Crosstraining

As the years and the decades roll by, your priorities and interests will change. What was important at the age 25 in terms of your internal arts (e.g., developing physical skill, learning self-defence skills, or becoming a better fighter) will be less important at the age 40 or 50. Assuming that you have shown some aptitude and have practised regularly, this is partly a reflection of the fact that you will have improved your health and also achieved real self-defence skills. I think it is also...

Empty Force

There is grudging admittance that dim-mak was, and is, a traditional aspect of the internal arts, and it is still possible to find modern teachers who know something about that aspect, even though they are rarely willing to teach it. Conversely, after all of these years of training, meeting, or observing a variety of Chinese martial arts experts, I have not seen any real evidence that kong-jing (empty force) or the ability to project Qi from a distance to affect an aggressor are anything other...

Iron Shirt and Taking a Punch

Many hard styles teach to exhale while striking, and it is often taught in the internal arts in the context of reverse breathing but others teach the opposite you fill the form with inhalation as it opens and expands. Of course, with time and training, you don't think consciously about breathing, and the end result seems to be that the torso learns to breath like an accordion, or old style furnace bellows as it opens and closes, folds and unfolds, and that it can do what is needed automatically...

An Introduction to General Qigong Theory

The following is a simplistic overview of a fascinating, complex and disputed subject. While you don't have to be an expert in qigong or Chinese medical theory to benefit from your bagua training, it can certainly help if you understand some of the key concepts. One key concept in Traditional Chinese Medicine (tcm) is your body, mind, and spirit are all interdependent. They affect one another at all levels. An ailment of the mind will be reflected in the body. Similarly, any physical ailment...

Conclusion

Standing qigong is a marvellous exercise for beginners, although they rarely agree. It is designed to teach fundamentals of posture and body mechanics, slowing the breathing, and learning how to relax as much as possible while still doing work, and how to stretch the fingers and the palms. The intermediate level of bagua student should concentrate on walking the circle as the primary qigong method. The one-legged standing Breathing Palms Method is also time-ef-fecient method of martial qigong....

Advanced Moving Qigong Holding the Eight Energies

Using the following eight additional palms while walking the circle is designed to help the intermediate level student to develop the movement of internal energy beginning with bringing the energy to the lower tan-tien and legs, then to the middle tan-tien and arms, then to the upper tan-tien and crown of the head, then opening the back while hollowing the chest, then the chest is rounded and the sternum closed, then splitting between backward and forward, then splitting between high and low,...

Basic Moving Qigong Walking the Circle

I have often read or been told that walking while holding the Eight Mother Palms is actually the foundation of bagua both as a healing and martial system and, like most beginners, assumed that this was just a way to get us to put up with the tedium of basic training so that we could get on with the really important stuff the various forms. Well, wrong again The essence of the art does lie in walking in circles but not quite in the way or for the reasons the average beginner would assume. In...

Double Sword Form

This form was the first of Erle's bagua weapon forms that I learned back in the early nineties, and I gather that not many members of the wtba practise it anymore which is a shame. It is a lovely, if demanding set. As you use a short straight sword in each hand, the changes of the circular solo set must be done on both sides of the body. This makes for a very long sequence indeed. Functionally, using two edged weapons is much harder than it looks. There is a tendency not to pay enough attention...

The Long Staff

The bagua solo staff form that Erle used to teach is a very difficult one to practise due to the extraordinary number of techniques, the physical complexity of some of the moves e.g., doing a somersault over the staff , and the amount of floor space that it takes to practise, as it is done in straight lines. When I have asked him in recent years, he told me that very few wtba members were still practising, much less teaching this form. I have seen one or two forms demonstrated in North America...

Learning how to Learn Baguazhang

The name of this art also spelled Pa-kua Chang in older English language books translates as Eight Trigrams Palm in reference to the famous eight patterns of broken and solid lines used in the Chinese philosophical and divination text I-Ching. While the principles of bagua, and even its martial tactics, are often related directly to the text and various commentaries on this ancient book, I prefer to focus on the more mundane aspects of training in my classes, and this will be reflected in the...

Deer Horn Knives

These weapons, also called Crescent Swords or Mandarin Duck Knives, are always used in pairs.They are short-range martial tools especially designed to disarm the opponent and be effective against a variety of types of long and short traditional weapons. One of the fight scenes in the recent kung-fu epic Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon shows a fight scene between one of the villains and a bounty hunter who uses a pair of these weapons. Deer Horn Knives come in a variety of sizes. The ones used in...

General Guidelines for Qigong Practice

Practise the most active qigongs in the early morning and the less active and quiet ones in the evening. If doing several qigongs during the same practice session, do the less active first and progress through the more complex in the am and reverse that sequence in the pm. The idea is to be in accordance with the natural rhythm of the day. Practise outside whenever possible, particularly in the Springtime, and try to do the quieter methods barefeet, if possible. If you must practise indoors,...

Light Body Skills

Many stories circulate about the rather fantastic abilities of internal experts of old, and one of the most common is running up walls and jumping onto rooftops. Anyone who has seen a kung-fu movie has seen this concept taken to excess. Tung Hai Ch'uan was reputed to have this kind of skill, and there are many stories about his ability to leap about like a gazelle, move silently and swiftly as if he had teleported himself from one spot to another, etc. However, having just seen a television...

Quiet Standing Wuji Posture

The word Wuji refers to a Chinese philosophical concept. In Western terms you can compare it to the existential void that existed before creation or the big bang. It divided into the movement of Yin and Yang called Taiji not to be confused with the martial arts that go by that name as well , and Taiji gave birth to the universe as we know it. The Chinese call this the Ten Thousand Things. To describe it in a more mundane manner, stillness leads to movement, which leads to stillness, which leads...

Basic Standing Qigong Holding the Eight Mother Palms

Standing this way is designed to create physical heat by bending the knees, which creates heat in the lower torso, said to be the receptacle of the lower tan-tien. The lower tan-tien literally means elixir field, and is a term derived from the ancient Taoist alchemical experiments that resulted in gunpowder, liquid mercury, and a variety of metal alloys. Their original goal in such research was to create potions and pills that could be used to create precious metals and bring physical...