Combining Bagua with Taiji

Tim's Discussion Board: Ba Gua Zhang : Combining Bagua with Taiji
   By Dave C. on Monday, July 31, 2000 - 12:04 am: Edit Post

What are the benefits and hazards to crosstraining in the martial arts?
Is there any specific advantage in combining bagua and taiji?
I'm asking becuase I have a problem relaxing when practicing bagua. A taiji friend has offered to look at my postures and help me with my problem. Since my problem is mainly being "tight" (or maybe "uptight") would a little taiji help me improve my bagua?

   By Volker Krüger on Tuesday, August 01, 2000 - 02:13 am: Edit Post

Why is not Luo De Xiu suggesting a solution for you? He as your trainer should have the best insight to give you a hint.


   By DAve C. on Tuesday, August 01, 2000 - 08:53 am: Edit Post

You're right. However, Luo laoshi has been abroad on the seminar circuit for the last month. He's coming back soon and I'll ask him but I'm still interested in knowing what others think. A general conversation on this topic might be of interest to others.
So what are the benefits and hazards to combining the arts?


   By Tom on Tuesday, August 01, 2000 - 10:11 am: Edit Post

Tim seems to draw from xingyiquan, taijiquan and baguazhang, and also from his san soo and Brazilian jiujitsu training, according to his writing and his students' postings. It would be interesting to hear more about how that's done in actual training. Of course, it would be even better to actually train with someone who does draw from the different arts.

   By Bob on Tuesday, August 01, 2000 - 11:49 am: Edit Post

As far as benefits or hazzards to crosstraining, it would most certainly depend on the styles. If the underlying principles are contradictory (i.e. TKD and Aikido) that would most likely be quite confussing to the practitioner. re: being tight; have you tried 8 Section Brocade? That would be simpilar than learning another system and would compliment your Ba Gua. It includes standing practice and emphasizes relaxed rotational movements of the torso and limbs both vertically and horizontally.

   By Tom on Tuesday, August 01, 2000 - 03:36 pm: Edit Post


You're in a great training situation there in Taiwan, having regular access to Luo De Xiu and other teachers. For me, part of relaxation is mental, and part is just getting the blood up to the muscle tissue and the joints warmed up. I remember seeing Mr. Luo demonstrate a standing meditation exercise as well as three Tian Gan conditioning exercises (which seem as though they would serve a warm-up function as well).

I know as I get more familiar with a form or technique I get more relaxed with its execution. Of course that's just in the training setting.

I'm looking forward to seeing what others post about relaxation in execution.

   By Tom on Tuesday, August 01, 2000 - 03:38 pm: Edit Post

Whoops, just want to clarify a point. Seeing Mr. Luo demonstrate those exercises on his videotape is what I meant to say.

   By Tim on Wednesday, August 02, 2000 - 01:47 am: Edit Post

If you practice a martial art for "health" or cultural interest, there is no real need to cross train. If you want to learn how to fight for real, you have no choice but to cross train. Every old "master" of note, that actually had a reputation for fighting, cross trained. It is important to cross train in Arts that are compatable. Compatability is based on underlying principles, not on specific forms and techniques (this is the basic reason different styles are categorized together, the 'Internal' vs. 'External' idea...). If you attempt to cross train in 'styles' which are based upon conflicting principles, you will end up confused (at the level of muscle memory and trained reflex). I think it is also beneficial to spend a sufficient amount of time in one Art, to become firmly grounded in the basics, before attempting to study too many other (even compatable) styles.

   By Dave C. on Thursday, August 03, 2000 - 12:07 am: Edit Post

Okay, assuming that the underlying principles are similar (I wouldn't say the same, even when talking about "internal" styles but I could be wrong) could you use the three internal arts to "diagnose" and "treat" students' problems?
For instance, if someone really wanted to learn xingyi because he wanted to fight but he's maybe too tense would you suggest a little taiji to soften him up? Or would you just advise the student to seek relaxation in the context of xingyi?
And what about the differences in the arts? How do they combine?
For example, two of Luo laoshi's senior students have also studied taiji here with a well known Cheng Man Ching stylist in his 80's that is famous for his push hands abilities. However, he advises against the use of "force" and teaches his students to be very "insubstantial" in their hands. In bagua we have a bit more intention in the hands than this. So how to combine the two approaches?

