Finding a Simple Name
One day, during an evening Baguazhang forms and Chigung class, one of my students was really struggling with a certain form, he just couldn't do it and both he and I became very frustrated. I really struggled to find a way to help him move correctly, but his body just wouldn't open up. Then suddenly, I approached it from a whole different angle and simply adjusted his form to accommodate his body's current limitation. And, that seemed to work so well that he eventually was able to move correctly shortly there after, to his and my surprise. So, he very innocently asked me: "what system does that come from?". But, I drew a big blank in trying to answer him, because I couldn't figure-out on the spot where and from whom exactly I had learned this from, so I jokingly said: "Oh, this is special Zeigua-Bagua!"...
But, these kinds of teaching situations were now happening to me on a regular basis, as I taught more and more classes. And, I found it easier and easier to make these kinds of adjustments on the spot with all my students, so I kept the "joke" going of doing this Zeigua-Bagua stuff. But eventually, as the years passed on and I consistently kept getting good results, I started to take this skill more seriously...
So, "ZEIGUA" (pronounced "Zzz-eye-Guwah") is simply the name I've given to my particular teaching approach in general, but more specifically to the subjects of internal martial arts, natural healing and spiritual self-cultivation -a combination of my family last name Zeisky and the Chinese word Bagua (eight trigrams).
Zeigua Arts is my individual interpretation and understanding of the various disciplines that I have trained in and practiced since early childhood, a melding together of the martial arts, natural healing methods, esoteric sciences, eastern & western spiritual practices, goldsmithing & craftsmanship, graphic arts and general life experience. But most importantly, Zeigua Arts have been greatly influenced and inspired by the principles of Taichi, the beautiful art of Baguazhang (8 trigram palms) and the wisdom of the TAO (The Way) contained within the I Ching (The Book of Changes).
The combination of my close family upbringing, alongside my personal life experiences and the many hours I spent training in these various disciplines and creative arts, have undoubtedly greatly influenced the kind of lens thru which I see and experience this world. But undeniably, the natural meditation practices that are built into the internal martial arts, of which I've trained in since 1984, have proven to me to be especially reliable methods of de-stressing and rejuvenation. Its like having a wise old friend that you can to turn to in times of trouble, who can also soothe your acnes and pains and help you to see things more clearly, endlessly inspiring and motivating you to do more learning, researching and practicing.
Enthusiasm and Daydreaming
Throughout the years I've enthusiastically pursued learning the subtle energy cultivation arts of Qigong/Neigong and their connected internal martial arts of Taijiquan, Baguazhang, Yiquan, Xingyiquan, Aikido and others, in as a traditional manner as possible. After recognizing the enormous contributions made by the countless generations of spiritual seekers and martial artist throughout the centuries, it made me truly appreciation the ancient teachers and their modern day torchbearers for continuing to pass on this integral knowledge to future generations. And, so naturally I wished to honor them by showing the proper respect, patience and perseverance in my training, behavior and attitude, to best of my ability. However, learning and applying the correct cultural etiquettes and codes of behavior is still quite the challenge.
Like many kids who were influenced by pop culture and the movies of the 1970s, I too loved to watch Bruce Lee movies, TV's Kung Fu Series, Star Wars, Jackie Chan and all those other Hong Kong “chop-socky” films that were usually only shown in the world’s Chinatowns. My father and his Chinese friend, Min Ho (who till this day I still call "Ho su su," uncle Ho) would always take me to see Kung-fu movies on Saturdays, after working all day in the jewelry shop. Like many other aspiring young martial artist, I fantasized about training all day on a secluded mountaintop with my very own “Yoda-like” hermit. I wished for some sagely being to teach me the sacred mysteries of life and help me conquer all my inner demons, since I was having difficulties dealing with the inner city realities of living in New York City. And, at the same time of course, I also had to have the physical skills necessary to kick Godzilla’s butt too!
Reality Check & Character Building
In pursuing my dream of doing intensive spiritual and martial training on some secluded mountaintop in Asia (as is sometimes fairly well portrayed in the better martial arts films, where proper Confucian rituals, Taoist virtues and Buddhist ethics are heroically displayed), it seems to have steered me on a collision course with my American-western upbringing. And, for many years my blind enthusiasm did not allow me to balance the realities of modern day living in America with these typically “Asian” pursuits, creating lots of unnecessary conflict and suffering for me and family. They were not always so enthusiastic about my unconventional pursuits, really wishing I'd be a doctor, lawyer or successful businessman...can't really blame them. But, at the end of the day, they we're supportive in their own way and I always managed to get little chuckle out of them with my entertaining stories.
Eventually, this complex and fast-paced world quickly snapped me out of my martial arts fantasies several times, circumstances simply didn't allow for the luxury of idly waiting for any sagely beings to magically appear and take away all the self-created suffering. But oddly enough, at that very moments of despair it seemed perfectly natural to shift my awareness inwardly, towards the energetic sensations and visions regularly coming to me as I casually walked along the downtown streets of New York City.
