Ba Gua Zhang training

Tim's Discussion Board: Ba Gua Zhang : Ba Gua Zhang training
   By pilgrim on Saturday, July 08, 2000 - 03:16 pm: Edit Post

Hi,I am new to the study of ba-gua .I am trying to get info in regards to a typical ba-gua training session.How long is a typical training session,and how is it broken down,{warm up exercises,circle walking,push hands etc?)I would also like to incorporate some Yiquan practice into my Ba-gua practice. Is this a practical idea?Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

   By Tim on Monday, July 10, 2000 - 02:27 am: Edit Post

There is probably no such thing as a 'typical' Ba Gua Zhang training session. How the Art is taught will vary greatly from teacher to teacher, and style to style. In my classes, one third the time is devoted to conditioning and forms, one third to techniques (review and new skills) and one third to fighting drills and sparring.
In my opinion, Yi Quan (I'm assuming you are talking about stance keeping primarily)would probably be beneficial no matter what style of martial arts you are practicing.

   By Tom on Tuesday, July 18, 2000 - 11:28 am: Edit Post

Following is an exchange between "Rockwood" and John Spak on a baguazhang discussion board, which can be found at ("Piercing Fist Martial Arts"). Mr. Spak is studying the Nine Palaces version of baguazhang out of the Cheng Ting Hua lineage. I liked this discussion for its coverage of "internal" v. "external" power training, specifically contrasting Muay Thai and baguazhang.

"Author Comment
Unregistered User
(6/6/00 3:33:12 pm)
Reply Gao
Hi are you guys practitioners of Gao style baguazhang?

John Spak
(6/8/00 9:43:46 am)
Reply Re: Gao
No, we practice Cheng style Bagua, which I suppose you could say Gao did too. Look at the Bagua Photo's at to see our lineage to Cheng Ting Hua (First photo has everyone but Liu Bin and Cheng Ting Hua). Lineage is interesting, but lineage alone doesn't really say much about the quality of martial art. Quality I suppose means different things to different people.

Do you practice Gao style? What would a high quality Bagua class have to offer in your opinion?

Unregistered User
(7/6/00 12:33:15 pm)
Reply Gao
I guess I associated you with Gao style because I saw a book about Gao style entitled "Yu Shen Lian Huan Bagua". I have practiced some Gao, it is pretty cool. Lots of linear forms, and their circle forms are animal based. It is related to the Xingyi I am learning. I am pretty focused on Xingyi now. In some ways bagua and taiji were kinda over my head so I turned to Xingyi to learn more about internal style.
In recent sparring with my friend who is a Muay Thai player, I discovered that external martial arts are very dangerous. I found that he was hard to hit, and that his forceful kicks were damaging my legs. The boxing punches were fast and hard, leaving my head reeling. In the process I got to thinking about Internal styles with the emphasis on calmness, practicing slow, lack of full contact practice, etc...
So when you asked what I would like to see in a Bagua class, I would like to see how it is used in fighting, how it is special in the body mechanics of fighting, and how to hit with internal power. I'd like to see teachers that Start with developing internal striking force, so that the student has something to use right off the bat instead of waiting for years for it to "develop".
Do you guys practice the fighting aspect of Bagua zhang?

John Spak
(7/7/00 11:55:46 am)
Reply Re: Gao
Thanks for the reply. I think you hit the nail on the head with what a good Bagua class should include - and ours does have that. I would add to your comment ("I discovered that external martial arts are very dangerous.") that all fighting can be very dangerous - bar nothing.

But I would also add that, as in the examples of a Muay Thai player and a Boxer, or with any other martial art - that none of them are effective right off the bat either. They all take time to develop power, to understand the theory deeply, and to gain experience. Any one who tells you they don't is simply trying to sell you something - usually bullshit. Usually you will get seriously hurt before it becomes clear too. On the other hand, what you learn should be at least complete enough so that you can see how continued training will develop into a high level of power, self-defense, and personal development in the future. How long in the future will usually depend on how hard you are willing to train, how intensely you train, and how much natural talent you bring to the training.

