View Full Version : notice someting about bagua?

03-14-2001, 07:16 PM
there is way to many styles of bagua now, at least 50 styles because this student of bagua has this martial background or that martial background, now look at tai chi only a small handful of styles and hsing yi even less.

The principles of bagua are to vast that almost anything can pass as a single palm change, double palm change at least 50 variations of the basic old palms (animals) set and even more variations with the 64 palms set. there needs to be some clarity in the pakua world with what style or family system one is doing cause that all starts to become new bagua systems under someones last name coming out everyday saying they are the original!?!

I guess bakua can be called a infinite art while taiji and hsingyi stay relatively the same

03-15-2001, 02:16 AM
It's because people are becoming less interested in the lineage of thier arts. Most folks who take up a MA, do so with a "hobby" kind of attitude. Since fake teachers can make a buck off of these less discriminating students, we see chain schools, Mc Dojos, all over the place.

I'm willing to bet that 98% of what you will find in the Yellow Pages will be these scam artists. I don't really trust the "famous" CMA's either. Anyone who stands to gain a large amount of money from thier art is suspect. See my post "Piercing Palms in Yin Fu only?", where a debate on this very subject is about to explode!

"The essence of life is struggle and it's goal is domination. There are higher goals and deeper meanings, but they exist only within the minds of men. The reality of life is war."

03-16-2001, 03:04 AM
dont you mean 99% ;) Simply because nothing is 100% in nature.. haha

03-17-2001, 10:53 AM
What if this is bagua's destiny? Bagua is based from the I Ching and the I Ching is all about change.

Peace :D

03-18-2001, 09:28 PM
Yes Ba Gua Zhang is related to the theories found in the I Ching. It is historically unclear whether Dong Hai Chuan originally emphasized I Ching theory in the beginning. Your comments above do reflect a common understanding about the I Ching and Ba Gua, but if we analyze the assumption, we find it lacks merit.

It is truly irresponsible for teachers of any art to make the origions of thier information unclear, whether or not the intention is disingenous. This kind of thing does water down the knowledge...

The I Ching and Ba Gua are based on the theory of change, but if you look deeper, you find that these are concerned with organizing and making logical a chaotic and unpredictable universe. To achieve this end (which many consider impossible anyway), the I Ching uses a complex, yet perfectly logical symbolic language to "predict" the unpredictable.

If we accept that our art is doomed to change until it is unrecognizable, we accept that it's symbolic language, the I Ching trigrams aka Ba Gua, must also change and fade away. If that occurs, could we logically call the new hybrid Ba Gua Zhang? Clearly not, because Ba Gua Zhang is defined by it's adherance to the principles of the I Ching. Is this the whole story however?

If Dong Hai Chuan founded the art, or at least learned it from someone else and then popularized it, then wouldn't this also be a defining characteristic of Ba Gua Zhang? If you were looking to buy an american made car, wouldn't you be concerned with where it was made? Of course you wouldn't buy a Toyota!

So it follows that when shopping for Ba Gua Zhang, we look for some evidence that the art has some adherence to I Ching/Ba Gua theory and we look for a connection to recognized lineage holders. Now what to do when your Ford has all of it's parts made in Japan? Oh dear! :rolleyes:

"The essence of life is struggle and it's goal is domination. There are higher goals and deeper meanings, but they exist only within the minds of men. The reality of life is war."

03-18-2001, 11:27 PM
I have yet to find anyone who can provide a convincing correlation between any of the palm changes of any style and the Yi Jing. Even at a basic level.

I keep hearing talk that if an art or move adheres to the "principles" of baguazhang, or to the theory of the Yi Jing, then it is baguazhang.

What are the "principles" of baguazhang that make it unique from any other martial art? What are the correlations with the Yi Jing?

I guess I am now inclined to think that lineage does make a difference in judging the authenticity of someone's art. Lineage of course is no guarantee that the teacher knows the art well, or can teach it well. So many people, like many of the indoor "disciples" of the late Liu Xinghan, buy their way into the lineage. Yet we do need some kind of identifying criteria as to what makes baguazhang . . .

