Postheaven Training the Linear Form

Those bagua styles that teach some version of what Erle calls the Linear Form often teach it as either two, four, or eight mini-forms, rather than one long sequence. Furthermore, a few teachers insist that the fighting methods were never meant to be practised in sequence, but should only be taught and practised as individual units.

Similarly, a couple of older Chinese books, illustrated with line drawings, I have seen translations of, call them "The 32 Fighting Methods" even though, when you count the actual methods, you get 33, 34, or 36, not 32. The original set, apparently, ended with the Snake Method. The kick method, Dragon Whips Its Tail, was a later addition. I have seen three different such kick methods used even though each has the same name. Ah, variety—the spice of life. Of course, spicy food often gives people indigestion!

As to the types of controversy that can bedevil those researching bagua, the most reliable modern martial arts historians believe that the late Master Gao created the Linear Forms, combining the bagua he had learned from Cheng Ting Hua with techniques from his former training in Xing Yi Quan and Shaolin Chuan.

I think it is best to approach the Linear Form as being a catalogue of the most useful martial techniques found in the Circular Form. I have also read that the first eight methods are the key methods in terms of martial practicality, and that there are less than 30 basic types of application. However, from those you can make up an almost unlimited number of techniques that are variations—depending on your skill and the type of attack being used against you.

Due to the length of time that it takes to have even a basic skill in its execution, the Linear Form is becoming a rarity in modern times—few schools still teach it, and many modern teachers focus their teaching efforts on the Circular Form and selected fighting methods.

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Heal Yourself With Qi Gong

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