This skill is accomplished through basic training only, and then enhanced with the meditation of quiet mind and centered silken flow. The student expresses a quality of light and rooted total body involvement. This is manifested seamlessly, particularly in the transitions between each move. In this manner the practitioner wields the saber as a natural extension of the total centering of the Ba Gua system, therefore the saber follows the center of the body, never violating this exquisite balance.
In a health and an energetic context, the added weight of the saber adds a new and unique stress to the body, building the total "Ba Gua body" in a stronger fashion yet retaining the same parameters as the foundation movements developed. Due to the weight of the saber, there is inevitable muscle development. The saber is wielded with the minimum of tension in a slow rhythmic and "light" fashion, there is not the same build up of lactic acid in the muscles as there is in weight lifting. One must also learn the saber on both sides to balance the musculature and to preserve appropriate spinal alignment. As the practitioner discovers the need to concentrate deeply on his or hers center and to remain still in motion, as well as move in a seamless manner, the ability to coalesce more energy comes as a natural by-product. If one combines this with a rhythmic flow that slowly revolves round the body, the meridians begin to store more energy as well as circulate in a gentle and constant manner. In Traditional Chinese Medicine as well as in Taoist philosophy, it is said that the body must be made strong both externally and internally. If the body is made strong, and energy is abundant and harmonious, then the pernicious elements (cold, wind, damp, infection to list a few) can not easily enter the body .
In a martial context, the deceptive length of the saber is indeed a core ingredient. There certainly are inherent advantages to length and size. The advantage of the length of the saber is very evident to anyone faced with a good practitioner. The capacity of attenuating distance is a fundamental skill of the Ba Gua master.
Even at the intermediate level the stepping patterns become the blocking system, where it become facile for the practitioner to use the "side door." The ability to seem open or closed, or to be perceived as being in reach or beyond reach, are all in the repertoire of a good practitioner. The ability to use a sense of energy to manipulate this or to actualize a small amount of distance becomes the bane of an unwary opponent.
In the following pictures we can see a comparison of the actual saber placed next to a Shaolin saber. In application one can see that from a simple deflection, the distance becomes closed rapidly, even against a long staff.
Conforming to the principles of development, with the understanding that the Palm changes are the frame work for the Saber form, one can see the overlap of similarity between the Single Palm Change and the first change of the Large saber in the photos shown on the next few pages.
In this sequence the first Palm Change is exhibited directly on top of the application for each move, one can see that the application follows the form closely. Look carefully at the sequence of the saber and one can see that the saber follows very closely the framework of the palm changes. The application of the saber also adheres to form.
Thus as the practitioner develops, each sequence builds, enhances and deepens the form before and develops the one after. This essence is indeed the most common theme of the Ba Gua system whether it is found in application, development, or expression.
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