Prior to starting Yin Style Bagua I had practiced Kenpo Karate and Wing Chun, both of which were passed to me as basically defensive arts. Kenpo for its part has a plethora of self-defense techniques that are taught as responses to particular stimuli, while the Wing Chun was focused on developing tactile awareness and using a relatively small core of highly refined basics to respond as needed. I paint with broad brushstrokes here. The main point is that both emphasized a responsive mindset and this had colored my thinking considerably.
So when I began to learn Bagua, I approached it in the same way, and for Lion system this was just dead wrong. After several months of practicing and also reading the Yi Jing I came to realize that fundamentally Lion system was about assault, which in retrospect is painfully obvious, but at the time the realization was a great leap forward in my understanding. This assault-oriented outlook does not, however imply blindly attacking, nor does it mean being insensitive to an opponent, but simply that all actions are intended to initiate and seamlessly press an attack, while keeping an opponent reacting and unable to effectively counter.
That’s the story with Lion anyway, but consider the set of animals associated with the yang trigrams – Lion, Dragon, Snake, Bear. These are the king of the predators, a mythical and unpredictable beast, a stealthy cold-blooded sometimes poisonous predator, and a somewhat reluctant (bears are omnivores) but equally vicious predator. The message is pretty clear – the yang trigrams require us to adopt the mindset of a predator. This simple observation should also make it clear that Yin Style Bagua is not a system of self-defense and most certainly not a sport. Rather it is a hand-to-hand combat system that emphasizes the ability to initiate violence. The distinction is profound.
Of course there are the yin trigrams, and the animals associated with them are not predators. Indeed the responsive mindset also dwells in Bagua, but this discussion will have to wait for another day.