The Thirty-Six Songs discuss and clearly explain how to properly train Shen Fa, footwork (Bu Fa), movement and rotation, the pathways of Qi and walking the circle, the pathways of Jin and the connection with techniques. This can guide students and give them greater access to the mysteries of Ba Gua Zhang.
Guo Gu Min’s disciples say that the “The Forty- Eight Methods” detail the secrets of the hand methods so that future generations can fully understand the keys to application. If students and teachers can learn from each other by exchanging the viewpoints and ponder over the techniques, their abilities will reach a higher level. The Forty-Eight Methods must not be neglected by martial arts students. The principles and mechanisms of the palm can be mastered through comprehensive study. The Forty-Eight Methods are rare and profound keys to thoroughly understand this art.”
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13. Application Method (Yong Fa 用法)
Strike the tall low, strike the short high,
Strike the fat obliquely, no need to waiver
In encountering the thin and tall, rely on pulling and leading,
When encountering the old and weak just look him up and down.
In the attacking and defending techniques of the Ba Gua palm, when meeting an opponent with a different height, it is necessary to overcome the weak points of the enemy using my strong points. In meeting a tall person, attack his lower part; in meeting a short person, attack his upper part, so the opponent is unable to use his strength. In meeting a thin person use the pulling and seizing methods to draw him off balance. In meeting a fat person, attack him obliquely and dodge away from his center [gate], to attack him. In meeting an old person without any skill you do not need to be serious with him, just frighten him by staring at him.
Use a lower posture when encountering a tall opponent. Control him by lowering the body, so that he cannot use his height. When encountering someone shorter, I can strike his head from my superior height, then he is unable to use this lower position. In encountering a corpulent person, just attack him obliquely as it is difficult for him to move due to his stouter body – this conserves strength. For a thin and tall person, just use the guiding and leading method, so that his techniques are ineffective. When encountering an older, weaker person with high age, even if he attacks, an unequal contest brings no honor. Just observe him carefully and do not worry.
14. Sealing Closing Method (Feng Bi Fa 封闭法)
The hands attend to the three gates, the legs bend and extend,
Three passes of the hand connect directly to circular steps.
Shoulder, elbow, wrist, kua and knee can all be used,
Shrink the neck, empty the chest, the steps lead the body.
In attacking and defending methods, the three passes of the arm refer to the shoulder, elbow and wrist. The three passes of the leg refer to the Kua, knee and foot, which create changes by extension, flexion and walking. This is the sealing and closing method of the body as a whole. The close cooperation and use of the shoulder, elbow, wrist, kua, knee and foot also depend upon the cooperation of the body method. Attack the enemy by moving the body with the steps.
The three passes of the hand are the shoulder, elbow and wrist, and the three passes of the leg are the Kua, knee and foot. When exchanging blows avoid the three passes of the shoulder, elbow and wrist, meanwhile changing and transforming by walking and bending and extending the legs. This is the method of attacking and sealing with the whole body. The three passes all depend on the use straight and curved steps. No matter how you use the shoulder, elbow and wrist, they must harmonize with the Kua, knee and foot. In addition you must shrink the neck and empty the chest, using footwork to lead and guide his attack, in order to find a weak point. Furthermore, we use the steps to move the body so that the opponent is unaware of how to seal and close.
15. Fist Intercepting Method (Jie Quan Fa 接拳法)
Five flowers and eight gates, chaotic as tangled strings,
Long and Short strikes all mixed together.
The quicker you are, the slower I am,
Once I attack, both gods and devils will praise me.
There are many different types of Chinese martial arts and each school has its individual advantages. In actual use, strikes with the fists and kicks with the feet can dazzle you. In fighting one should be calm. The faster you are, the slower I am. Do not use techniques or tricks without purpose. It is necessary to see the situation clearly. Once you decide to use a technique it must defeat the enemy. Beat and frighten the opponent with whole body power.
Generally Chinese boxing contains fast and skillful striking and kicking methods that come and go, high and low, right and left, quickly, and freely like a violent storm. At that moment my Heart-Mind must be centered and stable as I gather and restrain my Jingshen and observe the line of attack, escaping and waiting for the right moment (for the attack to exhaust itself), rather than resisting with foolhardy courage. The faster the opponent comes, the slower I go, letting him enter into emptiness so his attack falters. Because I do not react, he does not know where to defend. So, I don’t need to worry about his speed.
16. Picking and Dissolving Method (Zhai Jie Fa 摘解法)
Don’t boast about numerous seizing methods,
When the two hands grab, power is stuck.
Even if he is marvelous at seizing he is afraid of being pushed overhead,
Piercing the nose and poking the eyes is difficult to resist.