03-19-2001, 02:29 AM
Well, this is something I don't relate much however in the interest of what will seem to be a civil discussion I'll add some insight on the YiJing/Baguazhang connection.
YiJing is a book that on a surface level deals with a predictability of random events, adding order to chaos as a type of divination tool. I'm OK with the majority of people having this concept because the majority of people couldn't care less anyway.
In reality the YiJing is a book that contains the nature of human psychology and how the world outside, inside and all around effect in subtle and not so subtle ways, his perception of reality around him. YiJing is a lot about understanding man and controlling his environment, in a way so is the art of Baguazhang.
YiJing talks in some length about basic principles and methods of attaining great results from your Baguazhang practice, now mind you THE BOOK WAS WRITTEN LONG BEFORE THE ART OF BAGUAZHANG, so yes the book can work on many levels of life in general ... as can Baguazhang.
What one must do is first read the entire book, and make note of what words are used most often, words like change, acceptance, flow, flexibility, yielding are all very common themes of the Yijing..as is in Baguazhang, applying these qualities in VERY DEDICATED PRACTICE will ensure a good level of skill.
As the relationship between Bagua palm changes and Trigrams its gets tricky, I can clearly see where Heaven gua and a single Palm change connect because both represent the originating source of the other changes.
Shifu John Painter who's Jiulong System is extermly rooted into he Yijing, more so then anything I've seen, each Palm's shape and energy are direct results from the attitude of each Gua, plus containing a yin, yang and taiji(both yin and yang) energy to each palm.
Best would be to contact Shifu painter and ask him, he will easily enlighten on the subject, however it will be within the confines of his method of Baguazhang.
Another way in to look at the Gua and the palm change it represents as the gua is written and apply that to the physical body.
Take the Earth Gua(pure yin) and how it is usually applied with very defensive and yielding palm methods, the Gua is written as 3 broken yin lines

___ ___(mind/intent)
___ ___(upper body-above waist)
___ ___(lower body-below waist)

The very upper line shows the intent behind the Earth Gua, receptive and yielding, this is the condition of the mind and how it will bring about yield and receptive results to the rest of the body.

The middle line shows the upper body, how the arms and torso will move, will become yielding, receptive and ready to receptive and direct incoming force.

The lower lines show that the legs and feet must be adaptive and yielding to move away or around incoming force.

Maybe lets try Fire Gua

___ ___

The mind would be forceful and aggressive, Fire is the all consumer, a very potent tool of change but its also a Gua showing brightness and intellect, skillful use of strategy to "cling" and stick to an attacker.

The UpperBody would be light and fast, repetitive like the flickering flame licking the branches of a mighty tree, sooner or later with some many fast and repeating strikes, like the fire that finally consumes a tree, the attackers energy will be worn out and reduced to ash and smoke.

The legs/stepping would be direct, rooted and strong, Because fire needs and base a host the attach it's self to and draw energy from, the earth and the ground path and power form rooting, also preventing the attacker from "shaking" off the attacks.

This of course is just one of MANY ways of drawing a conculsion to the many possible Gua/Palm change conections, but I think it does a good job in defining some logical base to argue from.

This over course will never mean anything unless you practice, practice, practice and make them physical.

Do you need the Yijing to practice Baguazhang, course not, however I enjoy the connections I find and the book only helps serve me in sharpening my focus and intent behind my practice, and there is nothing wrong with that.

Some people just don't care about the Yijing and Bagua connections and thats fine too, to each their own.

Its hard for me to believe for so many so called Daoists on these boards nobody really seems to have any sort of grasp on the YiJing even as a Christian might have a grasp on the bible, I just think its funny is all.

I would love to talk about this on a deeper level with you people that can do so, either here or through e-mail.

-Kevin Wikse

03-19-2001, 04:50 AM
"Action is a surer method of resolving problems than endless chatter, but it takes a person of mature insight and great resolve to break free from stagnant and outworn ideas..."

-I Ching (47)

Kevin, I am really, REALLY impressed! This is precisely the sort of commentary this forum needs. You see, too many people log on here just to shoot the breeze or worse yet, shoot off thier mouths (present company excluded of course!).

Personally, I'd like to hear more of your theories, Kevin. My teacher provided eight basic palm positions which were all asigned a Gua. Further, there are eight techniques which form the groundwork for Liang Zhen Pu Ba Gua. Finally, each palm can be applied to each technique forming sixty-four permutations.
The way I was taught, there are few animal correlations. Everything goes back to the Gua.

Now granted, that's a rather scetchy explanation, but my knowledge of the system is not complete either. The implications are rather intriguing though wouldn't you agree? For example, say your attacker comes in high and hard with a Wing Chun style barrage of linear chain punches...

