Ba Gua Zhang and Xing-Yi Quan: Brief Description, Background, and Some Martial Principles
(Modified from the Academic Training Traditions Website, Copyright © 2015 Paul J. Cote) www.academictrainingtraditions.com
These arts rose to prominence in China between in the mid-1700’s and the mid-1800’s (xingyi is maybe 100 years older than bagua). Xing-Yi Quan (Form of Mind Fist [or Mind Formed Boxing]) is a complete health and fighting system derived from 5 element theory. It is a straight forward martial art, but very profound at the same time. Xingyiquan consists of linear martial actions that conceal powerful spiral and shearing energies, which are applied as rolling actions, mainly in the vertical plane. Baguazhang (Eight Trigram Palm) is a complete health and fighting system based on the concept of change put forth in the Chinese classic, the Yi-Jing. Baguazhang is perhaps the most mysterious of all Chinese martial arts, from its obscure origins and unique practice of "walking a circle", to the many concealed tactical applications involving the open palm and circular turning methods.
Xingyiquan, baguazhang, and taijiquan comprise the ‘internal family’ (nei jia) of Chinese martial arts. These arts are based more on Daoist principles than on Shaolin Buddhism. However, many early masters of these styles also had prior experience with Shaolin martial arts. The exact origins of xing-yi quan are unknown. It seemed to emerge and blossom in mid-1700’s the countryside of Hebei and Shanxi provinces from older precursor arts (e.g. Xin Yi Quan, ‘heart mind boxing’; Ba Fan Shou, ‘eight overturning hands’). Xingyiquan became more prominent as some of the second and third generation masters made their way to Beijing in the mid-1800’s and interacted with other martial artists. Bagua came to prominence in Beijing by the 1860’s via its recognized founder, Dong Haichuan, and his two main students, Yin Fu and Cheng Tinghua. Dong’s signature influence on martial arts principle, qigong, training, and delivery of applications was in the methods of ‘walking and turning on a circle’ and ‘changing palms while walking and turning’. The first xingyi masters of note from early generations included Li Luoneng, Che Yizhai, Liu Qilan, and Guo Yunshen. Guo did interact with Dong Haichuan in Beijing. By the late-1800's, xingyi and bagua were often passed on together among the next generations of practitioners. Taijiquan is another separate topic.
These two distinct, but related arts may have come about from a fusion of pugilistic methods of the day with Daoist energy and meditiation practices (qigong). This included certain stepping methods used in Daoist rituals such as 7-star step, paces of Yu, circle walking, and 9-gate walking. These ‘lively’ stepping actions differ from typical classical martial art stances and stance transitions, even those used in other Chinese arts, including taijiquan! The stepping (bu fa), combined with body methods (shen fa), hand methods (shou fa), and centering (qigong), creates a unique means to develop internal feeling for issuing power and countering that of an opponent. The special emphasis on stepping in these arts creates exceptional delivery methods for many commonly held martial techniques and more. Chinese arts tend to refrain from dual ‘ground wrestling’, but it is known. Throws and takedowns are ‘one-sided’ in old Chinese wrestling (shuai jiao) so as to remain on one’s feet. Deep leg squatting with feet flat on the ground (still standing!) includes ‘groundwork’ applications. Some standing combative actions (e.g., from stepping) may translate also into ground actions.
Xingyiquan is built first on practice of the three essentials posture (san ti shi) and the 5-elements fists (wu xing quan). Progress is through three stages of obvious power (ming jin), concealed power (an jin), and power dissolved into the whole body (hua jin). The internal emphasis in xing-yi involves an attentive mind to follow the body movements while remaining centered, and with root maintained in the feet and legs. With advancement, one can generate relaxed but powerful movements for self-defense, instantaneously, as a thought (i.e., mind-formed). So xingyi uses hair-trigger, explosive movements, driven by the mind and rooted stepping, and ranging from large-to-small. Its main strategy involves the use of advantageous angles for both defense and attack, culminating in rapid entry to occupy the opponent's space. Its main core actions are rise-drill and fall-overturn (qi-zuan and lo-fan).
