Some of the Best Advice I've Ever Heard
Internal Body Mechanics and Strength

Dong Hai Chuan and Early Bagua

No one knows where Dong Hai Chuan learned baguazhang. He claimed to have run across a Taoist monk while wandering in the mountains. Some people believe he just made it up based on some circle-walking meditation he had practiced.

Although he created the art in the 1800's, he was apparently vague about it's origin. There's nothing vague about the skill of his students, however, although as we all know, stories tend to be exaggerated over time.

I always get a bit tickled over anecdotes that say a master knocked a guy "about twenty feet" with very little effort. That seems to be a consistent measure that pops up in martial anecdotes. That's a pretty long way to knock someone (I don't think I've ever knocked anyone 20 feet).

It's interesting to read that Dong Hai Chuan made one student walk the circle for six months before teaching him anything else. On the other hand, when he was enthusiastic about a student, such as Yin Fu, the student could master the art in just a few months.

Can you imagine an American student walking the circle for six months? Most of us want to blaze through the curriculum, and as a result, our circle walking isn't as good as it should be. In fact, if there's one thing that we can take from the old tales of martial arts masters, it's the concept of focus and constant training. They had focus, they trained constantly, and their skill grew.

For a good book on baguazhang, follow this link.

Comments

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Sean C. Ledig

That looks like a pretty good book. I'll have to get it from Amazon when I have a few extra bucks.

Sean C. Ledig

I see where you're coming from with the remark that Americans would not stand for doing nothing but circle walking for six months.

My original Chen sifu never got me into the Chen forms, even though I studied Chen Tai Chi with him for a year. All we did were the Chen "Pieces of Silk" and lots of push hands.

(I was with John for nearly two years, but the first year I knew him he was my senior in Lion's Roar. When our mutual sifu stopped teaching that art, John turned his efforts to Chen Taiji and Wing Chun.)

Admittedly, I wasn't the best student. I was hanging around to learn the Wing Chun he knew.

So, John gave up trying to teach Chen. He found another Chen practitioner and the two of them focused on practicing what they knew rather than teaching others.

Evan Yeung

I thought that 'Whirling Circles' main strength was the extensive section on the lineage of Bagua.

The two best books I think I've read on the subject of Bagua are "The Power of the Internal Martial Arts" by BK Frantzis, and "Fundamentals of Pa Kua" by Park Bok Nam. The former had some excellent discussion on principles of the internal arts, and the latter had the most detailed descriptions and photographs of body mechanics and posture I've seen in a martial arts book.

One last book I'm in the process of reading for the second time is the "Book of Martial Power" by S. Pearlman. He attempts to distil years of martial arts experience into common principles that are common to all martial arts. Many of the principles seem to be directly out of internal martial arts practice.

Any other good books out there that people are reading that are related to the martial arts?

Ken

Evan,
I liked the BK Frantzis book, too, except for his belief in the supernatural. In one part, he describes walking the circle in front of a bagua master. Suddenly, it feels as if he's walking through mud and he can barely move. He looks over and the bagua master is staring intently at him, obviously affecting BK from across the room with his mind. I almost threw the book out the window at that point in disgust, and I lost a lot of respect for BK.

The other thing that made me less enthusiastic about him is the photo on the front of the book, magically throwing the guy into the air. I've seen the video of that demonstration, and the guy runs up to BK and pushes and locks his arms, and BK physically pushes him upward. The guy's locked arms cause him to fly up a couple of feet in the air. It was almost comical.

BK is one of those guys who wants people to think he's got some sort of power that you don't. And, naturally, we know that he doesn't.

I do appreciate the informative, factual parts of the book, though.

Evan Yeung

I'd agree with those assessments of BK Frantzis regarding his statements on Chi work. What I was more interested in was his explanation of the 'philosophies' and principles underlying the three internal arts from a fighting perspective. Up until that point, I hadn't found a book that went into so much detail in comparing taiji, xingyi, and bagua. Whirling Circles doesn't deal much with Chi, but there's some things I'd disagree with in that book as well (the importance of the 'synovial pump' I think is eye-rolling)

Park Bok Nam's book mentions chi, but really downplays the metaphysical stuff. I found it to be very practical, direct, and applicable to my own studies of Bagua even though he does a different bagua style (I'm most familiar with the Jiang Rong Qiao form).

Likewise with the Book of Martial Power... no illustrated techniques or metaphysical chi stuff, but very practical principles that made me think about the way I was doing things.

My main problem, though, is that I have a lot of theoretical knowledge through books, but there really is a lack of good internal martial arts training in Cincinnati. I'm using the Shorin-ryu school I'm in right now for practicing sparring and timing, and I'm trying to worm in some of the internal principles, but it only goes so far when the main focus of the class is something different.

Looking forward to the online class!

BTW... anyone else have a list of some good books out there?

Ken

Evan,
Yikes, I haven't gotten to the synovial pump part of the bagua book. I was interested in the historical section.

I'm going to check out the Book of Martial Power. It sounds interesting.

I've put two of the free lessons together that I'll be offering online. I'm working on it every day. I believe the free lessons will drive people to participate in the online course. It will be very inexpensive anyway.

I've read a lot of stuff about the internal arts, but it's so difficult to find good instruction. Written material misleads people because it has to be shown. But most people who do videos can't teach very well in video format.

I'm going to combine both written and video material to really try to instruct.

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