Tag Archives: walking the circle

No Martial Arts Equipment…Great Workout!

Here’s Some Wild Martial Arts Equipment!

You guys may think that this is a tongue in check article on getting the best martial arts equipment, but it isn’t. I have personally tried the methods here, and they are top notch body calisthenic methods.

First, I tried cinderblocks. I didn’t want to dig holes and sink poles for the Plum Flower Fist, which is a form of Praying Mantis Gung Fu. This was great. Jumping up down gave me strength, as well improving my balance.

martial arts equipment

Kickin’ it!

From there I look for other things to use for martial arts equipment.

Tires were great. I learned to use tires originally for swinging a wooden sword. Took a lot of strength and control to make the tire turn and bounce the way you wanted it to. So I grabbed nine of them, arranged them in a simple grid of three by three, and started walking the circle, Pa Kua Chang style. This was odd, hard to ground through the springiness of the tires. but, you often learn more from what doesnt’ work than what does, so I moved on.

My my next experiment in Martial Arts Training Equipment.I put four by fours on edge and practiced forms on them. This was interesting, and taken directly from Ton Toi Northern Shaolin Gung Fu. Ton Toi means springy legs, and I learned all sorts of things about balance while springing from beam to beam.

And, I tried doing forms on top of fences. It was wild. Trying to spin and move, six feet above the ground, without falling al-l-l the way down! I don’t know how much I got out of this martial arts equipment, but if was fun!

And, in between these things I tried hanging balls from the rafters, punching tennis balls at a wall, and other sorts of things. But my next big foray into martial arts equipment was at the old Los Angeles Zoo.

The old zoo, now sort of gone, or at least redone into a picnic area, was a mess of cages and bounders strewn about in the cages to give the animals some sort of sense of nature. So I worked out in cages…lions and tiger and me…oh my!

And I learned a lot! I especially grew in arm strength. Having to hang on to the side of a cage, or going across the top monkey style, built up a lot of strength in the arms. Trying to do kicks while so perched was especially educated. You get a whole new appreciation for how the hip joints work.

Now, last in my martial arts equipment were trees. At the Los Angeles zoo there were all sorts of low hanging trees. I could walk on the trunks of some of them, climb to joints, and generally swing around and do all sorts of stuff. The interesting thing about this was that I could practice sinking my weight.

One of the places I got this idea from, aside from my experiences in the cages, was a fellow wrote an article where he had to hang from a tree limb for an hour a day for a few months before the master would teach him.

Well, having done a little hanging myself, I can definitely attest to the benefits in the arms and shoulders. It stretches them out and gives truth to the old saying, ‘A long muscle is a strong muscle.’

Now, that about does it except for one thing…all of the equipment I used cost nothing. That’s right, I didn’t have to spend any money at my martial arts equipment suppliers, and I got a better work out than some big nautilus machine could ever give!

Here’s a good article with no martial arts exercise equipment. Here’s the Monkey Boxing Course itself.

Bagua Zhang Techniques to Simple for People to Use

Bagua Zhang Techniques that Work!

Bagua Zhang Techniques are easy to learn and simple to apply. The problem is that they might actually be to simple.

Too simple to learn because most people don’t have the strength of mind, the mental discipline, to make Bagua Zhang Martial Arts work. They get lost in the potential of intricacy, and lose sight of the simplicity.

bagua zhang techniques

The simplicity of Bagua Zhang Techniques

When you walk the circle you must do so with an eye to developing Martial Arts Bagua Zhang Techniques. These martial arts gems rely on one simple thing: the opponent must extend his arm, and the person doing the circle walking self defense must use the extended limb like a captain’s wheel. That is, he must turn the spoke, that the hub of the body would spin.

If the punch is fast, this is difficult to do, and what punch is not fast?

The solution is to practice until you see the generation of energy, until you see the punch forming, and then be willing and able to use whatever part of the arm you get.

For instance, the attacker punches, and it is a short, circular type of jab. To make a bagua zhang technique work the student must circle in the direction of the punch, let it pass, and push on the elbow, or even the shoulder.

This means you have to not only walk sideways, but you have to adjust your distance, fine tune it, so that the opponent misses, passes, and is the right distance for your push.

When you push you must not do so faster than the punch, nor slower. The best bagua zhang techniques are going to be the ones in which you harmonize with the motion, and therefore with the oppponent.

Think: if he feels you, he will resist, so if you use too much force he will change. But you don’t want him to change…you just want him to be slightly off balance, unable to follow up, at a slight disadvantage.

Now, what do you want to do? Continue your circle walking and tie him up? Spin him to the ground, circle the arm and reverse direction into a lock? These are all potential bagua fighting techniques, but the one you choose will depend on one thing: what is easiest.

What is easiest, that is what is difficult. You see, most people train to do something, but when you reach the point where you do nothing, then you can let the opponent guide you to his self destruction.

It is said in The Tao: ‘Do nothing until nothing is left undone.’

Do you understand how this applies to a bagua zhang techniques?

The point is that you must practice not the technique, but the principle behind the technique, then your kung fu will work, and then you will have the effortless Bagua Zhang techniques that are easy and simple to do.

There is a great article on how to learn kung fu fast at Monster Martial Arts. Or you could just go to the ultimate resource on Bagua Zhang techniques.

Bagua Zhang opens the Door to an Entirely New World!

Bagua Zhang Creates a New Universe!

Bagua Zhang founder Dong Hai Chuan was most likely a Shaolin Kung Fu stylist. Like many martial artists of his day, he wandered the land, looking for employment, and looking for opportunities to improve his Chinese martial art.

He would look for chances to use his Gung Fu as a bodyguard, fighting off bandits with spear and sword and hand.

bagua zhang

Bagua Zhang was created by Dong Hai Chuan


One must wonder then, how he became involved with a band of religious zealots.

It is doubtful whether the monks of this obscure and unnamed sect could beat him in a hand to hand fight, but they had to have something, or he wouldn’t have stopped his travels for eleven years and studied with them.

For the first nine years, it is reported, Dong Hai Chuan walked in circles, possibly chanting religious phrases. He walked and he walked, and one can imagine the unspooling in his mind. It is invariable that his martial arts would start to manifest.

Around and around, making kung fu motions with his hands, bending his legs into kung fu stances, and imagining how walking the circle could enable him to move better through hordes of bandits.

After nine years of doing these kung fu movements, which would become the basis for his Bagua Zhang martial art, he told the monks that he felt that the trees were bending after him, actually chasing him.

Trees Chasing a human being? Now how could that be?

Have you ever met eyes with somebody sitting on a bus? They are in travel, in a different world, and for a moment the spirits see each other. Across separate universes they bridge.

Or, have you ever played in a soccer match, run next to somebody, and been immersed in your own separate communication with that person, created a world that is different, that seems stable while the ‘real’ universe of the crowd and the stands passes by?

This is the universe that Dong Hai Chuan entered. This is the universe he created, a universe so strong that mighty trees bent to the wind of his passing.

The question here, however, is not about Dong Hai Chuan, it is about you. Can you use Bagua Zhang (also called Pa Kua Chang), and walk in a circle so long that the universe bends to your will?

Can you go around in circles and learn the fascinating hand movements of Bagua Zhang until a horde of attackers is confused by your simple walking the circle self defense?

An interesting question, this Bagua Zhang thing, for it opens the door to a new universe, and a new you.

Here’s another great article about a Bagua Zhang universe. Monster Martial Arts has a great Bagua online martial arts course you can do.

Pa Kua Chang, Walking the Circle, and Entering Insanity to Find Sanity

The Truth of Pa Kua chang and Walking the Circle

Pa Kua Chang, or Bagua Zhang as some refer to it, is a strange martial art where in one engages in walking the circle until one finds the truth of one self.

Like a dog chasing his tale until he finds Buddha.

Like Black Sambo turning tigers into…liquid gold.

pa kua chang techniqueLike what is the race of man racing to?

Dong Hai Chuan was a likable fellow with a fascination for martial arts. He practiced Shaolin Kung Fu, so the legend goes, and reached a point where he was so good he took to the road and began wandering, searching for teachers able to teach him more.

His search led him through the Wudan Mountains of rural China, back where the mystic temples stood, and legends had it that ancient knowledge existed in pure form. His search led him to an obscure religious sect whose practitioners believed that one could discover the truth of the universe by…walking the circle.

So Dong walked the circle, day after day, in search of his divine nature. For nine years he walked the circle, and one can well imagine the taunts of passersby.

“Look at the old man chasing his shadow!”

“Hey buddy! Put it on a straight line and you might get somewhere!”

“Har de har har!”