In theory, you could asign his attack the Li Gua (Fire), which is Yin in the center, and Yang on the top and bottom. Now of course, using
the same set of correspondences you could use a Kan Gua (water) technique to counter. Kan is Yang in the middle, Yin on top and bottom. Water of course puts out Fire with it's soft root (deft footwork avoids Fire's rooted position), power from Dan Tien (Yang in the middle), and quick redirection of Fire's agressive Yang offense. This is classic Hard versus Soft Kung Fu!

"The essence of life is struggle and it's goal is domination. There are higher goals and deeper meanings, but they exist only within the minds of men. The reality of life is war."

[This message was edited by ScarletMantis on 03-19-01 at 07:03 PM.]

03-19-2001, 04:55 PM
Interesting, Kevin. Yes, I have read a number of translations of the Yi Jing. I'm starting the study of Mandarin Chinese, but don't know when if ever I would be able to get training in the classical and archaic language of the Yi Jing. Because I know Dr. Painter doesn't speak classical Chinese, I have to assume that his system of correlation of his baguazhang's palm changes with the gua is mostly his own interpretation.

Which is fine, and would be interesting to study (if I had the time ;- ) ). There are two points I do have time to make now: one is that the direct correlation between the gua and the physical body is questionable. Take for example your description of the earth gua, all yin. By your description, the yin nature of the lower body (footwork) comes from the fact "that lower lines show that the legs and feet must be adaptive and yielding to move away or around incoming force." Well, that's a basic tenet of bagua in any gua. I don't think that it's unique to the earth gua/palm.

All I'm saying is that the applications of the Yi Jing to baguazhang are far from clear, and I don't think that the Yi Jing played any significant part in the development of the art in the Dong Haichuan lineages. For those who want to ascribe other origins to the art, that's fine.

I will say that I stand ready to be educated. The Yi Jing just isn't important to my bagua practice or tactical theory. Maybe I'm missing out. The teachers I've discussed the matter with, though, including those who've studied in and/or are from China, seem to regard the Yi Jing as unnecessary, and the correlation of the 8 palms with the 8 gua more as an mnemonic device than anything else.

03-19-2001, 08:05 PM
Well in reality the Gua serves to better sharpen focus of intent/energy behind a palm change, the earth palm change is very, very soft as I know it, so to see the body as pure Yin energy and try and conceptualize that then all the better, fast adaptive footwork is indeed the rule in Bagua, however that doesn't mean it can't become more so and seeing the legs as Yin energy helps me do that when I practice.
The YiJing is a very important book within Daoist concepts, deep meditation and vivid visualizations are a major part of a Daoist practice, it only makes sense that if a Daoist where to approach a system like Baguazhang, based on (however loosely) Daoist concepts, wouldn't say also add a large portion of spiritual cultivation?
And the Trigrams, Hexagrams and passages in the YiJing was a way to do that.
Do you need that to use or practice Baguazhang for combat..no of course not, however it isn't any weaker or not as good if you do like the esoteric and spiritual practice behind it.
As for using the 8 gua for mnemonic purposes .. If someone can't remember 8 palms changes then they are in serious trouble as it is.
For me its a form of religious practice making YiJing into a physical practice, but for others not. I do think there is more then less credible evidence to say that at least some Baguazhang is done with the YiJing in mind.
ScarletMantis any further insights?

03-19-2001, 10:32 PM
Prior to this conversation, I believed that ALL Ba Gua Zhang practitioners understood the significance of the various Gua in a similar fashion. The Trigrams are integral to my understanding, and were foundational to the way I was taught. The Gua have served as much more than a mere mnemonic aid, and Kevin's description is pretty straight forward.

My exposure to the Jiulong (hope I spelled that right) Ba Gua that Dr. Painter teaches is absolutly zero, but I can definatly disagree with you Wujidude on your point that the Dong Hai Chuan lineages don't emphasise the I Ching! You once told me that you knew of some Liang Zhen Pu Ba Gua Zhang people in San Francisco, you also told me how to get Li Zi Ming's out of print book, which you said you own.

I only mention this because here are two sources that are available to you that DO adhere to the principles. While Dong Hai Chuan himself may or may not have felt the I Ching was important for him personally, he did pass it on to his deciples in his Ba Gua. Furthermore, Dong himself asserted that he had learned Ba Gua from a "Taoist in the mountains". Research has shown that the Lung Men Taoist monks have records of having practiced walking in a circle, with hands held in eight primary postures for at least 600 years prior to Dong's introducing Ba Gua.

Now understandably, this dosen't prove a darn thing, but it does lend historical evidence that supports the claim that Ba Gua Zhang has Taoist origins. If you can accept that, then the use of Ba Gua as primarily a "Taoist Yoga", if you will permit that label, and secondarily a fighting art makes perfect sense. There is a long tradition of the world's great internal boxers using thier art for spiritual development.

