News & Events

Report on the 2019 IAI Xing Yi / Ba Gua Retreat – Salem, Virginia

The 2nd bi-annual IAI Xing Yi/Ba Gua Summer Retreat was incredible, even more empowering and exciting than our first retreat – more participants, more instructors and heartfelt transmission of the energetic, martial and medical aspects of the internal arts. Participants came from Canada, the Pacific Northwest, Alaska, Missouri, Rhode Island and many other states.

The 8-9 hours of daily training began each morning at 6am with a variety Nei Gong and Qi Gong sets, followed by Ba Gua Circle Walking Nei Gong, Xing Yi San Ti Shi and Tu Na Si Ba. Participants practiced Tu Na Si Ba, Zhan Zhuang, Qi Cultivation (Qi Ji), Ji Ben Gong and Tian Gan Nei Gong in order to develop the internal Gong Fu of Ba Gua Zhang and Xing Yi Quan. This also prepared students for the martial forms, applications and weapons practice that were offered in the morning, afternoon and evening training sessions.

Morning Practice of San Ti Shi
Valerie Ghent teaches Nan Shaolin Five Palms (Wu Zhang)

A special treat was senior instructor Valerie Ghent’s presentation of the Five Palms (Wu Zhang) of Southern Shaolin Five Element Soft Fist. These five palm exercises work with the internal dynamics of the Qi and Jin and have equal applicability to Xing Yi, Ba Gua and Tai Ji. Senior Instructor Nelson Tai‘s segment on Xing Yi and Ba Gua sparring was well received by the more advanced practitioners who had a great time practicing fighting methods of the internal arts.


IAI instructors presented the 64 Forms of Liang Style Bagua, Single and Double Palm Changes, Xing Yi Five Elements and Five Element Staff,  Xing Yi Whip Stick (Bian Gun),  Ba Gua Seven Star Stick (Qi Xing Gun), Qin Na, Ba Gua linear single movements and Xing Yi Animals.

Liang Style 64 Forms
Tom Bisio Demonstrates Xing Yi Whip Stick
Ba Gua Seven Star Stick

Evenings were filled with additional training – two evening classes of note were the traditional Tui Na back protocol presented by Craig Mitchell, president of the Seattle Institute of East Asian Medicine (SIEAM) and IAI instructor and acupuncturist Greg Johnston, head of Dancing Crane Center of Chinese Medicine in Salem, VA; and an in-depth exploration of the many applications of the Ba Gua movement Black Dragon Waves Its Tail by IAI founder Tom Bisio.

It was an exciting and uplifting experience and everyone trained hard, pushing themselves past their limits. Beyond the training, one of the wonderful things about the retreat, was spending time with fellow Ba Gua and Xing Yi practitioners from all over North America, sharing experiences and welcoming newer practitioners into our growing Ba Gua/Xing Yi community.













A big thank you to all the participants and special thanks to NYC IAI instructors Valerie Ghent, Nelson Tai,  Thad Wong, Mark Greenfield , Jonathan Breshin, Kelly MacDonald, and to IAI instructors Bryan Isacks (Ithaca, NY), Wes Tasker (Boston), Marc Begin and Svilen Pronev  (Toronto), Stephane Turbide (Montreal), Joe Cool (Portland, OR), Greg Johnston (Salem, VA), Keith Norris (Providence, RI), Eric Deutsch (Southern California) and John Paul Magenis (Great Barrington, MA), for being there and helping out. And congratulations to Matthew Tomkiel, who received his Xing Yi Instructor Certificate during the retreat.

Matthew Tomkiel (center) with Tom Bisio and Valerie Ghent