Could it be because among the many metaphors Luo uses to get his points across food metaphors are common (Chinese eat everything, starter-main course -dessert, you want tea or coffee or ice cream, it’s like a sandwich with so many fillings). Certainly true.
Could it be that everyone who attended the full weekend was sated by Sunday afternoon. I don’t think any attendees would argue with that.
Or could it be that there was so much choice of what you could choose to dig into and chew on.
There is a side to Luo that is an entertainer – not someone who is out to distract you from what’s important, rather a performer inspired by his passion for his art. But if you look a little deeper the choices he makes of what to to show are made for a reason, to illustrate principles and educate.
To be honest it can be bewildering, there is so much information streaming through, you have to learn to make choices. I’m sure that some attendees are simply entertained, and cannot distinguish between the layers of information and how they relate to each other.
What are those layers?
The most superficial, though still interesting are the forms and techniques. Luo tends to skim through these in seminars. He makes a distinction between seminars ad classes. Seminars are all you can eat. Classes are take this and chew on it. He wants the seminar attendees to work on their forms at home, and if they are not sure how to proceed, to go to their local teachers classes.
Throughout the seminar, though often more at the start of each session you get the Bagua big picture – how different aspects of Bagua fit together – the overall syllabus, liberally illustrated with body movement and technique. There is an immense richness to these explanations.
If you could cut a cross section through the seminar you would also find process. Sometimes this is explicitly explained, but it is always there. What do I mean by process? First do this, then this, then this, pay attention to these things with this attitude. This is great as a teacher, and great for self study. Because it is not as ‘shiny’ as the forms or techniques, many people do not notice it.
Another cross section of the seminar shows principles. Luo does his best to explain these, but even when he doesn’t they are always present in his choice of techniques, in his movement, in the angles he controls. Watching Luo is a simultaneous joy and frustration. He never looks hurried, what he does looks very simple and even though he is restrained you can sense the power and destructive potential in what he does. However reproducing that is not so easy. I also often have the sensation ‘hey why didn’t I think of that!’
Which brings another layer. Luo is extremely hands on as a teacher, he corrects everyone (who is not a dickhead, you know the type ‘in my style we do it this way’), gives them tips, answers questions, let’s them feel, shows some next logical progressions that can illustrate the points he wants them to get. Everyone who comes to the seminar will observe and learn in their own unique manner. They are also likely to be shown pieces individually that the others do not get.
I know that some people do not come to Luo’s seminar’s because ‘It is not my style, and I do not want to start another style’ I think this is a mistake. Luo really cuts to the heart of the matter. He has done a lot of research in to the history of Chinese martial arts and what he teaches is not limited to ‘style’.
There has been a tendency to over complicate Chinese martial arts, for authors to try and outdo each other in the ‘sophistication’ of the explanations they offer, and this is one of the factors that leads to people arguing about style, and not being able to see the overarching similarities between different Chinese (or other) martial arts. Of course there are differences, but it is still all about ‘two arms, two legs.’
Enough. I’m not going to detail everything we did this weekend. You’re better off checking out Luo’s website to see when he will next teach www.yizong.org where you can also find schools of his students in different places across the world. If you’re reading this, well you know about my school. Want to practise? Get in touch! Edward@i-bagua.com
Finally before I finish, no students = no seminar. I want to thank all my students who made it along, as well as the people who traveled to be there, and especially the one who took a chance to see Luo for the first time. We had a great atmosphere this weekend. I look forward to the next time.