Tag: remote classes

Happy Year of the Dragon! 🐉

Happy Wood Dragon Year!
恭賀新禧 – Gōng Hè Xīn Xǐ!
Happy Lunar New Year to you and yours!

 

This year, according to the Chinese Zodiac, is a Green Wood Dragon year, and promises to be full of changes and transformation, which are characteristics of Dragons, as well as the essence of the martial art of Bagua Zhang.
We may find it especially helpful this year to stay present, be true to hearts and tune in to our intuition to ride the waves of change coming our way.

 

Happy Losar!

 

I must admit that though there is a great deal of tumultuous events happening in the world at large, I have a feeling of excitement and anticipation in what this year will bring. This feeling seems linked to my lifelong fascination with Dragons, as if this moment helps me sense their daunting, invigorating presence more than usual.

 

Some of my earliest and most vivid dreams involve the connection I’ve felt with Dragons throughout my life. These mysterious fabulous beasts have inspired me in so many ways, including leading me to my lifelong path in the martial arts. It is not surprising, therefore, that the martial art system that continues to fascinate me the most is Bagua Zhang, with its coiling, sinuous movements that seem to embody the essence of a Dragon’s Spirit.
This is also why I was intrinsically drawn to Cheng Tingua’s expression of this art, the flow and power of his “Swimming Body Dragon Shape Bagua Zhang” being even more Dragon-like than other branches of Chinese Martial Arts.

 

“Green Dragon Stretches Claws” from Cheng Tinghua’s Swimming Dragon Bagua Zhang

 

“[The dragon] is the spirit of change, therefore of life itself. We associate him with the supreme power or that sovereign cause which pervades everything, taking new forms according to its surroundings, yet never seen in a final shape. The dragon is the great mystery itself. Hidden in the caverns of inaccessible mountains, or coiled in the unfathomed depth of the sea, he awaits the time when he slowly rouses himself into activity. He unfolds himself in the storm clouds; he washes his mane in the blackness of seething whirlpools. His claws are in the fork of the lightning; his scales begin to glisten in the bark of rain-swept pine-trees. His voice is heard in the hurricane which, scattering the withered leaves of the forest, quickens a new spring. The dragon reveals himself only to vanish. He is a glorious symbolic image of that elasticity which shakes off the inert mass of exhausted matter. Coiling again and again on his strength, he sheds his skin amid the battle of elements, and for an instant stands half revealed by the brilliant shimmer of his scales. He strikes not till his throat is touched. Then woe to him who dallies with the terrible one!” 

by Japanese scholar Okakura-Kakuzo in his Awakening of Japan (1904) (pp 77-79)

 

Dragon riding waves of change
 

 

 
Dragon Shape Bagua Zhang Training Manual  📖 🐉

 

I’m also announcing that I’ve been editing the final draft of my “Dragon Shape Bagua Zhang Training Manual,” which I’ve been working on for over a decade, and planning to self-publish later this year.

 

This training manual is designed to be a reference and study guide for my students, as well as others interested in learning in-depth training methods of this martial art.
This first edition is also an outline for video instructional materials that I’m hoping to start production on later this year as well.

 

As I narrow my search for a specific self-publishing company, I plan to start a crowdfunding campaign soon to cover the self-publishing printing costs for the first edition.
Stay tuned, and let me know if you’re interested in getting a copy of this book!

 

‘Elemental Dragons’ by Dennis Mace

 

Accepting New Bagua Zhang Students at the Mace Martial Arts WuGuan! 🐉 

 

We have space for a couple more in-person students for group classes at our new WuGuan, message us if you’re interested in learning Bagua Zhang Kung Fu!

 

Dragon Shape Bagua Zhang 龍形八卦掌 – 2022 Demo
 

Bagua Zhang Classes are held on
💠 Sundays 11am-12:30pm
💠 Thursdays 7pm-8pm

 

at:
Towns at Riverfront
(Please register for classes for address)
Everett, WA
United States

 

Please RSVP to all classes you plan to attend, to confirm location and schedule.

 

Space limited to 5 students per class for in-person training — please message ahead to confirm your spot!

 

💠 We also have times available for private lessons if the group classes do not work for your schedule.

 

For students joining remotely via Zoom, we can host classes for up to 100 participants on our Zoom account.

 

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. 

Practicing Bagua Zhang — Creativity and Transformation 🐉🌀💫

The only constant is change. Nature repeats in cycles of transformation. Like the seasons, and cycles of birth, growth, maturity, death, and rebirth. 


As a martial arts system, Bagua Zhang reflects the cycles of transformation, and harmonizes with them, in many ways and on many levels. 

