BBaguazhang, is said to be the sister of T'ai Chi Ch'uan, the mother of the three
'internal systems'. It is one of the newest Chinese healing/martial arts of the internal system and contains the very best of the Shaolin Martial arts as well as the very best of the Buddhism or Taoism fighting arts. Its intricacies are great and one is able to continually discover new techniques from within the complex postures and movements which go together to build the framework which we call the Baguazhang form or kata. Invented by one man, the form has been slowly added to and taken away from until we have come to a highly evolved form of healing or self-defence which only relies upon the palms and feet for attack and defence. With mainly circular foot movement, the form lays stress upon the stability of the stance and the flexibility of the waist which is complimented by the vigorous movements of the arms and palms while always being coordinated in legs, waist and upper body. Bagua is said to have the fastest footwork of any martial art.
Throughout this book, I will be making mention of "dim-Mak" or death point striking and some points used in this art. Baguazhang is a dim-Mak art. I suggest that you get a copy of my encyclopaedia "The Erle Montaigue Encyclopaedia of Dim-Mak" available from the publisher of this book, Paladin Press in Boulder Colorado in the USA.
Dim-Mak literally means "Death Point Striking" whereby the practitioner is taught to strike to either one, or multiples of dim-Mak points in the human body causing effects that range from a simple knock out to maiming and death, or even effects that manifest many years from when the strike was felt.
Every movement in Baguazhang has a meaning and is aimed at the dim-Mak points. Bagua is often referred to as "the art of overkill".
THE MARTIAL ART:
The first method is given to larger people who are able to literally crash their way in through any defence enabling them to reach the body's centre, this is the basic way of defence whereby we attack anything that comes within range.
The second method is mainly for smaller people. From the very basics of the eight palm changes or Bagua Cheng Chung, (Orthodox Eight Diagram), the practitioner is able to go on to the highest level of Bagua fighting, the 'DRAGON PALM FORM'. This form consists of circular foot movements, which enables the practitioner to evade to the side and come in at the rear in a circular movement at various speeds thus perplexing the opponent.
At this level, attacks are mostly executed from the rear, having got around there by using the very unique Bagua stepping method. This method is mainly for smaller people who do not have the physical strength of the larger person and particular attention must be given to training the waist to gain more power and flexibility, as this is where almost all of the power for Bagua is derived. If one is able to control the waist with one's mind, then the waist will control the legs and feet.
THE HEALING ART:
Baguazhang is just as sophisticated as its mother art of Taijiquan, it is one of the greatest healing arts. The healing side of Bagua is not as well documented as Taijiquan, however, I am working on fixing that situation. (See the article at the end of this introduction). But if we look at the relative ages of when the old Bagua masters died, (excluding those who died in battles etc.,) then we get an idea of how good this form is for health as most of them lived to very old and healthy ages. The constant training of the waist, twisting, turning, bending etc, results in an effective exercise for thejoints, sinews, muscles and internal organs so one is not only training in a fighting art but also a healing art. It is interesting to note that most of the old Bagua practitioners lived to very old ages, those who weren't killed in fights or the 'Boxer
Rebellion'. Bagua is closely related to acupuncture whereby one is constantly twisting the acupuncture meridians to work upon each organ in turn thereby sending life giving Qi or energy to all parts of the body.
The dragon dances, undulates, twists, using flexible movements where necessary and rigid movements when needed. His/her movements are responsive; that is, movement is only reliant upon the actions of the attacker. E ach movement has an equal and opposite reaction and these reactions are inter-woven and coordinated with each other.
This is how the 'Dragon Form' was given its name.
Blocking is always done in a circular manner thus minimizing the attacker's power and at the same time always on the move, in to the centre. Never is an attack taken full on using brute force. The waist generates the movement while the upper body stays rigid. The mind is concentrated on the lower abdomen with the breath regulated throughout the form.
The unique stepping method gathers no momentum, the power comes from the waist alone thus the practitioner is able to stop immediately and go the other way. There is never any weight placed upon the leading foot. The stepping is fast but only fast within each step's own boundaries. The momentum of each individual step must not go into the next step, it must stop when the foot stops, and then the next step is begun. In this way the feet are able to attack the opponent's ankle or at the highest, the groin. In order to keep this idea of not gathering the momentum especially when executing the Bagua technique of swinging around to defend from the rear, we use the technique known as 'Cloud Shadowing Palms'. This technique involves the lifting of one or both of the arms straight upward as one spins around thus keeping the centrifugal force art a minimum, we are able to keep the centre and thus keep our control in order to defend against great strength. The arms are in a position to be able to crash down upon the attack.
THE LINEAR OR FIGHTING FORM FROM BAGUAZHANG WITH APPLICATIONS:
CO nce the major prerequisites of balance, timing and coordination have been gained, the next part of one's Bagua training is the linear or fighting form. Here we learn how to use the various postures in a practical self defence way. More importantly, this form teaches us to be able to break any hold and to act subconsciously to an attack. We may not use any of the set applications from this form but we will most certainly use a part of any one of the techniques. You will notice that Bagua will often break a person's arm, poke out his eye and kick his leg. This is why Bagua is called the art of over kill. We really are given too much, at least too much for one person to ever learn. However, it is the idea of Bagua that there is a favourite technique for everyone. In any case, you will only gain by learning this linear form.
