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I'm thinking of starting bagua, initially with a focus on circle walking for an hour or more in the morning, as a physical practice complement to my meditation.

 

I've been gradually learning taiji over the past few months, but I've found it a bit overwhelming at times because there is so much material to cover.

 

Circle walking by contrast seems relatively straightforward to learn, and according to some teachers offers it full range of health benefits at the outset.  

 

Quote

Most internal arts have a specific learning progression, which begins with a set of six or more movements in qigong and up to 108 moves in tai chi. Then, as you practise the form over weeks, months and years, you slowly sink into your body by adding layers of internal content to the form. Unless you have a lot of talent, this methodology can involve several years of dedicated training with tremendous effort before you achieve any profound benefit.

 

Bagua is different.

 

Circle Walking, bagua's foundational technique, can be learned in a single course without any complex arm movements‚ÄĒand begin having a positive impact on your body, mind and qi from the outset.

 

https://www.paulcavel.com/tai-chi-blog/bagua-circle-walking

 

So I was wondering if anyone here put serious time into practicing it, and what benefits they derived from it?

 

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I've been circle walking for roughly a year, most days, 30 mins per day. As you say, one advantage is you're doing the same thing over and over again and can concentrate on trying to get all of your internals to line up rather than what move comes next. Every step is a golf swing - with all the attendant frustrations! Benefits? You know how it is - I feel better for doing it but not a huge list of things I could put my finger on. It has balanced out some binding in my knees and lower legs - although there is still a long way to go. Better balance. The twisting in my arms has produced some visible development. Overall though I feel that I am working towards a unification of the body. Recently, the upper body seems to have settled into a focussed unit - just today I realised that the two steps are driven by the same inward twist in the legs. Some days it seems I can feel how far my sole is from the ground. I can be completely aware of my hand at the same time as trying to refine the movement of my legs. Every days is different. And the interesting stuff always happens in the last few circles...

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Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, RobB said:

I've been circle walking for roughly a year, most days, 30 mins per day. As you say, one advantage is you're doing the same thing over and over again and can concentrate on trying to get all of your internals to line up rather than what move comes next. Every step is a golf swing - with all the attendant frustrations! Benefits? You know how it is - I feel better for doing it but not a huge list of things I could put my finger on. It has balanced out some binding in my knees and lower legs - although there is still a long way to go. Better balance. The twisting in my arms has produced some visible development. Overall though I feel that I am working towards a unification of the body. Recently, the upper body seems to have settled into a focussed unit - just today I realised that the two steps are driven by the same inward twist in the legs. Some days it seems I can feel how far my sole is from the ground. I can be completely aware of my hand at the same time as trying to refine the movement of my legs. Every days is different. And the interesting stuff always happens in the last few circles...

 

Thanks for your response, super helpful. A follow up question - does it feel like a qigong practice, or does it primarily feel like a type of physical conditioning?

 

Have you noticed any changes to your mental or emotional state as a result of circle walking, or are the benefits mostly physical? Some people talk about improved mental acuity or an ability to respond more favourably to adversity.  

Edited by Vajra Fist

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I couldn't state definitively that I have experienced anything like that from circle walking specifically. My practice has brought multiple changes but whether that has come from my Shen Gong/Shen Dan sitting practice or other exercises like Bagua is hard to delineate - they all seem to work together on the same qualities. At the moment both my sitting and moving practices seem to be drawing me towards a closer relationship to a central axis. This is not something that I have sought or had laid out for me - it is just something that seems to be happening. Currently, Bagua seems to be enabling greater relaxation in movement which in turn leads to greater awareness in general. This might make it a bit like qigong from your point of view. As I relax, I become increasingly aware of changes of heat, pressure etc in various areas of the body. The more the physical aspects get 'locked in' the further the attention can go inward.

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On 24/05/2021 at 6:40 AM, Vajra Fist said:

1. does it feel like a qigong practice, or does it primarily feel like a type of physical conditioning?

 

2. Have you noticed any changes to your mental or emotional state as a result of circle walking, or are the benefits mostly physical?