We do practice the fighting aspect of Baguazhang. We do the whole thing. Baguazhong power makes the power you see in Muay Thai and Boxing seem like childs play. I say this with no malice to Boxing, Muay Thai, or any other martial art (I respect them all) - It is just an observed fact. A fact backed up by the theory of movement associated with each art. Building and using human power is a deep subject - it involves a never-ending study and analysis. Also, please don't take what I am about to say as being disrespectful to anyone, but I would be more than happy to demonstrate - in a friendly way of course. In Bagua, having power alone is not sufficient. You must be able to use it at the most opportune time, and you must always remain agile and responsive at every moment. Look at Muay Thai, Boxing, or almost any external art and measure how long one must be committed for (in terms of time) to complete a strike. Compare this with how long one must be committed for while using so called "internal methods" and you will see that internal methods are orders of magnitude faster. While you are committed to your attack, you can not at the same time be agile and receptive to change. In Bagua, these basic concepts can be demonstrated clearly in a matter of minutes. Leaving no doubts about effectiveness in the observers' mind. But this is still only theory. Bagua has specific training methods that must be followed to accomplish its' goals - not many people today are willing to do the training that is required - It is VERY HARD WORK. And that is the real bottom line with respect to its' effectiveness. Having said this, you should be able to see serious and objective progress in your training at all times. In one year of Bagua training you should be at least as good as anyone, of equal abilities, with one year of training in any other style. If not, talk to your Shrfu. If he can not or will not help, then you owe it to yourself to find another Shrfu who can help.

PS - There are many reasons that one might study Baguazhong, that go beyond self-defense. The are very valid as well.

Edited by John Spak at: 7/7/00 11:55:46 am

Unregistered User
(7/11/00 3:20:09 pm)
Reply bagua and fighting
Hi John!!
I loved your response. It sounds like you've been working on this stuff for a while. I sure would love to generate power that you are talking about, thats why I joined internal style to begin with, also for body awareness and control, etc...
I guess Im just frustrated because I can't seem to duplicate what my teachers are doing. In Muay Thai its straight forward, do more push ups you can hit harder. But walking more circles dosen't neccessarily get you there... i have seen some internal guys that hit very hard, but im not sure if it makes a heavy weight boxer look like childs play... Dang, that sounds good to me though!!!! I have learned alot, I am super calm under pressure, I can choose to hit hard or soft, I can move swiftly, and I can take a blow fairly well.
However, as soon as I get in the ring to box, all that stuff about posture, weighted ness, concentrating the qi, all seems to dissapear, and I am hitting with my muscle mass. Obviously, I'm doing something wrong.
Is there a single aspect of internal style that stands out to you as the primary difference in power generation? Or maybe the first aspect you would recommend to a student to focus on?

John Spak
(7/12/00 12:07:10 pm)
Reply Re: bagua and fighting
I think there are two distinctly separate issues in your last response. The first one being what happens when you are in the ring - and the second one being the generation of power. Hopefully I can address both of them.

If you train Bagua for self-defense, your technique is not limited by any rules of conduct as they are in the ring. If you fight by boxing rules - boxing by default offers the best available technique. If you fight by Muay Thai rules - Muay Thai offers the best available technique and so on.

The strong points of Bagua compared to other martial arts are agility, flow, power, and instinct! Bagua agility and power are not limited - they are extreme. For example, with respect to agility, at one instant one hand may be delivering an overhead blow towards the top of an opponents head - as fast a you can blink the body turns 360 and the same hand is then delivering a strike shooting up from the other side. The strike going from the groin to the chin in one long swoop, while at the same time your knee is taking out the opponents knee then sliding down to deliver a knee press to the opponents Achilles (very painful). All of this done in a way that you could stop and change in an instant to something completely different. Also at any instant, any part of your body can be a very powerful striking weapon. Really! This includes not only the standard parts like your head, hands, elbows, knees and feet. But also your butt, hips, back, chest, shoulders, and parts in between. This is what the use of the "palm" really means. In other words, it means "other than just the fist." In Bagua, all movement must flow from your opponents' movements. Trying to force a strike or any other technique to completion by brute force is not Bagua. Attempting any technique or change in technique without first being directed by your opponents movement is also not Bagua. The sensitivity required to understand your opponents movement is largely attained by feeling his momentum by light contact with your hand and/or forearm against some part of his body - gloves severely limit this advantage. I think I am starting to ramble - but the bottom line is that Bagua is not meant for the ring - it is meant for real self-defense. If you train and get comfortable with one set of energies and movements - of course it will fall apart when you put yourself in a situation where you can't use them.

