Erle recommends that the Circular Form be practised with the Slip Step, also known as the Snake or Mud Step, which requires that your weight stays on the rear leg to facilitate speedy footwork and to allow for sudden kicks. The feet are kept flat on the ground. The front foot slides, and the rear leg kicks forward and pauses before the entire process is repeated so that the feet are pushed forward by the turning of the hips. It is essential to lift and place the entire foot as a unit, moving heel and toe together.
While some styles allow you to lift the heel a little higher than the toe. This is physically easier. No good style that I am aware of allows you to lift the toes first or higher than the heel while moving that foot. It is possible to develop great speed with this method, and it is ideal on smooth surfaces. This is the hardest of the footwork methods to get right on a consistent basis, so it is worth focusing a lot of effort to get. Most people in my experience will be able to do it reasonably well and consistently walking in one direction, but not the other.
This footwork is normally used to develop the ability to do low kicks, targeted at lower shin and ankle height. Some bagua teachers state that this stepping method is really only suited to beginners, as the Tiger/Natural Step is more useful in terms of adapting to a variety of terrains.
The Linear Form, being concerned with practical martial usage, is done in a linear manner. Various methods are strung together in straight lines and turn periodically after having gone to one or more corners. The footwork is easier and more practical in martial terms. You don't have to worry about Slip Steps, narrow Bow Stances and follow-stepping are more commonly used.
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