View Full Version : the Yi Jing (I Ching), bagua and you

03-19-2001, 10:47 PM
What part does the Yi Jing play in your regular practice of baguazhang? Is the Yi Jing significant in your understanding of the art?

03-19-2001, 11:15 PM
I'm a total rookie (1 year of bagua under my belt) so my vote doesn't count for much...but for me the I-Ching plays no real part in my daily training.

I've read a great deal about the links between bagua and the I-Ching, and I've developed a fundamental understanding of the underlying principles (or at least I think I have!), but my teacher rarely makes mention of the I-Ching at all, much less actually relate it to our training.

Maybe at a higher level of skill the philosophical aspects of bagua would be emphasized more in practice. (I'll tell ya when I get there ;))

03-19-2001, 11:16 PM
Has very, very little to do with baguazhang and only a little more in bagua chi kung. I can see how some styles make use of it but in my own opinion, it is a stretch at best to say that it would improve my martial arts. Fun for fortune telling though!

03-20-2001, 06:39 PM
I think of the Yi Jing as the old Chinese culture's "science" of their time, similiar to the way we use physics and molecular chemistry.

People used penicillin long before they knew its molecular structure and action. Just like acupuncture, the west is now trying to translate it into scientific constructs which is the "yi jing" of our time.

Pure speculation but I think they played bagua along time before understanding it through the lens of the Yi Jing. My sense is that the intellectuals were primarily responsible for analyzing bagua via the yi jing.

Although it has not played much of a role in my training, there are hints that at a higher level, it may be more significant. For me, only time will tell.

03-20-2001, 07:07 PM
Great post, RAF. I think I agree . . . I've been doing martial arts for a while, but baguazhang for less time. There may still be hope for me in embodying the philosophical correlations into my physical understanding of the art.

03-20-2001, 10:28 PM
When practicing Tai Chi Chuan it is considered essential to understand the interplay of yin and yang in your techniques.

Anyone who professed any amount of Hsing I skill but could not explain the "how's and why's" of 5 Element Theory would not be taken too seriously.

Why is it then that anyone who delves into the I Ching on this board is considered a "Mouth-Boxer?" I do not claim any real "understanding" of the I Ching nor do I claim to have the inside track on any implications to my Ba Gua Zhang practice, but my study of the I Ching has made me think in certain terms about my practice.

First and foremost there is the idea of constant change and flow....the constant rythym of yin and yang. If you read the I Ching you can begin to sense a kind of rythym or pattern to the progression of the hexagrams. It is interesting to me....but it doesn't make me a better fighter.

About the only I Ching related item which I can say has a direct effect on my Ba Gua training is the 9 palace drills. I think they are VERY important. The only thing that makes you a good boxer however is BOXING. Walking the Circle and crossing hands with other Boxers.

03-21-2001, 03:59 AM
May be I am a little bit off topic here, but I'd like to share something with you. I don't practice Bagua but I practice Taiji. So I read I Ching to research theories. Here's what I find so far:

1) Although divinatoin is the most popular use of the I ching, that doesn't explore the full potential of the book.

2) Like many other eastern studies, it is empirical behavioral. The best way to study it is not just to read about it. Learn to draw the trigram in both primodial and postmodial moduels, there are lots of interesting details in them that might spark something in you.

3) The study of I ching is beyond acadamic pursuits. The western study approach offered in university is pretty superficial and generally view the I Ching as some mental disciplines which misses the point of I Ching.

4) There are 4 principle operations in the I chings that can be found in combat.

i Simplicity (initial action/reaction)
ii Interaction (the exchange)
iii Matemorphsis (counter)
iv Continuum or imperminance (follow through)

There are many other material in there to look at such as the Ying/Yang theory and the nature of power in internal styles (I posted that in a Bak Mei style thread). BTW, Taoist used the I Ching to explain the nature of Chi as well. I Ching may not be most people's cup of tea but dig deep and you will be rewarded.


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03-21-2001, 04:06 AM
I too am a active student in the YiJing and would love to discuss the topic further.
I wonder if Dong Hi Chuan knew of the YiJing connection to his Bagua and didn't start talking about it later because he didn't want to confuse his students that weren't ready for this information yet.
If you can imagine the completeness of his Martial training to Yin Fu, imagine the depth of his possible knowledge reguarding the YiJing and Daoist connection.. something to ponder.

03-21-2001, 01:39 PM
A side note....

The "Standard" version of the I Ching you see 99% of the time MAY not be totally appropriate for Ba Gua.

