I don't practice Ba Gua, but I was thinking about something I read: Tim said (in the thread on circle walking) that the outside foot toes in and then the inside foot steps parallel to the outside foot. He also said that the circle for solo practice is eight steps (not for beginners though). If I understand this right, that makes the footwork a square: you have four outside foot steps (half of eight) to get around, so each step must toe in ninety degrees. Is this correct, or am I misunderstanding? Thanks in advance for replies.
The inside foot steps straight forward (in relation to the hips) on the circle- the outside foot passes the inside foot and then toes in, minutely (the degree depends on the size of the circle- or the distance to the opponent in application).
The stepping pattern is exactly what you'd do if you were walking down a sidewalk- and came to a spot with a small, circular fountain in the center- and you decided to walk around the fountain for the heck of it. You wouldn't really change your method of walking- nor would you square your steps- you'd naturally toe in the outside foot slightly every other step.
Circle walking has many different methods for developing leg strength and power- but the basis is just everyday walking... in a circle.
Well said, Shane.
Finding the corners inside the circle is also an important aspect of circle walking when you are trying to relate it to the martial side of its practise. In other words, finding the angles that allow you to defend and attack when the opponent enters your space to a lesser or greater degree. When this is done smoothly (and different styles have different ways of practising "moving through the circle") then it looks superficially as if both partners are going in circles.
For those with less experience in a competent bagua style -- there are a variety of reasons for practising solo or with a partner while walking this way; but the idea is definitely NOT to just walk endless circles around your opponent as if he was a convoy of chuckwagons and you were a raiding party of Sioux warriors.
By the way, there is apparently no historical evidence that the latter ever happened in the old West -- it's an invention of the movie industry.
Similarly, trying to walk around and around a skilful opponent will only lead to victory for you if he laughs himself sick and you get away during his convulsions.
Actually, the Discovery Channel or History channel just did a story on an incident where the settlers did round the wagons. They would chain them togther. Went into the tactics and strategies they used, how long they could hold 'em off etc. Particular case they showed happened in Utah. Actually the Mormens stirred the Native Americans up and provoked the attack. All men and women were slaughtered. Children were taken. So, it isn't historical fiction after all.
Now.. back to circle walking... Sorry.
That may well be true when the settlers were camped for days at a time but from what I have read; circling was done to corrall the horses, mules and oxen at night and while camped for extended periods rather than provide cover from surprise attack.
It would be difficult, if not impossible to get a line of slow-moving wagons to circle quickly enough to provide adequate defense against a mounted, surprise attack.
As the Mormons found out the hard way, static defences don't tend to work well against more mobile and determined attackers.
(Wow, I even managed to get back on topic, sort-of...)
You've just got to watch the history channel more. You'll learn more about bagua!