White Ape Offers Fruit
Many years ago there was a student who had dedicated years of his life to master the “traditional” forms of (Qingdai) Wushu such as Choileifut, Hungquan, Wingchun, he approached a highly respected and revered master and inquired of him how to take his practice to a higher level as there seemed to be something missing. The old man said, “You have done well, but you should practice one of the profound schools of boxing”. One of those profound schools of Chinese Wushu he referred to is called BaGua Zhang. The meaning of the Chinese terms represented by those characters are the 8 direction palm (method).
BaGua Zhang is considered one of the three main Internal Schools of Chinese Boxing and has a very high reputation. Its methods are deep and sophisticated and require a high level of dedication to master, the other of these main Internal Schools of Chinese boxing are Xingyiquan, and Taijiquan. All of these are taught at the Wujido Institute.
BaGua Zhang consists of developing powerful postures and intricate footwork. It has been said that the essence of BaGua Zhang is the eight palms and walking the circle. This is sometimes referred to as the “pre-heaven” BaGua Zhang. The eight palms consist in variations of the Palm method and shape as well as Palm development. BaGua emphasizes the use of the palm in its practice, although some players will include some limited use of a closed hand, this is somewhat rare.
The illustration to the left is found reprinted in numerous publications and is used to display the static 8 palm shapes and to also relate their use and expression according to the I-Qing conceptual pattern of the BaGua (8 directions).
The eight directions are: Qian, Xun, Kan, Gen, Kun, Zhen, Li, and Dui. The various maneuvers of the palm can be classified in the eight directions as illustrated. Each has various functions as in striking, lifting, holding, pressing, slapping, vibrating, absorbing, redirecting, and various others. The functions and transformations permute from the basic 8 to 64 palms based upon I Qing theory. thus the changes are virtually infinite being limited only by a persons creativity and foundation skill set. The dragon claw palm and the ox tongue palm are two of the most famous variations.
The footwork of the pre-heaven BaGua is the circle walking. In the practice of circle walking the practitioner essentially walks the circle with the “shun bu” step. Changing directions and executing shapes, techniques and so forth within the concept of the basic circle. As time passes and the skill of the practitioner deepens then more circles are added to the exercise, as well as the use of small and large circle walking and so forth. In the past the beginning student was set to walking the circle around a tree selected for its straightness, not too wide so the student can walk a circle around it while keeping his gaze at eye level on the tree. the beginning student is encouraged to do this a minimum of one hour a day to develop the legs in addition to mastering the basic circle walking technique. BaGua has a very specific set of Chi Gong exercises and methods that accompany the training of this prolific and vast system and method.
the great Internal Styles all have a common theme and that is the unification of the body internally and externally and the utilization of the three treasures; Qi, Shen, and Jing. The methods have some variations based on the physical requirements of the method but are in fact all one teaching.
BaGua Zhang Training
BaGua is taught in the Wujiquan (Wuyi) syllabus. There are three BaGua systems taught and a fourth which is a synthesis of the three. BaGua is extremely important and the mastery of its footwork and palm maneuvers expands an already vast syllabus of exotic and esoteric methods so we believe that BaGua has a place and should be studied diligently and mastered sufficiently so that the palms and steps are exerted with ease and precision. To master the steps of BaGua is a powerful method. The footwork of Wujiquan itself goes even further, making the study of BaGua steps and palms a way of further developing a corner of the whole. BaGua is indeed exemplary for training steps and is very beneficial in the rare training of baoquan which is a martial science belonging to the system of Wujiquan (Wuyi). It is a fact that baoquan has almost completely faded from the history of Chinese Wushu except for the effort of only a handful of masters. Baoquan can still be trained however; it is the footwork of Wujiquan (Wuyi) and taught at the Wujido Institute.