The key concepts of Baguazhang
by Luo Dexiu Laoshi
The movement in Xiantien Bagua is principally soft and fluid, but still contains a firmness that is less visible. It is important that high, low, interior and exterior become 'one' a single strength, the power of which should not be shown externally, but kept fluid inside. You need to find balance in instability, the body becomes flexible and skillful/nimble.
The post heaven palms work mostly on hardness, but remain fluid inside. The outside is square but the inside is round. They allow you to train specific combat techniques. During practise it is important to work on the extension of the body, the force and the mind.
The four combat strategies of Bagua:
-The opponent advances and I absorb
-The opponent retreats and I pursue (striking at weak points)
-The opponent does not move (he has a good defense) and I disturb his emotions/composure
-The opponent reacts, and I dismantle his structure
If the opponent moves I move more than him, if his mind is calm, I am calmer than him, if he uses hardness I use softness, if he panics I am relaxed, if he wants to enter I suck him in even further, as he attacks I defend and counterattack simultaneously, I turn his own techniques back on him, if he stops I continue to control the situation and make him follow me. If the opponent and I am engaged and there is a pause, the mind/yi doesn’t break, this gives rise to the concept if the opponent is still, I am still too, but my mind is present and alert. If he tries to move in a small area I use a big circle to control his angles, if he uses a lot of space I use a small circle to destroy his centre. Big and small circles are interchangeable, and the power is like a drill that pierces.
Several ideas that are very important in the practise of Bagua:
- Seek unity, be whole and full before seeking to practise angles, individual parts or specific techniques.
- Qi and Zheng: It is necessary to use concepts that are direct or devious.
Zheng is the direct aspect « I am stronger than you » because my body is unified and coordinated while that of the other is not. Therefore I have an advantage in using techniques over my opponent because my skill defeats his inertia. I can be faster than him because I know how to move easily.
Qi is the devious aspect. I can make the opponent weaker than me because I can divide his strength. I can weaken his techniques because I use the nine joints of my entire body while he only uses a single part.
- High level practise: Practise more, practise well and practise specific means. The more you practise, the better you perform and the more fluid you become. If you become fluid you acquire skill and eventually ingenuity.
Bagua has its principle expression in walking and turning. At the same time as walking and turning you can use techniques. Through moving I can reach better situations, and penalise the opponent.
If you want to win you need to manage the situation from beginning to end without ever suffering/giving it up. You need to do more than turn and change, to control the situation you also need to cultivate and protect the initiative. If the situation does not allow you to be active you must borrow and take over the opponent's techniques.