The tenth palm change in Gao Yi Sheng's system is called "Black Dragon Waves its Tail Palm" or Wu Long Bai Wei Zhang (&> n'iMM.^). This palm change is a bit more complicated than the others and forms the link between the pre-heaven and post-heaven sets.
When Gao Yi Sheng taught the circular changes, he first taught simplified versions of the changes so that the student could grasp the essential principle of body motion that each of the palm changes were designed to train. The names he used to describe this simplified set described the basic principle of the movement. The simplified form had the following names: smooth palm, piercing palm, turn back palm, overturning palm, turning body palm, twisting palm, reversing palm, and spiral palm. When the student demonstrated a sufficient level of skill with the simplified form, Gao would then teach them the more complex version. The complex form built upon the foundation of the simple form by adding more intricate movements and refinements.
Liu Feng Cai became especially skilled at Gao Yi Sheng's Xian Tian Ba Gua Zhang and was known to be Gao's top student in performing this skill. Gao's other top students, such as Wu Meng Xia and Zhang Jun Feng, were large men who had also studied Xing Yi Quan. They became highly skilled at the post-heaven component of Gao's system.
When Liu Feng Cai performed the pre-heaven set it is said that he was light, but not floating; solid, but not stiff. There was firmness within softness. The inside and outside, top and bottom, left and right, were connected as one Qi (A). When Gao Yi Sheng was old he praised Liu Feng Cai by saying, "If you want to talk about fighting, you are not yet as good as I. However, if you want to talk about forms, your skill has reached a higher level than mine." Liu Feng Cai's skill at the pre-heaven Ba Gua was much higher than his skill at the post-heaven Ba Gua.
Although almost all lineages of Ba Gua Zhang practice straight line fighting sets, the post-heaven set taught by Gao Yi Sheng is unique to his style. Some believe that Gao was taught the post-heaven Ba Gua by a mysterious Daoist named Song Yi Ren (^.Jl-A. ) while he was living in his home village in Da Shan between 1911 and 1917, however, there is no proof that such a man ever existed (See Pa Kua Chang Journal, Vol. 3, No. 2). Many people practicing Gao style today believe that Gao invented this set himself based on his experiences with Da Hong Quan, Xing Yi Quan and Cheng Ting Hua's Ba Gua Zhang. About half of Gao's post-heaven Ba Gua originated with techniques Gao learned from Zhou Yu Xiang. One of Zhou's students, Yen De Hua published a book, titled Ba Gua
Zhang Tu Shou * W - Ba Gua Zhang Illustrated), which illustrated 34 of Zhou's fighting techniques and at least 31 of those techniques appear in Gao's post-heaven set.
Gao's post-heaven Ba Gua consists of straight line sets of techniques which are practiced repetitively as in the basic practice of Xing Yi's five fists and twelve animals. Additionally, there are forms which link the 64 techniques together and there are two-person sets which utilize the post-heaven techniques. In Tianjin, the descendants of Liu Feng Cai practice the post-heaven Ba Gua sets with a great deal of power; in every movement fa jing (^fcW)) is expressed. In Taiwan, descendents of Zhang Jun Feng practice the post-heaven method with long, low extended postures as well as the shorter postures with expressive movements.
Liu Feng Cai executes a move from the fifth section of the pre-heaven form (Zhuan Shen Fan Bei Zhang)
Single Palm Change - The Foundation of
Gao Style Ba Gua
Gao style practitioner Luo De Xiu who is from the Zhang Jun Feng lineage in Taiwan, said that Zhang Jun Feng taught two variations of the post-heaven set as taught by Gao Yi Sheng. One set was practiced with the stances low and the postures very long and extended. The other set was practiced with shorter stances and more expression of force. The long, low posture practice is developmental, this set teaches the student to coordinate the body and use full body power. The short stance set practiced with quick expressive movements is practiced to develop fa jing and teach the student how the movements would actually be applied in combat.
The short stances and quick movement practice develops the fighting tactics which are best employed by smaller, faster students. The long, low, extended postures, which serve as good developmental training for everyone, are suited for those practitioners who are large and can use their body mass to their advantage. Looking at the way the post-heaven forms are taught today, it seems as though Gao taught his bigger students, such as Wu Meng Xia and Zhang Jun Feng, to practice the long and low postures in training so that when they actually used the techniques, they would have developed the ability to use their mass to their advantage. He taught his smaller students, such as He Ke Cai T ^f"), Yu Yi Xian (f ^ f), and Liu Feng Cai, to practice the quicker, more expressive method so that they could hit hard, move quickly, and strike in rapid succession.
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