Special Martial Arts Techniques
I was reading a martial arts magazine many years ago, I think it was Black Belt, and I came across this anecdote concerning Morihei Ueshiba. O Sensei would visit various cities and put on Aikido demonstrations. I have no doubt the demonstrations were magnificent, but what impressed the heck out of me was the description his uchideshi (inside student) gave concerning O Sensei’s crowd walking technique.
When traveling through a train station (for instance) O Sensei would merely walk straight forward, exuding his chi, and the crowd would part. People would turn and stare at this imperious giant, and then the crowd would close up. The Uchi deshi, laden with trunks and suitcases, would struggle through the closing crowd.
The thing that impressed me about this relating of incident was not that a man could exude powerful chi and brush back a crowd, but that it reminded me of my own crowd walking experiences.
When I was in high school I used to love to run through crowds. I would be late for class, or just playing tag with somebody, and suddenly something would come over me and I would be in full sprint. The halls would be packed, and I would be turning on the dime, rushing full tilt, unable to be tripped (and some of the kids would try). Girls would gasp and even give little shrieks as I ran full tilt towards them, then turned and spun around them. The ground was like a magnet to my feet, I never slipped, it was like I was flash, but with magic glue on my soles.
O Sensei’s crowd walking blew me away, but it was so different from mine.
Exuding chi like he was a walking furnace. It was the beginning of my martial arts career, and control of chi in such grand manner was yet a dream. Still, I had my own method.
As time went on I gained the ability to exude chi, though not to the degree of O Sensei, but, interestingly, I began to hold my own method up as maybe not so shabby.
The key, of course, was in practicing Pa Kua Chang, in walking the circle. Specifically, I would concentrate on walking VERY slowly. I would feel the chi go up and down the legs, and I began to understand a couple of things.
One, there was more finesse in my method than just turning it on and blasting people back.
Two, Pa Kua Chang actually didn’t teach people to crowd walk like I was doing it. Classical Pa Kua Chang was more into tricky hands, and not into fine tuning the walk itself. Walking slowly, focusing the awareness on the generation and control of chi in the legs, made lightening in the legs. And this lead to the third realization.
Three, I could teach people how to walk through crowds ten times more easily and efficiently, and there was a LOT more satisfaction in the teaching.
Chi blasting a crowd is fun, but it is almost a bully technique.
Learning how to worm through the crowd at high speeds excites the imagination, it is subtle, it requires more whole body technique. And this last is interesting, and actually vital to the growing martial artist.
Compare it to a musical instrument. Chi blasting such as O Sensei did is comparable to the opening chords of ‘2001: A Space Odyssey.’ (Thus Spoke Zarathustra). Crowd walking such as I describe and teach through my specific Pa Kua Chang is like playing Flight of the bumblebee.
One is magnificent, the other is intricate. One is awesome, the other is subtle. One is overpowering, the other is shading nuances of color unto infinity.
And, of course, when it comes to crowd walking martial arts techniques, one shoujld learn both. Be able to be subtle, and blast at a moment’s notice.
You can check out my particular Pa Kua Chang at Monster Martial Arts.