Author: Dennis

Internal Fighting Arts Podcast: interview with Dennis Mace

I was honored to be invited by Ken Gullette to be a guest on his Internal Fighting Arts Podcast, and appear in the newest episode, 55.  


It was great catching up with Ken during the interview, and though we just started skimming the surface, I look forward to continuing the conversation and training with him. 


I highly recommend listening to the rest of the interviews in the Internal Fighting Arts Podcast, there is an invaluable wealth of information there on several topics related to martial arts and healthy living. 

https://internalfightingarts.libsyn.com/internal-fighting-arts-55-dennis-mace

Reminder: We will be returning to in-person training next week, April 24th, for all students who have completed their COVID vaccinations! More info here, in last weeks post.

At Mace Martial Arts, we value the sanctity of all life, celebrate diversity, cultivate peace and justice, and accept students who are interested in learning how to improve and protect themselves. We have a zero-tolerance policy for bigotry and will reject any potential or current student who bullies or discriminates against others based on ethnicity, religious beliefs, or gender/orientation. 

Return to In-Person Training

After over a year of social distancing to curtail the pandemic, we will finally resume in-person classes at Mace Martial Arts on April 24th, for students that have received their completed COVID-19 vaccinations! 
 
This will include private lessons as well as small group classes. 
 
I received the 2nd dose of the Pfizer vaccine  today — my Easter Sunday present! 

 
All students that plan to attend in-person training must confirm by showing a copy of your completed vaccine record card before you can attend class. Students must wait to attend in-person classes until 2 weeks after your COVID vaccinations are complete. 

 
We will finally be able to practice applications and partner drills for practical timing, sensitivity and skill development! 
 
I am very excited about training in-person again and looking forward to meet new students and finally see familiar faces in class! 
 

Remote Training Still Available: I will continue to broadcast the group classes live remotely on Zoom, so that students that are unable to come to class, whether they haven’t received the COVID-19 vaccination yet, or are too far away, or don’t feel comfortable yet to attend in person, can still follow along online. 


This Remote Membership will give you the ability to continue training by following along with our regular group classes, and see us go through exercises, forms, applications and partner drills live. Since I’ll be focused on teaching students that attend classes in person, instead of monitoring Zoom, I will be available to answer questions after class from both in-person and remote students via via the discussion board on our members-only Mace Martial Arts private chat group

The Remote Membership will continue to be half the price of the in-person monthly Membership, but will still give you the ability to keep training with us and access to student resources at Mace Martial Arts.    

At Mace Martial Arts, we value the sanctity of all life, celebrate diversity, cultivate peace and justice, and accept students who are interested in learning how to improve and protect themselves. We have a zero-tolerance policy for bigotry and will reject any potential or current student who bullies or discriminates against others based on ethnicity, religious beliefs, or gender/orientation. 


Please share with anyone you know that might be interested in joining our classes! 

Our Bagua Zhang Lineage

Our Bagua Zhang Lineage at Mace Martial Arts, Front row: Yang Guotai 2nd from left, Xu Zhenbiao 6th from left (center, holding Dong Haichuan’s portrait), Wang Wenkui 7th from left, Han Wu 9th from left.
Our Bagua Zhang Lineage at Mace Martial Arts, Front row: Yang Guotai 2nd from left, Xu Zhenbiao 6th from left (center, holding Dong Haichuan’s portrait), Wang Wenkui 7th from left, Han Wu 9th from left


In Chinese martial arts, the ancestral lineage of discipleship is often considered a primary factor of the quality of a student’s skill and development. The student is often viewed as a reflection of their teacher, sometimes creating biased presumptions. 


Pedigree is important — but not from trivial name dropping and bragging rights, but from understanding and smart, meaningful training. Strive to learn your heritage to understand where your art comes from, to see the system from the lens of your ancestors (their lives, struggles, contributions and accomplishments) that you may glean a deeper understanding of the why and how of the system and how it relates to you, personally.  Then practice what you learn from your teacher — in your own time at home, not just during class — so that you can understand, internalize and incorporate the principles they share with you. 


That is the true measure of respect for your martial family and ancestors, to learn what they learned, in the context of why and how they learned it, and to apply those lessons to your own life. 


Blind fealty to yellowed photos and glorified legends won’t improve your health or character, or save you when your life is threatened, just as assumed privilege from pointing to a family tree won’t help you gain skill, if you don’t apply efforts to practice what previous generations of practitioners lived and bled for. We honor their legacy by striving to improve ourselves, inspired by their example. 

The following is our Bagua Zhang lineage here at Mace Martial Arts:

Dong Haichuan

Dong Haichuan ( 董海川 1799-1882), a famous Chinese Martial Artist of the late Qing Dynasty, considered the progenitor of Bagua Zhang (“Eight Trigrams Palm”), though by his own accounts he credited learning the system from a Taoist Priest/Hermit named Bi Chengxia, from whom the system had been passed down in secret purportedly for many generations. Nevertheless, Dong Haichuan was the first person to teach the art of Bagua Zhang publicly. 

Dong Haichuan was born in Zhu Jia Wu of Wen An County in He Bei Province. He began practicing Chinese Martial Arts at a very young age, and became a renowned martial artist in his hometown. As an adult, he first went south before traveling all over China, studying martial arts and Daoism.
Dong Haichuan eventually moved to Beijing around 1864 to hold a post in the Mansion of Prince Su, where he began teaching “Zhuan Zhang” (Turning Palms), and shortly after referred to the system as Ba Gua Zhang, inspired by Daoism, stemming from the theory of 8 Changes in the classic “Yi Ching” (Book of Changes). There is some intrigue related to Dong Haichuan’s initial intentions for moving to Beijing, in that he may have been a member of the Taiping Rebellion, with the mission of assassination of the Qing Emperor, which is why he became a eunuch to serve in Prince Su’s court; when the Qing Emperor died a few years later, Dong Haichuan shifted his life path and priorities and decided to teach BaguaZhang publicly.