 

Why I got into martial arts ~ 

Growing up as an introverted, artistic kid in South Omaha, dealing with bullies and schoolyard fights was common; while at home, I had an alcoholic father with a slow burning explosive temper. So while some of the impulse was standing up for myself and protecting my family, friends and myself, there was a deeper inspiration and connection to martial arts that transcended self preservation. 


My artistic inspirations and unquenchable fascination with mythology and ancient cultures from early childhood, led to my cousin and friends introducing me to Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan, Jet Li and Kung-Fu Theater movies in 1982 — the chord that resonated the most was their raw expression and flow of skill and power, even in the midst of a life and death struggle; instead of succumbing to fear or control from bullies, they would take a stand to vanquish oppression. 


The core inspirations of martial arts for me have always been: 

  • the virtues and code of chivalry, or Wu-De, and
  • cultivating the ability to connect with that creative source, the raw experience of “Amazing Grace” or Wu-Wei — the state of connection and flow beyond thought — which led me ultimately to Bagua Zhang. 

Shortly after that, at 12 years old, I started training with a great Judo teacher, then a few years later found Kung Fu. A couple years later I saw my Sifu practicing Bagua Zhang, and was immediately captivated.  

I love all martial arts and have been blessed with the opportunity to train several styles over the years, but Bagua Zhang was the purest reflection of that experience of creative, adaptive flow of connected consciousness. So over the years, Bagua Zhang eclipsed other systems I practiced and somehow seem to encapsulate them as well; I have gradually shed the excess to focus on Bagua Zhang as the pinnacle of my training, as well as what I mostly teach my students. 

Dennis Mace, Bagua Zhang – circa 1998

 

What is Bagua Zhang?

As a martial arts system, Bagua Zhang (“8 Trigrams Palm”) reflects the cycles of transformation, and harmonizing with them, in many ways and on many levels —  not only in self-defense situations, but also in personal development and in social interactions. 


In its cyclical training methods and spiraling application of force, Bagua Zhang uses the concept of 8 phases of change inspired by the I-Ching, the ancient Chinese “Classic of Changes,” to emphasize a unique personal transformation, sparking our creativity to awaken and enhance each individual’s aptitude and potential. 


Each of the 8 trigrams represents a phase in the states of change; each phase reflects different feelings, strategies and principles to help the practitioner develop skills to adapt to change. To deal with changes, threats, dangerous attacks and the highs and lows in life — on an innate and instinctual level. It requires insightful persistence in training, that will enhance and transform the practitioner from the inside out. 


In hindsight, the many hours I spent with all my martial arts teachers seems fleeting; I cherish the lessons I gleaned from their deep wisdom, each one having a uniquely valuable skill set and profound understanding. 

 


Adaptation 

What I learned, in seeing different students and classes from different teachers, most notably Shifu Yang Guotai, is that he would tailor his lessons to different people, and what he taught us would also change over time — no matter how peerless the instructor, the greatest ones continuously learn and grow as well… the True Path is never ending. 


The changes, exercises and drills of Bagua Zhang are based on principles, connectivity of movement, adaptability and flow — more so than predetermined technical responses that are hallmarks of other martial arts systems.  


As fiercely exacting as Yang Shifu was in teaching, his emphasis and methods altered with time, situation, and student… just like the art he taught. What Yang Shifu taught us at one time, he would alter later and complain “tsk, ah, you forget!” Somehow the corrections he made, in hindsight, I now realize was his way of sharing different perspectives and more appropriate alternatives based on adapting to a situation and aptitudes of individuals. I found all of the variations he taught to be valuable, whether he was intentionally tracking what we learned, or even if he had forgotten what he taught us before… What remained consistent, is whatever he taught was always effective.

 

On Learning Martial Arts… 

Since standardization is good for beginners as well as intermediate and advanced students, I created a structured progression in lessons from the random cascade of skills and methods of my various teachers. I’ve found this progressive curriculum helps my students understand the art with much more clarity than my own experiences. 


In the beginning, we often see our teachers as infallible sources of perfect truth… Later, as we gain skills they cultivate in us, we start to see our teachers’ humanity. As time goes on, every (martial) artist looks beyond the pedestal we put our teachers on to find our own expression of their art.  Every practitioner of any art, after years of devoted training, eventually looks within, and will have their own insights and perspectives,talents, aptitudes & weaknesses… 

All we can really do is appreciate each practitioner’s insights, as well as our own. A danger for advanced students is to confuse discernment with the extreme of criticism, and assume we know better; keep an open mind to continue learning always! To call someone with years of training “incorrect” might be seeing through the lens of condescension. This is dangerous because assumption dulls focus, attention and the ability to learn. 

