Inside Kung-Fu Magazine - The Root of All Power: Page 2


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Sink Your Weight
In approaching bagua for the first time, one must relax and sink one’s weight in his feet, performing stepping movements without tension or distraction. It is here that true power can begin. “The eyes must be focused, the intention and qi (chi) must lead the movements and above all the body must relax and be soft, loose, and open,” explains sifu George Xu, who learned bagua in China over 30 years ago. Xu is also a high-level hsing-I, Chen tai chi and larn sou master who teaches form applications as well as the essence of deadly internal power adds, “Without this calm soft feeling of emptiness, one cannot achieve the deep relaxed heaviness that is the internal ground force of bagua.” The focus on freeing oneself of tension and returning to a natural state lets one find the true power of the bagua postures. The daily practice of circle walking also allows one to feel subtle force channeled through the body. A bagua master can redirect this force without external movement while also using it to move and support the body, which allows it to absorb strikes and deliver full-body blows. Unlike muscular force, which requires adrenaline to achieve striking tension, the internal martial artist harnesses power from relaxation, centering and natural body weight. Muscular force is ultimately limited as it relies on tightening the body and combining it with a swinging momentum to achieve a linear power. Since this relies on leverage, when confronted by greater leverage or a denser force it will likely lose. A bagua strike comes from relaxation, allowing a bagua master confronted by a highly skilled martial artist with strong leverage to borrow and redirect the oncoming power. Power is channeled in multiple directions and not just along a linear path. This gives strikes the ability to penetrate. This occurs automatically at the point of impact as a function of the relaxed, yet stable quality of musculature instead of through technique or conscious effort. This sophisticated relationship between body and mind, bridged by a relaxed and enhanced flow of signals through the nervous system, is a bagua staple. Using less force also allows deep core muscles to relax into instinctively performing functions that were otherwise performed by more superficial muscle groups. Xu emphasizes that the focus on softness in bagua “doesn’t mean that one is soft like tofu. There is still structure in the fluid balanced connected state and force hidden deep within the dan tien. Being perfectly balanced and having internal weight comes from the body’s center and core and can only be attained and felt through practicing sensations of lightness and emptiness in the limbs, otherwise one is merely using muscular force which is linear.” This practice of emptiness and getting power from the ground by sinking the weight of the hips is combined with a bagua fighter’s ability to enter or retreat in conflict using advantageous angles instead of merely relying on simple linear movements. The mastery and fluidity of foot movement emphasized in the art allows a bagua fighter to subtly present part of his body as a target. Once the other fighter has committed to a strike aimed at vulnerability, the bagua artist changes direction and places the opponent off balance, leaving him open for a well-placed internal counterstrike. It is essential to emphasize, however, that bagua is not merely a series of postures or techniques. Numerous profound spiritual and cultural principles lie at the core of its physical power. These Taoist principles and the living energy known as chi are at the core of bagua and reflected in the I-Ching (The Book of Changes), which traditional Chinese Taoist thinking credits as the root of all existence. Any martial artist who spars regularly and wishes to attain mastery regardless of his discipline or style can benefit from the training methodologies and theories of bagua. Slowing down one’s movements in training to achieve a relaxed comfort in footwork, working on defensive angling, and tirelessly overtraining positioning to where full-body motion is one’s greatest asset in a fight, are several reasons why bagua fighters have proven themselves throughout the profound history of this unique and intelligent art.

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The author tries to target Master Xu�s upper rear thigh area to deliver a right roundkick.

He rotates with the blow.

And catches the leg before performing a shrinking monkey

And then an eye jab.

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Inside Kung-Fu Magazine - The Root of All Power: Page 2

elbow spike.

Sifu Xu demonstrates a bagua response to a leg kick.

As the roundkick comes in, he repositions himself laterally to take force off the blow and trap the leg.

He then executes a shrinking monkey elbow spike to the leg.

Daniel Rauch is a Northern California-based martial artist and freelance writer. He last wrote, “Bagua’s Original Octagon” in the May issue.

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hello Sifu, my name is Lauro Medina Jr. Master/ founder of the 5 Pedal Plum Blossom Fist Kung Fu Rotating Hand System. i read your superb article on the root of all power. many martial artist think that the power is generated solely by the waist, and i teach my students, that the power is generated by the whole body as one movement, and if your footwork is weak, them your strikes will be weak as well. footwork is so important, and so crucial for proper fajing mechanics. it was a true pleasure responding to your article, and i look forward in hearing from you. peace be upon you and your family.
Posted by Sifu Lauro Medina ( on February 17, 2009 at 9:16

Inside KungFu is the best martial arts magazine
Posted by keith vige ( http://

Inside kung fu) on November 19, 2008 at 19:22

I love Bagua and this arrticles reaffirms why. I first learned an obscure form of silat from my Dad (he claimed it was a hybrid of Wing Chun and Indonesian fighting with a lot evasive movements and spinning, I never figured out if this was true or part of our families sense of humor...) at any rate when my Dad passed I never could find a style that clicked until Bagua. I ran into a lady in the park while I was doing my silat practice and we started talking. She told me about Bagua and gave me a demonstration, though I could have done without being a practice dummy, and I was hooked. Keep putting Bagua info. out as this is the only art since Silat that has me yearning to learn more. Thanks & Peace Lee
Posted by Tony Lee on September 6, 2008 at 11:00

nice explanation.
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