Eventually, the intensity of these inner visions and sensations became quite impossible to ignore, so I simply yielded to them and "listened," intuitively knowing that they potentially held the key towards some sort of balance. And, just like in the Taijiquan practice of Tui-shou (push-hands sparring), the above response is similar to the action one might take to neutralize a strong attack. Taichi training teaches you to sense the right time to act, by opening and relaxing the belly to better links to the feet, in order to easily deflect a larger more negative force, without loosing one’s center.
Sometimes, the pressure of an outside force can help define the true center, just as in life certain experiences and relationships can help define our true selves, by exposing what we are not. True character building is a product of not being afraid to make a mistake, but also having the discipline and self-restraint to prevent mistakes from manifesting in the first place, by respecting our innate wisdom and listening to it's warning signals. When presented with so many life-altering choices and opportunities, endlessly crossing our paths these days, having practical tools to refine our intuition in these extreme times can be a most invaluable asset in the survival game.
Trusting in the Intangible Forces
Trusting intuition and in the intangible nature of subtle spiritual energies can be very frightening at first, because no one intentionally wishes to make wrong decisions or be labeled delusional. However, eventually I did begin to trust in these subtle forces, as they became clearer each time I practiced being quite and still. They helped me develop a teaching approach that could better serve the needs of my students, as they learned to apply the practical aspects of the internal martial arts into their daily lives.
Since I was getting good results with both my newer and more experienced students, I was encouraged to continue going forward with creating exercises and learning principles that seemed to help facilitate the better performance of the more traditional forms. When students started asking me, “What do you call this method?” I later jokingly started to refer to it as "Zeigua Arts," because I didn't specifically learn it from any one particular person or school. Rather, these "exercise recipes" were simply a creative stitching together of certain parts and sections from the more traditional forms and methods. This blending and synthesizing from the classical forms became a practical adaptation to the needs of the group I was teaching at that time in New York City, which were a mixture of creative artist and professionals ranging in age from in they're 20s to 60s, both male and female. My goal then and now, has always been to communicate authenticity in pragmatic ways, without watering it down to the point that the core teachings lost their essence.
Common Struggles and Energy Gates
History seems to be constantly repeating a very common human drama: individuals struggling to balance their own needs with the needs of others. Most cultures struggle with the universal themes of individual self-expression and making a name for oneself, with being less self-important and humbly contributing our fair share of responsibilities towards the welfare of the tribe and or larger community. My personal story is not that different from this common human struggle, providing me with crucible from which Zeigua ideas and teaching methods have been forged.
Each master that I had the privilege of learning from, no matter how small or large their individual contribution may have been and no matter whether I had the ability to fully understand their lessons at the time or not, I believe to be authentic experience that directly connecting to an ancient past. I found that I could access these libraries of truth and universal energy principles simply by being more quiet and still during my physical form performances and listening more during my sitting meditation or standing qigong practice rather than trying to achieve a specific goal. These were my primary vehicles by which I could enter these portals of time and energy gates. I'm greatly appreciative of having the good fortune of being exposed to these mind-body-spirit arts and sciences at an early age. Sadly, internal arts and meditation are rarely discussed nor taught in any of our conventional school systems or governmental agencies. But hopefully, this unfortunate reality will change soon, as more and more progressive minds begin to come out of the woodworks and help support each other by organizing during these times of great need and uncertainty.
Sincerity and Belief in Self
I do not claim to officially represent any specific school or teacher, but rather only wish to acknowledge how all the wonderful teachers that I had the privilege of studying with have positively influenced the way I move, think, learn and teach; indirectly helping to co-create my ideas. So I wish to take the time now to sincerely thank all them for being an integral part of my life, and humbly say THANK YOU!
Zeigua Arts is a sincere attempt to contribute back to my local and global community, to be of further service to anyone also interested in similar pursuits. Time and much self-introspection have helped me to recognize what are my true talents and gifts are, and which ones are not. And, no matter what our unique process of maturity may be, eventually, authentic spiritual growth requires acceptance of our gifts, taking full responsibility for them and nurturing them with disciplined actions...Hopefully, we’ll also find balanced ways of sharing those gifts with others and still remain humble.
I am no societal authority figure possessing any-sort of medical degrees, titles, PhD's or college training of any sort. I'm just a self-driven person who was willing to put in the time and effort to explore, challenge and educate myself in lesser known subjects of interest, that were difficult to find in the more conventional schools at the time. So, I only claim to be a universal citizen with the innate right to create and make positive contributions, with the primary goal of finding practical ways of marrying reason with our intuition in order to actualize a heartfelt purpose.
Nothing is inherently missing from us, because I believe all true knowledge is already innate, as can be so plainly demonstrated by observing how a new born babe automatically knows how to suckle nourishment from its mother's breast...no one, no school, no professor, no teacher, no institution taught this young child how to do this, it just simply knows...So, with all sincerity and self-confidence gained from observing the plain and simple truth of Nature in action, I continue on with this journey of learning and creating. And hopefully, more and more people will also recognize the inherit value of plain and simple truths.
Positive energy is the true currency and wealth that never looses its value...
New York City
updated April 2011
BEGINNINGS --- Finding a Simple Name | Core Influences | Enthusiasm and Daydreaming | Reality Check & Character Building | Trusting in the Intangible Forces | Common Struggles and Energy Gates | Sincerity and Belief in Self