   By Bob on Thursday, August 03, 2000 - 01:10 am: Edit Post

I'll share my opinion with you as a person that does crosstrain. However the specifics in regard to the styles you practice will have to be answered by Tim. I know he'll be busy with your teacher the next couple days so he might not answer straight away. I would think that a xingyi practitioner with a tension problem would turn to xingyi nei gong exercises. I spoke with Tim today and he thought my sugestion of the brocade might help you. So I assume nei gong would do it for the xingyi stylist. I am curious about the cause of your tension. I have found in my teaching that big strong people generally have a much harder time learning to relax and not relly on their strength. The internal approach is contrary to our western way of thinking for the most part. Undue tension can also be caused by stress or anxiety. Do you think being so far from home might be causing you to be tense? Homesickness could be a very subtle cause of stress. If this is the case I again would suggest 8 section brocade. The exercises are very relaxing and leave you with an overall sense of wellbeing upon completion. The set is relatively easy to learn and complimentary to martial training.

Good luck in your training

   By Tim on Thursday, August 03, 2000 - 05:54 pm: Edit Post

I understand what you are asking, but you are missing my point. I'm not saying the way other people teach the "Internal" arts are based on the same principles. I'm saying the way I practice and teach the Internal arts are based on the same principles. There's a night and day difference. The point is this, you need to find a teacher you trust and that has a worthwhile method, then practice until you internalize what he is trying to teach. Then you need to test yourself as realistically as possible (enter full contact tournaments, spar often with proficient opponents...). Over time, and by trial and error, you will come to understand what works best for you. Then you need to analyze WHY it works best for you. The answers to why it works will be the principles you will base all of your training upon. When you understand these basic principles (in your body as well as your head), you will have answered your own question. When I see someone else whose practice is based on different principles, that may work fine for their own personal development, but I've already proven (to myself)isn't efficient for what I want to do, I have no need to figure out how to "combine" the approaches.

   By wondering on Thursday, August 03, 2000 - 06:38 pm: Edit Post

Tim, how can you be sure? I mean this in earnest. You're devoting significantly more time to BJJ than to the internal Chinese martial arts in your teaching time right now. Does this reflect your own balance in your personal practice?

   By Dave C. on Thursday, August 03, 2000 - 11:37 pm: Edit Post

Bob and Tim,
The 8 Brocade suggestion is a good one. I'll look into it. Part of my tension is from just getting out of the Army after four years. Too much standing at attention and too many pushups I guess!
Tim, you bring up a lot of things that I hadn't thought of. I think I see your point now. So if (hypothetically) through xingyi practice I develope "heavy" hands and then this effects my taiji push hands that's okay if that's what I want, right?
If I'm understanding you correctly then I would agree. But then I know others who would say I'm practicing bad taiji because of the xingyi influence.

   By Bob on Friday, August 04, 2000 - 12:14 am: Edit Post

Hi Dave,
That's not what I got from what Tim said. It seems to me that first you must learn the system correctly understanding the principles and internalizing the movements. Do the same with the Taiji as a seperate art. Then combine based on what you have proven works best for you. I practice San Soo, Wing Chun and BJJ. I have also studied hard styles of karate attaining a black belt in kenpo. I have long since completely abandoned the karate. I mastered San Soo, and am instructor level in Wing Chun. When I teach I do not combine the systems, however I do have a method for doing this in personal combat. My Wing Chun provides the hands up, touch sensivity and strategic positioning. San Soo provides all the throws and Chin Na techniques and BJJ covers the ground fighting. That is the approach I have taken rather personal and as far as I know I'm the only one that combines these styles. Yet I practice them as separate entities while maintaining the ability to flow from one to another without hesitation as the situation requires. I hope this in some way helps.

   By ED HENNE on Friday, August 04, 2000 - 10:27 am: Edit Post


   By ED H on Friday, August 04, 2000 - 11:46 am: Edit Post

just for an amen from another angle with what bob said.i have trained and taught praying mantis and trained some judo and shuai jiao,and tai chi during late70's early 80's.I find that though i'm focusing on hsing-i and bagua for the past few years that i have some great entering skills & strategies from fighting with mantis but then imediatly go to the sunken,heavy peng energy of hsing-i after connecting to an opponant hsing-i tends to close the gaps and teaches you angles for up rooting the tai chi push hands also gives you a shell,"if you will" for the china and throwing.i have some wrestling and grappling from judo.i would also agree that you don't want to train those energies together,early on any way.years ago i tried to train mantis and hung gar together and had alot of frustration as hung does alot of power training and they tend to use horizontal power and large circles,mantis on the other hand uses more vertical energy and very tight rather than helping my mantis it hindered it until i stopped the hung traing my speed trippled in a very short time and i started to advance quite rappidly.they were contrary energies.however i find with the internal arts that they all blend because they have the same foundational ideas but i do think one should focus on one thing for a time until it's trained fairly well into your person.i feel lucky to be training in the particular lineage that i'm in as it has a series of beginner sets"hsing-i" which are linear bagua and hsing-i mix that gives you a good feel of these two arts melded.

   By Janet on Friday, August 04, 2000 - 05:30 pm: Edit Post


Can you please enlighten us with who you study Hong's xing yi/bagua with.