With respect to power, you are right. Doing things like push-ups will increase your punching power to a point. This is a very good training method to begin with - but after you kind of maximize the potential to issue power through tensed muscles - a problem begins to appear - I've been there. You find that the use of your own power starts to tear away at your body. For punching it is your elbows, shoulders, and lower back that usually feel pain first. You also find that the jerk issued at the end of the strike starts to give you neck pain and maybe headaches as well - and you will also find that your brain doesn't like being shaken by this jerking motion too much either. At this point you either stop building more power and believe that that's all there is, or you change your method to a more efficient one that doesn't have the same limitations. This method is the so called "internal" method. With respect to Bagua, think of a spinning wheel - put it on an axle that you can move anywhere at will. Any time you bring this spinning wheel in contact with a surface it will impart a huge tangential force into the surface - but it will continue to spin and maintain a high degree of momentum and balance. Compare this to a piston which needs to reduce it's force down to zero - and has to reverse it's flow of power twice in order to strike again. The stress on the pistons' connecting rod bearings is much much higher than the stress of the wheels' axle bearings. This means that the wheel is capable of generating much more force before self-destructing than is the piston. Kind of a rotary engine approach. This kind of touches on the physical dynamics of Bagua power - but we are human and capable of much more than this model offers by itself! In a sense, walking around a circle is the same as doing push ups with respect to generating power. When done correctly, it works all of the correct (according to Bagua theory) muscle groups used to issue power - this is primarily the legs and torso. But unlike weight lifting, also builds proportional agility in those same muscle groups. Of course, if walking in a circle ("mud walking') is not done correctly - it is of next to no benefit - a.k.a. you will waste your time. Mud walking IS THE MOST IMPORTANT exercise in building Bagua power - don't miss out on it! Next to "mud walking," Zhuan Zhong (pole standing) is the most important exercise to do. Most people have seen the pole standing exercise that looks kind of like hugging a tree - but there are others that must be done as well. As a rule of thumb - if you are serious about developing power, you must do at least 45 minutes of non-interrupted zhuan zhong every day. You must also mud-walk (with palm changes) for at least 2 non-interrupted hours every day. Then there is the rest of the Bagua training to do as well. As well as being able to issue power and be very agile, you must also train to get very tough. That is you must train so that you can deal with being hit, stretched, seized, thrown, etc.

Of course this just begins to explain the development Bagua power - Bagua is very deep and would contain many volumes of writing to do it justice. But just the same, I hope this helps."

   By moshuh _nanren_0 on Wednesday, August 23, 2000 - 02:08 pm: Edit Post

I have a question about the walking methods of baguazhang. Would Tim Cartmell's video on True-balance help to teach key mechanics of posture? In other words could someone use Tim's video as a supplement to the circle walking training? Also I wonder whether the True-balance video is in fact a way of explaining the 'six harmonies' of posture to the western student.

I ask this because I would like to train in the footwork of baguazhang in the following manner: attend one of Park Bok Nam's seminars and then do footwork drills on my own. I spoke with the instructor for Park's school in Boston and he advised against this. He said I would learn some basics about how to move my feet but my posture would be incorrect without supervision. He said that there are many aspects about the footwork that are not detailed in Park's books or tapes(I have all ofthem). I know about spinal alignment from the qigong I do. I've been to a workshop with Mantak chia and I understand the 'c-back" thing. Would Tim's video on true-balance be the final piece of the puzzle? Or is it just not enough?

I am not foolish enough to believe that I could learn any system of fighting art without constant supervision. But right now I just want to learn the footwork. That's all I want. That way when I move to Boston I'll have a head start on training, while now I can't make the weekly classes of Park Bok Nam's study group.

All feedback encouraged and welcomed. Pull no punches. If you think me foolish then say so. But remember I just want to learn the footwork of baguazhang and not the palm changes or strikes. All I want at this point is to do the footwork with my hands clasped behind my back.

   By Mike Taylor on Friday, September 29, 2000 - 03:25 am: Edit Post

Hey moshuh _nanren_0,
Tim's True-Balance Video or Tim's book on Effortless Combat Throws would EXPLAIN what you are looking for, but they wouldn't correct you during practice. This correction problem can be solved (in self practice) by video taping your practice & then checking it against the principles outlined/explained in either of the above sources. A partner with similar interest can be a great help (I'm still looking for one myself to supplement my training -- no one will play with me); a partner can periodically do the posture "checks" outlined & can even watch & correct you once they've familiarized themselves with the principles of True Balance. Eventually you will become self-correcting (once you get the feel of it down pat). If you lack a training partner, then a mirror may be helpful for real-time visual feedback.
If you're healthy there are some things that you can do on your own to help develop correct posture as you practice your footwork, BUT THEY INVOLVE SOME RISK TO HEALTH IF YOU "BOO-BOO" TOO MUCH:
#1 - Carry a "heavy" weight (i.e.: across your shoulders) -- but be careful not to use so much weight or have the weight placed so as to cause your head to jut forward/down (a mistake I made in my younger, healthier days).
#2 - Practice walking in slippery mud, on ice, or on a slippery surface.
#3 - Do both of the above simultaneously.
I didn't list these in any particular order. Number 2 is perhaps the safest for the novice. Here's a way to create a slippery surface, but please FOREWARN OTHERS that may chance walking across the prepared surface (I speak from experience -- it's a danger to others, & to yourself if you forget & walk with poor posture): find a linoleum floor with sufficient training room; wax the floor with something like Lemon Pledge (FURNITURE WAX); wear socks during training (some socks allow more sliding than others -- experiment). If you fall, then you'll at least smell all of that good, lemony freshness up close (it beats falling in mud or on ice to some extent). {:o)
I hope this helps. {:o)

