directions; front, back, left, and right. This gave the students an indication of where they were not stable in their stance.
After Luo taught students how to have stability in their basic stance, he taught the movements of the single palm change executed on a straight line in its simplest form. After students practiced the single change on a straight line, Luo taught the fundamentals of Ba Gua Zhang circle walking. Luo explained that in the Gao style there are three primary stepping methods utilized when walking the circle. In the first stepping method, tang ni bu (if or mud walking step, the bottom of the foot is always held parallel to the ground. The second method, which is the one Luo taught in the seminar, is the chicken step. In this step the rear foot is brought up next to the ankle of the front foot before it slides forward with the toe landing before the heel. The third step is called the crane step. This step is similar to the chicken step, however, instead of the rear foot being brought up next to the ankle of the forward foot, it is brought up almost to the level of the knee before stepping out forward.
Luo taught the circle walking in progressive stages. The first stage is to walk around in a circle standing straight up and walking with a natural stride while concentrating on relaxing the body. After the body is relaxed, the knees are bent slightly and the step changed to resemble someone kicking pebbles down a road. The feet and legs are relaxed and the feet swung out with the toes pointing downward as if kicking a pebble with the toes. After students had a feel for this kicking step, the step became more controlled and the feet were placed down gently with a sliding motion. When executing this step, the arms were brought up in front of the body as if holding a big ball (see photo at left). After students practiced basic circle walking, Luo taught how to execute the single palm change on the circle and then participants practiced a two-person circle walking drill.
After students obtained a good feel for the movements of the single palm change, executed both to the inside of the circle and to the outside of the circle, Luo taught the first of the pre-heaven circular changes. In the Gao system this change is called She Xing Shun Shi Zhang (44 fy M % - Snake Form Smooth Body Palm) and equates to what many other styles call the "double palm change." Because this change can be somewhat complicated to perform by those who are not familiar with Ba Gua, Luo taught the form in stages and it was first practiced on a straight line before students learned how to execute the change on the circle. After students practiced executing this change on the circle, Luo taught students a throwing technique utilizing the movements of this change. Luo first taught the basic throw and then taught one of many methods used to set up the throw.
After teaching the first of the circular changes of the Gao Yi Sheng system, Luo taught a number of the linear forms with an emphasis on how they are employed in fighting. The forms were first practiced repetitively moving in straight lines down the length of the practice space and then Luo broke down each move and demonstrated the practical applications. Students then spent time practicing the applications with a partner.
While teaching the applications of the various forms, Luo emphasized the fighting principles which each technique conveys. Luo wanted students to understand that each of the 64 straight-line fighting techniques are meant to teach certain principles of fighting rather than fighting "techniques." When the student understands the principle thoroughly, an endless number of "techniques" can be developed utilizing the principles that each of the basic forms convey.
Each of the eight seminars Luo taught followed the same basic format, however, they varied slightly depending upon the experience of the group and the speed at which the students grasped the material. Many seminar participants attended more than one seminar. These individuals received instruction beyond what was taught in the basic seminar. Luo's seminar series was such a great success that we are currently arranging a repeat performance for next year.
While Luo was visiting Pacific Grove, CA, High View Publications shot a one hour video of Luo teaching the material which he presented in the seminars. This video, called The Principles of Ba Gua Zhang Fighting, is currently available. Individuals interested in obtaining a copy of the video can write to High View Publications at the address listed on page 2.
This article is the first in a series which will discuss practical methods of training Ba Gua Zhang as a fighting art.. This article will be based on the teaching of Ba Gua Zhang instructor Luo De Xiu of Taipei Taiwan
During the months of October and November 1993, Ba Gua Zhang instructor Luo De Xiu (ft it- of Taipei, Taiwan taught a series of eight seminars in the United States. Although Luo taught seminar participants Ba Gua Zhang basic methods such as circle walking and single palm change and also taught a few of the pre-heaven and post-heaven forms from the Gao Yi Sheng A M:) lineage, the emphasis of his seminars was to teach participants how to train Ba Gua Zhang ( as a fighting art. The foundation of this training in the Gao style begins with fundamental practice drills. All complete systems of Ba Gua begin training with similar fundamental drills, and two-person sets based on those drills, prior to form practice. In Gao Yi Sheng's method, two of the important training sets are Ji Ben Shou Fa - Basic Hand Methods) and Tian Gan
(A~T" - Heavenly Stem) Exercises.
The Ji Ben Shou Fa consist of a set of eight basic hand training methods which refine neuromuscular spontaneity through repeated technique practice. These movements are repeated many times to insure correct
body mechanics and create the roots of neijing (i*j §Jj) or "internal power." These movements are particularly relevant to the techniques and skills which the student will utilize when executing both the pre-heaven and post-heaven Ba Gua Zhang methods which form the core components of Gao style Ba Gua.
During the seminar series, Luo taught the first three of the Ji Bin Shou Fa exercises and their associated two- person drills. Luo also teaches this material in his new one hour video The Principles of Ba Gua Zhang Fighting produced by High View Publications. In this article we will present the first two of the exercises and a few of the two-person exercises which are associated with these drills. Additionally, we will discuss how these hand movements are best employed in fighting and how they are combined with Ba Gua Zhang footwork.
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