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8 trigrams palm
Baguazhang (8 trigrams palm) is a very challenging internal martial art. It addresses the experience of combat in a different way to taijiquan with multiple opponents in mind at all times.
The student avoids direct confrontation by circling around the opponent or by encouraging the attacker to circle around them.
Baguazhang uses insights from the I Ching and is based on the principle of change. Our class practices the Jiang style of baguazhang.
The founder of baguazhang (Dong Haichuan) was a bodyguard in the Imperial court.
Baguazhang was designed to be an advanced kung fu method. The art contains many of the same fighting skills as taijiquan (supreme ultimate fist), and a whole lot more besides...
It is a highly unusual martial art famous for its fast, evasive footwork and effectiveness against multiple opponents. Your body emulates animal movements and changes continually.
Baguazhang is unlike and
superior to the other arts I learned.
Baguazhang is not an entry-level martial art. It is not suitable for new starters. Practicing baguazhang without the prerequisite foundation skills is reckless and dangerous.
There is a significant risk of injury because the joints are not strong enough and the body is not flexible enough.
Our terms are dictated by the insurance company policy requirement and are not negotiable.
Certain skills must be attained by the student long before a student can learn baguazhang:
• A wide variety of standing and moving qigong exercises
• Skill with a less demanding internal martial arts form (i.e. taijiquan)
• Stretching exercises
• Taoist Yoga
• Sensitivity, stickiness and pressure
• Excellent balance
Sifu Waller teaches baguazhang relative to appropriateness/interest/progress and ability...
Shuai jiao & chin na
Shuai jiao and chin na are very important.
Given that baguazhang contains an enormous amount of shuai jiao and chin na applications, there would be little purpose in learning the Art without the required foundation.
By learning a vast number of applications before even touching upon baguazhang palm changes (form), the student already understands range, reach and good positioning.
It ensures that they will not exaggerate their baguazhang in form or in application.
One of the most difficult skills
in kung fu is the ability to change movements. This skill is a primary aspect of
forms. When you are swiftly and smoothly able to change movements, your chances
of defeating an opponent are greatly increased.
Shuai jiao combined
Baguazhang favours shuai jiao. It is ideal against multiple attackers and perfectly suits the deft, speedy footwork of baguazhang.
By combining unusual angles of attack, chin na, shuai jiao and jing, the baguazhang student employs a bewildering method designed to take immediate advantage of the combat situation.
Momentum and flow are used to overcome strength. The aim is to draw the attacker out of their centre and off-balance.
Baguazhang trains the student to adapt, change and improvise. There are no fixed techniques, with the exponent preferring to respond to the demands of the moment rather than force an outcome.
Baguazhang is all about responding spontaneously and favourably to stimuli. This cannot be achieved if you are standing in your own way.
Fluidity, flow, softness and harmony are not possible when you are self-conscious.
Baguazhang teaches a student how to choose-without-choosing; to let the subconscious mind make decisions. This will produce more powerful responses.
The application feels to have simply occurred, without force or effort.
The ability to instantaneously
bring all of your power to a single point is one of the techniques that the art
of bagua develops.
For baguazhang to work as a martial art, the student must gain aptitude with these skills:
• A diverse grasp of form applications; how they operate and why
• Whole-body movement
• Internal biomechanics
• Thorough and convincing combat skill
• Impact/striking skill
• A good sense of jing
• Comprehensive knowledge of shuai jiao
• Strong ability with the different aspects of chin na
Students work through 3 levels of palm changes:
An immense amount of practice over many years is required. Sifu Waller emphasises the 'swimming dragon' method.
Baguazhang is not an easy martial art to learn. The student must be prepared to endure long hours of difficult training for the duration of their baguazhang study.
The initial training is concerned with circle walking and palm changes; gaining strength, coordination, rhythm and balance. Only later is the martial aspect addressed.
Hard work alone is not enough, though. Simply working hard will not necessarily lead to progress.
It needs to be deliberate, focused improvement designed to improve your practice by developing key skills outlined by your instructor.
The student must implement corrections, study the recommended books, undertake assignments and challenge their comfort zone.
We study the classic style of baguazhang. There are circular palm changes but no linear forms.
Why learn baguazhang?
Baguazhang training encourages nimbleness and agility; it enlivens your martial skill.
It makes your footwork smoother
It is sneaky and deceptive
It encourages spontaneity and improvisation
It improves your spatial awareness
It works well against multiple opponents
It challenges you physically and cognitively
Baguazhang is even more misleading than taijiquan. It offers the opponent no tangible frame of reference with which to engage in combat. The exponent aims to change continuously.