Cheng Tinghua, 3rd from left

Cheng Tinghua ( 程庭華 1848-1900), the prolific second generation Bagua Zhang Master, and creator of the Cheng Style Bagua Zhang. 
Cheng “Yanjing” (“Spectacles” Cheng) was an eye-glass maker by trade, and a Shuai Jiao expert before learning Bagua Zhang from Dong Hai Chuan.  Born the 3rd of 4 brothers in 1848 in the Cheng family village, Shen County, Hebei Province, Cheng Tinghua was fond of martial arts and in his youth he gained skill at wielding a heavy broadsword and a large heavy staff. When Cheng was around 13, he left his hometown and went to Beijing to apprentice with a gentleman who made eyeglasses. Intent on improving his martial arts skill, Cheng also began to study Chinese wrestling (Shuai Jiao) when he arrived in Beijing.
In the late 1800s, two wrestling styles were popular in Beijing: Manchurian/Mongolian wrestling and Baoding “fast style” wrestling. Baoding wrestling was quicker than Manchurian style, emphasizing throwing the opponent at first contact, without struggling. Baoding wrestling also combined punching, kicking, joint locking and point striking with its throwing techniques. Cheng Tinghua studied both of the popular wrestling styles when he was a young man in Beijing, and built a reputation with martial artists in Beijing as a skilled shuai jiao practitioner.
By 1870, Dong Haichuan had become very well known in Beijing. When Cheng was approximately 28 years old (1876), he sought out Dong in order to improve his skill. Some say that Cheng had become friends with Yin Fu and Shi Jidong (two of Dong Haichuan’s first Bagua students) and they encouraged him to meet Dong. When the two first met, Dong asked Cheng to use his shuai jiao against him. Cheng made several attempts at attacking Dong but was never able to lay a hand on him. Cheng knelt down and asked Dong if he could become a student. At this point, Dong hadn’t accepted many Bagua Zhang students — although Dong had taught many people martial arts in the Prince of Su’s palace, he only taught Bagua to three people prior to teaching Cheng Tinghua — those previous disciples being Yin Fu, Ma Weiqi, and Shi Jidong. The majority of Dong Haichuan’s students in the palace were said to have learned something other than Bagua Zhang.
Cheng Tinghua was Dong Haichuan’s fourth disciple, and studied with Dong for 5 or 6 years before Dong passed away in 1882.
Dong Haichuan was known to have only accepted Bagua Zhang students who were already skilled in another style of martial art. It is said that after laying a Bagua foundation with the circle walk practice, single palm change, double palm change, and smooth changing palm, Dong Haichuan would teach the student Bagua Zhang based on what the student already knew. Dong Haichuan therefore taught Cheng Tinghua using his shuai jiao background as a base.
The Bagua styles which most notably display a Xingyi Quan flavor are the styles which were taught by Cheng and his friends Li Cunyi, Liu Dekuan, and Zhang Zhaodong. The link between Xingyi and Bagua was most likely forged when Cheng Tingghua and his friends Li Cunyi, Zhang Zhaodong, Liu Dekuan, and Liu Waixiang got together to compare styles and learn from each other. Cheng Tinghua was a very open martial artist who would teach his Bagua to anyone who cared to learn it. He enjoyed meeting other martial artist to compare styles and share the techniques and theories of martial arts, and enjoyed sharing his Bagua Zhang skill with other martial artists. Cheng purportedly taught Liu Dekuan, Li Cunyi, and Zhang Zhaodong their Bagua Zhang, however, since they were very skilled in Xingyi Quan and thus were Cheng’s peers, he did not feel right calling them his “students.” Therefore, Cheng said that they should say they learned their Bagua from his teacher, Dong Haichuan.
Cheng Tinghua was killed during the Boxer Rebellion when the “eight foreign armies” invaded Beijing (1900). A group of German soldiers were forcefully recruiting locals for a work detail near Beijing’s Zhongwen Gate were Cheng’s shop was located. Cheng was on the street at the time and the Germans stopped him and tried to put him in line with the others. Cheng resisted and fought back; he purportedly drew a knife and may have beaten or killed a few soldiers during the struggle, before Cheng tried to run and leap over a nearby wall. As he was jumping over the wall, he was shot. He was 52 years old. 

Zhang Zhaodong

Zhang Zhaodong ( 张兆东 1859-1940), also known as Zhang Zhankui ( 张占魁 ), was born in Hebei Province, Ho Hung Yan Village in 1859, the youngest of three children. His father was a poor farmer and his family was often bullied by those in authority. Later in life, when Zhang became skilled in martial arts, he was very harsh on bullies because of what happened to his family when he was young. As one biographer has written, “Zhang Zhankui was big and tall, short-tempered and bold. He firmly opposed those who were roughshod over the people and disturbed public order.”
Zhang only had a primary school education because he had to quit school when he was still young in order to help his father in the fields. In his spare time he liked to practice martial arts, studying with teachers in his village. The first martial art he studied was Mizong Quan (a popular style in Northern China). When he was a teenager, Zhang Zhaodong became a Xingyi Quan disciple of Liu Qilan, a highly skilled master of the art. Zhang Zhaodong trained assiduously and became an esteemed Xingyi master as well. 
When Zhang was 20 there was a famine in his village, so he left home and traveled to Tianjin, but had difficulty finding a job because his only trade was farming. To raise money for food he demonstrated martial arts forms on the side of the road. 
Zhang hated to see people bullying others so he would always aid anyone who was being picked on. As his reputation grew, government officials recognized his talent for dealing with criminals and gave him a job as a “thief catcher” (bounty hunter). 
Shortly thereafter, the famous second generation Bagua Zhang instructor Cheng Tinghua was visiting Tianjin and ran into some trouble. Zhang Zhaodong helped Cheng with his problem and the two became friends. Zhang mentioned to Cheng that he would like to learn Bagua Zhang, and Cheng gladly accepted. Zhang frequently traveled to Beijing to track down bandits who had fled Tianjin. Cheng also introduced Zhang Zhaodong to Dong Haichuan and from that time forward, whenever he was in Beijing he studied with Dong or Cheng.
Since Dong Haichuan died shortly after Zhang Zhaodong met him, he probably learned the majority of his Bagua from Cheng Tinghua. During the early 20th century, Zhang Zhaodong and Li Cunyi ran a very well known martial arts association in Tianjin to spread the martial arts. Students in the public class could study either Bagua Zhang or Xingyi Quan, whichever they preferred. Zhang required his inner-door students to study Xingyi before they studied Bagua.  
Earlier in his teaching career in Tianjin, Zhang Zhaodong emphasized Xingyi Quan, then gradually only taught Bagua in his later years.
Since Zhang Zhaodong was a Xingyi man, his Bagua Zhang naturally had a Xingyi flavor. Zhang Zhaodong was a tall, strong man who liked to use wide, open postures in training and liked to strike down on opponents when fighting. His Bagua Zhang form and applications were direct, powerful and relatively simple, not as evasive compared to others because of his strength and Xingyi background. He did not utilize as many throwing techniques as Cheng Tinghua, who had come from a Shuai Jiao background. 
When Zhang was over 70, he was well known throughout China for his boxing skill and was frequently invited to other areas of the country to participate and demonstrate Bagua Zhang in martial arts events.
According to the writings left by his student Jiang Rong-Qiao, Zhang Zhaodong died in 1940 of natural causes in Tianjin at the age of 81. I learned Zhang Zhaodong’s Xingyi Quan and Bagua Zhang from Phillip Starr between 1985-1999.  