This Ba Gua technique is a method for dealing with the Qin Na seizing methods. In combat, the seizing method is not frequently used, because striking is faster and easier than seizing. Once the opponent seizes you, just raise the hand overhead, following his posture. This usually renders the Qin Na technique ineffective. In this situation you must also follow the opponent’s posture and power and attack his nose and eyes with the piercing palm.
Ba Gua Zhang does not talk much about the seizing methods, but someone may use seizing, so it must be examined. Even someone who is proficient at seizing, no matter the form and technique, it requires two hands. If he seizes one hand the other hand can be used. No matter how powerful his seizing method, I just raise my hand high overhead. This is sufficient to dissolve his seizing force making it useless. Also I can disrupt his technique by piercing at his nose and eyes.
17. Single Connecting Double Augmenting Method (Jie Dan Bu Shuang 接单补双法)
Don’t talk about two hands holding a strong weapon,
Its ability is to move back and forth.
Once the right hand is blocked, the left will be useless,
When two hands come together, it is surely ineffective
This method discusses the situation in which the opponent attacks with a weapon. I must stay calm and observe the situation to avoid his strong power. When his right hand goes out, just block his front hand, his rear hand will be useless. When the opponent’s two hands come out together, just dodge them and block, then he cannot do anything.
Sometimes the enemy attacks with a sharp weapon – one [hand] sealing, and one [hand] closing. If he comes, he only uses one of his two hands. By checking his left side, he cannot use his right side; close off his right hand and the left side is useless. Even if the two hands come together with fierce violent force it will also be useless. If the front hand covers, the rear hand must be ready to support. When both hands come out together, and are controlled, the opponent cannot rely on the assistance of the rear hand, so how is it possible to succeed?
18. Point at the Mountain Carve the Millstone Method (Zhi Shan Da Mo Fa 指山打磨法)
When his hand comes, I ignore it,
Turning to the side, to strike back.
When he withdraws, my hand enters,
If he tries to seal [my attack], I use three linked attacks.
When fighting, it is necessary to pay attention to the strategy. Fake to the East while attacking the West. If the opponent’s hand comes, I stay calm and advance obliquely to attack him. If he uses the blocking and sealing method, I can use the three penetrations to attack him continuously. It is often said that even a great hero fears the three penetrations. Three penetrating palms are fast and have numerous changes. This makes it impossible for the enemy to defend.
What does pointing to mountain means? It refers to pointing at the rocky mountain to grind the millstone. Specifically look at the mountain means to feint at one target, while actually striking another. If the opponent comes to strike me with his hand, I turn sideways to dissolve his strike, and strike him back. When he retreats and comes to strike again, I ride his power so he cannot sustain the attack. If the opponent seals and cuts off my hand, I use linked strikes so that he is baffled. Then he is unable to use his hands and feet.
19. Dodge the Body and Dissolve the Shadow Method (Tuo Shen Hua Ying Fa 脱身化影法)
If he does not come, I entice him to come,
When he comes, I dissolve and evade.
No need to use the hands, evade with the body method,
Every step relies on the two kua.
This is an important strategy in Ba Gua Zhang’s attacking and defending skills. When the enemy attacks, I retreat and defend. When the enemy attack fails and he retreats, I must chase him. Once the enemy’s hand comes out I just lead him and dissolve it. Deal with the enemy by body method and footwork and attack him by the movement of the two kua.
When the opponent and I are evenly matched in strength, and the opponent does not attack, I must draw his attack. When the opponent attacks, I will walk away and dissolve his attack. I do not block and seal with my hand, I simply maneuver my body (Shen Fa) to lead him. This method is called dodge with the body and change the shadow; it leads the enemy to go forward, but prevents him from reaching me or retreating. This is one of Ba Gua Zhang’s marvelous methods. Advancing, retreating, dodging and evading, all depend on the walking and footwork (Bu Fa). Remember, advancing and retreating rely on proper arrangement of the kua.
20. Turning the Body Behind the Back Method (Bei Hou Zhuan Shen Fa 背后转身法)
Extend the hand slightly and walk with big steps,
Open with a half-step, get close to the body to seize.
Walk, lower the body and rotate,
If he tries to rotate, I just use eagle seizing.
In Ba Gua Zhang, when extending the hand, one should not extend the hand too far. You must have reserve power. When attacking, one must to take big steps to quickly close with the opponent, and one must turn the body quickly. It is necessary to turn the body fast. Striking the opponent is like kissing (embracing) someone. If I get close to the opponent and he extends his hand to grab me, I take with a big step, squat down and turn to avoid him. If I turn and the enemy also turns, I can control him with the eagle seizing method: (Yellow Eagle Climbs Frame).