 

1. Both. 

 

2. Both + a lot more

 

3. Make sure you find a teacher who knows the mechanics of the art in depth.

 

4. You need to put a lot of effort to reap the real benefits. 

 

5. Foundation work is a must. For example:

 

https://kungfuprincess-on-the-road.com/kungfu-knowledge-series-these-are-the-5-main-kung-fu-stances/

 

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More about Foundation work is provided by the Bagua specialist He Jinghan:

 

https://baguaquanlessons.com/blog/

 

Plus his YouTube channel.

 

Assisted Ma Bu using a tree or a light pole and similar is a great exercise to open the kua, stretch groin tendons, open meridians that run in the area and for grounding purposes; eg. we have been conditioned since childhood to sit in chairs many hours a day and use seated toilets instead of squatting down the floor as they still do in many Asian countries. 

You can find plenty of videos on YT about how to train the Asian squat.

 

 

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On 5/23/2021 at 8:48 AM, Vajra Fist said:

I'm thinking of starting bagua, initially with a focus on circle walking for an hour or more in the morning, as a physical practice complement to my meditation.

 

Bagua is a profound and challenging practice. It can certainly be a valuable physical practice to complement meditation.

It can be a meditation in and of itself. It can be an effective martial art. It can be many things.

 

On 5/23/2021 at 8:48 AM, Vajra Fist said:

I've been gradually learning taiji over the past few months, but I've found it a bit overwhelming at times because there is so much material to cover.

 

Bagua has fewer movements to learn but in some ways is more challenging to develop skill and mastery. Like taijiquan, it is an art that requires years of practice and study. Unlike taijiquan, there is a less material to cover (depending on the specific tradition of course) although the basic practices tend to be more physically and energetically challenging, at least for me. 

 

On 5/23/2021 at 8:48 AM, Vajra Fist said:

Circle walking by contrast seems relatively straightforward to learn, and according to some teachers offers it full range of health benefits at the outset.  

 

Circle walking is fairly straightforward but difficult to do properly.

While there are many potential health benefits, there are also some risks.

Improper practice can be damaging, especially to the knees and low back.

 

On 5/23/2021 at 8:48 AM, Vajra Fist said:

So I was wondering if anyone here put serious time into practicing it, and what benefits they derived from it?

 

I've practiced bagua for about 15 years.

Benefits include core strength, flexibility, balance, agility, speed, rooting while standing and moving, both focus and expansion of awareness, and power generation; along with cultivation of coiling, spiraling, and flowing energies that are a bit different from those cultivated in other internal arts. 

 

On 5/23/2021 at 4:40 PM, Vajra Fist said:

Thanks for your response, super helpful. A follow up question - does it feel like a qigong practice, or does it primarily feel like a type of physical conditioning?

 

In the beginning, it felt to me like a very awkward and difficult form of core strengthening and conditioning. With time and patience the stances, footwork, circle walking, and palm changes become far more fluid. Mind and body become more integrated and in sync. At this stage it is more like a vigorous qigong practice and even a moving meditation. Nevertheless, I find the continuous movement and active muscular engagement, particularly in the legs and core, to be considerably more physical than most qigong exercises. 

 

On 5/23/2021 at 4:40 PM, Vajra Fist said:

Have you noticed any changes to your mental or emotional state as a result of circle walking, or are the benefits mostly physical? Some people talk about improved mental acuity or an ability to respond more favourably to adversity.  

 

The benefits run the gamut of physical, emotional, energetic, and mental. 

The first benefits I noticed were clearly physical - improved aerobic conditioning, core strength, flexibility, stamina, and balance. 

Next I began to feel the martial benefits, in particular learning to generate power from the waist, stance, and stepping. 

Over time I noticed definite improvement in focus and mental clarity and a freedom and creativity of movement that are invigorating.

The physical benefits like strength, balance, and flexibility eventually begin to pervade the energetic and mental realms which contribute to the improved response to adversity. 

 

One caveat is that I never practiced bagua exclusively, it was always a part of a larger training program which included taijiquan, xingyiquan, qigong, and meditation. That said, I could clearly see how specific elements of the bagua methods expressed themselves over time. While baguazhang is a complete martial art in and of itself, combing bagua training with taiji and xingyi is very complimentary and the whole seems greater than the sum of its parts to me. 