A response to your attack is a reaction to what you were doing, not what you are doing.
Some feedback concerning
Sifu Waller's baguazhang lessons:
I've found the baguazhang
teaching to be fascinating, and very challenging. I find Sifu Waller's teaching
very clearly demonstrates how studying the art demands a pre-existing
naturalness in body use and a very high level of control. The exercises we have
done have been reasonably simple, but very difficult to do! I am very much
enjoying it, and what little martial application we have experienced is brutally
effective. I can see shared principles with taijiquan but it looks and feels
(Dr Ben Beattie)
After some months of questioning and reflecting on the true nature of internal martial arts I was recently, along with a number of Sifu Waller’s students, given an energetic and skilful introduction to the world of baguazhang. My first reaction was it’s everything I thought it would be, and clearly so much more.
To be on the receiving end of an application of baguazhang from Sifu Waller is to be permanently cured of any lingering doubts as to its effectiveness as a profound martial skill. I certainly harboured those doubts coming as I do from a background of predominantly external martial arts. (Where’s the flamboyant stances, where’s the crack of the gi as you snap out a gyakuzuki???) But as I gingerly picked myself up off the floor after a particularly enlightening application from Sifu Waller those doubts have died away like the echo of a scream from someone on the receiving end of ‘cavity press.’
As a general rule when Sifu Waller's remarks ‘Hey, this will make you laugh!’ I have come to understand a particularly vigorous application is approaching! It is in these applications that I am beginning to recognise firstly the skill and depth of Sifu Waller's learning, and secondly how my own learning skills and experience are woefully inadequate to the task of learning baguazhang and taijiquan.
It’s certainly sobering when after all those years of training, facing Sifu Waller I feel about as effective as an old lady throwing marshmallows.
Sifu Waller is constantly stressing relaxation. As I was reflecting on this it occurred to me that watching Sifu Waller perform baguazhang is for me like trying to read a book without my reading glasses. Once I learn to relax everything will become a little clearer.
I feel very grateful to Sifu Waller for an introduction to a form of martial arts that as I understand it is not that widely available to western students in its authentic form. I feel he has generously presented us with a wonderful opportunity.
It is also I suspect in my own case something of a double-edged sword. As part of the Mc generation I am as guilty as anyone of wanting everything now, and being very demanding in terms of my own needs, of looking straight to the highest teaching and grasping after it. It’s interesting to reflect after the introduction that this is clearly the opposite approach that is required by a martial art like baguazhang, and then it follows that an introduction to baguazhang at this time may simply be utterly beyond our capabilities. As Adam Hsu says in his book, The Sword Polishers Record, ‘kung fu literally means time and hard work, there are no shortcuts.’
Certainly baguazhang cannot be seen, as perhaps it could be argued some other aspects of martial arts are, as simply another medal to pin on the chest of ego.
For those of us who’ve been involved in martial arts for some time, and have some experience of Chinese arts and teachers, I feel we can be confident that with Sifu Waller we have stumbled upon a treasure trove of authentic Chinese martial arts. It’s tremendously exciting as the lineage and history is abundantly clear in his approach. It struck me, the first time I saw Sifu Waller demonstrate it, that 5000 years of Chinese culture and history is somehow woven into the lethal beauty of baguazhang.
Definitely worth studying and in terms of practicing the art, Sifu Waller is bewildering (in a good and incredibly impressive way). It’s the changing - so natural yet not natural. Perplexing!
(Dr David Cousins)
I find the syllabus is well-structured and offers carefully designed and enjoyable exercises which aid application of the palm changes. Learning the purpose of each of the movements gives a real insight into overall strategy of baguazhang. In addition to creating an accessible website containing information relevant to learning baguazhang, Sifu Waller also takes the time to explain concepts in detail in class with the added benefit of being able to demonstrate how these principles can be applied martially.
The emphasis on evasive movements in baguazhang has been particularly helpful in overcoming my tendency to freeze-up during self-defence scenarios and instead I'm learning to relax and respond. Although the underlying principles are similar to taijiquan, baguazhang feels very different. Adapting your mindset to take into account multiple opponents is difficult but very rewarding from a martial perspective. Baguazhang is proving to be a great opportunity to escape from the trappings of individual techniques and instead concentrate on realistic improvisation of self-defence applications in high-pressure situations. I particularly appreciate the focus on deception and evasion.
Watching Sifu Waller perform his baguazhang was like watching a cat hunting or preparing for a fight. He had a single focus of attention to the exclusion of everything else. And a raw power, just waiting to be unleashed should the need arise. You were in no doubt about the outcome, if you were facing him...
31 July 1994
Last updated 07 November 2018