If you have ever wondered how to boss it in martial arts (baguazhang or not) and love oolong tea, this is for you. First published here and based on my own experiences:
When it comes to tea as part of being a baguazhang 八卦掌 practitioner all there is is baguazhang 八卦掌 serving tea cup exercises. They are great for shoulder mobility and if you can do it with hot liquid in the cup then it is a cool parlour trick.
This exercise came about from the fact that in the early days of the martial art, starting with Grandmaster Dong Hai Chuan, many practitioners were servants of the nobility in China. Think of a butler with extra skills.
Unfortunately, here in the West, that is where the story ends. Tea serves no other purpose other than maybe a mantlepiece... If the owner of the tea cup or tea pot is man enough to admit they have either. Most men are just plane too mancho for that.
Over on the other side of the Pacific Ocean, tea goes further in its usage and meaning.
In the East, we do more with tea than just twirl it around our bodies. We drink it. In particular, we drink it as part of Kung Fu culture, oolong tea. Its meaning far surpasses its exercise meaning. For example, when you are a baguazhang boss, people show their respect in formal occasions by serving you their best tea. Most practitioners in the West laugh at this custom and may claim this to be outdated and unnecessary. But this masks a painful truth: Most have never and will never experience this.
Oolong tea is the drink of the Kung Fu masters.
Oolong tea helps to maintain one's chigong, while strengthening our tribal social bonds; Peace between the schools exist when the masters can share a pot of tea together. It is also a simple way of separating out who is ready to go deeper with their martial arts.
The truth is most Western baguazhang practitioners reject the cup of tea because they are afraid to find out what lies beneath the surface. It is far easier to either keep it as hocus-pocus fairy-dust or to argue that nothing can be further had other than endless training in the gym et cetera. And yet...
We keep obsessing about technique. And what moves actually work. And around and around it goes.
The Baguazhang Boss drinks Oolong tea. Always has and always will.