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.”
For Methods 1-12: CLICK HERE
For Methods 13-24: CLICK HERE
For Methods 25-36: CLICK HERE
37. Palm Method (Zhang Fa 掌法)
The palm method can be divided into upper middle and lower,
The upper and lower positions are just different palm frames.
Only the middle position guarantees smooth circling and rotation,
Upper and lower are just transformations from this.
In Ba Gua Zhang there are upper, middle and lower palms. This means the position of the palm is high or low. The position, whether high or low, depends on the individual person. Generally, the middle position is often used, because the lower position requires more skill. In combat the middle position is the most suitable because in the middle position there is more freedom and opportunity to turn and make changes, especially when fighting with taller or shorter people.
Ba Gua Zhang uses three roads, the upper, middle and lower roads. However the upper and lower roads are subordinate to the palm methods. Among the three roads of the palm, only the middle plate can move smoothly and freely. The middle “plate” (middle position or road) can easily go upward, downward and circle and rotate as you wish. It is possible to go upward if something comes high and go downward if it comes low. Many changes and transformations emanate from the middle plate.
38. Avoid Bending Down Method (Ji Fu Fa 忌俯法)
Lowering the head is like closing the eyes,
Furthermore, the body can easily fall forward.
When lowering the head and hunching the Yao, the middle axis is dead,
Then all of one’s foot and palm methods cannot be used.
When fighting, one must not lower the head and bend the body. If you lower the body it is difficult to observe the movements of the opponent. If you bend forward, it is easy to fall forward. There is a saying in martial arts: “It is not skillful if the head is lowered and the body bent.” Moreover, lowering the head and bending the body does not look good, and does not emit spirit.
Even if palm methods, footwork methods, and body methods are all prepared, if the vision and eyesight is insufficient you will be unable to manifest the marvelous applications of boxing techniques. If you stoop or lower your head you can’t properly see how to deal with the situation. Moreover, if the head is forward and the body is stooped, it is easy to fall down. If the body is stooped and the head is forward the body is not flexible and agile. Then even if you have many master strokes and effective techniques, you will not be able to use them.
39. Avoid Backward Leaning Method (Ji Yang Fa 忌仰法)
Uplift the back and empty the chest, to seek stillness at the center,
Throwing out the chest exposes the abdomen and brings regret.
Drawing in the abdomen and withdrawing the waist, will be too late,
There is great fear in not being able to rotate freely.
In Ba Gua Zhang training and in combat, avoid leaning forward and bending backward. You must empty the chest, uplift the back, sink Qi to Dan Tian and relax the body naturally. These are the requirements for Nei Jia Quan. If the chest and the belly are thrown out, Qi will rise upward, leading to instability in the body. This is detrimental both to health preservation and fighting.
The principle of Ba Gua Zhang is an art of seeking the movement from stillness and tranquility. Tightening the back and emptying chest is used to seek stillness. Then, one can observe how the strength comes and goes. On the contrary, if you stick out the chest, the body leans back, and then recovery [of correct posture] is not easy, and if you contract the abdomen extending and stretching the Yao is difficult. Although there are benefits to drawing in the Yao, it pulls you into backward leaning, making it difficult to be difficult to turn and rotate freely.
40. Upright Body Method (Zhen Shen Fa 正身法)
Whole body power lies in the central axis,
If the body is inclined, power will not be complete
Even though the steps are curved, the body must be straight,
Shoot the hands out like arrows without stopping .
No matter what kind of martial arts you do, the waist is the most important position. Therefore the waist is called the governor. In fighting, power comes up from the foot and goes to the waist. Only by releasing of the power in the waist and the hip, can power be transmitted to the tip sections. Therefore you must maintain an upright and comfortable back and waist. In this way, the hand can shoot out like an arrow.
Ba Gua Zhang stresses firmness and suppleness without awkward force, and it requires the accumulation of power and strength at the central pivot without slanting or leaning. If you don’t move from the center it is difficult to avoid falling and if the body tends to incline or lean then power will not reach everywhere [there will not be whole body power]. Then how can there be power to control the opponent? The key in Ba Gua Zhang is to be upright and centered without leaning. Even when the footwork rotates and changes the body must be upright and level. Then the attacks will be continuously linked like fast arrows. This is difficult to the opponent to deal with.
41. Body Assisting Method (Fu Shen Fa 辅身法)
The body is like the sovereign, the legs and Yao are like his ministers,
An upright sovereign with strong ministers can control the people.