Baguazhang is built first upon mindful attention to basic circle walking using fixed palm postures (ding shi). It then moves to smooth turning on the circle with single and double palm changes (dong shi), whose footwork and palm patterns are common to all bagua systems. The above practices develop the stepping, turning, and palm variations needed to understand "change" (bian shi), and how and when it should be applied. The internal emphasis in circular bagua is on smooth change, along a curved path, in the horizontal plane, driven by precise and well-rooted footwork. The walking and changing generate centrifugal and centripetal power for techniques applied during the turning and shifting of body position. Power generation and tactical understanding can be augmented further through advanced walking practices (e.g., 9-gate), 'swimming body’ methods (e.g., yu shen fa), and various straight line solo form sets and two-person drills. In applications, principles like 'attract-and-evade' and 'repel-and-follow' take control of the opponent's center and create openings. Other tactical ideas embody its core actions to 'walk-pierce-twist-overturn' (zou-chuan-ning-fan).
Training in xingyiquan and baguazhang confer robust health and a profound awareness because of explicit emphasis on use of an attentive mind (i.e., a qigong factor). Practice of xingyi develops a sure-footed root in the feet that generates tremendous leg power and builds in an explosive whole body method for driving the techniques. Practice of baguazhang also develops a sure-footed root, and includes deft stepping skills that enable evasion, turning, and repositioning, along with building whole body method for driving the techniques. Movements in xingyiquan and baguazhang are permeated with highly effective and efficient self-defense methods. Many basic martial techniques used in these arts are like those used in other martial systems, but the ‘delivery’ methods differ. The stepping lends to efficient delivery systems for the various martial techniques. Martial applications in Chinese arts can be classified in various terms. In the Zong Yin Tang school, we use 'dian, da, shuai, na' (i.e., precise vital point manipulation [light or heavy], heavy striking, throwing and pushing [project and eject], locking and seizing [grabbing and hooking, etc]) (more on this later). Each of these expands into specific methods of impacting and seizing for attack, preventive defense, and counters.
Techniques and Training Methods of Shuri-Ryu
In addition to the blocks, punches, kicks and footwork of karate, Shuri-ryu also incorporates joint locks, take-downs, throws, and weapons (kobudo). Shuri-ryu also has several short self-defense forms and combinations. These include: 26-Ippons (ippon kumite kata), which are performed to develop power and mental focus; 10-Taezus (taezu naru waza) which are performed to develop speed and fluidity; 30-Kihons (kihon kumite kata) which are performed to develop form and fighting technique; and 8-Sente exercises. Additional training exercises including form sparring (kata kumite), focus stance sparring (kime dachi kumite), free exercise (jiju undo), and free sparring (jiju kumite).
Kata of Shuri-Ryu
Shuri-ryu has three form exercises Taikyoku Ichi, Ni, and San, to prepare the student to learn kata.
Kata List: Wansu, Anaku, Naihanchi Sho, Sanchin, Tsue Sho No Kon (bo kata), Empi Sho, Bassai Dai, Go Pei Sho, Dan Enn Sho, Naihanchi Ni, Kanku Sho, Nan Dan Sho, Naihanchi San, Tekatana (sai kata), Ten Sho, Shudo So, and five each Hakutsuru (White Crane forms).
The 9-Moving Forces within Shuri-Ryu Karate Kihon
Origins and Development of Shuri-Ryu
Robert Trias was also mentored by Yasuhiro Konishi and Makoto Gima. In 1964 Konishi awarded Trias with 9th Dan. Konishi was a prominent student of both Choki Motobu and Gichin Funakoshi. Gima was a prominent student of Funakoshi and awarded Trias the 10th Dan in 1983. Both, Konishi and Gima helped Trias reconstruct the old Shuri-Te system of karate with some modifications, hence a new name for the system was designated Shuri-Ryu. Shuri-Ryu also incorporated some Naha katas and methods. Historically Robert Trias continued to go to Okinawa, Japan and China for over 30 years, making trips to visit dojos and converse with the masters of the time. Mr. Trias skill was to see A and B and then make C which was better than A or B. Mr. Trias was not restricted by the style.
For additional information about Shuri-Ryu Karatedo
Hanshi Robert Bowles ISA
Karatedo: The word Karatedo has three-parts: “kara,” means empty; “te,” means hand; and “do,” means way (empty hand way). The suffix “do” signifies a mental and physical discipline; Karatedo is a physical exercise designed to achieve a mental state. Karatedo is composed of blocking, striking, kicking, sweeping, joint locking, takedowns, footwork and weapons techniques which results in not only the physical ability to defend oneself, but also the development of the mind and spirit.