Liu Bin with his South Gate Bagua Zhang disciples: Liu Bin is between the pillars, second row, 4th from left with a beard, Liu Shikui is in the middle of the front row with a Jian (straight sword), Wang Wenkui is in the front row wearing white jacket with twin hook swords.
Liu Bin

Liu Bin ( 刘斌 1866-1930), the third generation of Ba Gua Zhang, was the disciple of Cheng Tinghua, being one of his first and top students. Liu Bin was a general in the Ching army, but quit his post in disappointment with the Ching government’s corruption and incompetence after his teacher, Cheng Tinghua was killed in 1900 by German troops. Liu Bin then focused on training, developing and teaching Bagua Zhang, and became a highly regarded bodyguard in Beijing as well.  As a former general, Liu Bin was an expert with various weapons, and specialized with the 9 Section Steel Whip. Liu Bin taught many students from his school in the Tan Tong area of Heaven Temple Park in Southern Beijing. 

Liu Shikui is in the front row, first on the right


Liu Shikui ( 刘世魁 1899-1969) Liu Bin’s second son, Liu ShiKui learned Bagua Zhang under his father’s strict, sometimes harsh tutorage; he trained hard and became a highly skillful master.  Liu ShiKui was humble, with a good heart and strong moral fiber. He continued his father’s legacy by teaching Bagua Zhang, including in secret during through the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976), when traditional martial arts practice was banned. Liu Shikui encouraged his students to become good people, and to avoid trouble and fighting without good cause.  Despite his positive life, strong spirit and good nature, Liu Shikui was arrested, tortured, and eventually killed during the Cultural Revolution for teaching martial arts. 

Wang Wenkui demonstrating Bagua Zhang
Wang Wenkui
Wang Wenkui

Wang Wenkui ( 王文奎 1900-1986), was one of  the top disciples of Liu Bin, and close friend of Liu ShiKui. After the Cultural Revolution ended in 1976, Wang Wenkui was one of the first to teach Bagua Zhang publicly, and helped write and publish popular books about Bagua Zhang. Though short in stature, Wang Wenkui was widely regarded as a generous gentleman and prodigious martial artist of profound skill, good heart and bright spirit, and is still highly regarded in Beijing’s martial arts community. 

Xu Zhenbiao, front row, 7th from left, holding Dong Haichuan’s portrait; Wang Wenkui 8th from left; Han Wu 9th from left; Yang Guotai fourth row, 5th from left.
Xu Zhenbiao
Xu Zhenbiao
Xu Zhenbiao
Xu Zhenbiao
Xu Zhenbiao

Xu Zhenbiao (  徐振彪 1913-1991), the fifth generation of Ba Gua Zhang, was the disciple of Liu Shikui (Liu Bin’s son) and student of Wang Wenkui. Xu Zhenbiao was known for being a devoted student and disciplined practitioner throughout his life, and developed a high level of skill. From Yang Shifu’s accounts, Xu Zhenbiao was a highly skilled fighter who welcomed challenges, and was both a generous and severe taskmaster as an instructor, holding a high standard for himself and his students. 

Yang Guotai
Yang Guotai
Yang Guotai
Yang Guotai, front row 2nd from left, Dennis Mace on right side (I introduced an old classmate and his students to train with Yang Shifu)
From left, David Meikle, Yang Guotai, Dennis Mace

Shifu Yang Guo Tai  ( 杨国泰 July 10, 1928-November, 2013), Cheng style Dragon Shape Swimming Body Bagua Zhang teacher, was an in-door student of Xu Zhenbiao. Yang Shifu began martial arts training at an early age, with styles such as Praying Mantis and Xingyi Quan, and became a disciple of Xu Zhenbiao in his teens, training closely with him for over 4 decades, even in secret when martial arts practice was banned during the Cultural Revolution. Yang Guotai also enjoyed dancing in his youth, though his lifelong passion was martial arts. After working in a factory for several years (where he lost his right thumb in a machinery accident), Yang Guotai eventually used his martial training expertise and became the head Tui-Na/Massage Therapist at Beijing Hospital. He frequently shared stories about surviving and training martial arts in China during wars and tumultuous periods, including how they would practice in secret during the Cultural Revolution, despite the risks of being caught. Yang Guotai emigrated from Beijing to Vancouver, BC with his wife and son, Greg in the 1990’s, where he continued to teach Bagua Zhang. 


