Circle walking

Tim's Discussion Board: Ba Gua Zhang : Circle walking

   By Maciej (Unregistered Guest) on Tuesday, December 30, 2003 - 06:36 pm: Edit Post

what is the name of this book?

And Tim have you ever tried sparring someone without using your hands? I'm shure it could be done by an expert against novices even boxers can use bob and weave and ducking and not get hit as long as their skill level, footwork, is alot higher than their opponents and they dont engage in grappling keeping their distance.

   By Kenneth Sohl on Wednesday, December 31, 2003 - 07:08 am: Edit Post

"the Fundamentals of Pa Kua Chuan" by Park Bok Nam. It 2 volumes, but I only read the first one.

   By Bob #2 on Tuesday, January 06, 2004 - 05:56 pm: Edit Post


Tim's in China or Thailand right now- it may take him longer than usual to respond.

I've seen some classes where Tim will have students absorb and roll with punches being thrown at low,medium and purty hard intensity. One person has boxing gloves on- sometimes not-and the recipient keeps their hands behind their backs and only use their body to handle the force. I doubt Tim would call it 'sparring' since only one person is doing all the hitting. But it is unrehersed and it is a clear indicator of a persons body use skill level.

Faq you,

   By Curious (Unregistered Guest) on Monday, March 08, 2004 - 12:06 pm: Edit Post

Hi Tim,

I had a question, they say the Bagua fighter is never still, and is going in all kinds of direction circling around the opponent. I ask this cuz, when I circle around the opponent I always get hit, I find I am a much efficient sparrer when I am still and aware. I also find it very hard to get around the opponent so that there back is facing me and I am at a complete advantage. It is not that I suck at sparring, I'm actually pretty good, however, when I try to do evading with bagua stepping, I find it incredibly difficult, please help Tim

   By Tim on Monday, March 08, 2004 - 01:54 pm: Edit Post

Bagua is based on evasion more than holding one's ground, but it doesn't necessarily mean you have to run around the opponent. Walking the circle is a drill, I've never seen any trained Bagua fighter of any ability ever actually walk around his opponent in the 'walk the circle' form when actually sparring.

When fighting, the Bagua theory, at least as I learned it advocates (ideally) attacking the opponent first, then using his reaction to enter at an angle. Secondarily, if the opponent attacks first, the idea is to evade to an angle and enter simultaneously.

Bagua techniques are designed to be applied from a superior angle, not necessarily all the way behind the opponent (although behind is best).

Getting a superior angle or getting behind the opponent will often involve connecting or coming to grips face to face, then applying close grappling techniques to move to the side or rear. Unless an opponent makes an all out, committed attack, it is difficult to get to the rear on the first move. The standard rhythm of Baguazhang fighting strategy is: connect - obtain a superior position - issue force.

   By Curious (Unregistered Guest) on Wednesday, March 10, 2004 - 03:25 pm: Edit Post

Wow Tim- great awnser.

Thank you

   By Chadwick on Tuesday, October 04, 2005 - 01:24 am: Edit Post

I have a question about circle walking in general.


My Sifu scribed with chalk on the pavement each of the eight trigrams. These were placed in an octagon so that each step was from one trigram to the next around the "circle." The Sifu said that the Bagua Masters would walk a circle of (8?) pillars high above the ground.

Recently, I began looking into Bagua to study it anew (after 15 years away from any Chinese forms). I saw a teacher on the internet from New Jersey who demonstrated some of the Bagua Steps and such (good instruction as I could tell). The circle was large and, well, a circle (not an octagon).

From your perspective, which is the normal (better?) way to train?

   By Abdullah Orozco on Tuesday, October 04, 2005 - 11:07 am: Edit Post

How high is 8 pillars off the ground? Where did your Sifu get the octagon? Did he buy one from the UFC, or did he make it himself?

   By Chadwick on Tuesday, October 04, 2005 - 11:14 am: Edit Post

As for the pillars, I have no idea.

The octagon was scribed with chalk on the pavement (noted above).

Note also that this was 15 years ago.

   By Tim on Tuesday, October 04, 2005 - 01:22 pm: Edit Post

Walking the "circle" actually entails turning the body through a series of angles. This occurs because the standard method of walking the circle in Baguazhang is done with the outside foot toeing in while the inside foot is always placed down parallel to the outside foot. Although the stepping methods vary, the angles of the feet do not.

If you walk on an eight step circle, you will essentially be moving over an octagon shaped pattern. The size of the circle can vary, a larger circle will have more "sides."

   By robert on Tuesday, October 04, 2005 - 01:31 pm: Edit Post


so is it more beneficial to walk a larger or smaller circle?

thanks, much respect, rob,

   By Jamie on Tuesday, October 04, 2005 - 01:42 pm: Edit Post

My name is Jamie, I was wondering where do you go to Judo and Tai Chi ?
I too live in San Diego and I have been looking for a good judo and/or push hands class.
Do you know of any?
and also what Bagua place did you go to? just wondering


   By Chadwick on Tuesday, October 04, 2005 - 02:32 pm: Edit Post


You are saying that the footwork and the series of positions are what matter, not the size of the circle? So, in a limited space, eight spaces is enough to accomplish the practice? In other drills a larger space will be needed?