Ju-Jutsu:Ju-Jutsu means the “science and skill of softness.” It is a general term for a wide range of hand-to-hand combat arts that emphasizes entering, trapping, joint locking, grappling, throwing, choking, immobilizing, pressure points and vital point striking methods. The fighting style was designed centuries ago for disarmed warriors to defend themselves against single or multiple attackers.
Combative Flow: (more information coming soon)
Kyusho-Jutsu: (more information coming soon)
Chin-Na: (more information coming soon)
Baguazhang: (Eight trigram palm) is a complete health and fighting system based on the concept of change put forth in the Yi-Jing. Bagua zhang is the most mysterious of all Chinese martial arts, from its unique practice of "walking a circle", to the many concealed tactical applications involving the open palm and circular turning methods (see below for more information)
Xingyiquan: (Mind-formed fist) is a complete health and fighting system derived from 5 element theory. It is a straight forward martial art, but very profound at the same time. Xing-yi quan consists of linear actions that conceal powerful spiral and shearing energies, which are applied as rolling actions, mainly in the vertical plane. (see below for more information)
Qigong: (more information coming soon)
Hanshi Robert A. Trias
Shuri-ryu karate is an eclectic martial arts system, developed by the martial arts pioneer Robert Trias, the first westerner to teach karate in the United States in Phoenix, Arizona 1945. He opened the first karate school in the nation in 1946 and formed the first karate organization in 1948, the United States Karate Association. Other styles of karate related to the Trias-line are Shorei-Goju-Ryu and Shorei-Ryu. The style of Shuri-ryu is taught and is especially prevalent in the United States, parts of Europe, and South America.
The roots of Shuri-Ryu are from Okinawa and China, especially in the Shuri-Te karate of Ankoh Itosu and Choki Motobu and the Hsing Yi Chuan of Tung Gee Hsing. Robert Trias, the style’s founder, trained with Tung Gee Hsing, who had cross-trained with Choki Motobu earlier in the Okinawan village of Kume Mura. Tung Gee Hsing taught Trias Hsing Yi and Shuri Karate Kempo. Later Trias studied with Hoy Yuan Ping, Gogen Yamaguchi, Roy Oshiro and several other teachers.
Origins and Development of Shuri-Te Ju-Jutsu/Bujutsu
Our style of Ju-Jutsu/Bujutsu (science and skill of softness) is a complete martial arts system emphasizing entering, trapping, striking, joint locking, throwing/takedowns, grappling, choking, immobilizing, pressure points, vital-point striking methods, weapons and internal energy development. Shuri-Te Ju-Jutsu is an eclectic martial arts system, with strong influences from the training methods and fundamentals of Shuri-Ryu Karatedo (Ridgely Abele) and Shinto-Yoshin-Kai Ju-Jutsu (Dr.Steven Roensch). Many of the principles, techniques and theories were cultivated from several traditional martial arts systems from Okinawa, Japan, China and Indonesia. Some of these martial systems are Ryu-Te, Shorin-ryu, Goju-Ryu, Aikido, Hakko-Ryu, Judo, Baguazhang, Xingyiquan, Taijiquan, Kuntao and Silat.
Shuri-Te Ju-Jutsu is an officially recognized style of Ju-Jutsu by the United States Ju-Jitsu Federation which is the (NGB) National Governing Body for Ju-Jitsu in the United States of America. The original purpose and goal for the development of Shuri-Te Ju-Jutsu was a training method to support and aid the study of the 9-moving forces within Shuri-Ryu Karate kihon (see about). Now Shuri-Te Ju-Jutsu has developed and grown beyond its original purpose into a full and complete martial arts system. Shuri-Te Ju-Jutsu is now being practiced and taught throughout the United States, parts of Europe, and South America.
16-Performance Categories of Shuri-Te Ju-Jutsu/Bujutsu
Some Characteristics/Principles of Shuri-Te Ju-Jutsu/Bujutsu
Shuri-Te Ju-Jutsu Rank Requirements (PDF)
For additional information about Shuri-Te Ju-Jutsu/Bujutsu
Contact: Troy J. Price