I met Yang Shifu by chance during my first visit to Vancouver, BC in 2000. I went to the Tiger Balm International Martial Arts Tournament in hopes of meeting another well known Bagua Zhang teacher, but I am forever grateful to have met Yang Guotai Shifu instead. While watching one of the competitions, I noticed someone practicing Bagua Zhang on the sidelines. I was intrigued and asked about his practice, and he graciously introduced me to his teacher, Yang Guotai, who was officiating the push-hands event; Yang Shifu was discerning and spirited, and asked me if I practiced Bagua Zhang. When I mentioned that I had, he asked me to show him what I learned before; Yang Shifu was underwhelmed with my execution of the Bagua I’d previously been training for over decade, then briefly demonstrated a few seconds of the most amazing Bagua I’d seen before, and asked if I’d like to learn real Bagua Zhang. Though I hadn’t heard of Yang Guotai before that weekend, I recognized I’d discovered a rare and hidden treasure, and enthusiastically returned to Vancouver a couple days later for my first lesson and was blown away by his profound skill, power and depth of knowledge. I continued to make the 2-3 hour drive from Seattle to Vancouver every other weekend and any extra holiday break and vacation time I had for the next several years to learn from Yang Shifu, trained hard with my new classmates and in every class had some new revelation that I continue to learn from to this day. 
The rest of my classmates under Yang Shifu all had previous martial arts experience. Most of us had already trained Bagua Zhang from various other teachers. We all considered training with Yang Shifu as graduate-level martial arts training because of the depth, complexity and refinement of skills he developed in each of us. His approach was hands-on instruction to show us the principles and functional health cultivation and self defense techniques at the heart of the system, in the old-school practical, non-sport methods of training. He showed us as well as explained the how and why of Bagua Zhang, correcting our previous training errors, from the most subtle skills to the most profound principles, for both health and self defense. We endearingly referred to Yang Shifu as “the Bagua Yoda” because of his irascible yet generous character, profound knowledge and surprising, incomparable skill. After a couple years of training with Yang Shifu, he invited a small handful of my classmates and myself to stay after training and lunch (it was a common occurrence for his wife, our Shimu, to prepare a delicious homemade lunch for us after training at a nearby park) and he conducted a private Bai Shi ceremony in his home in front of his mantle where we were formally inducted to be his in-door disciples and become lineage holders of Cheng style Bagua Zhang. It was shortly after this that Yang Shifu took me aside during a class and encouraged me to begin teaching students in Seattle where I live, while I continued training with him in Vancouver, BC. I introduced Yang Shifu to several friends and former classmates, and coordinated workshops for him to teach in Omaha, NE and Seattle, WA. 
I consider myself blessed to have known him and drink from the vast wellspring he shared with us. The time spent training with him always felt fleeting, especially in hindsight.  I miss him, though I continue to learn more from his lessons by dissecting the many layers and facets, training them and discovering more insights. Sometimes it seems as if I feel his presence, especially when I’m teaching my students, as if he’s watching over us and teaching through me, as I glean more understanding from all he passionately shared with us. 

From left, Shimu holding my son, Samuel Mace, Yang Shifu, David Meikle, Dennis Mace, Matt Schumacher.

Weapons Training During the Pandemic – The Most Versatile Weapon – Staff

Staff Training

Starting Thursday, January 14th (7pm-8pm), and Sunday, January 17th (11am-12:30pm), during our regularly scheduled classes, we will begin a phase of Weapons Training, remotely via Zoom during the pandemic – starting with Staff, The Most Versatile Weapon.  

The staff is one of the most ancient and versatile weapons –

Learn practical techniques and strategies to improve strength, coordination, power, and how training with this weapon correlates with bare-handed self defense as well as being able to use walking sticks, gardening tools, brooms, mops and pool cues as effective self-defense weapons! 
We will be learning single and double ended staff techniques and strategies, focusing on developing coordination and power! 

Later, when the pandemic is under control and we’re finally able to train together in person again, we will introduce partner drills and more refined locks, throws and strategy work using the staff to its fullest potential! 
Before you join in to the Zoom class, make sure that you have at least 10 square feet to move around in front of your computer/laptop in a space with a good internet connection (plus additional clearance for the weapon). Wear loose, comfortable clothing, and get a notebook to write down what we cover after each class — that goes a long way to retain and absorb the material. 

How to Find Your Own Staff

You do need to bring your own staff to this event to train with, and to practice with after you attend the workshop. It’s best to buy the staff locally, in person, instead of ordering from a catalog or online, because you need to double check the following:

  1. The ideal length of the staff should be at least as long as coming up from the floor to your chin, or the top of your head when standing (usually between 5 to 6 feet long, longer is ok, but avoid getting something too short). Another test is if you hold the staff horizontally, balancing it at shoulder height along your outstretched arms, you should barely be able to touch the ends of the staff with your extended fingertips.
  2. The ideal diameter of the staff should be at least 1-1/8 inches to 2-1/4 inches — if it’s too thin, it will snap during training.
  3. The staff should be made of hardwood – it should pass “the thumbnail test” (you shouldn’t be able to dig your thumbnail into the wood). Pine and bamboo are unacceptable because they aren’t hardwood — Pine dowels won’t work, they will splinter and crack under the very lightest training. Suggested woods are Hickory, Maple, Oak, Waxwood, Ironwood, Treated Rattan, etc.
  4. One shop option is Seattle Martial Arts Supplies, located on King Street at the South end of Seattle’s Downtown International District. Another option is your local hardware store – Ace, Lowes or Home Depot, etc – go to the section with hardwood broom and shovel handles, and get a straight, un-tapered Hickory broom/mop/shovel handle — it will probably be cheaper and more durable than some of the maple and oak staffs in the martial arts shops (make sure it is at least 5 feet long and at least 1-1/8 diameter, and use the thumbnail test in #3 to make sure it isn’t Pine).
  5. Make sure the staff isn’t cracked or has splinters. Check to make sure there aren’t large “eyes” in the grain – it’s common for stress-fractures in the staff around these brittle areas when subjected to regular training – even with hardwood. Avoid staffs with fancy engraving along the shaft, as they lend to cracking and splinters during practice.
  6. Make sure the staff isn’t warped – look down the shaft from one end to check if it’s warped or bowed. Warping in the wood throws off the balance of the staff and makes it unwieldy.

If you have any  questions, please don’t hesitate to ask!

Beginners Bagua Zhang Kung Fu classes 

We have a few spots available if you would like to start training Remote online with our Beginners Bagua Zhang Kung Fu class, held Saturdays at 11:30 am to 12:30 pm PST! 

