the purpose of circle-walking in baguazhang

Discussion on the three big Chinese internals, Yiquan, Bajiquan, Piguazhang and other similar styles.

the purpose of circle-walking in baguazhang

Postby Tom on Mon Jan 25, 2021 3:38 pm

This article is a nice summary of the purpose for the circle-walking practice in baguazhang by Andrea Falk, a baguazhang practitioner of great skill with decades of experience from top bagua teachers, and an excellent teacher in her own right.

http://www.thewushucentre.ca/book-translations/downloads/circlewalking.pdf

CIRCLE-WALKING IN BAGUAZHANG

I once had a seminar participant who proudly announced that he knew bagua, but that his teacher hadn’t made him circle walk. I was so astounded that I had nothing to say. I just couldn’t imagine it. But why? Can’t you train the techniques of bagua without wasting time wandering around in circles? The short answer is no. This article is the ‘three page’ answer. My bagua website has the sixteen page answer,and that is just an introduction.

Circle-walking is not about walking in circles, whether for meditation or for circling around your opponent. It is about building yourself up so that the techniques of bagua come from the healthiest, strongest, most connected body that you can develop. And a body that is used to making its connections, whether to itself or to an opponent, on the go. Its primary effect is to bring full circulation of blood and qi to all parts of the body and strengthen and connect the tendons and ligaments throughout the body. Those interested in fascial meridians can see that all the tendons, ligaments, and soft tissue of the body are connected in a smooth line, like sausage links, from the bottom of the feet through to where they connect to the skull. Circle-walking is designed to develop and strengthen this connection. You can fight without strong tendons and connections, but you will eventually get injured. Health training cannot be separated from martial training.
Most internal styles follow the same rules of body structure, and try to perfect this through movement or static postures. Bagua perfects it through circle-walking, xingyi through stake standing and five element drills, taiji through standing and coiling drills. The torso, for example, is kept upright, balanced, and centered, like a bag of rice dropped into the pelvis, and the pelvis naturally adjusted to hold the bag. Bagua puts more emphasis on the turning of the torso – what is called the ‘dragon’s body’ in xingyi – using the folding of the body to gain power. The techniques grow out of the walking and come from the centre of your body. Circle-walking is always torqued into the centre, so the application of torqueing power is trained not just in standing, and not just in the techniques, but in a controlled environment that requires constant adjustment.

Given the settled upper body, bagua circle-walking focuses more on the lower legs, from the knees on down, than many styles. The knees stay essentially together when the front foot reaches out, and then the landing depends on the type of walking. The feet are always firmly rooted, grabbing the ground with the whole foot, ankle, and lower leg, up to and including the knee. If you just relax and settle this can benefit you, but not as much as when you really grab the ground. In addition, an important phase of most types of circle-walking is to ‘kick the doorstop’ – to extend the knee and the ankle fully as if kicking forward to break through a Chinese doorstop. This kick is low and reaches through the whole leg. Fully extending the reaching leg strengthens all the structure around the knees, smooths out the tendons of the ankle and feet, and sends the qi firmly to the shin of an opponent) but to make the body more stable and connected.

DIFFERENT METHODS OF CIRCLE-WALKING

There are quite a few ways to circle-walk that are effective in changing the body and preparing one to fight. Not all schools use all types of circle walking. Most specialize in one or two types – those that help their particular
type of power. (Schools of bagua tend to differ because the originator, Dong Haichuan, apparently felt it only necessary to teach the circle-walking and perhaps a few palm changes to his students. He then helped each of
them to develop their unique skills on this foundation.)

Here are some types of circle-walking:
Toad walk: a very careful, very slow, controlled stepping, being careful to stay completely level with no rise or fall. This very slow circle-walking works particularly to move the qi and blood to allow the tendons to
change. The body moves forward evenly with no jerkiness or driving forward. There is an acceleration at the kick phase, which forces the qi to the extremities and also ensures that this walk remains focused and does
not become a creeping around the circle. This is used in Ma Gui style, and builds heavy, whole body, power.

Contained walk: a careful, controlled stepping, taking one step at a time, slowly and carefully, but not deliberately going as slow as possible. This trains the grabbing without working the support leg quite so much as the
toad walk.

Continuous walk: still mindful, but not pausing in the grabbing phase, continuing immediately, though not rushing, to the forward leg and keep moving. This walk contains three powers – contained, stable, and mobile.
This walk is a relatively standard walking speed, neither fast nor slow. It can be done without emphasizing the kick. Jiang style tends to use this walk.