Ignoring the connection between the I Ching and Ba Gua Zhang, ignores an important, necassary part of our heritage. Use Ba Gua for whatever you will, but ignore no aspect of it's changes. They ARE the wellspring from which healing, fighting, and spirtitual applications flow...

"The essence of life is struggle and it's goal is domination. There are higher goals and deeper meanings, but they exist only within the minds of men. The reality of life is war."

03-19-2001, 10:45 PM
Kevin, no denigration of your religious/spiritual affinity to the Yi Jing in your baguazhang practice is intended. Like I said before, I stand ready to be educated. I think our differing experiences simply reflect our different teachers and individual practice.

I can readily accept that the attributes the Yi Jing assigns to each gua can guide one's intent in practice, perhaps somewhat akin to the way that the animal attributes of xingyi forms do, in affecting the quality of movement. In a sense, that is a deeper kind of mnemonic device.

I am by nature cautious, perhaps skeptical, of the applications of a broad and rather mysterious document like the Yi Jing to a very practical and physical art like bagua. It's less of a leap of faith for someone like yourself, who is seeking (and has found) at least some spiritual connection in bagua practice.

Good stuff. I'd love to hear more from others . . . what part does the Yi Jing play in your practice of baguazhang? In your understanding of the art?

03-19-2001, 11:40 PM
ScarletMantis wrote:
>but I can definatly disagree with you Wujidude on your point that the Dong Hai Chuan lineages don't emphasise the I Ching!<

I didn't say that, ScarletMantis. What I said was:
>>I don't think that the Yi Jing played any significant part in the development of the art in the Dong Haichuan lineages.<<

It is true that many Dong Hai Chuan lineages, including your own Liang Zhen Pu lineage, attempt correlation of the physical martial art with the Yi Jing.

All I'm saying is that I think the physical martial art was developed originally as a fighting art, not a spiritual practice. I'll stand by this statement.

Dong Haichuan originally called his art "zhuan zhang," or "rotating/turning palm". No reference to the Bagua or Yi Jing at all. The best historical evidence points to Dong only originally having taught circlewalking and two or three palm changes. The Cheng Tinghua lineages refer to these as Lao San Zhang, or Old Three Palms. Kang Ge Wu of Beijing found a manuscript by a late Qing dynasty Imperial Palace scholar, Tseng, who studied baguazhang with Yin Fu. Tseng clearly states in this manuscript that Dong Haichuan did not begin talking about his art in terms of the Yi Jing until very late in his career, after he had left the Imperial Palace.

Dong's senior students such as Yin Fu and Cheng Tinghua took his scattered teachings of applications and organized them according to the Yi Jing. As we know today, they wound up with significantly different styles, which does not suggest to me a coherent understanding of the Yi Jing in the development of baguazhang.

Read Guo Guming's 48 Songs of Baguazhang in Li Ziming's book on Liang Zhen Pu's baguazhang. They aren't organized or really suggestive of any correlation with the Yi Jing. Look at Li Ziming's own writing in that book. Although there is some suggestion of the Yi Jing's relationship to bagua, it's not an especially major issue for Li. And the demonstrations of the Old 8 Palms by Li's student, Zhao Da Yuan, do not rely on any description or correlation with the Yi Jing.

John Bracy is fond of the term "Taoist yoga," but in his book on bagua he fails to convince me that baguazhang as an art developed first as a spiritual practice and only secondarily as a fighting art. I will note that, despite his status as a "5th-generation disciple" of Liu Xinghan, Bracy is not necessarily deeply conversant with the martial art. He became a disciple of Liu at a time when Liu's group was making certificates of discipleship available to foreign students with only a few days practice . . . for a price. Liu's group did this at least in part because of the prestige associated with having foreign students.

Liu Bin, Liu Xinghan's teacher, developed the elaborate conceptual scheme for the Nine Palaces school under the influence of an astrologer, who himself was not a martial artist. Fortunately for those following him in the Nine Palaces lineage, Liu Bin was a martial artist before he became a mystic and astrologer. The practical applications of baguazhang as a martial art were not forgotten, and were emphasized in the teaching of Wang Wen-kuei, Liu Xinghan's older gongfu brother under Liu Bin.

You could attempt to practice according to the mysticism promulgated in the bagua book of Sun Lu Tang, Liu Bin's older gong fu brother. Good luck, especially working with the English translation.