With all the uncertainty of the tumultuous times we are all living in, Bagua Zhang is an excellent practice to help you improve your health, increase your vitality and awareness, and develop self defense skills to meet the challenges we are facing with focus and confidence. 

Once you get some of the basics down, you are welcome to join in our other regular group classes on Thursdays 7-8pm PST, and Sundays 11am-12:30pm PST. 

The Remote Membership will give you the ability to continue training by following along with our regular group classes, and see us go through exercises, forms, applications and partner drills live. Since we are training Remotely via Zoom, you can join us from anywhere in the world, as long as you have a good internet connection. I will be available to answer questions after class from students via the discussion board on our members-only Mace Martial Arts private chat group

The Remote Membership is only $50 per month, half the price of the in-person monthly Membership, but will still give you the ability to keep training with us live via Zoom and access to student resources at Mace Martial Arts. Also, we are in the process of creating instructional videos and workbooks to help you learn and grow with your practice! 

If you are interested in joining for the first time, or it’s been awhile since you’ve attended our classes, please respond to this message so we can get you started with our Bagua Zhang Martial Arts classes

At Mace Martial Arts, we value the sanctity of all life, celebrate diversity, cultivate peace and justice, and accept students who are interested in learning how to improve and protect themselves. We have a zero-tolerance policy for bigotry and will reject any potential or current student who bullies or discriminates against others based on ethnicity, religious beliefs, or gender/orientation. 


Please share with anyone you know that might be interested in joining our classes! 

Exhausted? Revitalize with Meditation and Qigong – Sealing the 5 Senses 🧘🏻‍♂️🌀💫


I often use the expression “Look within to reveal and heal your True Self.” Why? 


Our attention and energy gets scattered and depleted by focusing on everything going on around us. Busy-ness of the world, survival, work, school, family, obligations, politics, hobbies, sports, recreation, games — all the 10,000 things of the world have their place and time, but worrying about all the things can become overwhelming, even to the best of us. 

As life seems to be getting more hectic and stressful, it’s easy to loose ourselves and feel disconnected, scattered and exhausted. This year has been exceptionally stressful — all of us have been affected by the distressing pandemic, exacerbated by divisive politics, leading to economic recession and social discord, and more anxiety and fatigue than we’ve faced before. 


Especially now, as Autumn and Winter seasons set in, many people feel discouraged because they feel even more tired. 
But the truth is, this is a natural cycle — as the days get shorter and the nights get longer, notice how plants and animals go into a state of hibernation. Yet because of the demands of a disconnected society, we feel pressured to compensate with fake energy boosters and stimulants, or “numb-out” from the stress with drugs and alcohol, then feel even more exhausted, scattered and depleted after the false-energy boost wares off. 

Instead, the  best way to revitalize is the natural way — instead of struggling against your natural rhythms, listen to your body’s needs to rest and sleep more — you’ll be able to stay more focused and present. 


To restore our energy even more, as well as heal and enhance our senses, we must “seal the 5 senses” and turn inward. This aspect of mindfulness in meditation will focus your mind and help you to harness your energy:   

  • Still your body, heart and mind. 
  • Let go of worries, doubts, grief and longing, and call your attention to the present moment. 
  • Let go of all distractions from the present moment, and reclaim your Spirit. 
  • Be here, now. 
  • Feel the movement of air as you breathe in and breathe out, feel the blood coursing throughout your body from your heart, notice any sensations of tension or pain, as you release them and let go. 
  • Smell your own breath and body and wonder at all the countless processes happening automatically within you. 
  • Taste your own saliva as you swallow to assist your digestion, and lubricate your organs. 
  • Listen to your heartbeat, the sounds of your digestive system, the sound of your breath. 
  • Look inward to see the colors behind your eyelids, shifting your gaze to the kaleidoscope of your mind’s eye, and the light shining within you. 
  • Feel the buzzing hum of electricity through your brain and nervous system, feel the waves of the bio electric field flowing within you, through you and around you. 

Each cell within you is its own organism, symbiotically coming together to encompass you, seamlessly working and dancing together in myriads of systems to become whole — just as the vast space between the particles of atoms that convene into the molecules composing each cell are miraculously interwoven and connected, just as vibrant as a solar system, yet deep within you, bringing life and consciousness. Galaxies of energy and matter spiraling within us, composing our mortal coil, just as we are each of us cells, an inseparable and integral part of the countless solar systems in the Cosmos. 

This awareness of the vastness of the Universe is paradoxically also where we discover our most essential inner-selves, and how we are all connected in consciousness. 


To conclude any meditation practice session, draw your attention to your physical center of gravity, which is just below your navel in the middle of your lower abdomen at your body’s core. Allow the energy you cultivate with Qigong practice to spiral to your center, to assimilate, or “digest” there. This grounds your energy, calms the mind and emotions, allowing you to remain centered even in stressful or startling situations. It is by this mindful process that you may discover the deepest, most essential part of yourself, and feel how integrated you are with the world. That you may “look within to reveal and heal your true self.” 


Meditation and Qigong enhances awareness of yourself and your surroundings, which contributes to your mental and physical health, as well as your self-defense skills. Clarity of focus and sharpening the mind are indispensable skills for a warrior, as it enhances awareness of one’s inner world, as well as a deeper awareness of the world we live in, and creates the space where you can discover your hidden reservoir of latent essential power. This is why these practices have been invaluable to warriors and martial artists for several millennia. 

Beginners Bagua Zhang Kung Fu classes 

We have a few spots available if you would like to start training Remote online with our Beginners Bagua Zhang Kung Fu class, held Saturdays at 11:30 am to 12:30 pm PST! 

With all the uncertainty of the tumultuous times we are all living in, Bagua Zhang is an excellent practice to help you improve your health, increase your vitality and awareness, and develop self defense skills to meet the challenges we are facing with focus and confidence. 

Once you get some of the basics down, you are welcome to join in our other regular group classes on Thursdays 7-8pm PST, and Sundays 11am-12:30pm PST. 

