What is your opinion on receiving instruction in more than one bagua lineage? How big are the differences, are they big enough to cause confusion in the student, or are they som small that lineage is more a question of flavor than substance?
I study both Gao and Sun style Ba Gua.
I started learning the Gao style with Tim in I believe 1995. Tim officially ended teaching the Gao style in class format when he moved to his new academy roughly a year and a half ago and we Gao practitioners were incorporated into the Sun Ba Gua class at this time. I still practice Gao with Tim in my private lessons and I have seen no problem in my transition. The Gao style is more intricate than Sun so maybe that helped me assimilate a little better. If anything, it makes me think a little quicker since I must now realize what art Iím studying at the moment. Iím sure itís like speaking multi languages were you can easily flip-flop. The problem is that all the arts and lineage are so similar is that if you want to be true to the art/lineage it's hard. I also practice Xing Yi and this is where my problem lies. I close in using Xing Yi and once Iím on top of somebody I want to use Gao Ba Gua since it is grappling based. I have apologized when I do a movement type/technique from another style and Tim catches me. Tim shrugs his shoulders and says as long as it flows and follows the correct principles.
I just finished Luoís seminar were he discussed this subject and which Iím sure Tim will post on this thread.
And now for the shameless plug. This is why Timís Shen Wu classes are so great, you donít need to try to be true to any one art as if you are in his other classes.You can incorporate all that he taught in you in the other classes if youíre a purist and attend all those other classes. Otherwise, you just attend Shen Wu and he teaches you the best of all the arts he teaches plus a splash of grappling (abbreviated Ju-Jitsu).
Styles from a common lineage are usually quite similar. For example, the Gao and Sun styles are from the Cheng Ting Hua lineage (both Gao Yi Sheng and Sun Lu Tang studied under Cheng), so there are many similarities between the forms and techniques.
If you study different styles of Ba Gua Zhang from different lineages, for example a Cheng Ting Hua style and an Yin Fu style, the differences will be more pronounced and could be a little confusing for a beginner.
But since all styles of Ba Gua Zhang (and 'Internal'martial arts in general) are based on the same principles, with some quality instruction the student should not have a problem studying more than one system.
Hi Ron or Tim,
Why did Tim decide not to teach the Gao any more?
I still teach the Gao style, but only privately. The Sun style (forms and basics at least) can be learned in its entirety in a year. I feel with the Sun style students can internalize the body mechanics of Ba Gua fairly quickly. In reality, most people won't train long or hard enough to really master all that's in the Gao style. Once my students have learned all the forms and can apply all the basic techniques I teach in the Sun classes, they are welcome to learn the Gao style privately.
Thanks Tim for your reply. I also have taught a simpler style first (the aforementioned Li Tianji style). I find the Gao system with all it's components to be a much more complete system and therefore more satisfying to me.
I personally miss it as a full time class. I agree with Tim's reasoning. We started with at least 20+ students and it dwindled down to two students for the last one or two years the class was in existence. I didn't realize how much I missed it until I had the seminar with Luo. I like its emphasis on plucking the opponent and using just one of your arms to attack/defend and defend/attack. I find those techniques particularly effective and fast.
I was wondering if anybody had any thoughts on Wang Shu Jin's changes? They're what I'm currently studying, and the flavor of it compared to some other styles I've seen is quite different.
I had a discussion with Manfred Rottmann, Wang's only western disciple, and he thought that some of his classmates performed Wang's changes like Wang did. The problem being Wang did them that way because of his body type (big)and they had different body types. Bagua, as I'm sure most of you would agree is like jazz. Once the basics are hard wired in your body then it becomes your Bagua and may take a different flavor than that of your teacher. It is the principles that are important and not the outer movements. That being said I've seen Kent Howard and his teacher do Wang's changes and they look ok to me.