Advance, retreat, dodging and evasion all depend upon body method,
Without the Yao and legs, spirit is not fostered.
The body and Yao are at the center and coordinate the actions of the rest of the body. If body and Yao are aligned and move correctly, the body can turn and move freely in combat. All the movements in boxing (for example: advance, retreat and evasion) rely on the proper coordination of the body and Yao. If the movements of the body and Yao are coordinated with the legs and arms, there will be whole-body power, the spirit will be clear, and the techniques precise.
The body is like a country, if upper and lower, ruler and subject complement and assist each other carefully, and precisely then the country [and body] will be strong and successful. Within the palm technique there are hand and foot, advancing and retreating, dodging and evading methods – all derive from the body. If the lord and ministers can be of one mind, integrated and mutually assisting one another, then there will be power and everything can be expedited and efficient. The body cannot be separated from the four limbs. Even if the hands and feet are sensitive and lively, and linked to the body methods, they must be assisted by the Yao and legs methods. Otherwise they will be ineffective effective, and the ability to issue force (Fa Li) will be insufficient.
42. Twisting Body Method (Niu Shen Fa 扭身法)
If the opponent comes close to control me,
Then I cannot prevail using my hands and feet.
Absorb and gather left and right using the twisting method,
Turn danger into safety and capture the opponent.
In fighting, if I cannot use my hand and foot, because the opponent is close to me (adheres to me), it is advisable to adopt the chest withdrawing and waist turning method. Only in this way can the danger be avoided, and the unfavorable situation be reversed. In Ba Gua Zhang one is advised to “twist the hip and close the knee,” and to “bend the knees, follow the hips, turn the waist to its utmost, watch the three directions ,and not tilt the body.”
If the opponent and I are far from each other, I must lure the enemy into an ambush. If the opponent is already close to the body, I cannot rely in the hands and feet to defend. Instead turn and twist the body leftward and rightward, making it difficult for the opponent to strike. Then I can fend of disaster, seize the opportunity and gain the advantage.
43. Stepping Body Turning Method (Kua Bu Ce Shen Fa 跨步侧身法)
Continuous direct piercing attacks are difficult to stop,
Taking the initiative to strike first, shows his capability.
Retreating continuously as the hands meet,
Is not as good as stepping to the side and turning the body.
This method advises that when the opponent attacks continuously (back and forth) like a shuttle, do not worry and do not keep retreating. Find a chance to attack by stepping aside. This means to avoid the opponent’s line of power so that his attack falls into emptiness, allowing you to strike him from the oblique position, just like Lion Rolling the Ball in the 64 forms.
If the opponent and I are evenly matched in strength, both of us contend to strike first. When two opponents meet, the key is to strike first. When the opponent penetrates straight in, striking first to gain the initiative, I must retreat and dodge. If the opponent keeps attacking and I retreat again and again, what can I do? I must use a striding step (Kua Bu) to the side, making it difficult for him to enter. Then I gain the opportunity to enter and attack chance to attack. This is the way to win.
44. Left-Right Swinging Body Method (Zuo You Shuai Shen Fa 左右甩身法)
After dodging and evading East, another comes from the West,
Shake the body to change the shape break loose.
Repeat continuously from side to side like linked rings,
Pushing forward and pulling backward are coordinated by the Yao.
In fighting, when the opponent attacks me from the left and then the right direction, I cannot just dodge leftward or rightward. I must use the body swinging method. I must fake to the East and strike the West, turning the body and stepping aside to use whole-body power after pushing forward. One must use the waist as the governor and pierce the palm toward the opponent, left and right. Attack him by continuous change.
When the opponent comes, I walk away. If the opponent comes again, if I still walk away, dodging East and evading West, how can I cope with the situation? I cannot persist in the same tactics. I must change the tactics by turning the body and escaping. If he comes in again, I can use linked hand attacks. However, when using the forward pushing hand and backward stroking-pulling hand the power is different. This can only be effective by skillfully orienting the Yao.
45. Squatting Step Body Sinking Method (Dun Bu Chen Shen Fa蹲步沉身法)
A tall opponent will use the three upper routes,
Raising the arms to seal his power is difficult.
Squat down and lower the body, inducing him to come down,
Once he enters my space, many methods can be used.
