Since the resurgence of the public practice of Chinese martial arts in mainland China in the late 1970's, there have been two older generation Ba Gua Zhang practitioners who stood as icons of the style in the country of its origin for over a decade, Li Zi Ming (4^ and Sha Guo Zheng it). Both of these distinguished gentleman have now passed away, however, they have both left behind written material expressing their ideas and insights concerning the practice and study of Ba Gua Zhang which we can use to better understand these men and their art.
One of the many written works which Sha Guo Zheng presented to the Ba Gua community was a very comprehensive series of articles detailing his 199 movement Sha style Ba Gua Lian Hua Zhang ( - continuous linking Ba Gua). This series of articles appeared in Wu Shu Jian Shen, a popular martial arts magazine in mainland China, in 1991.
In this article we will present the opening of Sha's form which demonstrates his execution and usage of the single palm change. While the movements of Sha's single palm change will appear to be quite straight forward to anyone who has studied the single palm change from most any style of Ba Gua, Sha's written explanations of the details of his change and the special
Sha Guo Zheng's Continuous Linking Ba Gua Zhang form is executed around three different size circles and includes straight line movements in eight directions
Sha Guo Cheng demonstrating a Ba Gua Zhang martial application on his student Kang Ge Wu points of practice might lend some new insights to practitioners familiar with this change.
Sha Guo Zheng's Continuous Linking Ba Gua Zhang form was his own combination of various forms he had learned from his Ba Gua Zhang instructors. The form is quite long and the movements are not restricted to a single circle. This form is comprised of movements around three different size circles combined with linear movements to eight directions (as shown in the illustration at left).
In the execution of this form the practitioner is required to combine circle walking maneuvers and directional changes around all three circles with linear footwork and straight line attacks moving to the eight directions. In this segment we will show the first 8 of the 199 postures of this form in order to introduce the reader to Sha style Ba Gua and the detailed writing style of Sha Guo Zheng. In future issues of the Pa Kua
Sha Style Single Palm Change
Chang Journal we will show various other segments of this form and present Sha Guo Zheng's written explanations.
Opening Movements of Sha Style Continuous Linking Palm (Single Palm Change)
The Ba Gua Lian Huan Zhang form teaches the practitioner how to change the palms while circling and the movements are quite complicated and the dimensions of movement are many. We began to prepare this written material in 1975, first taking photographs of Sha Guo Zheng performing his form. We tried to make the instructions very clear and present the material in great detail. We feel that the reader can learn from the results of our ten years of work and research on this project.
The diagram of movement which the student can use as a reference is shown in the previous page. The practice area should be 5 meters in diameter. The largest circle should be 4 meters in diameter. Inside of that is a circle of 2 meters in diameter, then inside that is a small circle of 1.2 meters in diameter. Four straight lines divide the circles into eight directions. The top of the circle faces north. Start the form facing south. Beginners are encouraged to draw this diagram on the floor to help follow the directions.
In the diagram on the previous page there are small circles which are half black and half white. These circle indicate the position of the body while executing the form. The white side of the circle is the direction you are facing in execution of the movement.
The Twin Dragons Appear
Explanation of the Movements:
1) Posture and preparation. Stand naturally on the north side of the small (innermost) circle facing south. The heels are together with the toes turned out at an angle of about 60 degrees, the knees are slightly pulled inward, the arms hang naturally at the sides, the eyes look straight ahead (illustration 1).
2) Beginning Form.. The upper body does not move, the weight is shifted to the right foot, the left foot moves a half step to the left (until the feet are shoulder width apart), the body weight is distributed evenly between the two feet; the two palms simultaneously twist outward, the palms now face outward (forward, toward the south - illustration 2).
Continuing, move the two palms out to the sides with the palms facing upward until the arms are stretched out to the sides at a 90 degree angle to the body, at shoulder height with the arms slightly bent, now turn the palms over to face downward with the tiger's mouth of both hands facing each other (the distance between the index fingers is about 2 centimeters), the palms push down in front of the chest until they are in front of the lower stomach; without stopping turn the two palms outward level with the ground until the fingers are pointing forward, the hands are in front of the juncture of the torso and thigh (illustration 3).
a) While standing naturally in the posture of preparation, the head must be straight, with the back of the neck stretched (the head is slightly lifted upward, but one must not use force), the chin is slightly pulled in, the lower coccyx is straight, the chest is held naturally, it must not be pushed out nor sunken in, one must not slump the shoulders forward or round the back, the shoulders sink with the arms hanging naturally downward at the sides, not intentionally bent or forcefully straightened; the anal sphincter is slightly contracted and the buttocks are slightly pulled in. The heart is calm and the qi still, close the mouth with the teeth together, the tongue is touching the roof of the mouth, the breathing is done through the nose naturally, the eyes look straight ahead and level, facing directly south, the entire body is relaxed with the spirit and intent concentrated, the heart is quiet and comfortable, one's overall posture is natural.
b) During the beginning form the spirit must be concentrated on the movement.
c) The movements of the two hands must be natural, no excessive force may be used.
The "Character Eight Step" (Ba Zi Bu - /X ^ ^T)
The character eight step is a very important step in Sha style Ba Gua Lian Huan Zhang. The stance may be high, middle, or low and the length of the step may also vary. The various foot positions are:
1) Straight Character Eight Step: The toes of both feet are toed-in, facing each other with the knees bent, the body sinking downward, the hips and buttocks pulled in, the energy of the two knees pulls inward, the body is straight and the weight is evenly distributed between the two feet (illustration 1).
2) Reverse Character Eight Step: The toes are turned outward (toed-out) and paralell, the knees are slightly opened and bent, the body sinks downward, the buttocks are pulled in, the body is straight (illustration 2).
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