LIANG STYLE BA GUA ZHANG
Ba Gua Zhang or "Eight Diagram Palm," is a Chinese Martial Art that has been around since the mid 1800's and continues to be practiced by people all around the world. Ba Gua is an elegant and sophisticated art form which emphasizes correct body alignment, the development of whole body power, and the unity of mind and body in every movement and action.
Ba Gua offers new students an opportunity to learn a profound practice that incorporates self-defense, health preservation, physical fitness, moving meditation, Qi Gong, Nei Gong, self discovery and a path for spiritual growth.
This martial art was developed by Dong Hai Chaun, a skilled fighter who is said to have combined his extensive martial expertise with Daoist circle-walking meditation exercises. The result was a comprehensive, new style based on mobility and the ability to apply fighting principals while in constant motion.
There are many exercises and forms that make up the training system for Ba Gua Zhang. At Root of Movement Internal Arts, we teach our students the foundational material of Liang Style Ba Gua Zhang as taught by Tom Bisio and our other instructors at New York Internal Arts. The foundational material includes:
- Zhan Zhuang or Post/Stake Standing: Allows us to perceive and connect with the subtle natural and spontaneous movements occurring inside of the body. Standing helps us to integrate the upper and lower sections of the body, line up and connect the joints, bones, and muscles, so that the body acts as an integral unit. This teaches the body to relax, while cultivating a spring-like potential for movement and, rooting the body, so that power emanates from and is absorbed into the ground, creating structural integrity. Standing like a tree rooted in the earth while remaining relaxed and pliable is one of the key foundational practices in the internal styles of martial arts.Holding standing meditation postures for extended periods of time is a crucial step in connecting the body so that it moves harmoniously with grace and power.
- Qi Cultivation Exercises: These six exercises compliment stake standing practice and are some of the most basic set of Qi Gong exercises. These help the practitioner -"sense"- the internal movement of qi (life force) along the natural vertical, horizontal, and circular actions of the body's internal structure. These exercises feel like moving post standing exercises, as they take the stillness experience learned in Zhan Zhuang and expand it into the basic building blocks of internal and external movement.
- Ying Yang Patting: This relatively simple to perform yet profound exercise allows the practitioner to begin opening the channels and meridians of the body, breaking up accumulations and blockages, loosening tight muscles and joints, and getting qi and energy to flow. It also helps to develop the body's ability to withstand impact.
- Ji Ben Gong or Foundational Body Training: This is a fundamental skillset, necessary in long-term development within the Chinese martial arts. The Liang style Ba Gua Zhang set consists of 28-36 exercises which take the body through its full range of motion, while cultivating and sensing the root /tip connection as well as the inherent spiraling movement of our bodies. It improves joint mobility, strengthens tendons and bones, balances the musculature of the body, and bolsters our inherent strength.
- Ding Shi or Fixed Posture/Pattern: This is an important part of Ba Gua training where one walks the circle, holding eight different postures related to Ba Gua's fundamental fighting techniques. Walking in a circle with intention, correct alignment, and deep breathing is the quintessential Ba Gua exercise. These "body patterns" also "open" meridians of the body. This practice is based in Taoist walking meditation and is the most fundamental exercise which trains the mind and body in a parallel dynamic.
- Twelve Posture Standing: This set of 12 postures helps to develop sinew strength, strengthen the body, and stabilize the joints. These postures present a challenging mix of back-weighted, front-weighted, and single leg positions that develop balance and refined strength and power.
When you first learn Ba Gua, emphasis is placed on creating a strong foundation and root. Each practitioner must be rooted in their movement or they will not have the integrity to overcome their opponent.
* We teach weekly classes, private lessons and group workshops to individuals throughout the year. Please contact us to learn more about location and times.
For more information and material on Ba Gua Zhang, please visit newyorkinternalarts.com.