View Full Version : On the learning of Ba Gua...

04-08-2001, 08:55 PM
Up until this weekend I had never seen a John Painter 9 Dragons video. I had read (and still read) 10+ Ba Gua books, over the past 5 years.

Being a relative Ba Gua newbie (under 1 year total practice), I had never seen Ba Gua explained with the precision and clearity that Mr. Painter explains it in on his video. Every book I had read talks of forms, stances and palms, but the units (forms) are, or appear to be, very stagnant. (i.e. learn the 64 forms, then applications).

In the YMAA books, they present 64 forms. In the Park Bok Nam books you learn forms.

But with the Painter videos, I think I saw the big picture of Ba Gua for the first time. Endless forms and palm combos, freestyling, etc.

Am I missing something in the reasoning most instructors teach straight forms, as it seems limiting to the total flexibility of Ba Gua in general?

I am flaming no one, and am only seeking enlightenment on teaching methods and the value of forms vs. the flexibility and change of the I-Ching based system.

"Deep down inside of all of us is the power to accomplish what we want to, if we'll just stop looking elsewhere."

[This message was edited by Destrous9 on 04-09-01 at 12:17 PM.]

04-08-2001, 10:23 PM
You are missing something.

Forms are the foundation from which the free flowing wonder that is bagua is built upon.

Bagua is an improvisational art, but no teacher can teach you how to improvise. They can only teach you the forms, which are essentially the building blocks to moving on to the free flowing format.

In the bagua style I do, when you start doing 9 palaces, you start out improvising around the posts, and then you take away the posts and add people instead, until 9 people are moving in an intricate pattern of improvisational destruction.

[This message was edited by Shin on 04-09-01 at 01:30 PM.]

04-08-2001, 11:53 PM
Dr. Painters bagua is very strong and in his style I don't think emphasize forms much as energy but in most styles of bagua there are many forms to learn. But forms are based on principals and basics which are more important than the forms themselves. Sometimes when we practice forms we are encouraged to mix them up in terms of movements and directions. Change the order as it is the art of constant change.

04-09-2001, 12:24 AM
I'm a moderate in length student of Shifu Painter in Boise. Painter's method does not teach pre-set forms pre-say as a lot of other teachers do. The Postures in the 9 Dragon systems are always constant and the intent is built into the body by holding and expressing energy into the postures, not just as a "palm change".
There is a Yin and Yang and both expressed (Taiji) shape/energy in each of the 9 dragon's 8 Mother palm shapes, something some what unquie to other forms of Bagua.
The Nine Dragon system does have liner forms but not in the sense of other forms of Bagua, they are used in praticular stepping methods as a way to sharpen the intent behing the palm shape you are expressing so durning circle walking the energy can be constant and unceasing, always there.
I have found the Jiulong System to be the best choice FOR ME...(notice I said "for me", I will say it again..FOR ME) and it has added a lot of flow and fluid movemnet into s system of Bagua I had already studied for quite sometime.
It's nice to see other's enjoy the same practice/system that has brought me a lot of comfort and health in my life :)

04-09-2001, 01:20 AM
Thanks for the great feedback. I think I was misunderstanding forms somewhat. I was looking at the as THE solid techniques, and not just as a foundation used to expand techniques.

I am just glad to have finally 'seen' Ba Gua for what is truly is and can be.

I'm always learning and forever humbled :(

"Deep down inside of all of us is the power to accomplish what we want to, if we'll just stop looking elsewhere."

[This message was edited by Destrous9 on 04-09-01 at 04:42 PM.]

04-09-2001, 06:13 PM
I won't even start in on whether or not John Painter is legit, but I have worked out with him and I have a few of his tapes. He is a good practitioner.....

As for basicis not being important... ummm....well, thats just wrong. Ba Gua Zhang is the Jazz of kung fu. Jazz musicians were masters of the classical methods of intrumentation...and then they went freestyle with it. You think Thelonious Monk didn't spend years playing his scales??

of course he did. Posture, stance, palms......it takes YEARS to get to where you can effectively freestyle.