Or a circle is not needed at all as long as you make the steps correctly?

I appreciate your consistent and respectful responses.

   By robert on Tuesday, October 04, 2005 - 04:00 pm: Edit Post

hey jamie, what part of san diego do you live in? there is a good tai chi place called the jing institute of martial arts on commerce drive, as for judo, i take that at southwestern college, at the college we have a judo club that meets from 10:45 to 11:30, but there is also a club right next to chula vista high, the boys and girls club that is, and it has a good judo program, jing also meets at balboa park every sat or sun, i forgot, but you can visit their site to get info about that.

there is also another ba gua place on park & el cajon blvd, a student teacher of park bok nam teaches there, hope this helps.


   By Tim on Tuesday, October 04, 2005 - 07:31 pm: Edit Post

It is generally easier to walk a larger circle, so better for beginners. The smaller the circle, the more one has to twist from the hips toward the center, this results in a greater degree of difficulty.

Most schools will aim toward walking a relatively small (eight step) circle because it teacher realistic footwork and body movement for technique.

   By Chadwick on Tuesday, October 04, 2005 - 11:14 pm: Edit Post


   By Michael Andre Babin on Wednesday, October 05, 2005 - 10:47 am: Edit Post

In some ways, you can think of walking the circle as repeating the basic evasive actions of cross-stepping to get out of the way of an incoming mass/technique while counter-attacking. if you do these repetitively, you will end up walking what looks like a circular pattern to the casual observer.

The size of the circle will vary according to the teacher's perferences, the size of the space being used for the training and the number of students walking it with him or her.

For individual practise, I think that a circle that is eight of your own steps around is preferable for the average practitioner. More experienced walkers should find a tree of the right height and walk around it using its trunk as a pivot point in reference to the lead palm.

Of course, true mastery of bagua will only come when you can walk at high speed and tighten the circles increasingly inwards towards the centre -- while reading the latest translation of the I-ching -- and disappear up your own bum!

   By Chadwick on Wednesday, October 05, 2005 - 12:14 pm: Edit Post

I have noticed a preponderance of references concerning martial arts on this board related to being up one's own bum. I cannot say I am familiar with this kind of mastery, though some indicate it is where one starts. Is this an internal arts phenomenon?

I have practiced simply using a heavy bag to walk around as a pivot point in reference to the lead palm.

   By robert on Wednesday, October 05, 2005 - 04:29 pm: Edit Post

thank you tim for the informative response.

much respect, rob.

   By Bob #2 on Wednesday, October 05, 2005 - 05:21 pm: Edit Post

once again, Braniac Babin doles out misinformation. There's no 'cross-stepping' in Bagua.

Also- you are not moving "out of the way" of "incoming mass technique" (completely obserd). The center of the circle reprsents your opponent's line of force- you're learning to move 'around' that line of force while maintaining correct alignment. (moving out of the way sets you up for the next strike)

while Mr. B probably has more experience than I with things disappearing up his bum, I suspect the last paragraph in his previous post was another attempt at humor. To which we must all applaud because that was a reeeeeeeal knee-slapper.

   By M G Kreb Cycle (Unregistered Guest) on Wednesday, October 05, 2005 - 06:26 pm: Edit Post

You might want to try walking the square---intensified bai bu and kai bu and conditions you to turn more rapidly.

If you think about the shape of your foot and try to walk the circle in 4 steps, you'll get the square.

Just a cheap 3 cent toss.

   By Michael Andre Babin on Thursday, October 06, 2005 - 09:31 am: Edit Post

No cross-stepping in bagua? Okay, call it a scissors-stance if it makes you happy. Doing this is a transitional move between being in an 'open stance' (with both feet toed-in) towards the centre of the circle.

As well as helping you get out of the way when practising circle-walking with a partner who moves through the center of the circle suddenly to get to you; doing this kind of footwork begins training in doing low-line kicks with the inside edge of the moving foot when you are not just evading.

Hey, Bob #2, I felt young again when I read your previous post as I haven't had anyone make fun of my last name since I was in high-school. How old are you?

   By Jose de Freitas (Unregistered Guest) on Thursday, October 06, 2005 - 10:55 am: Edit Post

It may help to think of the following: no matter how large or small your circle is, your actions in Bagua relative to your opponent will happen as you trace an arc of that circle.

Although it is true that advanced circle walking uses smaller and smaller circles (down to three steps in fact), I always thought that actually being able to apply a very small angle (in the sense of closer and closer to a straight line, rather than a curved one) was the more advanced "fighting" practice.