   By Mike Taylor on Wednesday, October 04, 2000 - 03:15 am: Edit Post

Oh, by the way, moshuh _nanren_0,
Here's one more fairly good way of checking your balance until you get "the feel" of it:

#4 Place a small paper or light plastic cup upside-down upon the top of your head (right where the "pole" is illustrated in Tim's True Balance Video). Yes, wear it like a "party hat," but no rubber-band straps (as this would defeat the purpose & make you appear even more crazy). Nothing larger than a 20oz. cup (else it begins to become a true hat & will defeat the purpose). You can wear this cup as a "hat" whether standing still or sitting -- you can also use it while walking SLOWLY (which is recommended for beginners anyway); and don't wear it outside in the wind (for two reasons: one, you don't want it to BLOW OFF; and two, you don't want the neighbors talking about you & your peculiar ways). If you "slump," then the cup will most likely slip off your head in front of you; likewise, if you tend to walk around like a struting peacock, then the cup will have a tendency to slip off to your rear. Tilting the head left or right will also result in you losing your cup (to the respective side). At first you may lose the cup often: but with some consistent practice you'll eventually get it to stay on a minute, then 2-5, then 10. By then your body will have assimulated "the feel" of good posture enough for you to TRASH THAT SILLY CUP! {:o)

   By Mike Taylor on Thursday, October 12, 2000 - 03:39 am: Edit Post

Oh, by the way, (again) moshuh _nanren_0,
#5: When advanced (as this is very dangerous), do "#2" on a slope [I just know the comments are going to be coming on this one! {:-) ].
NOTE: On Okinawa in 1987 three US Marines (from 1/7 -- an infantry unit) were hurt walking on slippery slopes (Okinawa is mostly clay from its center to its northernmost tip -- that's probably why the Japanese soldiers chose to make their stand in the more hospitable, sandy southern end of the island): one broke a leg & two were knocked unconscious (& they were each wearing a helmet). This kind of training isn't very forgiving -- so chose your training area wisely!

   By victor on Sunday, April 01, 2001 - 08:12 pm: Edit Post

HI my name is victor jones im from WEST CHESTER PA.,I would like to know if bagua /pakua?are the same.,Two- Is it possiable to learn bagua/pakua from videos? the reason im asking this is because it is hard to find a school that teaches bagua around these parts., I just started takeing kungfu at siu lum studio under GRANDMASTER STEVE L SUN i also found out that he knows BAGUAZHANG but only teaches northren/southren im takeing southern golden eagle., SO do you think the tapes would help me until my sifu is ready to teach me?

   By Bob #2 on Thursday, April 05, 2001 - 07:25 pm: Edit Post

Hi Victor,

Yes, Bagua and Pakua are the same thing.

Yes, you can learn the basics from watching videos
(it's a little known fact that Dr. John Painter,
who has distributed many books, videos and seminars on Bagua fighting, learned everything he knows by watching a video game at an arcade near his home as a youngster. Over $7,000 in quarters later he is able to thrill students all over the country with what many experts refer to as "Arcade Bagua".)

Luckily for you, video's are a much less expensive means of learning the art. Look for books and videos by Tim Cartmell- he went to the trouble of studying with actual Bagua teachers in China and he has a great method of teaching.

Good luck,
Bob #2

   By gwheel (Unregistered Guest) on Saturday, May 31, 2003 - 10:05 am: Edit Post

After watching the Sun Zhi Jun video of the Cheng Ting Hua style bagua and comparing it with the Luo De Xiu video of the Gao style ,I have noticed that the tempo of circle walking practice is very different between the two styles.I know that the Gao style is a branch of the Cheng style and I was wondering if the difference in tempo was specific to that style or a personal preference of the practioner.

   By Tim on Monday, June 02, 2003 - 01:06 pm: Edit Post

Although all the Cheng Ting Hua systems are similar, they all have variations in rhythm and the "normal" speed the forms are practiced.

   By Josh (Unregistered Guest) on Tuesday, June 10, 2003 - 05:32 pm: Edit Post

Hi, this message is for Victor in PA who couldn't find a pakua teacher in the area. Is Dr .Sun the gentleman in south Philly? I live in Philly and had the same trouble finding a teacher here. I moved to New York for a year and began studying with Frank Allens school there. It's pretty easy to get to ( take the chinatown bus on tenth and filbert). I haven't been able to find anyone else in the area as skilled or as articlulate in explaining his method. Josh.

   By DebbieSanchez (Unregistered Guest) on Friday, March 26, 2004 - 04:12 pm: Edit Post

I am trying to find Ba Gua lessons in Scottsdale Arizona for my daughter. Any idea or know of anyone? Thanks

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