04-09-2001, 06:29 PM
I am opening by saying that I have never seen Painter either in person or on tape. My only knowledge of the man is what I have read on the internet and a few articles in KF mags.
I have heard people question his lineage before (I don't know enough about such things to comment), but it seems like you are questioning his skills. Is this true? If so please explain. I am not flaming you. I have no rebuttal. I am just interested in your opinion.

"Luminous beings are we."

07-03-2001, 11:55 PM
So as a beginner Bagua student I am a little confused as to what would be the best instructional video the way of John Painter or Erle Montaigue?
Both I am sure they are both fine instructors in their own right.
As far as the video is concerned John Painter offers Vol 1: Training Principles
(Stances, Postures, Palms and
Linear forms)
Vol 2: Training Principles
(walking the circle and combat
and Erle Montaigue offers
So which of these would you recommend for a virtual beginner and which one is explained in clarity for a beginner student to grasp onto.
Just out of curiouity would anyone know of these instructors style of Bagua they teach?

Sam Wiley
07-04-2001, 12:27 AM
Erle's video has basic qigong, circle walking, walking the circle with the 8 and 64 palms and how to change, some other training methods, Chiang Jung-chiao's circular form, 3 additional palm changes (for a total of 11), a linear form with 64 methods in it, palm striking training, as well as a bit about Bagua's version of push hands. His attention to detail is astounding.

If you are uncertain as to which system you want to study, Painter's JiuLong system, or Erle's Chiang system, or another, then my advice would be for you to get one of them or a set of them and just start learning. You can always go back later on and get another video and if you like that one, add it to your repetoire, or if you like it better, switch completely. Personally, I would say go with Erle's material, but I am one of his instructors, so I am not unbiased. Of course, if price is an object, try the cheaper ones first. But it has been my experience that of the videos I have seen, the cheaper ones were mass produced and are not as good content-wise, since they do not contain as much detail as the instructor would like. The ones that might be a bit more expensive are not quite as pretty, but usually contain more info, and aremore detailed at that.

"I put forth my power and he was broken.
I withdrew my power and he was ground into fine dust."
-Aleister Crowley, The Vision and the Voice

07-04-2001, 03:00 AM
So what about styles If I buy from Erle and he teaches one style and I buy from John Painter and he teaches another style, or my sifu teaches another style will it hinder my learning process.
Will it cause me any confusion??

Sam Wiley
07-04-2001, 04:54 AM
Well, maybe a little confusion at first, but everything eventually will settle right. The best thing to do if you start with one and go to another would be to stop practicing the first one for a little while and concentrate on the next. But none of it should contradict anything, since they should all share principles in common. As long as you don't try to mix the different styles you might do well. If you have a sifu in your area, I would go with him before a video anyway. It might hinder your learning to go with a completely different art, like Taiji or Xingyi, but I doubt another Bagua style would really do all that much more harm beyond making things a bit confusing for a while as far as which training methods and forms go with the others.

If you are really worried about the confusion thing, just pick one style and stick with it for a while. If there is no sifu in your area, then by all means go with tapes. Just study everything as well as you can and try to get it to work for you. I know Erle has put out tapes with higher level stuff on them to show you where you should be headed with your studies, and I'm sure the others have something similar. Anyway, once you have everything down, that would be the time to maybe branch out, after having learned most or all of a system, since then it wouldn't cause all that much confusion. That's what I recommend.

"I put forth my power and he was broken.
I withdrew my power and he was ground into fine dust."
-Aleister Crowley, The Vision and the Voice

07-04-2001, 05:01 AM
My bagua instructor teaches 2x per month and that is one of the reasons why I considered the video scene, I felt it will help me grasp what my sifu has already gone over. It will give me a better outlook on my bagua?
So would you say studying through video and studying through a sifu like what I am doing would be good?

07-05-2001, 12:10 AM

I study a lot of videos. It is a great learning tool because you can disect movements someone does and try them in your practice and see if you can make it work or not. There's a lot of learning in this process. Also, they help you to formulate questions about your own practice and for you to ask your Sifu.

Don't concentrate on the order of the forms but on the techniques and how they are similar/different from what you do.

In this method, it doesn't really matter which tape you get. Even bad tapes tell you what not to do. (Though too many of those get boring). You should also tape yourself and your sifu and compare and question.

Furthermore, I can't believe your Sifu is telling you to learn BaGua from a tape. It's probably more of what I described above.