Some of the more classical techniques will seem down right silly and wouldn't work even against the weakest fighters. But if you are able to make these more elaborate techniques work even to a slight degree then the easier ones will fly. There are two parts to this form, a solo part and a part where-by we work out with a partner to try the techniques and see how they do or do not work. I will give the solo part of each technique first and then show how it goes together with an attacker. Keep in mind that the solo formjust keeps right on going and to my knowledge is one of the longest and most gruelling forms or katas in all the martial arts. If one is able to perform the circular form plus the linear form each morning then you are really getting somewhere. The solo form is done on the both sides in the same way that the circular form is performed so I will not show the photos for the reverse side, you will be able to work it out for yourself by learning the first side.
THE THREE PALM STRIKES AND SOUNDS:
In Baguazhang there are three main strikes with the palm, although there are many peripheral strikes. These three strikes will cause different sounds and different movements of the object we are striking. In this way we are able to judge whether or not we are performing the strike in the right way.
SINGLE POUNDING PALM:
This is the purely physical palm strike using the heel of the palm. Upon impact the palm will snap back thrusting the heel forward to break bones. This strike will cause a dull thud when used against a large bag. The bag should move considerably.
This palm strike is done to the ears, middle abdomen or sides of the abdomen. It is usually used with an 'Ox Tongue Palm', i.e.. with the fingers closed and lightly cupped. The body turns using the waist to swing the palm forward and into the object. Just before impact the palm is pulled slightly back so that the palm snaps out and causes as popping sound when used on the big bag. The sound should resonate and almost be unbearable for the ears. The bag should not move but should vibrate from within as if the energy has gone to the inside. This palm strike will break internal organs with hardly any external sign. This is getting into the 'iron palm realms'
FROG PALM: OR TWO PALM':
I call this palm the frog although its real name is 'two palm' because it makes use of both the pounding and the percussive palm. The palm is stretched so that the fingers can not stretch any more. The palm is flat. When this palm contacts the bag it makes a cracking sound which almost hurts the ears and resonates throughout the whole building. The bag moves a great distance as well as vibrating from within. It feels as if you have used very little energy to gain a great result. This is the top palm in Bagua. It is usually used with a step forward and makes contactjust as the foot hits the ground.
To train the fingers is not an easy task as they are so small and could be easily damaged. When poking into something, never have the fingers straight but always a little bent and strike like a cobra strikes, with a whipping action so that the fingers are snapped into the object. You should hear the same popping sound upon impact onto the hard mitt and not a dull thud. This would indicate that you have pushed your fingers and not whipped them.
The Linear Form
You will notice that I will be using two methods of numbering the photos. The numeral way is purely for the form while the numbers and lettering way is for the applications. There are some of the movements that are purely linking movements and by themselves have no particular martial application. Keep in mind that the formjust keeps right on going while the applications will stop to begin the next technique.
Stand facing the North relaxed, hands by your sides. Take a step back with your left foot and block using the heel of your right palm in No. 1 position. The left palm in No. 2 position is ready to take over the block. PHOTO NO. 135. & PHOTO NO. A72. Now the left palm takes over the block andjabs to the eyes, PHOTO NO. 136. & PHOTO NO. A73.
Take a slapping step forward with the right foot and using the power of the waist as it turns to the left fold the right elbow to strike at the chest in a right to left motion. PHOTO NO. 137. PHOTO NO. A74.
Using the power of the waist in a left to right motion slap the back of the right palm out and allow it to snap. PHOTO NO. 138. PHOTO NO. A75. This will block his left palm in defence of your right elbow. The re-bound of this movement allows you to utilise the power tojab to the neck. PHOTO NO. 139. PHOTO NO. A76. Now you turn your right wrist in a clockwise motion to lift and lock the attacker's left elbow and stepping through, attack his opened rib cage with your single pounding left palm. PHOTO NO. 140. PHOTO NO. A77.
From here we perform the same in the solo exercise on the other side. Your right foot is already back so there is no need to step back this time. Block with your left palm across to the right and take over with your No. 2 right palm as before. Step in with your left foot and strike with your left elbow. Slap with the back of your left palm then poke with the fingers. Take the arm up in a lock with your left palm and stepping through, strike to the chest with your right palm. You are now facing the North with your right foot forward.
Dip the right palm down fingers leading and scoop them up, PHOTO NO. 141. This is retaliation to his grabbing your right arm and pulling you forward. You go with the momentum and take a step with your left foot as the right palm goes upward breaking the hold; the right foot is now off the ground. PHOTO NO. 142. You are facing to the NE: PHOTO NO. A78. You now thrust your No. five palm down across his right forearm further breaking the hold and strike with your left palm. PHOTO NO. 143. Now you should step in to the NE and strike with both palms to the chest. PHOTO NO. 144. PHOTO NO. A79
The Healing Art Page 8
From here, the solo form goes on to the next application and catches up with the reverse of this one just done later.
WHITE MONKEY MOVING BRANCHES TO MAKE NEST:
He again grabs your right arm and pulls you downward. This time you turn your right foot to the left as far as you can and hinge your right arm bent downward. PHOTO
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