xingyi Quan.”
Wang Chao took in a deep breath, “Alright. I went too far just now, got it. But I’ve finally understood the importance of posture in martial arts. I will definitely keep this in mind in the future. But still, sis Chen, the Lifting Yin Palm you taught me this time is different than the one before. This one is even more beautiful to do and look at.”
“The first time was the fighting form. This time was the practicing form. Let me tell you the trick between both.”
“Bagua’s practicing form is like to press and grind. The five fingers will press and then start to move around before slowly cultivating Qi.”
“The fighting form is completely different. Whip, jab, and chop. To whip is like to slap someone in the face with the speed of a bullet be it face or crotch. To jab is gather the fingers together as if the tip of a knife and strike at the kidneys, eyes, throat, temple or ribs. Those are the weakest points to strike at. To chop is to use your hand as a sword to cut at the kidney or neck. The majority of people all see the practice form of Bagua to be extremely slow and meant to press and grind, just how would this be used to fight? Actually, this method of pressing and grinding isn’t meant to fight people, but to increase one’s physical strength. The fighting form can only be seen while fighting, but the ones that have seen this form have all died afterwards.”
“The fighting form requires discipline to use, but if it is not matched with a complimentary practicing form, then the body will fall into ruins quickly. Tonight I will teach you a skill meant for fighting and increase the hardness of your palm.”
When Tang Zichen had mentioned fighting, Wang Chao had been put in a daze for a moment before thinking about just how cruel and sinister the world of Guoshu was.
“Furthermore, the leg is extremely important. The horse stance I taught you as well as the Mud Wading Step must undergo an extensive amount of training. When walking you must use the Mud Wading Step, when standing you must use the Horse Stance. The moment you can accomplish the both of these things effortlessly, then that is when you can say you have mastered both.”
With that, Tang Zichen allowed Wang Chao to go and clean himself from the washbasin nearby.
Wang Chao could only see that whenever Tang Zichen had moved as she drew closer, each footstep onto the ground held a decisive amount of power, causing the earth to shake slightly and the water in the washbasin to ripple slightly.
Tang Zichen’s steps grew faster and faster before finally reaching a speed almost inconceivable to think about. Then, finally, her two legs seemed to have blurred away and left Wang Chao almost speechless.
The water within the washbasin began to spin faster and faster before it rotating in spin thanks to Tang Zichen’s movements.
A whirlpool quickly formed and violently shook as if a giant hand was stirring it.
Splash! Finally, the water within the washbasin splashed out all over the ground.
“My……god….!” Wang Chao’s jaws dropped in amazement.