How Was Baguazhang Originally Taught?

Everyone who practices Baguazhang has heard that it was created or revealed by one famous master named Dong Haichuan. Almost everyone agrees on the mythology that Dong taught each of his students differently based on what skills and experiences they already had.

That is pretty extraordinary. That means there wasn't a curriculum. It was improvisational. That means there was a type of fruition but no method. Students were studying to achieve a type of experience, a skill, a look, or a presence.  

If your Baguazhang school has a curriculum, stop and wonder why? Is it necessary? Who or what does it serve? If you are a teacher, can you teach Baguazhang directly, without the intermediary of a method? Can students have a clear idea of the fruition in mind when they are learning so they can get there more directly?

As a teacher I'm getting a lot closer to this. I still have all the curricula I learned from various teacher. What is good about it is that it organizes a long list of ideas and tricks. What is bad about it is it relies on repetitive training too much. Repetition is a weak mother. If I can condition your body to love and trust a way of moving, you won't need repetition. Repetition is a hook without a worm.

There are two exceptions. The first is effortless movement. If it is truly effortless you won't develop resistance to it. It will be self resolving. It will only look like a precise pattern from the outside. From the inside it will feel spontaneous. The other exception is meditation. The practice of stillness makes even the smallest movement infinitely complex. That is a fun paradox. Take that infinite complexity into a simple pattern, like walking a circle and doing the Bagua and Kathak exercise called "tea cups" or "lotus flower," and repetition becomes an impossibly joyful list of variations.

Dong Haichuan was probably not the creator of Baguazhang. It is more likely a blend of Indian and Chinese performing arts for representing the child warrior gods Krishna and Nezha. These gods are masters of thunder who enjoy killing snake-like creatures who live in the ocean and large rivers. These creatures are called nagas in India, long in Chinese, and dragons in English, they control ocean waves and make storms. Dong Haichuan probably had a different given name at birth. Given names used to change in China when a person achieved something or transitioned to a new part of their life. Haichuan means "Ocean Rivers."