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An introduction to swimming dragon baguazhang

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While I am on the topic of the internal arts I thought I'd share with you my notes for the seminar I'm holding tomorrow on the Chen Pan Ling "swimming baguazhang" system.

Background
Baguazhang (Pa kua chang) or “8 trigram palm” is an ancient Chinese martial arts system that belongs to the internal (neijiaquan or wudang) school.

Baguazhang is said to be a physical manifestation of the Yi Jing (I Ching) – the Book of Changes, one of the ancient Chinese classics attributed (in part) to Confucius and strongly influenced by Daoist(Taoist) thought. Legends trace the origins of Bagua to Tung Hai Chuan (A.D. 1798-1879) who is said to have learned this art from an anonymous Daoist monk in the mountains of Kiangsu province. Shifu Dan's teacher Chen Yun Ching’s lineage (as depicted on the left) traces directly back to Tung via three different sources.

After becoming famous in Beijing, Tung was challenged by Kuo Yun Shen (known as "Divine Crushing Hand") of the xi…

Aggression as a regrettable necessity

The title of this blog is "The Way of Least Resistance". This is an attempt to translate at least part of the meaning of the Daoist maxim "wu-wei" (無為). This translates literally as "no action" but it is not an instruction. Rather it is a description of an ideal state: the state in which you have done nothing, yet everything is done. It is the position a wise person gains by going with the flow of nature, not against it.

The most common analogy used to describe the essence of wu-wei is a river or stream; one does not get far by swimming against the flow of the water. In order to get to a bank, one must go with the flow.

The principle of wu-wei is my own guide for conflict resolution. To me, this ancient concept, stemming from the Chinese classic "Dao De Jing" (The Way and Its Power), remains as potent and profound today as it ever was.

It is said that this principle is built into the internal arts of xingyiquan, baguazhang and taijiquan since…

Xingyiquan: an introduction to form/mind boxing

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It has occured to me that I've written quite a few posts about xingyi without ever describing what it is. So I thought I'd give a brief introduction to this art.

What is xingyiquan?

Xingyiquan (H’sing i ch’uan) or “Form/mind fist” is an ancient Chinese martial arts system that belongs to the internal (neijiaquan or wudang) school.

It is said to be a physical manifestation of the Dao De Jing (Tao te Ching) – the principal text of the Daoist/Taoist philosophical tradition. Legends attribute the creation of xingyiquan to legendary Chinese general Yue Fei (March 24, 1103 – January 27, 1142), however it is possible that xingyiquan predates this period.

The version of xingyiquan taught by my teacher Chen Yun Ching is that researched by his father, the legendary Chen Pan Ling before World War 2. He was the chairman of the Nanjing Institute which was charged with the preservation of traditional Chinese fighting arts in the advance of the Japanese. The lineage of the Chen Pan Ling syst…

Cracking the "xingyi code"

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"Pi is able to conquer Beng and Beng is able to defeat Heng. Heng is able to subjugate Zuan and Zuan is able to overmaster Pao. Pao can overcome Pi. All of these belong to the theory of Yi (Change). Looking for the real meaning is nowhere else but within the Five Phases" - Ancient xingyiquan Song of Mutual ConquestReaders of my blog will be aware that for years I've pondered what is called the "destructive cycle" of xingyi's 5 elements: each is meant to be a foil for another in a kind of 5-way "rock, paper scissors". I'm not the first person to suppose that they can be (and were indeed intended to be) arranged into a looping 2 person form.

While there are plenty of 2 person "destructive cycle" xingyi forms out there, not one follows the order of pi, zuan, beng, pao, heng (at least in a way that results in each attack being deflected and countered). Normally there are repetitions of pi or beng, or a completely different order.


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