Rather than taking a large step at a large angle to evade/enter, in time I believe it is best to be able to evade as close as possible to the line your opponent is moving from; so rather than moving to a 45║ degree angle to the side, a superior way would be to move closer to a 30 or 20║, while deflecting the opponents force and moving in on him. Obviously, easier said than done...

Many times, as I saw my teacher apply an entering technique, he would move in a an arc of a circle towards his opponent, closing in at a 20║ or smaller angle, but since he would apply also a sharp upper body turning move, as he also gained control over his opponent's arm from the outside, there would be the illusion that he traced a larger arc of the circle, as he ended on his opponent's back. But it was a combination of more than just circle footwork, it used the opponents momentum as well as the control on his arm at the elbow to move him further on.

Hope this means something... Describing moevement like this makes my head spin... As for Michael Babin, he belongs to old school kung-fu. Disappearing up one's butt, as well as other butt stuff is big for them, if it can be connected to the dantien and stuff. As for me, being from a sort of a mediterranean country, and eating lots of garlic, I go for more of the Halitotic Attack techniques, as in John Gilbey's book.


JosÚ de Freitas

PS: Hi Michael! You obviously haven't done the disappearing thing yet! I guess you haven't read enough translations of the I Ching ...

   By Chadwick on Thursday, October 06, 2005 - 11:10 am: Edit Post

So, instead of stepping away from the incoming force, you step into it (yet avoid it)? This sounds a lot like fighting with a weapon. In the Budo school I was attending, the biggest lesson to learn was that for the opponent to miss you only took a slight movement. So, I would practice almost getting hit before making my move.

Is not the point of Bagua to fight in a crowd (multiple attackers)? So, the fluid twisting is an attempt to shift the center to another incoming force directed from a different angle?

   By Michael Andre Babin on Thursday, October 06, 2005 - 02:42 pm: Edit Post

To have any hope of being martially functional against an opponent who moves aggressively and skilfully you have to 'cut the corners" instead of either moving away too far or attacking too directly unless you are sure that you can just overpower the attacker in terms of brute force. Defending properly often requires that you wait a little and use superior timing rather than "jumping the gun" and walking into a feint.

Hello Jose ... I have learned the secrets of "garlic breath" as well and use it when giving a mighty "ha" after I have eaten a "Hen"

   By M G Kreb Cycle (Unregistered Guest) on Thursday, October 06, 2005 - 03:58 pm: Edit Post

I understand the idea of smaller steps and the arc but train the square, also, and you have trained for leg locks commonly employed in the Yin Fu style.

Walking the square is not a substitute for circle walking but an auxillary for developing the twist in the waist and the ability to more closely lock the opponent's leg using Iai and bai bu.

2 more cents.

   By JosÚ de Freitas (Unregistered Guest) on Friday, October 07, 2005 - 05:46 pm: Edit Post

God, Michael, your jokes are getting funnier and funnier! I haven't reached that level, as I generally can only use the garlic strike when giving the mighty "burp".

Chadwick: yes, what you are saying sounds a bit like what I was describing, if you add the effect of using your motion and arms to control the opponents vectors. Note though, that we were taught to first use the 45║ angle, and this is how we started working applications, sometimes even decomposing sharply between the initial stepping to 45║ and subsequent torso motion and deflecting of the opponents force. But overtime, a combination of better skill in movement, sensitivity at touch when just barely touching the opponent, and so on, allowed you to somewhat close the angle. And yes, I was also taught the square as a walking drill and it helped a lot.

"Defending properly often requires that you wait a little and use superior timing rather than "jumping the gun" and walking into a feint."
Better expressed in some ways as "my opponent moves first, but I arrive before him" from the classics...

See you!

JosÚ de Freitas

   By BaiHE* (Unregistered Guest) on Friday, October 07, 2005 - 08:17 pm: Edit Post

""Defending properly often requires that you wait a little and use superior timing rather than "jumping the gun" and walking into a feint."
Better expressed in some ways as "my opponent moves first, but I arrive before him" from the classics... "

Defending properly relies on position always, there is no "waiting" in defense, there is no real expectation.

In offense "Jumping the gun" can be bad or good as you stated. In Gao style there is a lot of bait thrown to do just that, draw the opponent out and into contact. From there? Control, change and apply power to throw, hit or basically end.

   By Jay Shrewsbury (Unregistered Guest) on Wednesday, October 19, 2005 - 12:11 pm: Edit Post

Walking the circle comes in many forms. Often you begin with a huge 20 step circle, so you don't get dizzy as quick, then an 8 step, then a 3 step. After gaining skills with the variuos sizes, changes, hooking, turning, and sweeping steps, you begin to learn "free form", which is doing bagua with no set pattern, no preformed linking patterns, the circles vary in size and can interconnect, for an endless array of direction and intent, it constantly changes and adapts, change is what bagua is all about.
Great post about sparring with bagua, the closeness to your opponent can be quite uncomfortable at first and mistakes are often paid at high prices.

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