Controlled walk: a careful, controlled stepping, counting two to five seconds at the held kick. The kick is held out, not up, to extend power through the leg. This walk develops leg strength, balance, and connections. You
may also pause at the foot grab to develop the habit of grabbing with the leg instead of gradually shifting to the leg, and to focus the qi to the knees if you have problems with your knees. This is used in Liang and Ma Gui
style.

Natural walk: small steps, with sunken qi, and naturally comfortable, allowing the feet to lift and lower more naturally, not worrying about keeping the heels down. This walk tends to be used when doing changes that
involve circle-walking in between the changes, when we are focused more on mobility. Some Yin styles use this as the standard walk, as it develops quickness. Jiang style also uses this walk, with particular emphasis in
releasing all extra tension in the body.

Mud Wading: still lifting and landing the feet relatively flat, but allowing or pushing the raised foot to move forward before landing, gripping the ground firmly, as if walking in a muddy stream. The push off to drive
forward differs within styles. Liang style pushes the supporting knee forward and down, so that the drive forward comes from the rear ankle. The raised foot does a solid kick, then wades forward before landing,
with only a slight slide. This is also called scholar-tree insect stepping. Cheng style pushes forward from the whole leg. The raised foot is stepping forward so does not emphasize the kick, and it wades forward
on the ground. The momentum in Cheng style can be such that the body actually leans into the circle. Mud wading accelerates into the landing foot so demands a great deal of control to keep balance. It should keep all
movement moving forward, with nothing wasted up and down, to develop a driving attack.

THE EIGHT MODELS OF CIRCLE-WALKING

Each style has eight models that give eight different postures that can be taken in the circle-walk. They are not necessarily the same eight. The circle is walked in each of these shapes, with their special feeling. It
doesn’t really matter what the eight postures are. If you are training a legitimate lineage, its eight models will make sense and develop the attributes necessary for that lineage. If a model makes you uncomfortable
when you circle-walk in it, it is informing you of some problem in your body. You do not need to work out what the problem is – you just need to allow the posture to change your body. Once the posture feels as
comfortable as the others, the problem has been worked out. One should never simply walk in the circle either forcing or just thoughtlessly holding a posture, but should walk considering that the goal of circle-walking is to
change the body. The models facilitate this – doing them as perfectly as you can with full focus and spirit gives them a chance to change you.

All of bagua’s movement types and all movement principles are present within circle-walking. This is why circle-walking, even quick circle-walking, is done always with full intent. Careful circle-walking is not a
‘beginner basic’ that you stop doing as you get better. If you have an error in technique, you will find that this error occurs in your body mechanics during circle-walking, and that it will self-correct once you have fixed your
circle-walking. Once you get the circle-walk connection, other moves express the circle-walk, and all becomes one.

Andrea Falk
http://www.thewushucentre.ca
http://www.maguibagua.ca
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Re: the purpose of circle-walking in baguazhang

Postby johnwang on Tue Jan 26, 2021 11:56 am

The purpose of the BG circle walking is to use your shin bone to bite on the inside (or outside) of your opponent's leg with your instep behind your opponent's ankle.
I'm still allergic to "push".
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Re: the purpose of circle-walking in baguazhang

Postby Tom on Tue Jan 26, 2021 11:58 am

johnwang wrote:The purpose of the BG circle walking is to use your shin bone to bite on the inside (or outside) of your opponent's leg with your instep behind your opponent's ankle.


It's much more than just that application, John. You don't need to train circle-walking to train shin bite.
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Re: the purpose of circle-walking in baguazhang

Postby wiesiek on Fri Jan 29, 2021 3:09 am

This is very "universal" practice.
Main purpose may vary a little, depends of school/teacher or even for any practitioner.
You may train not only single technique (like shin bite), but lot of them. However it teach mainly proper body alignment during transition,
internal twisting, stepping etc.
Most important is meditative aspect of circling.(keppin` alerted state of mind during the motion)

This is what I getting from circle walking, but I`m not bagua expert , I like to use different internal arts techniques for personal development w/o any special preferences and ties to specific schools.
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Re: the purpose of circle-walking in baguazhang

Postby everything on Fri Jan 29, 2021 7:25 pm

The spinning, twisting, etc., is useful in sports, probably a better, more broadly, frequently useful "application".
amateur practices til gets right pro til can't get wrong
/ better approx answer to right q than exact answer to wrong q which can be made precise /
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Re: the purpose of circle-walking in baguazhang

Postby GrahamB on Sun Jan 31, 2021 8:47 am

We decided to have a chat about Baguazhang this week....

https://www.spreaker.com/user/9404101/65-baguazhang

Why is Baguazhang so strange? What does it have to do with Mongolia? In this episode we have a chat about this very unusual martial art, often considered a sister art to Xing Yi and Tai Chi.
I could be wrong.
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Re: the purpose of circle-walking in baguazhang

Postby Tom on Sun Jan 31, 2021 11:42 am

GrahamB wrote:We decided to have a chat about Baguazhang this week....

https://www.spreaker.com/user/9404101/65-baguazhang

Why is Baguazhang so strange? What does it have to do with Mongolia? In this episode we have a chat about this very unusual martial art, often considered a sister art to Xing Yi and Tai Chi.


