Red Jade Martial Arts
Traditional Chinese Martial Arts

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From the Master's Tea Table

Baguazhang Training

I wrote this Bagua post in response to questions about the order I teach in. Thought I would share this short overview of my Cheng Style training.
Basically, the way I teach Bagua is to start with the upper body conditioning exercises as warm ups. The eight small palms are the tan Zhong (centre of chest / ribcage) loosening and moving exercises to make middle Dantian become a viable origin point for upper body movement.
Then comes the beginning of walking training, stationary hip flexation exercises to teach the lower body to walk from the hips and flanks rather than the legs (Dantian) – Ox Paws the Earth. Then moving leg exercises – Tin Soldier stepping, Butt walking and then on to Bagua stepping. Linear stepping at first with all the variant parts of the mud step – Dragon step, lion step, bai, koh and so on.
The mother palms come next with linear walking while holding the eight positions (Ba Mu Zhang) – Tiger looks down the mountain, Embrace the moon to the chest, Tai Peng opens wings, Lion plays with ball, Pierce heaven and earth, Black bear stretches paws, Press Earth Palm, Green Dragon Extends Claws.
Then the mother palms qigong, running an eight position Ba Mu Zhang Qigong to concentrate on running spirals in both the upper and lower body at the same time although not necessarily the same direction.
Then walking starts to happen in circles focusing on the hips moving the legs while the middle Dantian (Tan Zhong) creates the pressure and torque towards the centre of the circle while using the eight mother palms. Particularly using green dragons extends claws to teach the reaching through of the rear flank to the circles center.
Once this all starts to work as separate pieces the palm changes start. The Eight Big Palms are the ones I teach and are arranged like every Bagua system pretty much in the post heaven sequence. Here the upper and lower body have to move simultaneously each originating its movement from one of the Dantians be it middle (for upper body movements) or lower (for footwork and leg movements).
After this is starting to look vaguely like Baguazhang then I start really working on the application side of the equation from the foundations of Cheng style (stealing balance and tearing away root) to more advanced methods (like floating the opponents root, making the enemy reach for empty space and so on.)
Once this is under control then it is on to floating root training which is a natural progression from here. Usually this takes some time to get a handle on as rooting is first worked in as connecting to the ground (ground path) but then has to change to having the lower Dantian as the root itself.
If the student is not completely sick of me yet (and who could blame them) then we start on weapons, weapon applications and drills and work towards doing nine palace training. Generally, Bagua players need the foundation of Dao, Qiang & Jian (Broadsword, Spear and Sword) to get basic weapons foundations and then move on to double weapons like Yan Yue Dao (Deer Horn Knives) and so on.
Nine palace footwork is really important and is not always given the chance to help bring the entire Baguazhang package together. It creates a changeable, twisting tornado of a practitioner and is absolutely worth the effort. Stepping in the Taoist magic square pattern is usually done first before moving on to adding attack and defense and finally weapons or multiple opponents.
Nine Palaces
6 1 8
7 5 3
2 9 4
So, it all takes time before we are working the entire body as a constant moving thing, we take each part of the puzzle and work on it before putting it all together into motion.
Hope this helps.
(I sure write a lot: My Books )