   By Tim on Saturday, August 05, 2000 - 07:30 pm: Edit Post

To Wondering,
You still don't see my point. BJJ IS internal. The arts I practice are all the same to me.
To Dave C,
We're almost there. When you are pushing hands, it isn't Xing Yi pushing hands, nor Tai Ji pushing hands, it is Dave pushing hands. Please think about this before you respond.

   By Sum Guye on Sunday, August 06, 2000 - 01:50 am: Edit Post

To Wondering:

Maybe you should take a closer look at Tim's class schedule before making statements about how he spends a significant amount of his teaching time.

Also, you might want to dedicate a little effort to not typing just like Tom if you're trying to pretend you're posting as someone other than Tom... it's still weird.

   By Dave C. on Sunday, August 06, 2000 - 11:57 pm: Edit Post

Hmmm......I think I get it now. It's just me exspressing myself through the particular art (or arts) in question. Once I attain the knowledge and ability to do that there would be no need to worry about "combining" the arts, right?
Ed H,
Thanks for the tidbit about combining hung gar and mantis. I learned something from your post.

   By wondering on Monday, August 07, 2000 - 10:56 am: Edit Post


I went back and reread your 8/3 post. Then your remark
>To Dave C,
We're almost there. When you are pushing hands, it isn't Xing Yi pushing hands, nor Tai Ji pushing hands, it is Dave pushing hands. <


   By ED H on Monday, August 07, 2000 - 01:35 pm: Edit Post

Hi Janet, My hsing-i teacher is Gary Myers who was one of Vince Black's senior students from Blacksburg,Va..I also trained nejia arts from 78-83 with Herr Wong's students in Okla. but they were not very combat focused so I started 7* praying mantis in 83.I promised myself if I ever found a good hsing-i teacher I would go back to it which was my first love(martially).And I ran into several hsing-i people over the years,a couple from china,who I had friendly matches with but they couldn't touch my mantis.The first time I met Gary,it was like his energy smothered everything I tried to do,he had a powerful solid structure and seemed to keep me off balance the whole time. I've been trainig with him ever since.I believe Dr.Black had a Tang Shou Tao name for his school and for some reason Ed Hampton and Gary Myers split from Dr.Black and now call thier school "White Tiger Kungfu".It is still the same curricullum though.Gary now lives and teaches here in Charlotte.There is also a guy in our association,Jim Birchfield from Michigan(also one of Dr.Black's ex-seniors)who is training in Shanghai who comes down a couple times a year and is teaching muslim hsing-i and a Gou style where you emit power predominatly from the back foot as opposed to the the Gao from Taiwan where you're issuing on the front.I've given you way more than you asked for and I quess you can tell I'm psyched about training with these guys but that's basically my martial resume'.And I just got back from lunch where I drank alot of good coffe."How 'bout you??

   By Tim on Monday, August 07, 2000 - 07:36 pm: Edit Post

Dave C.
Got it.

   By Erik on Saturday, August 12, 2000 - 03:41 pm: Edit Post

Hey Dave,
Good questions. I was a student of Tim's for some time and I have a question for you. Have you ever read his "Effortless Combat Throws" book? When I first started studying with Tim I found it an indispensible key to understanding relaxed natural power with absolutely no tension. In the nearly 3 years I studied with Tim I took 15 notebooks worth of notes and now, as I study them at my home in Bangkok, I find that where we discussed body mechanics (aside from technical application) he basically went over the same principles time and again reinforcing what we learned in our first 3 lessons. You might check out the section on aligning with gravity on page 26 where he lists 8 points of body alignment. The failure to achieve relaxation in motion most likely results in poor alignment for example stiff arms might indicate the shoulers or elbows are not sufficiently relaxed.

If you have read it ...reread it...again...and again...then try to apply what's in it. It works. Another thing that seemed to works very well, sorry Tim but I have to say it, was that the workout atmosphere was always relaxed. We joked around a lot and there was never any tough guy stuff. This helps too. If you practice sparring or push-hands you might want to go at 50% or be a bit more cooperative until you flow with the changes better. Check out the video with book in hand and look at how Tim actualizes relaxed motion throughout each application (and his fall guy - Glenn).

You didn't specify exactly what area brought out this feeling of tension (form, drills, free-sparring) or if you did I missed it but if your tense in one you're probably tense in all. Look at Tim's advice in his book for tips on relaxing the body (getting aligned) and adjust your training so you are mentally relaxed. Thats my 2 cents.

Hey Tim, how's it going? Love the video clips.

   By Tim on Monday, August 14, 2000 - 01:02 am: Edit Post

Hey Erik,
Good to hear from you. I hope all is going well in Bangkok. Are you still throwing the Thai boxers? Keep in touch.

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