The Remote Membership will give you the ability to continue training by following along with our regular group classes, and see us go through exercises, forms, applications and partner drills live. Since we are training Remotely via Zoom, you can join us from anywhere in the world, as long as you have a good internet connection. I will be available to answer questions after class from students via the discussion board on our members-only Mace Martial Arts private chat group

The Remote Membership is only $50 per month, half the price of the in-person monthly Membership, but will still give you the ability to keep training with us live via Zoom and access to student resources at Mace Martial Arts. Also, we are in the process of creating instructional videos and workbooks to help you learn and grow with your practice! 

If you are interested in joining for the first time, or it’s been awhile since you’ve attended our classes, please respond to this message so we can get you started with our Bagua Zhang Martial Arts classes

At Mace Martial Arts, we value the sanctity of all life, celebrate diversity, cultivate peace and justice, and accept students who are interested in learning how to improve and protect themselves. We have a zero-tolerance policy for bigotry and will reject any potential or current student who bullies or discriminates against others based on ethnicity, religious beliefs, or gender/orientation. 


Please share with anyone you know that might be interested in joining our classes! 

Training during the Pandemic — Forms & Tempering the Body & Mind

Bagua Zhang training at the Mace Martial Arts Guan

Over the last 9 months, I’ve been grateful to continue teaching all our group Bagua Zhang Kung Fu classes remotely on Zoom, thanks to modern technology. 


Though I miss teaching my students in person, and look forward to training with everyone again with in person classes, we’ve found some creative approaches to traditional training methods to be very constructive and practical in these challenging times. 


Time honored practices for developing self-defense-specific fitness, attributes, capacity and skills — which are especially valuable now, while person to person contact is limited due to social distancing measures help to keep us safe from the highly communicable COVID-19 virus. 


The various practice methods we have been focusing on include Forms, Basics, Supplemental Exercises, Qigong/meditation, Iron Palm/Iron Body, Weapons, and Strategy Training. 


Forms practice — in traditional martial arts, forms are similar to shadow-boxing; forms are prearranged sequences of self-defense techniques, strung together to teach various combinations, principles and strategies. The self defense techniques are “coded” into the forms, like parables with layers of meaning and interpretation based on distance, timing and situations. Learning to decipher the techniques coded into traditional forms is both a skill and a riddle to solve. 


Bagua Zhang forms practice has a slightly different goal than in many other martial arts. Where the solo forms of all traditional martial arts styles are catalogs of prearranged self defense techniques, Bagua Zhang has an emphasis on progressively developing principles and attributes that alter the efficacy of techniques as well as gradually transforming the health, ability, efficiency  and vitality of the Bagua Zhang practitioner. 
Forms — Benefits and goals for Forms practice: 

  • balance and structural alignment 
  • Coordination, timing and dexterity 
  • Mental focus and body awareness 
  • Stamina, range of motion, strength and flexibility 
  • Refinement of techniques and  efficiency of movement 
  • discovery of layers of self-defense techniques, dissecting movement by range and underlying principles, deciphering the parable of techniques 

Basic techniques — drilling to refine and streamline the efficiency of techniques, as well as attributes of timing, strength, flexibility, and cardiovascular endurance. 


Supplemental Calisthenic exercises — to develop principles and attributes to enhance self defense capability. 


Qi Gong, Tao Yin, Yoga, meditation  — clear and focus your mind, balance your emotions, cultivate your vitality and circulation to stimulate your strength and immune system. 


Iron Palm, Iron Body — tempering your body safely and gradually to build your striking power and grappling effectiveness, as well as your resilience to pain and injury. Develops the capacity to realize Bagua Zhang’s full potential as an effective martial art. 


Weapons Training — develops focus, strength, stamina, balance and coordination that enhance your ability to defend yourself with weapons, every day objects, and enhances bare-handed efficacy. 


Strategy Work — in lieu of training partners, using hanging heavy bags and grappling dummies, by swinging them to develop footwork, distance and timing. 

Beginners Bagua Zhang Kung Fu classes

We have a few spots available if you would like to start training Remote online with our Beginners Bagua Zhang Kung Fu class, held Saturdays at 11:30 am to 12:30 pm PST! 

With all the uncertainty of the tumultuous times we are all living in, Bagua Zhang is an excellent practice to help you improve your health, increase your vitality and awareness, and develop self defense skills to meet the challenges we are facing with focus and confidence. 

Once you get some of the basics down, you are welcome to join in our other regular group classes on Thursdays 7-8pm PST, and Sundays 11am-12:30pm PST.

The Remote Membership will give you the ability to continue training by following along with our regular group classes, and see us go through exercises, forms, applications and partner drills live. Since we are training Remotely via Zoom, you can join us from anywhere in the world, as long as you have a good internet connection. I will be available to answer questions after class from students via the discussion board on our members-only Mace Martial Arts private chat group

The Remote Membership is only $50 per month, half the price of the in-person monthly Membership, but will still give you the ability to keep training with us live via Zoom and access to student resources at Mace Martial Arts. Also, we are in the process of creating instructional videos and workbooks to help you learn and grow with your practice! 

If you are interested in joining for the first time, or it’s been awhile since you’ve attended our classes, please respond to this message so we can get you started with our Bagua Zhang Martial Arts classes

At Mace Martial Arts, we value the sanctity of all life, celebrate diversity, cultivate peace and justice, and accept students who are interested in learning how to improve and protect themselves. We have a zero-tolerance policy for bigotry and will reject any potential or current student who bullies or discriminates against others based on ethnicity, religious beliefs, or gender/orientation. 


Please share with anyone you know that might be interested in joining our classes! 

New Beginners Bagua Zhang Kung Fu Class Starting in August!

New Beginners Bagua Zhang Kung Fu class starting in August! 

We have a few spots available if you would like to start training Remote online with our Beginners Bagua Zhang Kung Fu class, starting this Saturday, August 1st, at 11:30 am to 12:30 pm PST! 

With all the uncertainty of the tumultuous times we are all living in, Bagua Zhang is an excellent practice to help you improve your health, increase your vitality and awareness, and develop self defense skills to meet the challenges we are facing with focus and confidence. 

