what are the eight directions?
From a linguistic perspective, I think 8 directions has been slightly lost in translation. While the Japanese happo (八方) does technically mean 8 directions, it is usually used to mean 360 degrees, particularly in older language. You see it in terms like happo-bijin (八方美人), which is a person who tries to please everyone, and as such, ends up being unreliable. They do not try to please people in 8 specific directions.
I would also like to make a small comment on this mini-feud between Marc and Dan. I don't know either of you, and I don't know how good you are. Quite frankly I don't care. I'm quite sure that you are both much more skilled than I am at any rate. However, I wouldn't want to train with either of you, if you are going to get into this sort of exchange on the internet.