Oh dear . . . ;D

The shamans from South Park are at it again. More accurately, the podcast episode should be entitled, "Why Does Damon Think Baguazhang Is So Strange?"

I'll have a listen while waiting in line to be injected with vaccine and nanobots from Bill Gates. I'll be circle-walking to stay warm. ;)

By the way, when are you guys going to get to the subject of Yiquan? And Jianwu as Shamanic Performance?
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Re: the purpose of circle-walking in baguazhang

Postby Trick on Sun Jan 31, 2021 8:25 pm

The shamans have been running in ovals since after storming the casa blanca, Now the perfect circle is a mystery
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Re: the purpose of circle-walking in baguazhang

Postby GrahamB on Mon Feb 01, 2021 1:18 am

Tom, you have no 'tegrity.

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I could be wrong.
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Re: the purpose of circle-walking in baguazhang

Postby JessOBrien on Mon Feb 01, 2021 11:27 am

Hi Graham,

Started listening to the Heretics podcast the other day.

Good work! You guys are covering a lot of interesting ground.

I was a bit surprised that your partner had never seen Baguazhang using the fist. How bizarre. All the teachers I've had used plenty of fist techniques. I've also visited a lot of teachers, but none ever said that palms were the only technique. Although for sure, palms and stuff are definitely more common than in most martial arts. It seems like one of those odd legends of the 70's such as circling walking used to make the opponent dizzy or whatever.

Hopefully he get's to dig in deeper with another Bagua school someday and gets a sense of how fists are used.

Agreed that there are lots of unusual aspects to Bagua, such as the cool/strange weapons and circling forms that are unique. I just never thought of the fist as being "forbidden".

Take care,

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Re: the purpose of circle-walking in baguazhang

Postby GrahamB on Mon Feb 01, 2021 12:30 pm

Glad you like it Jess! I’ll be honest Jess - I’d never heard that either, so it was a surprise to me when he said it. I did question him at one point in the podcast but he stuck to his guns. I thought it would probably be the one thing people pick out as not right. C’est la vie

Bagua is not something I’ve ever really trained so I bow to Damon’s superior knowledge on the subject - he did learn it in Beijing.
I could be wrong.
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Re: the purpose of circle-walking in baguazhang

Postby JessOBrien on Mon Feb 01, 2021 1:54 pm

No doubt, it is a mysterious art, that's for sure!
A martial art with nearly infinite varieties, many of whom have principles in direct opposition to one another. From stepping to form shape or the way power is expressed, many aspects are often so different. Some very mystical, some utterly opposed to it. And it's likely always been that way, for all we can tell.
I'll listen more to hear more about Damon's experiences in China. I really respect it when a foreigner takes the time and effort to train overseas. It takes a lot of sacrifice!

Take care,
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Re: the purpose of circle-walking in baguazhang

Postby wayne hansen on Mon Feb 01, 2021 6:26 pm

I taught my tai chi teacher circle walking
He would love getting ba kua guys to walk the circle with him
It wouldn't take long for him to make them dizzy and loose their balance
Don't put power into the form let it naturally arise from the form
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Re: the purpose of circle-walking in baguazhang

Postby yeniseri on Tue Feb 02, 2021 2:58 pm

Intersecting the circle and/or interrumpting the circle is a part of liuhebafa (concept as opposed to the form art of so named taolu!) If someone comes at you with a straight punch, evade and counter at the angle.
The closest I can come to this is in a direct manner is per fencing principle where when you touch the blade of your opponent, s/he will make a response comensurate with the 'touch' so you go over or under the blade and then touch/e the opponent. It make take a few feints (based on the skill of the opponent) to find the mark but it works. If you are a TKD person, learn throwing (shuai element-throwing) and/or add the ground game of judo (called BJJ today ;D ) as a way to mix up your game plan. BE versatile. That is what Changes mean to me. Adapt, use incorporate but be efficient in whatever you do.
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Re: the purpose of circle-walking in baguazhang

Postby Bhassler on Tue Feb 02, 2021 5:41 pm

The secret of bagua is this:
If you practice without turning, you will hit a wall in your development.
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