In fighting with a tall person, if you contend with him along the upper three roads, you will lose. It is better to deal with the opponent by squatting and sinking the body. The opponent must give up the upper position and come to the lower position. His favorite situation now is changed to an unfavorable situation. Once the opponent gives up the high position and comes to the lower position, he can be trapped by my techniques.
When encountering a big powerful opponent, his attack usually comes from the top three roads. It will be difficult for me to seal and block and dodge his attacks, if I meet him face to face. I must lower the body, forcing him to meet me in the lower position and inducing him to attack in a lower posture. This is difficult for him and leaves him open to my techniques and strikes. Hence the statement: Once he enters my space, many methods can be used.
46. Avoiding Capture Method (Ji Na Fa 忌拿法)
Ba Gua technique do not stress seizing,
If I seize an opponent I am also at a disadvantage.
If there are many opponents, it is not appropriate,
Entering directly can be praised.
In fighting with an opponent, we do not use the seizing method to control people, because seizing is not as fast as striking. Moreover, if you want to seize a person, you can only seize one and your own hand is also stuck. Therefore it is said, “my skill is poor if I seize a person.” If a group of enemies surround me, it is not easy to use the seizing method. The enemy can only be conquered by simple and practical techniques.
In extending the hand and using the tactics in Ba Gua Zhang, it is necessary to be clear about yin and yang and to differentiate firmness and suppleness. Originally, the seizing method is not stressed. If I want to control the opponent with the seizing method, I can only seize one opponent, therefore I cannot defend against a group of opponents. If I am dealing with a group of enemies, it’s better enter with straightforward techniques.
47. Avoiding Standing Still Method (Ji Zhan Fa 忌站法)
When the Original One Qi fills the body, walking knows no boundaries,
The truth of the Ba Gua resides in our school.
Every technique depends upon changes in the steps,
Standing still is like a fallen blossom on the ground.
Ba Gua Zhang is characterized by changes of the palm methods and circle walking. Therefore walking the circle is the basic skill in Ba Gua Zhang and also where its essence lies. In training or in fighting you are required to walk, and change continuously with the feet and to avoid standing still. Continuously walking the circle can effectively strengthen the body and prolong life.
When Ba Gua Zhang is practiced for a long time, Qi enters the Dan Tian, reaches the four tips, and links with the internal and external respiration, to return to one formless Qi. In Ba Gua Zhang, freely walking and turning on a circle is true principle of change and returning to the origin. The techniques and tactics in Ba Gua Zhang cannot me be separated from the changes and transformations of the hands and feet, in which there circles without end. If one stands motionless, it is easy for the opponent gain the advantage, like trampling on flowers that have fallen to the ground.
48. The Supreme Method (Tai Shang Fa 太上法)
Power must be full and lively, and techniques must be accurate,
Even if technique is missed, there is no confusion of three.
There are infinite techniques within techniques,
Jing Shen and method must be perfect.
This method requires that one train the techniques perfectly. In order to reach this level, the force must be complete and full, the energy must be active and the techniques must be accurate. In fighting, not every technique can be effective. If a technique misses, remain calm in intention, and in hand, and foot. Ba Gua fighting skills contain techniques within techniques, hands within hands, and an infinity of changes in the palm methods. One must to fully train the spirit, fully train the power, and train the palm methods and striking methods perfectly.
This method is the highest method. The techniques and tactics of Ba Gua Zhang are marvelous and infinite without end. The Gong Fu is real and substantial, accumulating and releasing without stagnation or weakness. When performing techniques they are subtle and precise. Even when one misses the target he is unaffected by the three confusions (the Yao, legs and hands do not deviate from the patterns and principles). Without confusion the changes are without end, Jing Shen is integrated and the skills will be marvelous and subtle. Then the techniques and skills are pure and one can manifest unfathomable changes and transformations without limit or boundary. The previous Thirty-Six Songs are the rules for training in Ba Gua Zhang, while the Forty-Eight Methods are methods of application. Theory and practice must be carefully read and researched so that they enter deeply into the body. Then it is like having a master at your side instructing you.
In Praise of the Rhymed Songs (Ge Jue Zan 歌诀赞)
The meanings of the Forty-Eight Methods are clear cut and precise.
With training and study they are not mysterious.
To reach a high level of achievement,
Their profound meaning researched deeply by several people for three years.
The Forty Eight Methods are extremely difficult to strive for,
It is not always possible to see and create technique after technique
Ten years study and investigation to reach pure achievement,
A person can rely on this skill to travel the five continents.