This even occurred over 10 years ago. But the moment of “life saved” is still vivid for me.
I was walking on a main street in downtown Toronto on a relaxing summer day around 5pm. As in most cities, this time of day is rush hour so every street was jammed with cars, trucks, buses, bicycles, and pedestrians all trying to get home. The phrase “rush hour” is ironic since no one is really rushing as much as they’d like. Some people react to this concentration of vehicles and pedestrians with impatience, frustration and in some cases, anger.
I came to an intersection with a green light and started walking across towards the opposite side of street. To my left was a large van with his right turn signal flashing. He was waiting for his chance to make that turn and as soon as he saw an opening in the traffic, in his impatience, he hit the gas. I was still walking and was directly in line with the front of the driver’s side of the van. He did not see me due I assume to his watching for cars, not pedestrians.
My peripheral vision caught the movement of the van as it lurched forward and my body automatically pressed my rear foot into the ground causing me to practically leap forward. The van missed me by inches and I found myself standing on the opposite street corner. I knew what had happened and thanked the Bagua gods for my standing there. 🙂 Why?
Because we practice so much walking with our Dragon Step thereby maintaining that “power in reserve” feeling I had become habitually back-weighted when I walked. This meant that regardless of which foot I was on at any given moment, it would be the one from which I can push on any direction.
We work with our peripheral vision regularly. This aspect of vision is suited to seeing movement “out of the corner of the eye”. So when movement is detected, the body can respond very quickly. So the overall process was 1. seeing the movement of the van peripherally 2. realizing the threat 3. pressing the foot into the ground to launch the body forward.
It’s important to understand that “I” did not do this, it was a survival instinct. I did not consciously decide to do a Dragon Step at that crucial moment. My body did it automatically in response to the survival impulse. It all happened fast enough to get me out of the way of that van. The reason it happened so quickly was that I had been practicing Dragon Stepping long enough for it to be a habit. It was the habit of using the Dragon Step that saved me.
The key to internalizing this step is to walk that way all the time. It takes some time to develop the Dragon Step as one’s natural way of walking but as you can imagine, I’m pretty dedicated to it. After all, I know from direct experience that Baguazhang saved my life.