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Ba Gua Zhang Training in Beijing by Tom Bisio

Ba Gua Zhang Training in Beijing 2012

Fifteen members of Internal Arts International (IAI) and New York Internal Arts (NYIA) arrived in Beijing on June 5th, 2012, for Ba Gua Zhang training with Master Gao Ji Wu. In addition to students from New York City, IAI instructors Marc Bégin (Canada), Pauliina Turunen (Finland) and Mohammed Saiah (France) also attended.

Zhan Zhuang in Beijing with Gao
IAI Students Practicing Zhan Zhuang

Ba Gua Zhang Training

Each day we walked through the hot Beijing weather to a vibrant local park, filled with people dancing, singing, practicing Tai Ji and other martial arts, people playing foot badminton/volleyball and caged songbirds “talking” loudly to each other. There Master Gao led us through Zhan Zhuang (Stake Standing), and several Da Cheng Quan exercises: “hooking and filing”, “strength testing” and the dynamic wave power movements of “sinking”, floating”, “moving left” and “moving right”. The principles of Zhan Zhuang were then applied to basic pushing hands exercises and methods of blocking, dissolving and redirecting the opponent’s power.

This “warmup” was followed by detailed practice of Ba Gua’s Sixty-Four Hands, focusing on fighting applications and how to change and adapt each posture in accordance with the opponent’s movements. Master Gao’s applications seamlessly blended throws, qin na, strikes and kicks, giving all of us a full taste of Ba Gua’s ability to constantly change and transform.

Demonstrations of Ba Gua Zhang and Other Styles

On the breaks, Master Gao’s students – ranging from 7 to 70 years of age – demonstrated Tai Ji Quan, Ba Gua Zhang and various weapons forms. A surprise treat was a demonstration by Master Han Shu Suo, one of one of the foremost exponents of the Five Animal Crawling Gong – a health preservation technique that imitates the walking methods of the tiger, elephant, ape, crocodile and bear.

Members of our group demonstrated Ba Gua Lian Huan, the Xian Tian Xiang Xing (Eight Animal) Form, Ba Gua Zhang Da Dao (Saber) and Ba Gua Jian (Sword) for Master Gao’s students and as many as 30-40 other observers. On the final day, we visited a local recreation center and practiced with a few of Master Gao’s Tai Ji students. They beautifully demonstrated the Yang Style long form, after which Master Gao reviewed and corrected our practice of Ba Gua Lian Huan, punctuating his explanations with precise practical applications. Particularly beneficial was Master Gao’s explanation of proper practice of the movements for internal development and power (stretching out and extending the movements), in juxtaposition to the actual applications – which were short, quick and to the point.

Gao demonstrates on Thad Wong
Gao Ji Wu Demonstrates on NYIA Instructor Thad Wong
Gao Demonstrates in Beijing
Gao Ji Wu Demonstrates a Ba Gua Zhang Application on Marc Bégin of Toronto

At the end of the training week, all the members of our group received certificates of completion for the Sixty-Four Hands. In addition, instructors Tom Bisio and Valerie Ghent were both awarded the title of “Coach” by the Beijing Wushu Association Bagua Zhang Research Institute. Our stalwart translator, Huang Guo Qi, also received a certificate for his tireless work, and IAI members made a substantial donation to the Bagua Zhang Research Institute to help fund their latest project and preserve the art of Ba Gua Zhang.

All in all, a marvelous visit.

Beijing Certificates Group 2012
Gao Ji Wu and Mrs. Gao Presenting the Certificates to members of IAI and NYIA.