 

I'll echo Gerard's comments about foundational training. I spent many hours practicing standing meditation in unique baguazhang postures and practicing footwork drills before I was taught to walk the circle. The stepping and posture must be precise and comfortable or it is likely you'll injure yourself walking the circle. Once you do start walking the circle, start small. It took me months to get to the point where I could walk for an hour continuously. There is no benefit in rushing, only increased likelihood of injury. Like in meditation, a few minutes of clear and precise practice is far better than an hour of distraction and frustration. If you do choose to practice baguazhang, I'd highly recommend trying to find some personal instruction. Very important for someone to observe and correct your form from time to time. 

 

Good luck to you!

 

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On 30/05/2021 at 2:20 AM, steve said:

Very important for someone to observe and correct your form from time to time. 

 

 

He'll be like a hawk! That's how my teacher, Geoff Sweeting, taught me and that's how he learnt from his uncle and also his Beijing-based Bagua & Xingyi teacher, Wang Tong, taught him.

 

I remember early in my training years one fellow arriving in one f our park lessons enquiring about our Bagua lessons. My teacher asked him to perform circle walking. He only walked the circle a couple of rounds and I remember him saying:

 

What are you doing exactly?

 

Thats how bad his form was. i was only a beginner back then but I knew his form was terrible, completely disconnected, no 'spirit' in the way he was moving, uncoordinated, lacking in root. 

 

Interestingly he left upset, offended abs he thought my teacher was rude.

 

The thing is he learnt circle walking from a really bad clueless teacher...or maybe he learned it online, from watching YT videos. We'll never know. 

 

We never saw him again, also unfortunately as he could have learnt a life changing internal art. 

 

 

 

 

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Baguazhang is very interesting. It really takes this liminal space between ritual, meditation, and martial arts and expands it. I feel it's probably the second highest peak of the Chinese internal martial arts after Liuhebafa. I'm a Jiang Rong Qiao line practitioner and I've received a few transmissions now largely from Jiang and other Cheng related branches but I'm told some of our neigong comes from Fu Zhensong as well. Every group seems to have a slightly different focus. The more fighty focused guys usually had a focus on natural heel to toe stepping. The more energetic focused cultivation guys loved long low mud wading steps with very exacting requirements for not peeling the foot. The more body structure oriented steppers seemed to want to "check" every part of the step as you go. Anyway, get an in-person instructor with good achievement - it helps to be in someone's field to get these things right.

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10 hours ago, GreytoWhite said:

I feel it's probably the second highest peak of the Chinese internal martial arts after Liuhebafa

 

Technically, they are sister styles as historically there was a lot of overlap in the training methods. 

 

10 hours ago, GreytoWhite said:

Anyway, get an in-person instructor with good achievement - it helps to be in someone's field to get these things righ

 

Yes--self-learning is the worst thing one can do when learning circle walking. Taking bits and pieces here and there don't develop the skill one desires--it's the supplementary practices in addition to circle walking that impart its benefits, much like balancing and strengthening is necessary for athletes before they begin training in the sport they wish to excel in, as done in the Olympics. 

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17 hours ago, Earl Grey said:

 

Technically, they are sister styles as historically there was a lot of overlap in the training methods. 

 

Everest and K2 are both in the Himalayas - one is still taller than the other. What I do is heavily influenced by Liuhebafa but does not pretend to equality even if we can see from our peak to theirs. Jiang Rong Qiao thought for a very long time it was the same as Taiji until the latter part of his life. Prior to that he had helped develop Taiji Duan and Chang Quan sets with his martial brother Yao Fuchun. It's said that his Baguazhang may originally have been developed for a Xingyi man to transition into Taijiquan. Later, he changed it to include content from Liuhebafa. 

 

My Yiquan lineage is also influenced by Liuhebafa and I can see the crossovers between the Zhan Zhuang of Xingyiquan and the influence from Liuhebafa's Weituo Gong in the Han Xing Qiao Yiquan I practice.  There is good reason so many people sought out Wu Yihui and so many of Wang Xiangzhai's students cross trained. I don't pretend to know it yet but can tell there is something there I do not yet have from training Taijiquan, Hebei Xingyiquan, or the Jiang Baguazhang I have practiced.

