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Ding Shi Ba Gua Zhang: Eight Poems

Ding shi or “fixed posture” Ba Gua Zhang is one of the most important aspects of Ba Gua Zhang training. Some say it 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.

The practice of ding shi includes the “mud wading step.” (tang ni bu) which develops a moving root, “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 the other changes in Ba Gua. 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 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. They are practical advice about correct performance of the ding shi, and were traditionally memorized. Here another version of the ding shi songs/rhymes is presented.

Gao Ji Wu, Zhang Hua Sen & Wang Shi Tong

一、下沉掌歌诀

1. Song of the Downward Sinking Palm

Xia Chen Zhang Ge Jue

空胸拔背下塌腰,扭胯合膝抓地牢。

松肩撑肘下沉掌,提吸伸呼似鸡形。

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.

二、抱月掌歌诀

2.  Song of the Moon Embracing Palm

Bao Yue  Zhang Ge Jue

双手抱月如捧婴,含胸拔背似捆绳。

松肩坠肘提留腕,好似猿猴摘果形。

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

三、狮子滚球掌歌诀:

3.  Song of the Lion Rolling Ball Palm

Shi Zi Gun Qiu Zhang Ge Jue

狮子滚球把腰拧,双掌合对探身行。

左旋右转来回换,收颜挺颈看掌心。

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

四、托天掌歌诀:

4. Song of the Heaven Holding Palm

双手托天往前行,松肩坠肘肱如弓。

五指各分须贯力,虎口圆开掌心空。

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.

五、双手平推掌歌诀:

5.  Song Of  The Double Flat Pushing Palm

Zhang Ge Jue

双手平推挡前胸,紧背挣肘往前拥。 提膝伸腿走鹤形,松肩扣制掌心空。

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. 

六、指天划地掌歌诀:

6. Song of the Heaven Pointing and Ground Drawing Palm

Zhi Tian Hua Di Zhang Ge Jue

指天划地上下挣,一阴一阳往前行。

松腰坐胯提膝腿,里直外扣擦地行。

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.

七、阴阳鱼掌歌诀:

7.  Song of the Yin Yang Fish Palm

Yin Yang Yue Zhang Ge Jue

一前一后阴阳掌,前塌后蹬力要挣

紧背空胸气下沉,迈步虚实要分明。

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.

八、推磨掌歌诀:

8.  Song of the Millstone Pushing Palm

Tui Mo Zhang Ge Jue

后肘先叠肘掩心,手在翻塌往前伸。

跟到前肘合抱力,前后两手一团神。

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.

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