Tien Gan

Tim's Discussion Board: Tai Ji Quan : Tien Gan
   By Tobbe on Wednesday, July 26, 2006 - 08:16 am: Edit Post

Hi Tim

I just wonder if the "Tien Gan " exercises mentionded in a thread somewhere on this board would benefit anyone doing MA or are they specialised to Xing Yi? Could a Taiji - player have use for them?

Best Regards

   By Jake Burroughs on Wednesday, July 26, 2006 - 11:18 am: Edit Post

If I am not mistaken I think those are techniques from Bagua, not Xing Yi.

   By Tim on Wednesday, July 26, 2006 - 12:34 pm: Edit Post


Jake is correct, the Tian Gan set is from the Gao style of Baguazhang. I believe they are great conditioning exercises for martial artists of any style.

   By Tobbe on Friday, July 28, 2006 - 03:27 am: Edit Post

Sorry ´bout the mixup

I`ve found a dvd on www.apittman.com/products.shtml
Has anyone heard of this guy?

Best Regards

   By William Toole on Monday, July 31, 2006 - 10:30 pm: Edit Post

Allen Pittman got started as a student and collaborator with Robert Smith. He spent only a short period with Hung I-Mien in Taiwan, but a friend of mine who has studied with him notes that he is an exceptionally quick learner. He is athletic, has excellent flexability, and performs the various elements of Gao Bagua more from a fighting point of view than a "show" point of view.

I have all his disks, including the 24 Tien Gan ("Heavenly Stems", also referred to as tactical exercises). The exercises are excellent, BUT, the disk doesn't mention the main purpose of the exercises, and you can't see it if you don't know what to look for. He does offer a number of useful tactical ideas.

Gao (Yisheng) style bagua is extremely systematic in how it is taught. The 64 Houtien ("Post Heaven" techniques) are built out of the 24 Tien Gan. The 8 mother palms (and single palm change; Gao style doesn't use the double, as far as I know) incorporate ideas and elements from the 64 Houtien. The generation of power in a horizontal plain by the use of the toe-in is more taught in Bagua, while power in a vertical plain by use of the "Preloading" follow-step is a bit more explicit in the Xingyi, but of course there is great overlap. The Tien Gan include some footwork which will be a bit unfamiliar to many Xingyi fighters.

Some of the Houtien are essentially Xingyi animals, and the Wuxing Quan are incorporated into the Tien Gan to some extent. For example, the first of the second line of Houtien is essentially the Snake from Hebei Xingyi as I learned it. The very first of the Tien Gan is basically a Pi Quan.

What is special about the Tien gan is how they teach the "Body Method". Without a teacher, you may get something out of them, but you also may simply be waving your arms in the air.

I hope this helps.


PS-Allen Pittman lives in Atlanta, GA. He teaches, and has responded reliably by e-mail. I had some technical trouble with the disks, and he was very responsive and got it straightened out in a hurry.

   By Tobbe on Tuesday, August 01, 2006 - 03:18 am: Edit Post

Hi William
Thanks for the detailed info
"Body method" - Do you mean that the power comes from the ground and up? From the feets to the arms? To use the body as a unit?

Best Regards


   By William Toole on Tuesday, August 01, 2006 - 07:56 am: Edit Post

"Body method" implies a bit of both, that the power comes from the ground up, and that the body works as a unit. Beyond that, though, a great deal of the power involves directing the body by opening and closing the angles of your kua, the angle between your thigh and torso.I've spent a great deal of time on this over the last few years, first in Yang style Taiji and the last two years in Bagua and Xingyi. In Pi, about the most basic fighting expression is to drill the lead hand, shearing against a strike; uncoiling that hand into a pulldown; and striking with the opposite hand simultaneously, so the recipient is pulled into the strike. Using hand technique alone you will accomplish nothing except to pull yourself off balance. With the body method, the force of the pull down feels as if it comes from your rear end. In practice with average karate fighters the effect is dramatic; they get whipped around as if they had grabbed onto a passing car. Better fighters = better defense, and I've never tried it all out except against untrained fighters who are trying to brawl.


   By Tobbe on Tuesday, August 01, 2006 - 07:28 pm: Edit Post


Thanks for info

I never seen Bagua live but to me it feels like you´re describing a way to move one´s own bodyweight. The moment you grab the wrist of the opponent you kinda fall/sit back , right?
I think that with the help of the adductors and q-ceps on one leg and the hamstrings on the other and gravity and moving the body as one unit you can get a great spin on your upper body and really "help" the opponent to continue forward and into the punch

Best Regards

   By William Toole on Wednesday, August 02, 2006 - 08:04 am: Edit Post

I'm really not qualified to be coaching this; I've only done Bagua a couple of years, and what I do when I have to tangle with people live is constrained from being true Bagua, it only is "informed" by Bagua principles (hospital administration would have a problem if I clocked a patient). BUT, the best Bagua (not mine!) keeps the weight exactly centered and rotates everything around a central axis that doesn't actually move much. I think I know what you mean by "sit back", but you need to stay rooted with your weight well centered. When you grab on your feet have got to be well planted, if only for the instant of your effort. The bigger the toe-in, the bigger your turn will actually be. Having grabbed on, the bulk of the effort comes from turning your waist/torso by changing the angle of the kua. If your concentration is on the point of contact with your opponent at your hand (or elbow, shoulder, whatever) it doesn't work. You have to "think" hips. The more you practice, the less conscious you have to be of this. I doubt any masters are actually thinking "My Hips!" as they execute. There is a weight transfer as well, and you can "add" arms, shoulders on top of the big effort once you are good enough. When (not if) your opponent counters the Bagua has a variety of next ideas, so there can be a constant reversal of the direction of efforts as each successive move leads to something else.

If you actually "Sit back", your opponent WILL politely offer to help, and you will have no "Next Option" available.

The Tien Gan teach the footwork, weight shifts, and especially the use of the waist, but you cannot necessarily see it. The arm movements are the biggest external expression of the Tien Gan. The better the practitioner (like Allen Pittman), the smaller and more internal the efforts are, and the harder they are to see. The other really big factor is that good fighters (again NOT ME) are constantly BUT NOT VISIBLY loaded to reverse directions. This is a big internal factor with Bagua.

Get a teacher if at all possible. A lot of this stuff needs to be felt and practiced against somebody who knows what they are doing. I can't believe how bad my skills are when I test against a good Taiji or other internel fighter. What overwhelms a street fighter or lesser karate black belt gets nothing against the (few) really good internal stylists I've had the good luck to train with.


   By Tobbe on Wednesday, August 02, 2006 - 07:08 pm: Edit Post


I bought the dvd to see what it´s all about
Thanks for all the info

Best Regards

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