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Yiheyuan Martial Arts

Real Tai Chi in Leeds, UK

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Ba Gua Zhang
    

 
What is Ba Gua?
 
Ba Gua Zhang (Eight Trigram Palm) is one of the three main Internal Martial Arts in China, the other two being Tai Chi Chuan and Hsing Yi Chuan. Each is a complete system in its own right and yet they share the same principles and, when learned together, complement and support each other.
 
(See the interview with Master Zhu Guang  for his thoughts on this.)
 
Bagua (sometimes written as Baguazhang, BaGua or Pa Kua) trains the body to be strong yet very flexible like a coiled rope that can whip around, evading kicks and punches and wriggling free from an opponent’s attempted grip while delivering very powerful strikes with open palms, elbows and other parts of the body or throwing the opponent off-balance. Rapid changes of direction confuse the opponent and increase the chances of surviving an attack by more than one person.
 
In classical Cheng Ting Hua Bagua, the student begins by learning eight “mother palms” or hand positions while standing in a low stationary posture with a vertical spine and a pronounced twist at the waist. The student then learns to “walk the circle”, beginning with a sixteen-step octagon representing the eight trigrams or Ba Gua. The inner foot always points straight ahead while the outer foot turns in a little to form the corners of the octagon. The circle can later be made bigger or smaller by adjusting the angle that the outer foot turns inward. The steps around the circle begin as tight steps with the thighs together and the student then progresses to “muddy stepping” in which the foot slides out, parallel to the ground.
 
The eight palms are then practiced while walking the circle and can be combined in innumerable different ways, enabling the student, after a few hundred hours of practice, to move in a fluid and spontaneous manner, twisting and turning, with sudden changes of direction and height, the idea being to move around the opponent, striking powerfully from different angles when an opening presents itself.  This spiralling, "dragon-body" motion, characteristic of Bagua and Tai Chi, is very effective in close-contact grappling, in which the whole body is used to unbalance the opponent.
Some palm changes are complex and form sub circles off the main circle, and there may also be short linear sequences at a tangent to the circle. Some schools have studied and developed these linear sequences and studied them exclusively.
 
At Yiheyuan, we teach circular Chen Ting Hua Bagua, as taught to us by Master Zhu Guang of Beijing, and also the 64 Linear Bagua (eight linear sequences, each containing eight movements) and their applications, from the Beijing Gao family style, as taught to us by Master Nigel Sutton.
 
For anyone living in the UK and interested in studying Bagua, we provide a range of learning opportunities including private lessons, occasional seminars and home study resources.  Some of our Tai Chi classes can accommodate students training in Bagua. 
 
 If you would like to discuss your training needs and how we may be able to help you, please contact us: realtaichi@hotmail.co.uk

  
 

Our DVD:  Ba Gua Zhang: from Mystery to Mastery  is available for purchase from
 
 
Bagua Tip of the Week - 9.8.10 (From our Facebook Notes)
 
Move Like The Wind
 
It's important to learn the correct stepping in Bagua, and there is no way to avoid this basic training if you want to become a Bagua Master, but eventually there comes a time when you can begin to pick up speed. Once you can keep your feet horizontal to the ground as you walk with a vertical spine, and can naturally and comfortably relax and sink your weight down into your legs, you are all set to glide swiftly and smoothly round the circle. Let your momentum carry you forward, lengthening your muddy stepping, launching yourself with your back foot and grabbing the ground with your front foot. When you really start to move in this way you may find that your legs move quickly and effortlessly while your head and body seem to be still as the world goes around you, as if you have become the still point in the hurricane and can shape the space around you. Maybe this is where they got the idea of calling it "airbending".
.
 
Martial Arts Tip of the Week - 24.8.10

Imagine a lead cape. 
 
This is equally applicable to Bagua, Hsing Yi and Tai Chi.  If your shoulders, upper arms and elbows rise, any power required for a strike will only come from your upper body, shoulders and arms.  Your strikes will then be stiff, awkward and more likely to cause injury to yourself than to your opponent.
 
If, instead, you relax and drop your shoulders and imagine the weight of a lead cape draped around your upper arms while breathing from your dantien, the power of your whole body becomes available.  You will feel more co-ordinated and able to deliver more accurate and powerful strikes while at the same time maintaining a relaxed sensitivity to your opponent's movements and intentions so that you can deflect and redirect incoming forces.
 
This is one of the essential keys to the Bagua whirlwind, the Hsing Yi missile and the Tai Chi dragon.  It is also one of the "secret principles" of the Internal Martial Arts which make these arts "internal".
 
 
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