Part two: Bagua Theory
Q1.Is Bagua related to the I Ching?
A.The I Ching is an all encompassing philosophy, so naturally it could be said to ncompass the principles, ideas and methods of Bagua. Bagua is a complete system of athletics, martial arts, life and health, and in a certain sense it is a physical exhibition of the I Ching philosophy. But Bagua’s development was not based on the I Ching, so studying the I Ching is not necessary to understand Bagua. However, the I Ching’s trigrams, principles and morals can help to raise ones understanding and practice of Bagua.
Most people who study the I Ching place an emphasis on calculating good and bad fortune, and it is often misused. However, Bagua gives you an opportunity to learn about I Ching philosophy on a fundamental level, because Bagua can teach you about your body’s internal fortunes and the Yin and Yang of your energy flow.
Q2. Is Bagua based on Daoist philosophy?
A.Not only is Bagua the essence of Chinese martial arts culture, it is also the culmination of thousands of years of Chinese culture! In terms of martial arts, Bagua’s endless changing and powerful movements can be used to attain victory over one’s enemies, but it is so much more than just that. It is deeply rooted in deep traditional philosophies such as Daoism and Buddhism, as well as other disciplines such as Chinese medicine, martial strategy and Confucian morality. Bagua has a message for the world: through the practice of Bagua, the excellence of these philosophies and disciplines can be a part of your life.
These philosophies and disciplines are more than just flowery words and abstract concepts, and they can be experienced on a physical and spiritual level through correct practice. Under the guidance of Bagua’s cultural and theoretical system, practitioners can become aware of their weaknesses. Through training according to nature’s Dao, we can return to a realm of natural perfection.
Q3.Is Bagua connected to Bodhidharma and the Tendon Changing Classic?
A.This is a scholarly question which I’ve researched for decades. In order to avoid needless debate, I’m not going to publish this research for now. However, let me just say that Bodhidharma’s Tendon Changing Classic is one of the most important theories in Bagua practice.
Q4.Is Bagua similar to Yoga?
A.I have never studied or practiced Yoga, so I’m not qualified to comment on things which I don’t understand. However, research of Bodhidharma’s life reveals that the Tendon Changing Classics must have been based on something he had learned before journeying to China, which could only have been ancient Indian exercises. This would indicate that Tendon Changing Classics and Yoga are connected in some way, and may even come from the same root.
There are many different methods by which traditional holistic practices are being passed on in the contemporary world, of which Yoga is one. For those who have little time to practice, or who don’t want to make much commitment; or those who are only half interested in their practice and don’t strive to take better themselves- these types of practices are appropriate and may even provide some benefit. However, for those who dedicate themselves to their practice seriously, and try to make a name for themselves; or those who strive for excellence and become teachers of their art- it is rare for them not to become injured by their practice.
Look carefully at those around you and you’ll see what I mean!
As a result, I hope that I will have the opportunity to pass my understanding of Bagua and the Tendon Changing Classics to the Yoga community, and if it can be accepted and adopted by them, let it be a symbol of my respect to Bodhidharma.
Q5.What is Qi?
A.Most people who ask this type of question most likely have a Western cultural background, because Easterners grow up with the concept of Qi from their childhood. However, this is a good question, because even of those who are familiar with the term, few understand it.
If one undertakes deep research, they will find that this is the root of traditional Eastern culture, philosophy and even religion.This is the reason that we say Bagua is the culmination of the Chinese cultural tradition.
However, it is difficult to explain the concept of Qi. For thousands of years the sages have been trying to explain this concept, but it is not something which can be merely explained by words. However, it is difficult to explain the concept of Qi.But through the practice of Bagua, it can be understood immediately.
Q6.What is the difference between Bagua, Xing Yi and Taiji?
A.All three are known as internal arts, and they have a lot in common. I spent ten years practicing all three before I decided to dedicate myself only to Magui Bagua. As a result of my experience with these arts, I feel confident in evaluating them as follows:
All three share a common goal, but have different styles and means of attaining it. Because the starting point is different, the arts themselves are quite different, but regardless of which art, if its direction is not accurate, it will stray from the correct path and not arrive at the ultimate goal.
Bagua’s starting point is its kou and bai step movements, coiling, turning and folding. If these skills cannot be done well, one’s practice becomes empty and becomes nothing more than a performance.
Taiji’s method is the pivoting of the spine, pushing, scillating, absolute precision. If these skills cannot be done well, the result will be a one-dimensional ability and an overall lack of coordination.
Xing Yi is based on its standing practices, with clearly defined advancing and retreating, and an emphasis on direct power. If these skills cannot be done well, the result will be stiffness, and these skills can be turned to weaknesses instead of strengths.
Q7.Are Bagua and other styles of martial arts complementary?
A.Bagua is the product and culmination of thousands of years of Chinese culture. Any technique in Bagua can represent a whole category of styles. Of course, I’m not speaking about fancy, contemporary Bagua routines. If you’ve practiced other styles, regardless of which styles you’ve learned, as soon as you begin practicing Bagua, you’ll enter a new realm. If you’re already an adept martial artist, you’ll become even better.
In fact, most people find that after they begin practicing Bagua, they gradually stop wanting to practice anything else.
Q7.Is Bagua appropriate for women to practice?
A.Bagua is very appropriate for women! In today’s society, maybe even more so than for men. Bagua has the following beneficial effects on women:
a) Healthy and smooth skin. I have women students who, after practicing for a time, found that the health and smoothness of their skin was unlike anyone of the same age, and was almost as if they’d become ten years younger.
b) Increased circulation, detoxification and inner calm. These sorts of results do not take long to appear, and can even be felt after just one practice. They could almost be described as instantaneous.
c) Allowing the Qi to drop and circulate throughout the lower extremities. Bagua practice mostly takes the form of circle walking, of which the primary goal is to allow one’s Qi to drop. After a time, ones circulation improves, the hands become warm and joint soreness in the lower extremities disappears.
d) Maintenance and improvement of one’s physical form. We have some 40 year-old practitioners with the figures of 20 year olds, and 50 year olds who are still able to keep up with and even lead their much younger counterparts. These are the type of results that you have to see in order to believe.
Q8.At what age does one have to stop practicing Bagua?
A.Regardless of one’s age, as long as one is able to walk, one can practice Bagua. Our oldest practitioner is 90 years old, and we have many members in their 70′s and 80′s. However, it is best not to begin practicing Bagua until after puberty. Bagua requires a high degree of mental and physical focus and coordination, and beginning practice too early is not beneficial to a child’s natural development.
Q9.Are there any essential books or videos which can benefit my study of Bagua?
A.There are instructional clips posted in the members area, and written materials are published periodically for members as well. In addition, there are some instructional pictures posted for members.