Once you get some of the basics down, you are welcome to join in our other regular group classes on Thursdays 7-8pm PST, and Sundays 11am-12:30pm PST.

The Remote Membership will give you the ability to continue training by following along with our regular group classes, and see us go through exercises, forms, applications and partner drills live. Since we are training Remotely via Zoom, you can join us from anywhere in the world, as long as you have a good internet connection. I will be available to answer questions after class from students via the discussion board on our members-only Mace Martial Arts private chat group

The Remote Membership is only $50 per month, half the price of the in-person monthly Membership, but will still give you the ability to keep training with us live via Zoom and access to student resources at Mace Martial Arts. Also, we are in the process of creating instructional videos and workbooks to help you learn and grow with your practice!
If you are interested in joining for the first time, or it’s been awhile since you’ve attended our classes, please respond to this message so we can get you started with our Bagua Zhang Martial Arts classes

At Mace Martial Arts, we value the sanctity of all life, celebrate diversity, cultivate peace and justice, and accept students who are interested in learning how to improve and protect themselves. We have a zero-tolerance policy for bigotry and will reject any potential or current student who bullies or discriminates against others based on ethnicity, religious beliefs, or gender/orientation. 

Bullying and Oppression; Return to Class on Father’s Day!

What’s going on? 

As we celebrate Emancipation Day/Juneteenth here at Mace Martial Arts, we also recognize bullying and oppression have been on the rise in recent years. All over the world we continually see examples of it, especially in current events that painfully expose America’s unresolved legacy of bullying and oppression, in “the land of the free, and home of the brave.”  

I’ve had to deal with a couple bullies in the last 3 years, while teaching martial arts classes at a local park. The first incident, a man approached and asked what martial art we were practicing, but his demeanor was off, and his stilted questions shifted to provocations; I redirected him, encouraged him to give it a try, but he backed down and watched for a while before wandering away. 

The second time, a few months later, another man walking his dogs approached our class, inquiring about what we were practicing.  I was cordial, despite feeling his skewed intentions. His questions became increasingly rude, then he veered off topic and asked my students and me “who’d you vote for?” He then escalated to making inane, disgusting racial slurs to my diverse students and accused us of witchcraft, proclaiming how “Trump is going to make America great again!” and would send us all back where we belong. I got between him with his dogs and my students, telling him I’d be happy to show him how it works.  As much as I hoped he’d back up his hate speech with action, he backed down, and grumbled as he wandered off. 

My own experiences of bullying and oppression

On a personal note, among the reasons I started learning martial arts when I was young was to protect myself, not only from any bullies at school, but also from my own father, who had a slow burning explosive temper, that sometimes led to abuse. While my father tried to shelter me from the gang life he grew up in, the threat of brutality lingered throughout my childhood. 

This also encouraged me to keep my martial arts training practical, as much as it was a way to channel my emotions constructively towards personal development, and taught me to deescalate confrontations. 

I also grew up around a lot of racism being expressed from my father and extended family and his friends. Strangely enough, I have always been revolted by racism, even when I was very young.  Some of my earliest memories were being deeply confused and offended by the vitriol and callousness of the condescending slurs I would hear. Even though it was my own family vomiting this hatred, nothing else made me feel more alienated from them. Though I’ve always respected my elders, I couldn’t tolerate their blind hatred, and frequently confronted my father and members of my family in defense of my diverse friends and interests, even if it meant refusing to eat holiday meals with them, or getting another beating. 

To this day, I’m continually amazed and disgusted by the systemic hatred exposed by past and recent events that continues to divide and threaten us.  I wonder why so many people are so blind to see that we are all connected brethren, spinning together on this tiny jeweled planet, circling a star, on the fringes of a galaxy swirling among countless others in a vast cosmos. But I digress… 

The Bully within: where do bullies come from? 

Bullies come in many forms, from the domestic violence of threatening partners and family members, cruel classmates and demeaning coworkers, to abusive superiors, oppressive government officials, and brutalizing police officers. 

Bullies feel superior to and are intimidated by someone who is different; in response, they seek to dominate and attack. Bullies are predators incapable of having empathy for their prey, and lack any appreciation of diversity. The more bullies feel threatened, the more they escalate and lash out, either individually or collectively. 

They may dominate and attack individuals or entire communities. The Bully/predator may threaten, demean, humiliate or attack their victims verbally, emotionally, physically or sexually, by direct or indirect means. 

Racism, misogyny, homophobia and religious suppression are all forms of bullying, extremes on the spectrum of predatory behavior; the condescending supremacy is rooted in fear and control. 

While bullying and oppression is nothing new, bigots of all kinds have been emboldened to crawl out from under their rocks by the recent torrent of hateful rhetoric flowing from a divisive US government administration helmed by a bully who openly gaslights and encourages hostility to such an extreme degree that it has become a sickening “new normal.” 

As these toxic behaviors increase, the predators who participate in this cult of personality try to normalize their oppressive power as they worship their supreme leader. Thankfully, these bullies are being exposed on a larger scale as most people have video cameras and social media to share these incidents on a wide scale, increasing awareness and activism. 

Where we stand today

At Mace Martial Arts, we support the massive protests represented in the Black Lives Matter movement demanding a long-overdue end to systemic racism and police brutality.  We also acknowledge that there’s a vicious backlash as police and white supremacists retaliate by escalating attacks on minorities, protesters and innocent bystanders. I have deep respect for good police officers that put their lives on the line to protect and serve the people every day, just as I am revolted by any bigots in cop-clothing who try to hide behind their badges while continually terrorizing their communities — these corrupt officers serve injustice and must be rooted out. 

My hope is extreme measures are swiftly enacted to put an end to the existential threat of systemic bigotry. But in the meantime, as a martial arts instructor, it’s become necessary that I teach my family and students self-defense to survive attacks from white supremacists, as well as confrontations with anyone else who represents a threat on some level, including those police officers that may abuse their authority. Sadly, as we’ve seen over the generations, and especially recently, sometimes the police are the white supremacist terrorists. 

