Prebirth Training the Circular Form of Jiang Jung Chiao

This form is sometimes called the Dragon Form and is practised to develop the power, speed, balance, co-ordination and agility of this legendary mythical beast. In Chinese myth, the dragon is a symbol of Imperial power as well as of Yang or Yin energy, and can be portrayed as good, neutral, or bad in the many myths about it. It is not always the reptilian monster or servant of the devil, as usually portrayed through the centuries in most Western Christian thought.

There are many different versions of this Original Form, called that to differentiate it from the other forms Master Jiang created during his career as a bagua teacher. I have seen several of these demonstrated live and on video, and some are so different that you would swear they came from completely different sources. In any case, Erle Montaigue's version holds up extremely well—especially for the martial usage—when compared to most of what I have seen elsewhere.

Erle, like many good modern teachers, has evolved his own training methods over the years, but the forms that he still teaches are much as they were when I first saw them in the late 80s. One of his first books, on both taiji and bagua, was first published in 1984 and he is hardly "jumping on the bagua bandwagon," as has sometimes been unfairly said on the Internet, just because bagua is now becoming fashionable in North America.

As to the Circular Form that he teaches, each palm change is separated by walking the circle once (Change #7 is the only exception) using the slip-stepping method, then it is done in mirror image to create a totally balanced physical exercise. While it is best to learn under supervision, it is a good practice for the student to be taught the first side and then teach him or herself the reverse side, as doing so is a great mental exercise, and our brains—not just our bodies—need exercise to remain healthy as we age.

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