If you have access to any of the old Pa Kua Chang Journals, read through the accounts of the various styles and the interviews with the various teachers to see what emphasis is placed on correlation of the art with the Yi Jing. Relatively few do. Or read Adam Hsu's essay on bagua in "The Sword Polisher's Record."

Some teachers do/did emphasize the correlation between the art and the Yi Jing. One was Gong Bao Tien, whose student Michael Guen is now teaching a rather interesting spin on the art out of Sedona, Arizona (www.ayba.org). It's interesting that Michael specifically notes that Gong rarely taught him a specific martial application of the art, but did emphasize the moral and abstract teachings of the Yi Jing.

03-20-2001, 03:51 AM
Micheal Guen is a student of Gong Bao Zhai who was a student of Gong Bao Tien. I don't think there is any evidence that Gong Bao Tien made any kind of correlation between BaguaZhang and the I-Ching but I could be wrong.


03-20-2001, 07:03 AM
Thanks for the correction, ETB. I don't know what if anything Gong Bao Tien had to say about the Yi Jing and Bagua. Gong Bao Zhai, Michael Guen's teacher, devoted much of an in-depth interview to the subject in an issue of the old Pa Kua Chang Journal.

03-20-2001, 08:43 AM
Hi Wujidude,

maybe I agree with much of your argument: that bagua fighting came before philosophy. When you say that it was "originally" developed as a fighting art, I think you're right, but I think it's more complicated than that. "Fighting", after all, and certainly the use of piercing palms and smashing fists, predate bagua. It has to be said that, bagua, taiji, and xingyi are all derived from forms of combat at least as old as traditional Shaolin, and probably older. Bagua is just one of the family of Chinese martial arts. It's a relatively new art, but it has taken the best aspects from arts that preceded it. However, imo, the things that separate taiji and bagua from other CMAs are 1)their training techniques, and 2) their application of specific philosophies to their fighting strategies. Without the emphasis on constatnt "change," it's not bagua. Anyway, if you're saying that none of the developers of bagua as we know it tried to apply a fighting art to an esoteric philosophy, I agree. What I think might have happened, imho, is that a certan group of high-level martial artists saw how their world-views coincided with their martial arts. Bagua and Taiji are simply descriptions of how the universe works. It's the same as a student of physics studying martial arts and developine the best ways to apply what he knows to his discipline. No, he didn't start with physics and develop a martial art; he started with a martial art, and then applied his knowledge of physics. Once an expert applies this knowledge, he may start to see connections that are not obvious to someone with less experience. So, many people would suggest that the beginning student not try to understand Sun Lutang's bagua book. Maybe, just maybe, if one can approach Sun's understanding of bagua, then one can understand his references to the I Ching. Personally, I don't think it works the other way around, though. No amount of knowledge of the I Ching will help one understand the bagua. I guess I'm also implying that it's unreasonable for us to discount what something --obvoiusly significant because it uses the name-- might mean to someone who is an expert. Hey, they say it was an apple falling that led Newton to figure out the laws of gravity. To me, it would have been a chance for applesauce. As far as I Ching and bagua is concerned then, I guess YMMV.


[This message was edited by Esteban on 03-20-01 at 10:49 PM.]

03-20-2001, 09:16 AM
It's killing me. YMMV?

03-20-2001, 07:05 PM
I think you're basically right, Esteban. This is getting to be a tired topic for me. There are different paths to the top of the mountain, and different ways of understanding the martial art of baguazhang. Your take on the historical development of the art seems right to me. I don't know how much philosophy Dong Haichuan brought to his original development of baguazhang, which he apparently originally referred to as zhuan zhang, rotating/turning palm. In his later days, after he left active service as an Imperial Palace bodyguard, he began to talk about the Bagua of the Yi Jing in connection with the martial art he had been teaching (according to the Imperial Palace scholar Tseng's manuscript). Too much time with the opium-smoking scholars and fellow eunuchs of the palace? I don't know.

If the philosophy of the Yi Jing adds effectiveness and enrichment to anyone's practice of baguazhang, more power to them.

03-20-2001, 10:23 PM
Hi Wujidude,

fwiw, I agree with you, Maoshan, and others who complain about people who think the philosophy can be substituted for the practice. IMHO, it is not possible to understand baguazhang by reading the I Ching. Actually, it would be easier to learn how to ride a bike by reading a manual. But, I just don't go so far as to say that bagua has nothing to do with the I Ching. I doubt I'll ever have even a basic understanding of the I Ching. So, I can't afford to think it's necessary.