Q. What is your opinion of Silat and Baguazhang for self-defense? Do Baguazhang masters in China train Chinese Special Forces?
A. I'm familiar with both systems and the only draw back I find with either one of them as being applied to self defense is if the instruction focuses mostly on forms over fighting effectiveness. If practitioners focus on applying the "principles" such as balance, sensitivity, suppleness, body unity and total freedom of action and not on adhering to the rigid structure of the forms as so many do in most systems then in my view they can be applied into an effective form of fighting.
We've had our share of practitioners of these arts over the years and have found many of them to still cling to a limited understanding of the principles even though their schools teach the same basic concepts. Remember that what people are seeing in a form is but a snapshot in time for a very brief moment but in a real fight, that action is fluid and dynamic, something that gives the internal systems a major advantage over more sportive or static systems such as Karate; however this advantage can be nullified if the practitioners get caught up in the forms and cannot make the mental connection between the form and its true purpose in a real fight.
If you read our newsletter on "Balance" we cover this very thing in depth and we discuss at length why forms don't work in real fights-- it is because they are based on a reality of fighting that just does not exist. So while the free flowing nature of these internal systems is an excellent way to develop the qualities as stated above, the danger lies in thinking because you know how to "Ride the Tiger to the Mountain" as in Tai Chi or can do the "Low Creep" that this is fighting or how the fight will go down.
As for masters in China training their Special Forces I wouldn't doubt it because I know that the Chinese version of the Marine Corps incorporates martial arts training as a part of their regular training regimen and have put on some very impressive martial arts displays of brick breaking; however as to whether they can actually fight with it is another matter since there are, as we both know, many Americans who are very good at breaking things in demonstrations but short on actual fighting skill.
In truth as with other internal systems such as Tai Chi and Wing Chun these systems speak of developing all of the same qualities as we do in Guided Chaos, however often when they are applied they fall quite short because many of the practitioners do not take the ancient masters at their word. In other words, if the ancient Tai Chi masters say we must be as supple as a blade of grass with a root like an oak tree then we work to cultivate it, etc... It "is" what it "is" and we do not try to make it any more complex than it has to be.
Please re-read what I just said there because when you read "Attack Proof" and then read some of the better Tai Chi books available such as Master Waysun Liao's or Cheng Man-Ching's books or even (believe it or not) the first 25 pages of the "Tao of Jeet Kune Do," you will see the philosophy we espouse over and over, yet many practitioners ignore this sage advice and head off totally in the opposite direction of these arts.
Take Wing Chun for example. By the way it is practiced today by some (not all) with a rigid Chi Sao you would never know that it was created by a woman. Some Bagua and Tai Chi schools as well have lost their teeth because they have either become forms of exercise or the practitioners have turned them into a sport more akin to a Sumo match. On a final note, one thing I have noticed over the years is, as people who have studied other internals arts in the past see Guided Chaos more and more, it is not uncommon for them to see other aspects of the various internal arts that they have studied or seen. This is because by focusing on principles, your body and mind are free to create what you need, when you need it, adapting to whatever is going on at the time. This along with understanding the forensic reality of real fights gives us a tremendous advantage when challenged on the street and has allowed countless ordinary folks who train with us to fend off deadly attacks against them. I hope this helps!
---Lt Col Al
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