It has been my experience that the Circular Form can take almost a year for the average beginner to learn if he or she attends class twice a week. The Linear Form is even more tedious to learn. It has so many methods, each must be practised on both sides when doing the form as one long set, as taught by Erle. But mastery of any traditional internal art is a life long journey, not a quick trip to McDonalds!
Many modern sport martial artists, as well as those who compete in mixed martial arts fighting events, tend to look down their battered noses at the value of solo forms and deride them as being a waste of time that could be better spent on sparring and conditioning. And there is a lot of truth to this, especially if you consider how low many modern bagua teachers have drifted in terms of their potential martial effectiveness anywhere except with their own students in a classroom setting.
However, when approached properly, solo forms are the martial "short hand" of bagua practitioners and provide a way of remembering, practising, and teaching your vocabulary of techniques in the long run. Just be careful that your forms don't become meaningless dances, and that you don't neglect the other aspects of your training. The three points of the bagua triangle should be: qigong, forms, and applications.
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