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(11 pages total)

Baguazhang Qigong

If you have ever tried to catch a fish with your bare hands, then you know the frustration of a martial artist trying to combat a Baguazhang stylist. Baguazhang (Pa Kua Chang), like its sister arts Taijiquan (T'ai Chi Ch'uan) and Xingyiquan (Hsing-I Ch'uan), is commonly referred to as an "internal" or "soft" style. Like the Taijiquan practitioner, the Baguazhang stylist's movements are relaxed, supple, smooth and continuous. However, while the Taijiquan practitioner will usually practice at a slow steady pace, the Baguazhang practitioner will vary his rhythm and change directions quickly. His movements are continuous, but they are sometimes fast and sometimes slow, and his flexible body is always twisting, turning, coiling, and circling. Evasive footwork and snake-like body movements are characteristic of the style.

While the origins of Baguazhang are not clearly defined, research indicates that the style was probably developed on Kuang Hua mountain by the Taoist Bi Cheng-Xia (Pi Cheng-Hsia). Dong Hai-Quan (Tung Hai-Ch'uan), who is best known for popularizing and spreading the art in Beijing, is thought to have been a student of Bi Cheng-Xia--no one knows for sure. Bi took elements of the martial art styles that were indigenous to the Kuang Hua mountain region and integrated Taoist philosophical concepts to forge a highly effective health maintenance and martial arts system. The intent was to form a connection between the Taoist philosophy and the human body through the combination of body movement (martial technique), breathing, and meditation.

Every complete Chinese martial arts system will include elements of the following:

1) Qigong (Ch'i Kung)--breath control, visualization, and non-specific body movement techniques for various purposes--increased circulation to the distal points of the extremities, increased vital capacity, meditation, and Qi development.

2) Neigong (Nei Kung)--training designed specifically for the development of muscle groups, ligaments, and tendons not usually under conscious control.

3) Waigong (Wai Kung)-- external, i.e. visible, aspects of any martial art including firm balance, flexibility, good posture and stance work, proper mechanical alignment, coordination, and stability.

Ideally, these elements will be developed in a progressive, balanced curriculum designed by an experienced teacher who will guide each student's individual development. Baguazhang (Pa Kua Chang), being a complete martial art system, contains elements of all three of these disciplines.

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