Yet, rain or shine, under blazing sun and through freezing snow, Dong continued his trek, searching for the truth of himself.

At last, some nine years into his journey, he mentioned to the monks of the mysterious sect that…wasn’t it odd that…the tree he was walking around seemed to be chasing him? That the tree actually seemed to bending?

Was the tree bending? Or was something in his mind bending? Or was something in his mind merely becoming…unbent?

The monks glanced at one other, and one gently offered, “Another two years.”

So on went Dong, round and round, circle after circle, nose after tail. And perhaps this is where he combined his Shaolin with the endless walking of the circle. Perhaps this is where the circle became imbued with the art of violence, and became not just a repository of religious fanaticism. Perhaps this is where the artistic blend of self with the fanatical pursuit of God becomes…whatever it becomes.

Did Dong finally manage to catch the truth of himself?

No mention of ‘the bolt out of the blue’ striking the once young lad is made in the histories. What is known, however, is that he achieved a high degree of competence, that he was so profound at circle walking that he was able to defeat the Emperor’s bodyguards, and become chief instructor of that legendary ‘clan.’ And there are tales of him disappearing under the attacking hand, of tying mighty warriors in delicate knots just to watch them fall, of speaking to his followers even after death.

Bolt out of the blue or competence, this writer believes that competence is the more valued. But, that said, we come to the heart of the fable.

We know not whether Dong found himself, but we do know that a person who walks in a circle is insane. Such purposeless activity, especially in this godless world, is the heart of insanity. Yet…is insanity not merely an attribute that others cannot find? Does not one have to go ‘in’ sane to find true sanity?

The fellow who pounds his palm upon a stone, hour after hour, day after day, year after year…does he make strong the hand? Or finally divine that the universe truly is constructed of space?

That child who will become old doing his kung fu forms, does he fight hordes and legions in his mind? Or does he empty his mind of all hordes and legends?

That acorn…will it really become an oak?

The acorn might fall down an abandoned gopher hole, and it might root into fertile soil…but it is time that makes the mighty oak, and the endless and insane desire to grub into the earth…just to find the sky.

We are all grubs…but have we found the earth? Will we see the sky?

Look to Dong Hai Chuan for the answer to that one, but only ask if you are walking the circle, if you are pursuing yourself with Pa Kua Chang, round and round, year after year, breath after breath.

The author  engaged in walking the circle, did Pa Kua Chang for two years, until people began to bend over, lightening filled his legs, and energy stripes barber poled out his arms…you can find out about his Pa Kua Chang at Monster Martial Arts.

walking the circle

about Pa Kua Chang and Making It Easy to Learn

A Few Things I learned About Pa Kua Chang

I received a letter the other day, about pa kua chang, and that martial art is really as easy to learn it as I claim. I’ll probably write a newsletter on this, but I wanted to sort of frame my thoughts first, so let me just speak out.

People who think that mysterious hand movements are going to result in secret abilties and massive chi in twenty years are…sort of foolish. Yes, it can happen, but why take so long, and why lose students over the spreading of myteries, which the normal intelligent human being doesnt’ adhere to.

The normal, intelligent human being adheres to knowledge, he likes to understand, the mind likes to absorb that which is sensible and logical, and it likes to refuse arcane, esoteric bushwah. The proof is in that memorizing arcane, esoteric bushwah is very difficult…there is no frame of reference in the mind for it to adhere to.

I spent some time trying to memorize all the wild movements, but, in the end, the most worthwhile practice was just sticking to basic moves, and walking the circle for a couple of hours a day for two years. I became competent within a couple of months, and by the end of two years i was experiencing all the surges of power through my body, and I was able to use the ‘chi power’ in my movements.

But it worked because I kept it simple, and didn’t become one of these mystical finger boys with all there carefully crafted secrets that impress the heck out of everybody but don’t really work too well.

Honestly, what some people spread about Pa Kua Chang ends up taking the student longer to learn. Much longer.

So the basics are…walk the circle…breath deep…feel the energy going up and down the legs and across the tan tien…let the energy in the tan tien build, and relax and let it emit out the arms. It’s easy, and that’s the truth about Pa Kua chang.

about pa kua chang

Monster Newsletter #350–Creation and Matrixing!

November Fool’s Day!
A perfect day for a work out,
if you ask me.
But then what day isn’t?

