TIBETAN, LION'S ROAR, HOP-GAR, LAMA KUNG-FU
Lion's Roar! Circle Stepping:
"Lion's Roar! Universal Cyclic Path"
The branch divisions of the Lion's Roar! Martial Arts tradition that have passed thru China - which represents ALL branches known to the West, have to greater or lesser degrees passed thru a stringent period of Sino-Formation (Chinese culturalization) and in this process have once again to greater or lesser degrees, lost contact with the Tantra of India and Tibet.
This natural process of local adaptation and evolution is inevitable, and in China reflected the unprecedented period of social and political turbulence at the end of the Manchu dynasty.
One aspect of Sino-formation has been the overwriting of Indo-Tibetan practices with those of Han-China, in particular Daoist martial arts methods such as the Yin-Yang and Ba-Gua theories - which along with Shaolin martial arts (both Northern and Southern) have been blended into the Chinese Lion's Roar! branches to a quite marked degree (Hop-Gar Kung-Fu, Lama-Pai Kung-Fu, "Tibetan" White-Crane Kung-Fu).
Where the so-called 'Ba-Gua Bo-Faht' - the 8-Diagram Stepping Method (often called 'Circle walking' in Chinese Lion's Roar branches) is concerned, Daoist overwriting can be clearly seen, and to such an extent that many practitioners of the Lion's Roar! tradition as it has passed thru China, have little idea about the true name, meaning and purpose of the 'original' Tantric method.
Samsara Chakram-Marga - 'Universal Cyclic Path' has deep meaning in Indo-Tibetan culture. Samsara is often referred to (sometimes exaggeratedly) in modern Buddhist commentaries as denoting the 'endless cycle of death and re-birth, from which to seek liberation' (thru Dharma). Samsara 輪廻 輪轉 / 僧娑洛 is an early Indo-Aryan concept (in Sanskrit) that literally refers to the phenomenal world - this experience-able universe and its ontology (development). It also refers to an en-folding process - as in circumlocution the wrapping around and folding-in along a circular path. This mainly Hindu concept of Samsara was carried over into Buddhism, together with many other concepts and practices, including the original Simhanada Vajramukti (Lion's Roar! Diamond-Thunderbolt Tantric Martial Art).
Chakram - meaning 'cyclic or circle/wheel forming pattern', is connected with the esoteric Chakra's the psychic/etheric subtle-body centers.
Marga - meaning 'path' is related to disciplined activities and is a feature of Yogic schools.
The 'Circle Steps' of Tantric Lion's Roar! martial arts are NOT connected to the Daoist Ba-Gua, nor to the Yin-Yang theory. They were correlated with them as the Lion's Roar! Martial Art journeyed into Western and Northern China, but, they were never a part of Tantra, nor of Indo-Tibetan and Hindu-Buddhist thought.
The Universal Cyclic Path of Lion's Roar! Tantric Martial Arts:
Lion's Roar! Martial Tantra is an 'alchemical process' that works with our connection not only to the body but also to the universe as a whole. As an esoteric path it engages with many symbols and transformations, and these find their place in the actual kinetic aspects of the Art - its very movements and transitions in Rupa (form). The late Lama Guru Chogyam Chungpa in describing the non-Martial Lion's Roar! Tantra says this of the connection of the Lion's Roar! to the notion of Samsara:
"So that is what is called the lion's roar: whatever occurs in the realm of samsaric mind is regarded as the path, and everything is workable. It is a fearless proclamation-lion's roar".
From: "Buddhadharma Without Credentials" By: Vidyadhara Chogyam Chungpa Rinpoche. (1973).
We can see from this that the Lion's Roar! is NOT about escape from the usual Buddhist conception of Samsara - as such, BUT about engagement with it, fearlessly.
Given that Lion's Roar! is THE Tantric Martial art of Indo-Tibetan culture, then the Samsaric en-folding chakram path refers to Esoteric engagements with BOTH the symbols involved (alchemical - transmutations) AND kinetic actions in martial form (Rupa).
The Chakram steps in the Tantric Martial Arts involve the usual Kaya's, Shakti's, Resha's and in particular, the Crane Totem-Rupa - the Crane division of the technical side of the Art. The stepping, turning and twisting embodies the Crane's Rupa and Citta - both of which as a minimum, need to be understood in order to grasp the significance in a martial sense, of the Chakram steps. Broadened out into symbolic Tantra, the Crane Rupa and Citta thru the Circle walking, engage the Lion's Roar Tantric Martial Artist with the essence of the Lion's Roar! as a microcosm of the macrocosm that is Samsara (Buddhist). The retrograde turns around the circle illustrate the Bodhisattva Vow to: Remain in Samsara until all sentient beings are set free by enlightenment. This is of such significance that it cannot be overlooked, nor should it be over-written.
In more exoteric form, the Chakram steps show the Rupa and Citta of the Crane in kinetic action: its footwork, body, powers and mind, as the necessary platform for creating the later union with its opposite - the Ape. This Yab-Yum dyad is Sacred, and necessary for the final transformation into the instantiation of the Lion's Roar! itself.
Superficially, it can seem like Daosit Yin-Yang, and no doubt, this was considered to be justification enough for the art to be Sino-Formed under the conditions prevalent in China at the time. Nevertheless, they are different, and that difference matters in Tantric terms, as well as in the essence of the exoteric side of the Art - which should not exist without Tantra anyway - if it is to be considered as Lion's Roar! (Simhanada Vajramukti) at all.
Therefore, the Chakram Steps in Tantric Lion's Roar! Martial Arts, feature in Nata's (Forms) and in special Nata-Yantra's - wherein the Tantric significance of the steps and body-mind changes are made manifest within the Tantric Aspirant. The purely Martial aspects have NOT to do with walking around an opponent in a circle or circles, but with how to manifest Citta (mind), Kaya (body) Sakti (power) and Resha (line).
The Heart of the Buddha Dharma is not Daoist Ba-Gwa or Yin-Yang theories - although, given the Siddha Path, and, local cultural adaptations, both could be utilized to that end - provided that the Jewel In the Lotus was not 'overwritten' by the Tai-Chi 'Grand-Terminus'.
It is the responsibility of those who claim to follow the Lion's Roar! tradition to keep faith with the Lineage Guru's NOT ONLY back from the West into China - the very recent history of Lion's Roar! Martial Arts, but back to Tibet, and back once again into Ancient India, the blood-Soil of the Buddhist and Sanatana Dharma's.
OM SIMHA-BUDDHA BODHISATTVA HUM