During the months of October and November 1993, close to 150 Ba Gua Zhang practitioners in the United States had their concepts of Ba Gua Zhang's use as a fighting art redefined by Ba Gua expert Luo De Xiu (UHi!-) of Taipei, Taiwan. Luo and one of his top students, Tim Cartmell, conducted a nationwide series of eight two day seminars which were co-sponsored by the Pa Kua Chang Journal and the North American Tang Shou Tao Association. The first seminar was in Pacific Grove, CA on 16-17 October and the final seminar was in San Francisco on 21 November. Seminar participants at all of the locations (which included Pacific Grove, CA, Costa Mesa, CA, Phoenix, AZ, Tucson, AZ, Gaithersburg, MD, New York, NY, Flint, MI, and San Francisco, CA) were highly impressed with Luo's fighting skill, his teaching method, his generosity,
Ba Gua Zhang instructor Luo De Xiu of Taipei, Taiwan and his openness. Luo enthusiastically answered all questions and gave the seminar participants more material than they could handle. At the end of each seminar the question on everyone's lips was, "When will he be back?"
Luo De Xiu, who was featured in Pa Kua Chang Journal, Volume 3, Number 5, received his fundamental martial arts training from Zhang Jun Feng's 0k ^A^ ) student Hong Yi Xiang (i- #). Later, Luo went on to study with many of Zhang Jun Feng's top Ba Gua students and Sun Xi Kun's student Liu Qian
(f'i Luo is probably the top student in the Zhang Jun Feng system who is still actively teaching today.
The seminars were divided into 4 three-hour sessions. Two sessions were held on day one of the seminar and two sessions on day two. The first session began with Luo teaching a few warm-up exercises. Luo explained that these exercises were not simply exercises to loosen up the body. They were also power training exercises. When the practitioner repeats these exercises with sufficient repetition, proper breathing, and mental focus, a great amount of internal power can be developed. Luo, who is extremely powerful, said that much of the power he has developed came from practicing many repetitions of these "warm-up" exercises.
After the warm-up exercises, Luo taught two of the basic hand methods that form part of the fundamental skills training of the Gao Yi Sheng system as taught by Zhang Jun Feng. In the Gao system the fundamental skills training consists of hand methods, footwork drills, and an extensive set of body conditioning exercises called Tian Gan, or "Heavenly Stems." The hand methods Luo taught in the seminars were two of a set of eight basic hand techniques (Ji Ben Shou Fa -S-^^ik) which students practice in order to develop correct body motion, structural alignments and the roots of internal power. The two exercises Luo taught to the seminar students were particularly relevant to the techniques and skills taught in the remainder of the seminar.
After the seminar participants experienced the solo hand exercises, Luo taught two-person drills which begin to teach the student how to apply these basic hand methods in fighting and demonstrated how Ba Gua Zhang's circular footwork is employed in combination with these basic hand skills. Emphasis was placed on how to use these hand methods to connect with the opponent and get inside the opponent's defenses. Luo believes that when fighting, one should first create the situation and then control the situation. This way the practitioner can always remain a step ahead of the opponent. Creating the situation begins with eliciting a response from the opponent. Controlling the situation is accomplished by responding to the opponent's initial reaction by using his force against him. Luo calls this method "giving him more of what he wants." These principles were practiced in the seminar while executing partner drills with the first two basic hand techniques (see article on page 25).
After seminar participants gained experience in the solo and two-person practice sets of the first two basic hand methods, Luo taught the first of the Tian Gan ( ^."f") exercises. In the Gao system there are a total of twenty-four Tian Gan exercises. There are ten words which describe the basic movements of each exercise and there are variations of each basic movement. In the seminars, Luo taught, ban or moving, the first of the Tian Gan exercises, and one of its variations. The Tian Gan exercises are primarily designed to develop strength, flexibility, and power in the torso and teach the practitioner to extend that power all the way out to the tips of the fingers. The Tian Gan exercises as taught by Luo are all practiced utilizing low postures and long, extended movements. Luo believes that practicing in this manner helps develop full body coordination and the ability to bring power and intention to the fingertips.
Next Luo taught a number of variations of the Single Palm Change (Dan Huan Zhang - ip- ijt). Although the single palm change is not one of the eight main changes in the Gao style eight section pre-heaven Ba Gua form, its movements are at the root of all of the changes. Luo states that all movements in Ba Gua are simply variations of the single change and thus it is the most important move in Ba Gua. In the seminars Luo taught the single palm change in stages. The
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