Ba Gua Zhang: Gao Style
Taught here primarily for its combat aspects, advanced training includes
healing and meditation. Class is divided between applications and technique
training, and solo form work, followed by flow drills and free form
The most powerful and sophisticated of the Chinese Internal Systems, Ba Gua
is a beautifully fluid art, flowing through spiral movements and
sophisticated foot work. Evolving from Taoist walking meditations, Ba Gua
has become a premier martial art, while maintaining its Healing system
aspects and especially its Taoist Nei Gung moving and sitting meditations.
Gao style Ba Gua for Combat, is divided into two main training categories;
Pre Heaven (smooth body, swimming body or continuous circular movement body training)
which develops whole body power, and continuous, circular, spiraling
Post Heaven training; a more linear, application oriented formwork which
develops understanding of combat techniques and fighting principles (which
are difficult to discern in the Pre-Heaven movement training).
The curriculum is designed to create maximum understanding and fun in all
areas simultaneously. Synergistically, form work develops muscle memory,
energy flow, and power development, while instilling the basics for
applications. Combat technique training then provides a realistic, safe,
and controlled understanding of usage, which in turn can be applied in
Shou, (Controlled Sparring).
Course Description and Curriculum
Pre Heaven Ba Gua - Xian Tian
Pre Heaven or Swimming Body Ba Gua is a highly aerobic circular twisting
martial art designed to project power from any position, with any part of
the body. Ba Gua is Characterized by its circular, highly fluid, continuous
movement, developed through practice of Palm Changes (short choreographed
sequences), and its unique style of circle walking. This unique training
style develops tremendous power, lightening speed and constant changes of
Xian Tian or Pre-Heaven Ba Gua at its core is simply a movement system;
perhaps the highest form of movement the body is capable of manifesting.
Classical training of Ba Gua was only given to expert martial artists who
then applied their martial skills within the movement system of Ba Gua.
Xian Tian or swimming body Ba Gua is the core method of training for
practitioners and will develop the body method (Style or type of movement)
central to good Ba Gua practice. Each palm change also teaches certain
movement and power principles, applications, throwing and entering
techniques. There are also preliminary training exercises that concentrate
on the core movement principle of each palm change.
Xian Tian means pre-heaven or before heaven and is referring to the energy
inherent before birth. This type of energy can be increased with diligent
practice and correct instruction.
Post Heaven Ba Gua - Hou Tian
Gao Style is unique in its introduction of Hou Tian or Post Heaven training.
This practice teaches the martial principles, combat strategies, and
techniques necessary to understand and use Ba Gua as a Martial Art.
Hou Tian Zhang means post-heaven palms and refers to the 64 straight line
forms, unique to Gao Style Ba Gua. Each form trains a core combat
principle, while the forms in general develop whole-body power, skeletal
structural alignment, and extension, and lengthening of the body.
The 64 forms of Post Heaven Ba Gua teach one combat principle, with each
form, or principle having several applications, or techniques in order to
develop a clear understanding of that principle. Simpler and easier to
understand than pre-heaven or swimming body Ba Gua, each Post Heaven form
teaches a specific aspect, and principle of the swimming body style. The 64
forms are broken down into 8 groups of 8, with each group relating directly
to one Pre Heaven palm change. Each group of 8 forms teaches one concept
or principle of its given palm change. As an example one set teaches
concepts like, how to enter or close with an opponent, another, how to break
an opponents structure, how to lower an opponent, how to lift an opponent,
et. The sets are grouped by similarity such as 8 distinct kicking
techniques, or 8 elbow techniques, et.
Immediately practical for self-defense, the 64 forms of Post heaven Ba Gua
eventually link up into a two man practice set.
These sets facilitate the
through continuous flow, and fluid ease of
Hou Tian means post heaven or after heaven and is referring to the energy
inherent after birth. Hou Tian training develops and strengthens the
energy inherent in the body.
Martial applications and two person drills will be introduced in class
immediately. However formwork and solo disciplines will follow basic
Internal training in order to develop power and fluidity while remaining
relaxed and centered. Personal training is essential in order to develop
the necessary skills for two person training.
The solo drills mentioned above will focus
on developing the following;
Proper body alignment (skeletal structural alignment) to facilitate
stability, power, and rooting, in static or moving postures.
Whole-body movement, structure, and power, in a continuously relaxed state.
Continuous fluidity in movement
Circular, and spiral movement vs. linear geometric movement patterns.
Principles and rules of movement.
Development of mind, body, and chi (energy) integration and connection.
Training of the I or mind, to increase awareness, and concentration while
being present in the moment.
Absorbing and projecting energy.
Opening and closing of the body.
Philosophy and character of Internal Martial Art Systems.
Combat training in fighting applications and techniques with partners will
stress maintaining good structure, distance relationships, understanding and
achieving different angles of attack and defense, breaking an opponent's
structure, and or their mind, timing, tempo, and rhythm uses, setting up an
opponent, and other principles of combat. Two-person drills will also
incorporate push hands, sticky hands, sticky feet, flow drills, and
Full Course Curriculum
Ji Ben Gung; Basic body training methods to develop whole body power. These
basic training and conditioning drills and techniques are a
requirement to successful development of all later martial
Ji Ben Shou Fa; Basic Hand training methods to wed the arms to the body
while developing whole body power. This enables the full power of
the body to be transferred through the arms, while drilling basic
movements found throughout the system.
