Ding Shi or “fixed posture” Ba Gua Zhang is one of the most important aspects of Ba Gua Zhang training. Some say Ding Shi is the starting and ending point of Ba Gua practice. Ding shi is the natural compliment to zhan zhuang (stake standing). While zhan zhuang emphasizes internal movement within external stillness, in ding shi, one attends to the internal stillness within the external movement.
When training Ding Shi Ba Gua Zhang,learn the Ding Shi Poems. These Eight Poems, (also called Eight Songs or Rhymes). contain practical advice on the correct performance of Ding Shi.
The practice of ding shi includes the “mud wading step” (tang ni bu), which develops a moving root, a “rootedness within motion.” Ding shi is the fundamental nei gong exercise of Ba Gua, linking breathing, posture, stepping, intention, movement and strength. While turning and walking the external musculature (muscles, tendons and ligaments) is trained to take advantage of its inherent spiral nature so that the body becomes strong and connected. At the same time, the body is taught to gather and issue power by turning constantly and smoothly like a wheel.
The ding shi postures are the basis of all other changes in Ba Gua Zhang. They are less ‘postures’ than moments of potential change that can be linked and combined in endless combinations and transformations.
In The Essentials Of Ba Gua Zhang, by Gao Ji Wu and Tom Bisio, the poems/songs/rhymes associated with each ding shi posture were presented with pictures of Gao Ji Wu performing the postures. The songs/rhymes are less abstract than most people think upon first reading. The Eight Ding Shi Poems offer practical advice about correct performance of the ding shi postures, and traditionally were memorized by the practitioner.
Here, another version of the ding shi poems/songs/rhymes is presented:
Gao Ji Wu, Zhang Hua Sen & Wang Shi Tong
Eight Ding Shi Poems
1. Song of the Downward Sinking Palm
Xia Chen Zhang Ge Jue
Empty the chest and pull up the upper back and sink the lower back,
Twist the hip, close the knees and grasp the ground tightly.
Slacken (loosen) the shoulder and stretch the elbow for downward-sinking palm,
Inhale in lifting, exhale in extending like chicken form.
Kong Xiang Ba Bei Xia Ta Yao,
Niu Kua He Xi Zhua Di Lao.
Song Jian Cheng Zhou Xia Chen Zhang,
Ti Xi Shen Hu Si Ji Xing.
2. Song of the Moon Embracing Palm
Bao Yue Zhang Ge Jue
Embrace the moon in two hands like holding a baby,
Hold in the chest and erect the upper back like tightening a rope.
Slacken (loosen) the shoulder and drop the elbow for a flexible wrist,
In a form like ape-monkey picking the fruit.
Shuang Shou Bao Yue Ru Peng Ying,
Han Xiong Ba Bei Si Kun Sheng.
Song Jian Zhui Zhou Ti Liu Wan,
Hao Si Yuan Hou Zhai Guo Xing
3. Song of the Lion Rolling Ball Palm
Shi Zi Gun Qiu Zhang Ge Jue
Lion grasps and rolls the ball and twist the waist,
Two palms combine to stretch forward, (extend) body.
Revolve leftward rotate rightward to change back and forth,
Gather prestige, erect (firm) the neck and look at the palm heart.
Shi Zi Gun Ziu Ba Yao Ning,
Shuang Zhang He Dui Tan Shen Xing.
Zuo Xuan You Zhuan Lai Hui Huan,
Shou Yan Ting Jing Kan Zhang Xin
4. Song of the Heaven Holding Palm
Walk forward by upholding heaven in two hands,
Slacken (loosen) the shoulder and drop the elbow, the arm like a bow.
Five fingers separate penetrate forcefully,
Hu Kou round and palm heart (center) empty.
Shuang Shou Tuo Tian Wang Qian Xing
Song Jian Zhui Zhou Gong Ru Gong.
Wu Zhi Ge Fen Xu Guan Li.
Hu Kou Yuan Kai Zhang Xin Kong.
5. Song Of The Double Flat Pushing Palm
Zhang Ge Jue
Two hands push flat push protecting (guarding) front of chest,
Tighten the back, elbow strives (stretches) to go toward the front.
Lift knee, stretch leg to walk in the form of a crane,
Slacken (loosen) and button the shoulder with palm heart empty.
Shuang Shou Ping Tui Dang Qian Xiong,
Jin Bei Zheng Zhou Wang Qian Xing.
Ti Xi Shen Tui Zou He Xing,
Song Jian Kou Zhi Zhang Xin Kong.
6. Song of the Heaven Pointing and Ground Drawing Palm
Zhi Tian Hua Di Zhang Ge Jue
Point to the heaven and draw on the ground strive (stretch) upward and downward,
Go forward with one yin and one yang.
Slacken (loosen) the lower back and sit on the hip (kua) to lift knee and leg.
Inside straight outside hook, rub (sweep) the ground to go forward.
Zhi Tian Hua Di Shang Xia Zheng,
Yi Yin Yi Yang Wang Qian Xing.
Song Yao Zuo Kua Ti Xi Tui,
Li Zhi Wai Kou Ca Di Xing.
7. Song of the Yin Yang Fish Palm
Yin Yang Yue Zhang Ge Jue
One front one back yin yang palms,
Front sink back tread strength will strive (extend).
Taut back empty chest qi sink down,
Stride step, empty solid should be distinct.
Yi QianYi Hou Yin Yang Zhang,
Qian Ta Hou Deng Li Yao Zheng.
Jin Bei Kong Xiong Qi Jia Chen,
Mai Bu Xu ShiYao Fen Meng.
8. Song of the Millstone Pushing Palm
Tui Mo Zhang Ge Jue
Pile the back elbow first and protect the heart with the elbow,
The hand in turning over and sinking extends ahead (forward).
Following the front elbow for an embracing combining force,
With both the front hand and back hand in united spirit.
Hou Zhou Xian Die Zhou Yan Xin,
Shou Zhai Fan Ta Wang Qian Shen.
Gen Dao Qian Zhou He Bao Li,
Qian Hou Liang Shou Yi Tuan Shen.