July 17, 2008

Baguazhang

Posted in film, martial arts at 6:59 pm by Jerry

For those who still stop by, I thought I’d say a little something about what I’ve been doing that keeps me away from things like this blog. Aside from having a good time growing as a husband and father, I’ve been exploring the martial art world, practicing and reading different voices on the subject – particularily, Baguazhang.

Baguazhang is a hard art to describe. Some have predicted that this will be the reason for the art ‘s ultimate extinction. Baguazhang is one of the “internal arts” – meaning a concentration of movement within the body, and also, the arts themselves having been developed with a Taoist philosophy (the external philosophies outside of Taoist China would mostly be Buddhist including the Taoist version of Buddhism known as “Zen”).

There are three internal martial arts: Xingyi, Tai Chi, and Baguazhang. If you compare the three, Xingyi is more of a linear, hard art (like Karate, Shaolin Kung Fu, Wing Chun, etc.), Tai Chi is probably the softest art there is, making sinewy movements much like a whip, and Baguazhang lies somewhere in the middle of hard and soft, with its greatest emphasis on change (see the Taoist classic I Ching). And this ability to change one’s physical movements so freely is why Bagua, more than any other martial art, is known for developing the ability to defend yourself from multiple opponents.

In bagua, there is no stopping, everything is circular, constantly moving. Fixed stances are used only to identify principles and apply these principles in the “moving root” of a bagua walk. One movement is always flowing into another, making it very difficult to see if there is any “one movement” when watching bagua being practiced.

Inside the bagua practitioner’s body are subtle posture alignments to enhance one’s balance, strength and speed. All muscles are kept soft while holding them up in their proper positions by the least amount of core strength needed. The art demands alot of self-control without becoming rigid in the process; and a tremendous amount of flexibility in the hips is required in order to make fast turns without swiveling on the heels and balls of your feet or without losing the momentum of the power you’ve been building. The tremendous power bagua veterans have is still quite the mystery to me – but I’m working on it 😉 .

I could go on an on trying to describe the art, but I’ll cut this short and maybe write bits now and then about the art. Here’s a video that Becky thought was helpful to describe the art (although it doesn’t demonstrate the style of bagua that I’m practicing):