Tung Hai Chun was a member of the Complete Reality sect of the Dragon Gate School of Taoism. Thomas Cleary has published the Complete Truth sect's version of the I Ching with an altered series for the Hexagrams. (That is to say, the Trigrams and Hexagrams are the SAME, just in a different order)

Since we have such a HUGE argument on here as to whether or not the I Ching even plays a role in Ba Gua, I am sure the debate as to WHICH VERSION of the I Ching you use will be a lot of fun....

03-21-2001, 10:09 PM

Great, this is a rear find! I love to further discuss this.


I understand where you are coming from. I think I will address the foundation of the argument first.

First off, I use to consider myself a Taoist. Now I would said I am a quasi-Taosit at best since I have more and more influence from the Buddhist and Hindu traditions. Personally, I see them based on the same spirituality which is born of holistic and organic worldview. I would pause here otherwise I would be going to be off topic.

With this base I study the I ching and Kung Fu much the same way. Most people READ I Ching as an intellectual discipline. Their understand of the I Ching is but preconditioned mechanical logic. That's the universities have to offer. To me, that is superficial. With the eastern traditions, one PRACTICES the I Ching with action and interaction. The body, mind and spirit INTERACT with each other that's holistic and organic in a mircomosic way. The body (anatomically and behaviorally) articulates all unverisal truths because of the union of the trinity (body, mind and spirit). That's the very same purpose of I Ching. It is not mere comments or remarks of some sages and scholars. One might choose to dwell and halt at the intellectual level but that's like using a only portion of the brain. Whether the approach is divination (fortune telling), health (Qigong), spirituality (enlightenment), and education (martial arts) is irrelevant. Further down the stream where the schools of thought (i.e. Dragon Gate Taoist school)formed within these approaches, we see all fragmented and specialized teachings. Sure, it will be fun to argue the subject but in the end we might be arguing over something when we are on the same team. If we look at the "source" (pretty Taoist huh?), I would say the answer is pretty clear.

Extra piece of information. The standard version developed by the Confucian scholars is broken in to 2 volumes each the top volume is designed to articule the principles of nature and the bottom is the "applied" principles or the "change" of nature. This again reflect the organic world view of "principles" which is unlike "Law" (mechanical/non-interactive).

Hope I have made my case clear.


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03-25-2001, 05:30 PM
In re-doing this chart I have decided there is nothing wrong with applying the I-ching to the practice of bagua. In our Chi Kung we have 3 levels. Stationary, Directing and Dynamic. The Dynamic postures are similiar to ones in the 8 mother palms so I suppose this is also applicable to Baguazhang. Yes Mantis108, I have carefully checked the directions in relation to the trigrams etc. It is correct.

http://kabooom.com/laterheaven2.gif ]

03-25-2001, 06:15 PM
But Count . . . is the color scheme correct? ;- )

03-25-2001, 06:23 PM
It is hard to put the colors in a direction except in the java version I am working on when you mouse over the trigram the colors will correspond with the correct direction. In this version I have used the colors separate except for white since the type doesn't show to well through it. And off white is not yet included as I will be adding another level for emotion and endocrine.

03-25-2001, 07:58 PM
From my experience there is nothing wrong with reading books...that's good to do...but remember to be practical...you want to learn pa kua? Find a good teacher (that REALLY KNOWS HOW TO FIGHT)and train hard. Walk your circle, do your palm drills, spar, do all of the things you need to do to get good...remember if you are doing pa kua for health then apply health items, if for fighting then learn HOW TO FIGHT, if you are just a person who just likes to dabble then read the I-Ching...but I'm quite sure in the old days in China cats weren't sitting down and having tea parties on the I-Ching only...I'm sure they were hard at work training and sparring...shoot you walk down in the forest going to one village to another and a bunch of theives jump out at you and they would rob you and take your I-Ching book ...(lol) but seriously bro trust me when I say you want practical information - I'm learning Hsing - I and the five fist = five elements. I know the THEORY behind the elements but I train hard with the practical application of it. It's like learning the animal styles when you fight you don't have to look like a monkey or a dragon...its about having their SPIRIT AND INTENT..I hope this helps...

03-25-2001, 09:28 PM
I hear you and I know you are right. But if you really want to feel that fountain of chi, the chi kung sets have really made a difference in opening up my body and the chi just pours. Each posture, or combination in the dynamic, directly relates to an oragan and a trigram directions and follows the yin and yang in the lines. Therefore it really can't be separated from the i-ching. I know it's a theoretical concept but the more I think about it the more results I see. I have added at least one chi kung set to my morning workouts and I really notice the difference in my bagua too. I have always been against the notion that it makes a difference but I can't help noticing the results. something to think about.