Tian Gong; Heavenly Stems, 10 pairs of a total of 24 exercises that
strengthen, stretch, open and foster structural development in
movement. Regular training develops tremendous power through
training the waste, back, and legs.
Eight Brocades; A Nei Gung (Chi Gung) Set of 8 energy exercises.
Dan Huan Zhang; Single Palm Change, two to four variations will be learned
prior to instruction in the Xian Tian or swimming body palm
Xian Tian Ba Gua Zhang; Pre Heaven Palm Changes (see below for a more in
Hou Tian Zhang; 64 Post Heaven forms which teach techniques and principles
for combat. This training leads directly to Basic
Fighting Applications, and strategies. (see below for a more).
Combat applications; based on the 64 principles of the Hou Tian (post heaven
Dui Lui; Two person practices
Shi Jan Fa; Combat Strategies
San Shou; two person training which progresses into free sparring (see below
for a more in depth description).
Wu Leng Bai Wei; Black Dragon Waves the Tail Palms
San Shou is the bridgework to actual fighting. Practiced in a controlled,
safe manner San Shou is a freestyle two man flow drill (see below).
Designed to develop awareness of an opponent through continuous arm and or
leg contact while spontaneously defending and assaulting. Continuous contact
is a hallmark of the internal systems as it allows awareness of an opponents
movements and control of their structure. San Shou teaches how to actually
apply an application in a true to life situation. Similar to Push Hands in
the abilities it develops (please see Push Hands for more), San Shou teaches
to yield, project, neutralize, and manipulate energy, But it does so while
striking in a controlled fashion rather than pushing, as in Tai Chi. Push
Hands develops the ability to discharge energy by gently pushing its
opponent, as compared with Rou Shou which develops similar abilities but
discharges the energy in controlled strikes. Rou Shou is initially more
Flow Drills practiced with Ba Gua are 2 man training exercises practiced at
1/2 or 3/4 speed. This type of exercise is done to develop and maintain
continuous movement during attack and defense. This trains the body and
especially the mind in fluid unbroken movement while practicing free form
techniques. This type of training also instills an understanding of the
strengths and weaknesses in any given situation relative to one or more
Ba Gua's esoteric side
The most powerful and sophisticated of the Chinese Internal Systems, Ba Gua
Zhang is a rare jewel of Martial Art, Meditation, and Healing. Designed to
fight 8 people simultaneously, Ba Gua is a highly aerobic circular twisting
martial art which develops and delivers power while moving. In China Ba Gua
is considered the most beautiful and effective of the martial arts.
Practiced by walking in a circle Ba Gua is characterized by its unique
walking style which teaches the student to move with lightening speed, and
constant changes of direction.
Ba Gua at its core is a premier movement system using totally circular, and
spiral body movement patterns. Characterized by continuous dynamic fluidity
and sophisticated leg and footwork stepping, practiced by walking in a
circle. Ba Gua at its highest level is not bound by theory or principles.
Rather it seeks to simply be present in the moment, acting and reacting to
the events occurring in that moment. Being present in the moment allows a
Ba Gua practitioner to fully manifest and express the principles, physics,
and fluidity of continuous change necessary in any combat situation.
Ba Gua Zhang as a learning tool can teach us to comprehend the principles
and fluid nature of change inherent in the mind and in combat. In a broader
scope this type of visceral understanding and fluid plasticity can be
generalized to all aspects of our lives.
Ba Gua is perhaps the most rigorous, challenging and beautiful of the
Chinese energy-based movement arts. Based upon the I Ching (Book of
Changes), Ba Gua is a genuinely spiritual Martial Art which is immediately
practical for self-defense meditation, and healing. Ba Gua's esoteric side
is based on Taoist Meditation and a practical realization of the subtle
workings of the I Ching in an individual's body, mind, and spirit. Ba Gua
is characterized by its 8 palm changes (short choreographed sequences),
each of which manifests one of the 8 primary energies of the universe. Each
of the eight palm changes corresponds to one of the Tri Grams (Gua's) of
the I Ching. Each palm change in turn has eight variations, resulting in
the 64 Gua's or Hexagrams of the Book of Changes (I Ching).
Ba Gua manifests the 8 energies of the universe within the body to build
tremendous health, and martial ability, while setting the foundation for
Immediately practical for self-defense, meditation, and healing
Ba Gua can be practiced as a genuinely spiritual art.
Classes in Santa Rosa, Sonoma County, North Bay
Classes in: Internal Martial Arts, Tai Chi Chuan, Ba Gua Zhang, Hsing I Chuan, Pentjak Silat Sera Serak, Chi Gung, Nei Gung, I Liq Chuan, Meditation, Gao Style Ba Gua Zhang, Wu Style Tai Chi and Chen Pan Ling Style Tai Chi.
©Copyright Richard Upton 2007-2011
All rights reserved