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Training Methods of Ba Gua Zhang – Part 1

八卦掌的锻炼方法

Jiang Rong-Jiao‘s advice for training Ba Gua Zhang is profound. Jiang’s seventeen points offer students one of the most succinct and to-the-point guides to correct Ba Gua practice.

Jiang (also Jiang Rong Qiao; Chang Rong Chiao) was a student of the famous Li Cun Yi and Zhang Zhao Dong. He began training in Shaolin with his father and continued on to learn Mi Zong (Lost Track), as well as various weapons and Qin Na. Jiang later learned Xing Yi and Ba Gua Zhang. Jiang was an instructor at the famous Nanjing Guoshu Institute, where he taught a variety of martial arts. Over the years he taught extensively and published a number of books on Ba Gua, Xing Yi, sword and spear. His book on Ba Gua Zhang popularized Ba Gua Lian Huan, sometimes erroneously known today as “Original Ba Gua Zhang.” Jiang died in 1974 at the age of 84.

The below translation is an excerpt from Jiang’s book, BA GUA ZHANG. Translated by Huang Guo-Qi and edited by Tom Bisio.

Below is a translation of Jiang Rong-Jiao’s advice for training in Ba Gua Zhang, in which he details seventeen important points for students training in Ba Gua.

In this presentation the points are broken into two parts:

Part I – summarizes the seventeen points, presenting them as a kind of mnemonic for memorization.

Part II – offers a more detailed discussion of each point.

Part I

顺项提顶,溜臀收肛;
shun xiang ti ding, liu tun shou gang;
Straighten neck, uplift vertex, [1]
Smooth buttocks, hold anus.

松肩沉肘,实腹畅胸;
song jian chen zhou, shi fu chang xiong;
Slacken shoulder, sink elbow,
Solid[2] abdomen, unimpeded chest.

滚钻争裹,奇正相生;
gun zuan zheng guo, qi zheng xiang sheng;
Rolling, drilling, resisting, [3] wrapping,
Opposite [4] forces mutually generating
.

龙形猴相,虎坐鹰翻 ;
long xing hou xiang, hu zuo ying fan;
Dragon shape, monkey appearance,
Tiger sitting, hawk overturning.

拧旋走转,蹬脚磨胫;
ning xuan zou zhuan, deng jiao mo jing;
Twist, rotate, walk, turn,
Tread foot, grind (rub) shin.

曲腿蹚泥,足心涵空;
qu tui tang ni, zu xin han kong;
Bend leg, mud wade [step]
Foot sole held empty.

起平落扣,连环纵横 ;
qi ping luo kou, lian huan zong heng;
Raise [foot] levelly, fall and hook
Ring-linking[5] vertically and horizontally.[6]

腰如轴立,手似轮行;
yao ru zhou li, shou si lun xing;
Waist like an axle,
Hands like revolving wheels.

指分掌凹,摆肱平肩 ;
zhi fen zhang ao, bai gong ping jian;
Fingers separated, palm concave,
Swing arms, shoulders level. 

桩如山岳,步似水中;
zhuang ru shan yue, bu si shui zhong;
Stake [stand] like lofty mountains,
Step like [liquid] water.

火上水下,水重火轻;
huo shang shui xia, shui zhong huo qing;
Fire above, water below,
Water is heavy, fire is light.

意如飘旗,又似点灯;
yi ru piao qi, you si dian deng;
Intention like a waving flag,
Also like a lighted lamp.

腹乃气根,气似云行;
fu nai qi gen, qi si yun xing;
Abdomen is root of qi,
Qi is like floating clouds.

意动生慧,气行百孔;
yi dong sheng hui, qi xing bai kong;
Intention gives birth to wisdom,
Qi moves through a hundred holes [pores].

展放收紧,动静圆撑;
zhan fang shou jin, dong jing yuan cheng;
Stretch outward and discharge, gather and contract inward,
movement and tranquility in mutual support.

神气意力,合一集中 ;
shen qi yi li, he yi ji zhong;
Spirit, qi, intention and force,
All combine into one.

八掌真理,俱在此中。
ba zhang zhen li, ju zai ci zhong.
The truth of Ba Gua Zhang,
exists completely within this.


[1] 顶 ding “top” conveys also the idea of carrying something on the head; to gore or butt with the head.

[2] 实 shi means “solid, subastantial, full.”

[3] 争 zheng “resisting” means pushing and opening outward.

[4] Literally “rare” and “orthodox” or “extraordinary and ordinary”

[5] 连环 lian huan means a chain of interlocked rings, continuous, uninterrupted.

[6] vertically and horizontally together means “everywhere”

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