03-25-2001, 10:08 PM
You are right count...I forgot to mention Chi Kung sets...we dont walking and standing chi gung sets to build up alignment and posture as well as chi ...

its tough sometimes answer correctly because I'm at work at I cant put as much attention to my post as i should...

thanks count by the way your trigram looks hot...I love it good artwork...

virus fist
03-25-2001, 10:44 PM

You are right when you say, train more and read less,history,lineage and books will not help you much,you got to sweat it baby,that is the only way to the light.

However,there are many vairables to consider,when you favor the physical over theory,like the puorpose of learning,student experience,quality of instruction and many more.

Pa kua is an art based on natural principles(I know your are tired of this word)but you can not separate yin from yang or theory from physical practice,you can favor one more than the other at certain stages in your training,but they come togheter.

Of course,to fight you don't need much theory,then again you don't need to learn IMA,either and spend a lot of time and money to learn how to fight,anybody with courage and experience can fight.

IMA is more than just for fighting,it is also for health(yin and yang),the goal is to learn skill and understanding,and impossible task without the practice and the theory.

Yes,practice is far more important than theory,but practice alone,is just exercise,theory is your blueprint,your map,your guidance whitout it you have no refference.

think about it,where principles come from?,why should I do it that way?,how do I do research for fighting,am I doing the right thing,and so on,

I think that if you study theory(not only the I ching,but five element and yin and yang as well it will help you understand your art in a deeper way.
Mastery comes from extensive practice and knowlegde of the details(why,how,when,what for)and also, being lucky enough to afford a good knowlegeable teachear willing to share.

Amyway,I am glad to see people talking about the practical aspects of pa kua.


03-25-2001, 11:57 PM
I hear you, lol...Good work on the graphic. Just don't want to sound picky but...

I see you use the postmordial moduel Bagua which is cool and the directions are correct. However, you are also using the western traditional cardinal directions as well. I am sure you have your reason to graph it as such. Personally, I would use the Chinese convention which is South on top so that Li (fire, the sun) would and should always be up top. Confucious scholars (chief developers of this moduel) believed that humanity likes the sun should always be bright and climb up to give light and warmth to all things great and small. Should we be practicing Qigong, we should be facing light not darkness, in order to absorb the possitive energy. That's why a lot of the old Kung Fu books would assume a south facing orientation with the forms' salutations, because we would want to open to brightness where the sun passes; therefore, benefit from the possitive energy.

Just a thought. :)


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03-26-2001, 12:15 AM
thanks virus for the post...I just want to make one correction...

I don't recall ever saying read less ....but more of being practical...now if I-Ching and other theories help you get better and reach a higher skill then its all good...my issue we talk about theories but most cats cant even apply what they write...also my goal was to have topic that provide realistic information...now if people agree with me or not is not my goal...you know what my goal is?????

JUST TO GET PEOPLE TALKING about APPLICATIONS!!! I've reach my goal ....now let me say one more thing

knowledge is the acquiring of information
wisdom is the application of knowledge...

So I use this phrase im art...soak the knowledge up and have the wisdom to use it

all im doing with my fellow pa kua people is to provide a forum for us to talk...

03-26-2001, 12:18 AM
I see what your line of thinking is but...
I guess in China being on the otherside of the globe maybe south is up. No that's to weird. In our bagua chi kung you face each direction starting with northwest and moving clockwise trough the trigrams with each specific posture. Eventually you must face into the sun so we try and practice in the morning when the sun is very low in the sky. That question has been discussed in our group at some length. Yang Tai chi faces north in the beginning which was the direc tion of the wudang mountains. Hence in the end, "carry the tiger back to the mountains returns you to a north facing orientation. I'm not sure if there are any set rules about directions of all forms but In our chi kung you face each direction and then center. When I drew my trigram I copied directly from our old books and when I added in the directions that go with the trigram, K'an (north) was on top. Like all maps I have seen, north is on top so this made sense to me. Interesting stuff though.

03-27-2001, 04:01 AM
Thanks for the info. Just as I thought that you have your reason with it. Just to clarify one more point on the postmordiol moduel Bagua. It is based on the microcosmos (humanity) and all thing concerning it. So fire is heart (more like brain) and Water is kidneys. That's another reason why fire has to be on top (a standing person not an upside down person). Anyway, you have your reason to draft it your way. :)


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Kevin Wallbridge
03-28-2001, 01:49 AM
I'm one of the people here who really studies a lot of theory. I already do acupuncture and hard tissue manipulation but I'm studying Chinese medicine to improve my martial arts. In the context of medicine knowledge is a critical component of skill, but only when grounded in physical experience.

Razak, I have respect for you and I can see that your posts are always to the point and well thought out, but at what point do you feel wisdom (which I define here as "tested" knowledge) should be incorporated into physical skills? You say you want to generate discussions about applications, but this isn't a virtual reality board where a person can say "here feel this." So why do you work so hard agaist the discussion of the most important aspect of the arts that can be dialogued about here, the theory?

To use the analogy of the medicine (I recall posting this same model a few months ago in the same kind of discussion), imagine three Doctors. The first doctor knows only theory, but hasn't got any practice. The second Doctor has hands-on experience but doesn't know the theory behind what he does. The third Doctor has a balance of theoretical training and practical experience. Who do you want be treated by? If they were martial artists who would want at your back?

I think that the "shut-up and train" attitude may be useful towards beginners, but a time comes when incorporating a couple of thousand years of pragmatic experience into your training can keep you from wasting a lot of time re-inventing the wheel.

By the way Count, until this century south was always at the top of Chinese maps. Maybe you need to look at some older Chinese maps. :)

"The heart of the study of boxing is to have natural instinct resemble the dragon" Wang Xiangzai

03-28-2001, 02:02 AM
I will remember that next time I am travling to 19th century China. Are you sure it hasn't been more than 100 years? Bagua isn't that old either.

03-28-2001, 06:06 AM

Thanks for the compliment. I have no problem with theory as long as it applicable...I guess being around Pa Kua Chang fighters that do fight and are experience has an influence on me...most of the high level internal artist talk less about theory and they are very good...the ones I've met that talk theory can't fight or won't. Now this is not a rule but just what I've seen ... but again please don't mind me...I'm not the "end all and be all here" but as I stated previously if I can invite this type of discussion it's worth the pressure!!
peace kevin

Kevin Wallbridge
03-29-2001, 12:14 AM
Peace Razak,

I understand what you've seen. I have met too many people stoned-on-mystical-Qi and who blather about aspects of Chinese philosophy far removed from their understanding. However I've also had the good fortune to work with a couple of old Chinese guys who are clear about the philosophy while still being able to move like a beam light. I suppose that until you get a chance to touch into it your caution is well justified, so I really can't fault your approach.

Count, next time you are there will you pick me up a sword? They just don't make them like they used to. (BTW the model you drew is very similar to something about 800 years old, neo-Confucians... go figure).

Well met friends.

"The heart of the study of boxing is to have natural instinct resemble the dragon" Wang Xiangzai

03-29-2001, 08:42 AM
Hey guys,

Ya know, I've been working with Kevin's ideas on the way the gua are constructed in relation to body mechanics. Seems like there are many, many ways to approach the action/reaction aspect of practical fighting, and I'm convinced that a serious look at applying this theory to self defense could add yet another tool to my box (so to speak).

To sight an example, I was practicing applications the other day with my friend (he's a Yang Tai Chi stylist). I was particularly exploring possibilities for "Dragon Rises from the Water", aka "Young Man Shoulders the Mountain", when I energetically tried to mimic the Zhen (Thunder) Gua since Dragon is the thunder animal. It looks like this:

____ ____
____ ____

Two yin lines resting on a solid yang... Which led me to take a firm root (yang line) and a soft upper body and Dan tien. This strong mental intention led to a much looser, whip like throw/takedown action. I had to firm up slightly after the first attempt, so I wouldn't use too much Jing and hurt him. You see, I've spent so much time training NOT to hurt my partner, I had unconsciously been "stalling" my own power when I had applied throws and take downs at work.

The yin intention however, consciously applied, had caused me to release the tension that I held enough to send my friend spinning with enough Jing to summersault head over heels TWICE before he touched the ground! I felt like I was in a Stephen Seagal movie (sans the big ego). I'm greatful he is well trained enough to know how to fall correctly! Guess he still falls better than I throw!

So now I have successfully applied some I Ching theory, and have used it to improve my practical skills. I'd like to see if the Gua can be applied in a similar fashion to Hsing I's five elements.
Any thoughts on this? Have any of you tried this out?

"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."

03-30-2001, 01:03 AM
Just to clearify, I did not follow any simaliar chart to build this. Only notes on bagua chi kung. I started with our trigrams and built it out from there. Maybe you are correct, mantis108, about humanity, (Except in the case of birth and death) so all you really need to do is print it and turn it over. You will see all the realationships are correct.
Kevin, you make a good point about the doctor but I am not positive it follows through to martial arts. How much hands on experience with no theory? How much of a balance. I gotta go with the fighter to watch my back. I will be on the lookout for 19th century swords for you. I recently found a 19th century Samuri sword at a swap meet here in LA. This old jewler pulled it out from under his desk and asked if I was interested. Sure was nice but it wasn't my style. If anyone is interested, let me know. He only wanted $400 and I have seen simaliar for 4 times as much.

03-30-2001, 07:31 AM
Thanks Count, I understood. I know you have your reason to do it as such. Like you indicated the directions of the Trigrams are correct.


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