Okey dokey,
I think everything is done,
if your order didn’t arrive just right,
if the download didn’t work,
if I didn’t send your cert,
or announce you as a Master Instructor,
or if you just have a question,
or anything else,
let me know.

I live to serve.

got an interesting note the other day,
here it is.

Dear Al,
Don’t know if you remember me, but I bought Matrix Karate and the Punching booklet about 6 weeks ago. It was kind of a mistake, since there is too much “meat” in both to really be sincere in your practice to both as a beginner. 
I’ve been going “Al Case, Al Case” I know that name but from where? In a moment of serendipity, I was going through some old moving boxes looking for a VHS tape on a kung-fu form. Guess what I found? Two old VHS tapes of “The Infinite Fist” and “Secrets of the Circle” by Al Case copyright 1986.
I was pretty into Secrets of the Circle back in the day but totally into Infinite Fist back in the late 80s. My kids, youngest 30 years old, still kid me – Remember Dad out in the kitchen with the cups and saucers, dancing around …. Course, being kids they knew their old man was crazy anyway.
Pulled those two tapes out, re-watched them for the first time in years. Talk about “meat.” Better than ever. Going to start again with those. Course the production values are crap but tremendous info.
My question/concern is you don’t seem to be advertising those concepts per se anymore. Can’t believe infinite Fist and Secrets of the Circle would drop out of the curriculum. Are they the “grandfather” of some of the DVDs you are now selling. I mean too good to disappear.
Thanks for your time & consideration,
David M. Rains

talk about a blast from the past.
Thanks to David for reminding me.
Of course,
I remembered him from six weeks ago,
but 24 years, 
I have to confess,
I didn’t remember him.
Course I only saw his name on a piece of paper,
put it on an envelope,
but you’d think my memory would be better,

when I did those two tapes,
I had broken apart the two systems of Karate I knew,
knew some Aikido,
and some Sticky Hands,
couple of things like that
and I figured out the basic matrix,
had tried to teach that matrix in the infamous one week black belt course,
failed miserably,
and was reworking what I knew
(trying to apply matrixing concepts to soft arts,
and combine the hard and soft
in some sort of logic)
and I came up with these three concepts,
pa  kua
infinite fist
and combining Pa kua and the Infinite Fist.
those three things
are the meat of the Create Your Own Art course.

The problem,
of course,
is that the production values are down in the sewer.
Blurry video
fuzzy audio
that’s me right in the middle
exactly square in the middle
of creating matrixing
ground zero 

Sometimes I talk to much,
sometimes I’m out in left field,
younger than a pup with a milk bone,
I’m matrixing.

Making logic out of body motion in two arts,
one classical and the other new,
and putting those two arts together.

The rest of the course is  the booklet
which explains exactly what I am doing.
and The Matrixing Dictionary.
a bonus,
a book of the Buddha Crane Karate,
which is a system I put together
a decade after I discovered matrixing.
I just felt I wanted
to put extra into the course,
not just show my all my youthful foibles,
but show where I went with it.

if you see where somebody goes
it gives you a hint
as to how you goes.

I don’t actually recommend Create Your Own Art
right out of the gate.
I was in the middle of some very confusing stuff.
So I recommend Matrix Karate.
Master Instructor.
when you want to know more about  where it comes from,
what kind of mental weirdness I had to travel through
to figure it all out…
that’s when you should get the 
Create Your Own Art Course.

As David says,
it’s meat.

it’s actually something
that nobody else
has ever done.
Not in the martial arts.

David sent me that letter,
which got me to thinking
about the creative process I went through,
in figuring out Matrixing,
so I thought I’d detail it for you.

Thanks David.
And here’s the URL,
for any of you who think you’re ready.

Create Your Own Art

And to everybody,
got to go now,
I’ll write a longer newsletter next time,
but right now,
got to see a man about a horse (stance).
Get it?
Horse Stance.
that’s good.

So talk to you later,
and have a super great work out.


All paid jobs absorb and degrade the mind.–Aristotle
Working out in the martial arts until you are absorbed upgrades the mind.–Al Case

A casual stroll through the lunatic asylum shows that faith does not prove anything.–Friedrich Nietzsche
A casual stroll through the lunatic asylum shows a bunch of people that didn’t do the martial arts.–Al Case

All great change in America begins at the dinner table.–Ronald Reagan
All great change in America begins in the dojo–Al Case

Send me your wins!