 

 

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Posted (edited)
5 hours ago, GreytoWhite said:

Everest and K2 are both in the Himalayas - one is still taller than the other. What I do is heavily influenced by Liuhebafa but does not pretend to equality even if we can see from our peak to theirs.


The analogy falls a bit flat given my teachers mastered and¬†taught me both styles. ūü§£

 

Pun very much intended.

 

5 hours ago, GreytoWhite said:

There is good reason so many people sought out Wu Yihui and so many of Wang Xiangzhai's students cross trained

 

Yup, these same guys trained my teachers! ūüėÉ That‚Äôs why I can fajin now¬†either standing or walking, among other things.

Edited by Earl Grey

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Yup - me too just a different branch. Did you guys start Bagua? I have a number of transmissions for it now. Last I saw the David Chan guys did Yiquan, Liuhebafa, and some Yang Taiji Sword. I feel like Baguazhang is basically mobile Yiquan as taught by our Jiang Rong Qiao. Really takes the 12 Animals of Xingyiquan and moves it through different angles. Granted, I have a slightly different lineage so we do things a bit differently. Fajin whilst walking - super basic work for a Bagua person - you should be able to do this when you have a good grasp of Single Palm Change.

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Posted (edited)
3 hours ago, GreytoWhite said:

Did you guys start Bagua? I have a number of transmissions for it now.


These were taught as basic¬†first year practice in Xin Yi under Chan/Rodriguez, and fundamentals under Dolic first year too.ūüėÉ

 

3 hours ago, GreytoWhite said:

Baguazhang is basically mobile Yiquan


Yup!

 

3 hours ago, GreytoWhite said:

Fajin whilst walking - super basic work for a Bagua person - you should be able to do this when you have a good grasp of Single Palm Change


Somehow, I don’t think we’re thinking of the same thing when talking about fajin because it doesn’t come in our practice without fascia and core activation, which doesn’t come from single palm change alone. You can push using the same form for example, but you won’t have the power behind it without the development from supplemental practices, which take 3-5 years. We’ve taught one person to do the fajin push without the fundamentals though, and he ended up first being able to make people fly, however, it led to serious health problems and he was forced to stop by his doctor since it somehow caused him a lot of pain and chronic fatigue and weakness among other things.

Edited by Earl Grey

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We obviously don't have the same practices. I can make someone fly with a simple Wood fist. Single Palm Change typically has a number of supplemental exercises I learned before getting it sure. 3-5 years is excessive - I feel one needs 1-3 years with a good teacher. I feel the Wuxing and Single Palm Change takes about that long and how we teach it, including the Neigong - one should be able to fajin at will using all 5 Elements on the circle and then the 8 Mother Palms.

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Posted (edited)
On 6/13/2021 at 10:19 AM, GreytoWhite said:

We obviously don't have the same practices.


I concur.ūü§£¬†

 

On 6/13/2021 at 10:19 AM, GreytoWhite said:

3-5 years is excessive - I feel one needs 1-3 years with a good teacher.


We used to do this in 3 years, but we found that the average was closer to 3-5 years because of things like safety and the commitment of the students. ūüėé Example: some students haven‚Äôt gone past the first year of syllabus for three years because they don‚Äôt have the time to practice consistently enough and be ready for the next step. They‚Äôre committed‚ÄĒlife just doesn‚Äôt let them. One student with kids moved fast, one student with kids finds they won‚Äôt let him stand for more than 10‚Äď15 minutes.¬†Yare-yare daze.

 

On 6/13/2021 at 10:19 AM, GreytoWhite said:

I feel the Wuxing and Single Palm Change takes about that long and how we teach it, including the Neigong - one should be able to fajin at will using all 5 Elements on the circle and then the 8 Mother Palms


Cool! ūüėĀ Some of our school can do fajin with their face, as we train to do fajin without being restricted to a form.

Edited by Earl Grey
3 years, not 1-3 years

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