The problem with self-defense for civilians against police brutality and unlawful arrest, is that for legal reasons, the police currently hold legal authority in most states to use excessive force without restraint under the guise of “resisting arrest.” Which is why abusive cops are often heard repeatedly shouting  “stop resisting” while they butcher their victims, so that body cameras can correspond with the bogus reports they cook up, and why so many bad cops get preferential treatment in the courts after their abuses of power. 

I know the majority of police officers are good, respectful people, but the code of silence of the “thin blue line” that keeps protecting these racist terrorists in their ranks is reprehensible and unacceptable. Respect is earned through responsibility, and for law enforcement to gain trust and respect, the entire law enforcement community needs to step up, hold each other accountable, and be systematically overhauled. 

We at Mace Martial Arts support all civilians, officials and officers who encourage these reforms that take a stand for social justice, and reject those in favor of maintaining the warped and evil status quo. 

So what do we do about it? 

There are 4 ways of dealing with a bully (an individual predator, or group of oppressive predators): 

·       Cave in to their demands and attacks in hope that they stop; the problem here is that you give the predator all the power, enabling and teaching them they can get whatever they want from you, or others. 

·       Ignore or avoid them, and hope they stop or go away; this might diffuse the predator’s threat if they decide to walk away, but it won’t stop them from attacking you or someone else later, and it will not stop a physical attack. 

·       Deescalate, distract or reason with them, to diffuse the conflict; if the bully is self-aware, they might learn to stop their aggression; realistically, this is rarely ever the case. 

·       Confront them, call them out, or take them to task; they may cower, but if they escalate, defend yourself to eliminate the threat, by whatever means appropriate and necessary. Bullies must be held accountable for their actions for them to stop attacking others and be forced to take responsibility for their actions. 

Confronting bullies requires courage, but it is the only way that you stand up for your own rights and life, and the rights and lives of others the bully/predator may target. 

To stop bullies, we must learn to say “no!” to them, draw a line to end their attacks and hold them accountable. 

At Mace Martial Arts, we value the sanctity of all life, celebrate diversity, cultivate peace and justice, and accept students who are interested in learning how to improve and protect themselves. We have a zero-tolerance policy for bigotry and will reject any potential or current student who bullies or discriminates against others based on ethnicity, religious beliefs, or gender/orientation. 

Return to Class on Father’s Day! 

As King County received approval today from the Washington State Secretary of Health to enter into Phase 2 of the Safe Start program, we will be returning to in-person classes this Sunday, June 21st on Father’s Day! 

We are ramping up on sanitation protocols and will require face masks in class for the instructor and students. This includes private lessons and small group classes of up to 5 students. 

Remote Membership Option: I will continue to broadcast the group classes live remotely on Zoom, so that students that are unable to come to class, are too far away, or don’t feel comfortable yet to attend in person, can still follow along online. 


This Remote Membership will give you the ability to continue training by following along with our regular group classes, and see us go through exercises, forms, applications and partner drills live. Since I’ll be focused on teaching students that attend classes in person, instead of monitoring Zoom, I will be available to answer questions after class from both in-person and remote students via the discussion board on our members-only Mace Martial Arts private chat group

The Remote Membership will be half the price of the in-person monthly Membership, but will still give you the ability to keep training with us and access to student resources at Mace Martial Arts.   

Memorial Day 2020, Phase 2 & Remote Memberships

Training self-defense at Mace Martial Arts

I wish you a safe and enjoyable Memorial Day weekend with your family, as we honor those who have served our country and those who have made the ultimate sacrifice, especially now in light of the unprecedented and unpredictable changes we are all facing this year. 


The next step in gradually lifting social distancing restrictions for the pandemic may come in early June — When Phase 2 rolls out, we will resume in-person classes at Mace Martial Arts, as Washington Governor Inslee indicated that martial arts is part of the activities allowed for small gatherings. This will include private lessons as well as small group classes of up to five people. 


I will confirm when in-person classes will resume when Governor Inslee gives the order to move into Phase 2 of the gradual lifting of the Pandemic quarantine measures. 


But wait, there’s more: I will continue to broadcast the group classes live remotely on Zoom, so that students that are unable to come to class, are too far away, or don’t feel comfortable yet to attend in person, can still follow along online. 


This Remote Membership will give you the ability to continue training by following along with our regular group classes, and see us go through exercises, forms, applications and partner drills live. Since I’ll be focused on teaching students that attend classes in person, instead of monitoring Zoom, I will be available to answer questions after class from both in-person and remote students via via the discussion board on our members-only Mace Martial Arts private chat group

The Remote Membership will be half the price of the in-person monthly Membership, but will still give you the ability to keep training with us and access to student resources at Mace Martial Arts.    

Weeknight classes starting December! 🐉

“The greatest good you can do for another is not just to share your riches, but to reveal to them their own.” – Benjamin Disraeli 


The martial art that we practice at Mace Martial Arts, Bagua Zhang, is fundamentally based upon transformation — not only in the dynamics of a chaotic situation to a harmonious resolution, but also in the evolution of the practitioner. 


At early stages, the Bagua Zhang student is taught basic structural principles and strategies, that through progressive training, evolves into a creative, raw and intuitive expression at advanced stages of practice. 


This is one of my favorite aspects of this art, tapping into that creative flow, feeling the state of grace, and helping students discover their hidden potential and creativity. 

Weeknight classes starting December! 🐉

Starting December 12th, we are adding Thursday evening classes, from 7-8pm! 


Please advise if you plan to attend Thursday 7-8pm, and/or Sunday 11am-12:30pm classes. 


Invite friends and family – receive  a $20 discount from your next month for the referral, and they get $20 off their first month as well! 


Reminder: no class held this coming Sunday, November 17th, so we’ll be making up for the time when we resume class on Sunday, November 24th. 

Update – Mace Martial Arts Dojo/Guan: 

We’ve been here in Shoreline for a year so far, and the training hall is coming together nicely. Come join us in class and check it out! We are holding Bagua Zhang classes on Sundays, 11am to 12:30pm, with a new weeknight class on Thursdays, 7pm-8pm, starting December 12th!

I’m teaching private lessons in the same space. It would be great to have you join in!