 

Dubious Lineages & Politics in Martial Arts

Ultimately, you get out of your training what you put into it — it helps to have a teacher that knows their chops, their basics, but lineage (good or bad) doesn’t assure this. 

Real skill comes from one thing: training! 

So each practitioner’s learning and growth comes down to them. Find a teacher that you have a rapport with, and trust your instincts; learn with discernment, and make time to practice what you learn, on your own time, don’t just wait for class time to train — classes are for learning new material and refinement. 


You Reap what you sow. It’s up to you to decide your priorities, set your goals and act on them. Your teacher is a guide, that should inspire you; don’t expect your teacher to carry you, and beware any instructor that warps respect into demands of worshipping their superiority.  


If you find that something feels off about an instructor or the lessons, use your own discernment to find out why — is it your own misunderstanding, or is something wrong or misleading? Not all instructors are legitimate, but if you are diligent, you can find good instructors that are more skilled and authentic. I’ve been blessed to find some great instructors, and have had the insight to see through frauds as well; sometimes, it’s hard to tell if an instructor is authentic or not, and it’s painful to be deceived. Take it from personal experience, if we spend too much time focusing on the faults of others, then it distracts us from our own development. Learn from our own failures and triumphs, and the losses and wins of others, and move on; dwelling on the past and casting blame will only stunt your own growth. 


Every one who trains earnestly has something of value, that they’ve learned from trial and error, and everyone has their own struggles, so if you appreciate these truths, you can learn from anyone and any situation. Even fraudulent instructors will have valuable lessons to share, even if sometimes the lessons are learning to see through delusions. If you get duped, instead of shaming yourself into victimhood, or descending into blame, realize that you still learned from the experience, and grew because of it. Tearing others down doesn’t build yourself up, it just means you’re too condescending to have the empathy or respect required to learn and grow —good students and good instructors both understand this reciprocal truth. 


If you encounter an instructor that exploits or abuses their students, by all means, seek legal help and press charges — I fully support taking down anyone who manipulates others, violates trust and abuses their status and power at the expense of other’s suffering. While those cases are rare, unfortunately it happens; bullies and predators should not be martial arts instructors. Ever.  When you go to learn at a school “Don’t leave your common sense at the door.” 


Martial arts begins and ends with respect: for your teachers, your classmates, your family, friends, yourself, and Life. Before you commit to learning martial arts from any school, make sure your instructor has innate integrity, and clearly values and respects their students, family and life itself. 

 

 

Why are there so many branches and styles of Bagua Zhang? 

Bagua Zhang is a multifaceted system designed to help build on the foundation of any practitioner’s previous training, to help them develop more well-rounded skills, understanding of mechanics and strategies, awareness and ability to adapt to any situation. 
The eventual goal is to help each practitioner cultivate their own personal “style”, their own expression of their True Self. Which is why Bagua Zhang is considered a “graduate level martial art.” 


Look within to heal and reveal your True Self. 


Every teacher, of every art (if they care about their students and training partners), will have their own perspective, a precious gem they’ve polished, that they share because it worked for them in their own experience. It is all valuable, whether we agree and assimilate those insights, or disagree and reject the material shared with us — we can learn from all of it. Just as we learn from our own losses and triumphs. If we can glean the truth at the core of our teacher’s lessons, they can catapult us forward in our own growth, skills and understanding. Especially if we are able to empathize with their experience, walk in their shoes and learn what inspired them and how it relates to us. That includes the most fundamental basic techniques, as well as the most tragic and inspirational life lessons. 


We are all fractals from the same source, yet we all have our own individual light and expression. Only we as individuals can decide what we prefer and what works best for us. 


As we learn and grow, we each have our own unique perspective, path and expression of our truth — embracing this uniqueness is essential to mastering Bagua Zhang, and realizing your own potential. 

 

In-Person Martial Arts Classes:

We returned to in-person Bagua Zhang training last month, for all students who have completed their COVID vaccinations! More info here, in last month’s post.

 

 

New Podcast Interview:

in addition to being invited to be a guest on Ken Gullette’s Internal Fighting Arts Podcast

I was also recently invited to another interview by Jonathan Bluestein on JadeCast

 I am honored to have the opportunity to share my experiences with these gentlemen and enjoyed the conversations, I hope you do too!   

 

 

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! 

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.    

Are you Ready to Change Your Life? Learn how any obstacle can be an opportunity

Are you ready to change your life?

Have you encountered problems in your life where you feel attacked, dominated or just overwhelmed?

