So after Thryn informs us about the first time she was arrested, and Dean tells us about the joys of being a follower of group fitness guru, Jeff Butterworth, we delve into the short version of the very long history of Martial Arts. Baguazhang (BÄguàzhÇng) is one of the three main Chinese martial arts of the “Wudang School”, emphasizing the control of the mind as well as the body. Although not Kung Fu in the modern sense, Baguazhang is “Kung Fu” in the real sense, which is “a skill acquired over time.”
Charlie is a student of Dragon Rolling the Pearl, the Nine Dragon Baguazhang Instructor Doctor John Painter, and teaches in Chinatown, Boston, on Sunday mornings. Dean went to one of his classes, and called it “the scariest, most lethal form of Martial arts I’ve ever seen.” And with good reason! The art form itself was developed by the Li family, a bad-ass family of body guards, who focused their special art on the ability to fight multiple opponents all at once. Not a group of people you would want to mess with.
“Family style” Martial Arts have always been a heritage. There were certain families in China who would practice an art they wouldn’t share with anybody else. It was passed down from one generation to the next, like a sacred story, a closely kept secret. They might have learned it from somewhere else, but they only taught it to their family members.
Nowadays, the tradition is open to anyone willing to accept the discipline. For Charlie, it filled a void in his life that he didn’t fully know existed beforehand. Although he had always had a fascination with martial arts, and tried his hand at many different forms over the years, it wasn’t until he found Dr. Painter and Baguazhang that he was finally able to feel a sense of belonging. But, as you will discover, Charlie fits in with the Li family mentality. He may be 5’6,” but you wouldn’t want to face him in a fight. He would undoubtedly wreck you.
So, it may seem odd that Dean, the “poster child for wimpishness” who runs away from fights and men who wear brass knuckles (contrary to the rules of macho-manliness, this may be the wisest course of action regardless) would be interested in such a thing as this. But if you stop to think about it, it makes sense. The form that Charlie teaches is a protective art, a work in prepared spontaneity that can be easily transferred to the real world. It’s not based on counted out, orchestrated steps. Instead, it’s a complete and traditional martial art, one that uses the whole person, mind and body, in order to become a higher, better person.
One who consequently knows how to throw down when the time comes.
Charlie teaches his class on Sunday Mornings from 10-11:30 in Chinatown, Boston, near Kneeland Street. The first class is free, there’s no obligation to join. He wants you to be curious, ask him questions, and come check it out. And yes, women are welcome. In fact, there is a grand prize for one of the first lucky ladies to sign up…rumor on the street is that it’s a date night with one of the unmarried male members of the Big Sauce Radio Show! Bet you can’t guess who…
Joey Phoenix is a Boston-based freelance writer, photographer, and Big Sauce Radio Show enthusiast.