Baguazhang training

Ba Gua Zhang TrainingOverview

In regards to BaGuaZhang training, the practice of circle walking, or "Turning the Circle", iis at the heart of this style in all its stances and movements. For beginners the circle is six to twelve feet in diameter. Practitioners walk around the edge of the circle in various low stances, facing the center, and periodically change direction as they execute forms.

Students first learn flexibility and proper body alignment through such exercises, then move on to more complex forms and internal power mechanics.

The internal aspects of baguazhang are similar to, yet distinct from, those of Xingyi and Tai Chi. Many distinctive styles of weapons are contained within baguazhang, some use concealment like the "scholar's pen" or a pair of knives (the most elaborate, which are unique to the style, are the crescent-shaped deer horn knives).

Baguazhang is also known for practicing with extremely large weapons, such as the Bāguàjian (八卦劍) or 'Bagua Sword' and Bāguàdāo (八卦刀) or 'Bagua Broadsword'. Other more conventional weapons are also used like the staff (gun), the spear (qiang), the crutch (guai), the hook sword (gou) and the straight (double-edged) sword.

Baguazhang practitioners are known for their ability to "flow" in and out of the way of objects. This is where the theory of being able to fight multiple attackers came into view.

Strict Baguazhang teaches that if you are to defeat more than one opponent you must first learn to quickly eliminate an opponent with fast and effective joint locks, knockouts, breaks, and other form of physical trauma. Under close examination, Baguazhang can be compared to a form of above ground wrestling. Many of wrestling's philosophies are very similar to Baguazhang's. Baguazhang movements employ the whole body with smooth coiling and uncoiling actions, utilizing hand techniques, dynamic footwork, and throws. Rapid-fire movements draw energy from the center of the abdomen.

Training Methods

Baguazhang training has multiple facets.

Initially, there are several key 'Jibengong' (foundation work) exercises, which strengthen the body, and help to develop a deep twist force through the body. A common example of a Baguazhang Jibengong exercise is 'Dragon Serves Teacups' - an exercise which works the shoulders, spine, elbows, wrists, waist and legs, as well as coordinating the breath.

Power training in Baguazhang is developed through the practice of the 'Eight Mother Palms' - each of which express a different quality of movement. 
Each Mother-Palm can be practiced whilst walking the circle, whilst on the spot, or whilst working with a partner, in order to feel and develop the quality of power that is needed.

Once the Mother Palms have been understood, the pracitioner can move onto full Circle Walking, and begin working of the 8 Palm Changes - methods of changing direction whilst walking the circle, whilst simulatenously expressing different combinations of the Mother Palms, and changing the state of the body as you move.

After study of the 8 Palm Changes, comes work on the 64 Fighting Hands - a series of 64 combative 'striking hands' drills, which train different Baguazhang fighting strategies. These drills work on striking and kicking techniques as well as throwing and locking/holding techniques.

Students of Baguazhang also pracitce 'Rou-Shou' - a sensitvity exercise somewhat similar to Tai Chi's 'Tui Shou' - or 'Pushing Hands'. The idea of this exercise is to learn to feel, anticipate and counter an opponents intention and movements, before he is able to throw, strike or hold you.