We all have at some point – maybe your job, an irritating family member, financial burdens, a painful injury, severe weather, an obnoxious neighbor, a bad haircut, or who died in the last “Game of Thrones” episode – most of us are struggling with some tragic situation almost every day.

When I was growing up, one of my greatest struggles was with my father — a quiet, funny, tough, street-wise man — who was also domineering, alcoholic, sometimes cruel, demeaning and abusive. I learned to deal with it by isolating myself, being introverted, and becoming very sensitive to my Dad’s slow-burning, explosive temper — especially after he’d been drinking.
There were times I remember my little sister hiding behind me in a corner of my room, as I pushed through our terror to try and protect us from Dad’s rages after he’d been out drinking.

Instead of being bitter about it, I realize the experience fostered attributes I might not have otherwise: empathy, being protective of family, vowing never to become alcoholic, and a passion to express myself through art, and martial arts.
Despite the turmoil, my Dad encouraged my passion for artwork and martial arts. I’ll never forget when, at my High School graduation, with a tear in his eye and lump in his throat, my father told me how proud he was of me (since he’d dropped out), and how sorry he was for many of the things he did; he said he wanted to make sure I grew up to be a better man than he was. He passed away just 4 months later.

Even though it was rough growing up sometimes, I realize — especially after becoming a parent myself — my Mom and Dad were both doing the best they could, and I appreciate all the opportunities they gave me. I miss Dad more as time goes on, and wish I could have thanked him before he passed. I wouldn’t change my childhood at all, even if I could. It’s helped me grow to be who I am.


Dad and I, 1982.

Through the courtesy and rigor of martial arts practice, we learn to defend ourselves from physical attack — the first, most obvious threat to health and well-being. In the beginning, we learn a system of strategies, that teach us attacks targeting us are bridges to opportunity for survival, learning, and improvement.
As we progress in training, and integrate those strategies into our being, we realize that those physical techniques are metaphors for how the strategies can be applied to any aggression or obstacle in our daily lives, to improve self-expression and communication in how we relate with friends, coworkers, and family.
Even further, as we continue to train, we realize those same strategies are powerfully effective in overcoming personal barriers in our own spiritual growth.

Here at Vajra Visions, I share an innovative system that integrates
the principles of the Taoist martial art Bagua Zhang (“8 Trigrams Palm”, the art of transformation),
with the mystical Elements of Tantric Buddhism – a holistic system designed to cultivate each student on all levels.

Experience the Vortex — Discover your inner-power and evolve with the Ancient wisdom of Vajra Bagua Zhang (金剛八卦掌 “Thunderbolt 8 Trigrams Palm”), the Circular Art of Transformation!
Take the next step in your evolution – join our classes today!
www.MaceMartialArts.com

Training available in person and remote/private video classes online!

Instructor: Shifu Dennis Mace began Martial Arts in 1982, and now teaches in Seattle, WA
with thorough, hands on detail, emphasizing courtesy and ethics, and is committed to cultivating each student’s authentic skills and improving their overall health and empowerment. He is also available for workshops and seminars!

Introducing 3 new Bagua Zhang Package Programs at Mace Martial Arts!

Introducing 3 new Bagua Zhang Package Programs at Mace Martial Arts — quarterly, 6 month, and full year — for an immersive learning experience, with more support and resources to help guide you to your goals. Each of these 3 programs include group classes, private lessons, full uniforms (shirt, pants & sash), half-off workshops, testing fees and membership fees all at a package discount.

online

Learn Bagua Zhang from Home!

Moving Meditation - Bagua Zhang: The Circular Art of Transformation
Moving Meditation – Bagua Zhang: Art of the Vortex

 

Private Bagua Zhang Classes Worldwide Online

Have you been interested in taking Bagua Zhang Classes, but there’s no teacher in your area, or the class times do not fit your schedule?

I have a great solution: I am launching a new program to teach Bagua Zhang classes privately via remote video online!

All you need is:

  • a high speed internet connection,
  • an account on either Google Hangouts or Skype,
  • a space big enough to practice in front of your webcam, laptop, tablet or smart phone so I have visibility of what you’re doing

Schedule a time to begin your training now!

Introducing 3 new Bagua Zhang Package Programs at Mace Martial Arts!

Introducing 3 new Bagua Zhang Package Programs at Mace Martial Arts — quarterly, 6 month, and full year — for an immersive learning experience, with more support and resources to help guide you to your goals. Each of these 3 programs include group classes, private lessons, full uniforms (shirt, pants & sash), half-off workshops, testing fees and membership fees all at a package discount.

Bagua Zhang Package Programs online