Other Internal Kung Fu Styles

Bagua Zhang

Bagua Zhang, translated as Eight Diagram Palm, is an art that explores the eight areas surrounding a center point. Imagining us at the center of a circle, Bagua employs techniques and movements that pass through the exterior of the circle. This enables us to defend from the eight surrounding directions.

Master Ramos practicing Bagua Zhang in Shanghai, China

Bagua instruction at Wu Shen Tao is based on traditional Internal principles, as passed down through the Wudang Dragon Gate Sect. Our movements build from the three stepping patterns collectively known as “mud stepping.” This practice produces smooth, flowing steps that range from large circular progressions to staccato bursts of change and back again.  Add the eight hand transformations and you have vast martial possibilities on every step. This art is as beautiful as it is powerful as it is challenging and unpredictable. It helps one develop grace, balance, flexibility, power and the ability to “let go.” Many aspects of theory, principle, training methods, forms, weapons, pushing hands, and self- defense are part of the fundamental curriculum.

Legend has it that a Taoist master was in contemplation by a stream when he saw a turtle rising from the water to walk onto land. Upon its back were markings depicting a progression from simple to complex and from a few to the many. He realized that these markings could explain, in a simple way, the myriad of opposing angles and directions that could evolve from one starting point. Combinations of solid and broken lines came to represent the original 8 trigram configurations. The original eight trigram paths were multiplied by each other forming the 64 possibilities or hexagrams, representing a basic starting position that can be expanded into a multitude of resolutions and possibilities. This information was later written as a book entitled I-Ching: The Book of Changes. This book is frequently used as a manual of divination and probability.

Bagua circle walking at Wu Shen Tao

Bagua circle walking at Wu Shen Tao

The Martial Art of Bagua Zhang uses the concepts of the eight basic patterns and its progression to the 64 palms. It stresses seamless transformation of energy and technique. By changing height, angle, and direction, Bagua enables defense or attack at any height or breadth, with hand and leg techniques, either separately or simultaneously. Most importantly, these techniques are performed while in perpetual motion. Bagua Zhang rarely stops moving.


Xing-I Chuan

The goal of the Xing-I exponent is to reach the opponent quickly and drive powerfully through them in a single burst. The linear nature of the art hints at its military origins and the influence of spear technique in its development. Xing-I delivers coordinated power (Jin 劲) by using the body as a single unit and intensely focusing one’s intent, (Yi 意). Issuing explosive power in Xing-I is referred to as ‘Fa Jin’ (发劲), the same term used in many other traditional Chinese Martial Arts.

Efficiency and economy of movement are the qualities of Xing-I styles, and its direct fighting philosophy advocates simultaneous attack and defense. There are few kicks, except for low foot kicks and some mid-level kicks, which helps avoid the hazards of balance involved with higher kicks. Overall, techniques are prized for their working within key principles rather than aesthetic value.

Stance Training

Stance Training

Xing-I Chuan favors a fighting stance called Sān Tǐ Shì (三體勢 / 三体势), literally “three bodies power,” referring to how the stance holds the head, torso and feet along the same vertical plane (As a Zhan Zhuang method, this stance is trained lower). Though usually held shorter and higher in actual fighting, in training San Ti is more often trained at middle-low heights.

Our Xing-I classes feature aggressive shocking attacks and direct footwork. Despite its hard, angular appearance, cultivating “soft” internal strength is essential to achieving power in Xing-I Chuan. Also, the advanced practitioner always contains tight spirals within their movements, so even the seemingly direct and linear ones are circular on a very small scale. Such circles and spirals also exist in other martial arts, but Xing-I (like Southern Praying Mantis) likes to keep them smaller than others.

Like other Internal Arts, much of the training in Xing-I Chuan is done in slow-motion. This is true for all the movements in the art, though most can and are also trained explosively.

The Five elements are considered the foundation practice along with Zhan Zhuang (stationary stance work). We train in most traditional aspects of theory, principles, conditioning, energy work, basic 5 fists, 12 animals, empty hand forms, weapons, pushing hands, and self- defense.

The Five Elements of Xing Yi Chuan

Chinese

Pinyin

Splitting

Metal

Like an axe chopping down and over.

Drilling

Zuān

Water

Drilling forward diagonally.

Crushing

Bēng

Wood

Like an arrow shot directly forward.

Exploding

Pào

Fire

Exploding outward like a cannonball, while blocking at the same time.

Crossing

Héng

Earth

Crossing across the line of attack while turning over.