My First Encounter With The Internal Arts
By Novell G. Bell
My first encounter with the Internal martial Arts was in my community in Queens, New York. There was this African American, by the name of Justice, who was a Five Percenter and self-taught Wing Chun fanatic. He had the first book on Wing Chun written in America. A little green book published by Ohara's Publishing.
Though he was self taught he was a fierce fighter and could beat most boxers and karate men in the neighborhood. He was an accurate fighter and knocked out many of the local top fighters. However, there was one relatively unknown guy whom he would always bestow praises upon. It was strange to hear Justice talk about this guy, because as a thug he held no one in high regards. Especially other fighters.
Justice was in a class of his own. A lot of my practicality and philosophy came from Justice. He was a do-what-you-have-to-do to win kind of guy. Justice would tell me
a martial art technique doesn't have to be pretty as long as it gets the job done.
He told me about this guy named Rudy, who never catches colds and studies some kind of unknown Kung fu that deals with the five elements. In fighting circles he was known as The Flow Boxer. Many thugs who had no respect for Kung Fu were beaten by him.
At that time I was 13 years old and I had many books on martial arts. I was also taught by neighborhood martial artists. Mostly Militant Muslims - so fighting was a part of life.
Anyways, Justice took me to meet this guy named Rudy. I will never forget that day. We went to Rudy's house but he wasn't home. Upon leaving the building from the back exit Justice spotted Rudy getting off the bus coming home from work.
When I first saw him, he reminded me of a black nerd. I said to myself
This guy can't be a fighter
Understand this. Most people in my family are involved in martial arts. My uncle was a Tang Soo Do expert and my father, was a Hung Gar expert as well as being versed in other styles he learned as a Muslim. So all my life I've seen what fighting was about; Rudy didn't look the part.
Anyway, we went upstairs with Rudy to his place. One of the first things that I noticed was how much he loved to talk about internal kung fu, and how he felt it was so superior to karate and other styles. I remember it all so well. He was a very nice guy but he talked a lot. I'm older now, but even back then at the age of 13 years old, I was always practical when it came to martial arts or anything in life. I didn't want to hear all of this theory talk because I had seen many martial artists get their ass whipped in the streets. And looking at Rudy would have made anyone think that he'd fit the criteria to be one of them.
Thinking back now, Rudy must have known that I thought he was full of sh*t. Maybe this is why he asked me to attack him anyway unrehearsed. I was much taller than most kids back then, and was known for my speed and fast hands. So I came at him hard, but it didn't matter. He hit me in the stomach with a palm strike he jokingly called the lackluster palm. Needless to say I lacked the luster to get up after get hit by it.
I was now a believer and that was the first day of our endless friendship. Afterwards, he began teaching me his internal martial arts style. Even though I had many other teachers, he was my main teacher. He later took me to his teachers BP Chan, William C.C Chen and C.K Chu to refine my skills.
Real fighting is unpredictable and you have to learn how to change to circumstances. If you don't it can be very painful and dangerous to your health or your life. My knowledge comes not only from formal training, but I have seen sifu Curry whip many street fighters, martial artists, thugs and prison fighting experts As time went on I discovered everyone he hung out with were considered to be the local knockout kings. None of them could beat him.
The local knockout kings would often come around when I was training and tease me. As I got older, Rudy would put me up against a few of them to spar. Even though I was young he had full confidence in the internal arts and always told me since they didn't train I would be able to beat them some day.
Me being a kid did not matter to these individuals that Rudy had me fight. They would kick my ass as if I was an adult. If my hands were down or I wasn't covering weak areas like Rudy taught me, I would get what they called the full throttle. In other words BEAT DOWN. Back in those days (the 80's) I use to think were bad days for me, but as I look back I realize that they weren't bad at all. I learned about the mindset of hard-core fighters and the reality of real fighting.
Many people e-mail me for advice on the circle walking. The only advice I can give is from my own experience. When I first learned Baguazhang, it wasn't about just fighting it was about foundation. The first thing I had to learn was Chi Kung standing. We would practice the embrace posture and the Bagua guard stance. Then we would walk for hours and I do mean hours. Concentrate on not walking but walking correctly. Don't bob up and down as you see many Ba Gua practitioners do today.Try to stay on one level as you are walking the circle.
There is no analyzing where the Chi comes from in Ba Gua, Chi will come natural if you follow the principles of Baguazhang. Later I learned push hands to develop sticking and listening energy needed in self defense. Sifu Rudy then taught me the Dragon form.
I only learned one palm change every eight or nine months and if it was not right I got it refined. It took almost six years to learn the eight palms of Cheng Yu Lung's dragon form. When he took me to his teacher master BP Chan it was like starting all over again. Master BP Chan's Ba Gua knowledge was higher than Sifu Rudy, so he saw more things in my Ba Gua dragon form to refine.
The bottom line is practice circle walking and practice it right. Do some sparring here and there but be careful because Bagua techniques can be very dangerous. My destiny is all about BaGuaZhang and I have been blessed to have met so many real experts in this field.
Practice and live long.