When extending the hand, one must store and accumulate power. Therefore one should only extend the hand a little and take small steps, however when attacking the step must be large. When stepping attach and adhere to the opponent’s body, then even half step is enough to enter and stay close to him (Tie – stick to him). At this moment you only need to grab him to prevent him from rotating and expanding (opening). If the opponent also uses the striding step (Kua Bu跨步), I lower the body and rotate to defeat his methods. In other words: if the opponent tries to turn when I start to seize him, I lower the body, rotate and use Eagle Claw power to control him.
21. Knocking, Smashing, Splitting and Bumping Method (Ke Za Pi Zhuang Fa 磕砸劈撞法)
When he knocks and I knock back, I must be first,
He smashes with his right, , I must change the step, and stick with the left hand.
When splitting, pile the elbows and erect transversely,
When bumping comes, I shake circularly with Qian and Kun hands.
When the enemy attacks me with knocking, chopping, smashing, and bumping methods, I must respond very quickly and carefully observe the opponent’s coming hand. Follow his posture inward and knock back. When the opponent smashes inward I just change the step and stick [like glue] my left hand to his hand and attack him with the rear hand. When the opponent chops downward, I must pile the elbow in a standing posture to dissolve it with whole body power and spiral power, to bounce the opponent backward. When the opponent bumps in, I just draw a circle with sinking and floating power to dissolve the opponent’s force and then, having the advantage, I attack him with power.
When the fist of the opponent comes from the outside, I just knock against him. If the opponent knocks toward me, I just knock back, but I must get there first. If opponent uses a smashing strike, I need to change the step, to stick his hand with my left hand, and then use changing Jin to attack. When the opponent chops, I need to pile up the elbows vertically, and use transverse energy to dissolve his attack. If the opponent bumps with either one hand or both hands, I just need to draw circle with both hands, enough to deflect it.
22. Half Circle Hand Method (Ban Quan Shou Fa 半圈手法)
The hand methods of others are mostly in a straight line,
Walk with a half-step and wait leisurely.
Even if he points straight and strikes obliquely,
Again walk with a half-step and [his attack] is irrelevant ,
In ordinary boxing skills, the hand comes and goes out straight. When I attack, I move to the side, avoiding the center in order to strike obliquely. Even if the opponent points straightly and strikes obliquely I can walk aside with another half-step to strike obliquely continuously. This footwork mainly comes from the circle step and is designed to attack the opponent form all sides .
When the opponent attacks me straight on, I do not need to meet it and defend face to face. I just half-step diagonally to the side, so that he misses his attack. Even if the opponent attacks straight and strikes obliquely, I again use a half-step, so that his strike meets emptiness. This method is called the Half-Circle Hand Method, stratagem that ensures success.
23. Full Circle Hand Method (Zheng Quan Shou Fa 整圈法)
When I am in the center surrounded by opponents on all four sides,
Threading through the flowers to strike the willow in east and west.
No matter how the wind and clouds change in the eight directions,
Don’t foolishly remain still, and don’t step without purpose.
When surrounded by enemies don’t be frightened, and don’t remain in a single posture. It is best to use movement to control the opponents. Use the nine palace methods to pierce, thrust and strike; with active and nimble Shen Fa to avoid their attacks and strike back when a weak point appears. Keep walking and rotating to conquer the enemy.
When I am surrounded, I must thread through the flowers to beat the willows, Point east and kill in the west. When opponents come together from all directions, each displays his form. I must come and go piercing and changing without being inflexible and mechanical. I walk front and back, left and right, advancing and retreating without stopping in order to lead [the opponents] into emptiness. Everywhere substantial and insubstantial, according to the opponent. This is the method of controlling the opponent.
Translator’s Note: 穿花Chuan Hua: “piercing the flowers” or “threading through the flowers,” implies the idea of “fluttering among the flowers like a butterfly.”
24. Heart-Eye Method (Xin Yan Fa 心眼法)
The Heart-Mind is like a general, and the eyes are methods,
Observing the situation creates responses which control the opponent.
Avoid at all costs a chaotic Heart-Mind and imprecise eyes.
This leads flustered hands and chaotic footwork.
In fighting against an enemy, hand, eye, body method and step are all important – none can be omitted. But the most important thing is that the intention governs and leads the entire situation. By observing carefully with a calm and peaceful mind, you are able to respond according to the situation. Therefore in fighting, when hand arrives, foot arrives, and waist and leg arrive, and when the intention is real, the spirit is real and the force is real. Then the spirit will not be scattered by the movements of the body. In this way, the hand and the foot will not move chaotically.
If the Heart-Mind is uncertain, the ears and eyes will not be bright and clear. Therefore, the Heart-Mind must be stable and fixed. Just like leading troops, one must observe the enemy’s dispositions carefully the enemy carefully looking for an opportunity to advance and defeat him. If the Heart-Mind is worried and confused, the vision will be dull. If one’s vision is inaccurate and lacks precision, intention and will be in error and the hands and feet will lose cohesion, opportunities will be exhausted, and in the end you will be defeated.