Circle Walking holding fixed postures (Ding Shi Ba Gua Zhang) is the key to mastering Ba Gua Zhang. Ding Shi Ba Gua Zhang (also known as Circle Walking Nei Gong) is both a basic foundational practice and the most advanced level of practice. Using the metaphor of walking the circle – it is only in constantly returning to the beginning, each time with a refreshed and more vibrant view, that mastery occurs. Chinese teachers often say that without daily practice of Ding Shi Ba Gua Zhang over years and decades of development, one cannot truly master the art of Ba Gua Zhang.
Many students who have experienced difficulty correctly performing and applying advanced Ba Gua forms and weapons have found that the answer to problem lies in Ding Shi. The most advanced form in the Liang Style – Ba Mien Zhang (Eight Facings Palm) – is in some ways a master class in Ding Shi Ba Gua Zhang; practicing Ba Mien Zhang quickly makes one aware of one’s weaknesses in basic Circle Walking and in the Eight Fixed Postures (Ding Shi).
Ding Shi (定 式), or Fixed Pattern, is the key foundational practice in Ba Gua Zhang. Ding means “fixed” or “definite,” and at the same time it conveys a sense of calm stability. Shi means posture or pattern. Thinking of the Eight Ding Shi as patterns of interconnected and interacting body alignments is more useful than thinking of them as external postures. Understanding the Ding Shi as “body patterns” will aid you in performing Ding Shi Ba Gua correctly and help you to understand its role as the primary Ba Gua Nei Gong exercise. The “Pattern,” in the context of Ba Gua and Nei Gong, includes an interweaving of the body alignments, the intention, Qi, and the Jin 劲 (vigor, power, strength).
Holding fixed postures while walking in a circle builds strength and develops unified whole-body power. Before changing from one posture or pattern to another, one must first learn to relax the body so that it is comfortable in the fixed pattern. Once you can hold the pattern and walk for period of time without discomfort, then you can begin to focus more on changing from one posture to another.
Because of the importance of Ding Shi Ba Gua Zhang, over the last few years IAI has offered a large number of articles and videos that demonstrate and teach various aspects of Ba Gua stepping, Ding Shi, and circle walking.
A full list of these posts, lessons and articles (and their links) can be found below: