Wednesday, May 6, 2009

He teaches Tai Chi, Bagua and Xing Yi?

I remember when I first began searching for a Bagua master I found many teachers that told me they taught Tai Chi, Bagua, and Xing Yi. The three internal styles of China all in one conveiniant classroom. I was so impressed with the concept that it became something that I thought I could do myself. When I met my master Wu Guo Zheng I asked him if he had learned the other styles aside from Bagua. He told me a various number of styles that he practice which included Tai Chi but said he didn't have time to focus on them because there was too much Bagua.

A short history of development of the Bagua principles. In the beginning there is Wu or nothingness. The idea that nothing is consistant because everything is always changing. This was a concept developed from the Yi Jing which later developed into Yin and Yang or opposing forces. I am not going to go into too much detail into any of these concepts because they are far to vast for my little blog. But I want to notice the numbers. The Yin and Yang later developed into the three principles: Heaven, Earth and man. The three principles lead into the four directions: North, East, South and West. The four directions lead into the 5 elements. Water, Metal, Earth, Fire and Air. The five elements lead into the Six Harmonies being North, West, South, East, Up and Down. The Six harmonies lead into the seven stars. The seven stars lead into the 8 trigrams or Bagua. Bagua lead into the 9 palaces and on and on.

All of these concepts are also a part of Bagua. Some of the movements or even the warm ups incorporate movements from the six harmony kicks, the form of five elements, and we usually practice the seven stars with the deer antlers. These concepts are so vast that they could stand alone as a complete fighting system. For example it is said that the seven stars was originally a system that seven warriors used a formation designed after the stars to fight as a team. Each of them all using seven different weapons all covering each other. Because they fought in this formation they were able to fight against thousands of warriors at a time.

In our system of Bagua we use these different systems to learn and develop into different areas. Obtaining as many advantages as possible for combat. Not to mention the system of pure Bagua alone is too much to learn in a lifetime. So when my master explained this to me, I began to understand the impossiblity of learning all three systems. Unless a man has three hundred years and no job, he can never obtain so much knowledge. From working with the masters of the different styles in Fu Zhou, Taiwan, and in the Shaolin Temple. I was able to see that Bagua is no bigger than Tai Chi. In fact all of the styles contain an almost endless amount of information. But not every style is fully intact for various reasons. Meaning that someone could believe he has learned all there is to learn about Xing Yi but his training is only beginning. This is why humility is so important as we grow from warriors to masters. As soon as you think you know everything, you stop learning.

So when I asked my master how someone could claim to know all three internals he told me it was most likely they know a lot of one style and a little of the other two. Or a fair amount of all three styles. But there can be no person who has mastered all three. Especially in modern times.


Jamey02 said...


Nice post. Tai chi is the most effective way to overcome stress and it is a significant health benefit. Tai chi is highly recommended to anyone who suffers stress, depression and anxiety. By learning to relax and breathe more deeply, you can easily get rid of stress.

Warren Fox said...

Absolutely. I think all of the internals have millions of benefits that specialize in unique needs. I do find Tai Chi to be very soothing for the soul.

Ed said...

One reason for the "three internals together" thing may be that many IMA teachers in Taiwan come from lineages that have had much intermixing in general (Li Cunyi, for example, did much work with all three, and his xingyi shows a significant bagua and taiji influence).

Some styles, such as Yin style, have very little taiji or xingyi influence, and are normally taught alone (without the other two), but Yin style is somewhat rarer in Taiwan, I think.

yuefeiblog said...

I've personally seen and studied with masters who have mastered all three.
It really just depends on how much time you can put into your practice and how good your teachers are.
My teacher, Yang Hai has significant mastery over all three of the internal styles. His Taiji is very distinct from his bagua, and his bagua is very distinct from his xingyi. But then again he has been training since he was eight years old and had access to some of the very top teachers in China.
I would be careful of essentializing any one person's practice based only on your own and your teacher's observations.
Consider that back in the day you had guys like Sun Lutang who had such mastery over the three internal styles that he was considered one of the greatest masters in Chinese history. The same can be said of guys like Zhang Zhaodong who did more than two styles successfully and even expanded the repetoir of the internal martial arts by creating the xingyi bagua system.
I think specializing in one style is admirable, but for some people mastery of multiple styles is possible in one lifetime.
CMA is basically an ancient and sophisticated family that evolve through cross pollination, not stagnation based on people's perceived limitations. :D

Warren Fox said...

Well I agree that the first step to losing a battle begins with closed thoughts. So I am by no means doubting the possibility of people learning all of the styles. Its much like a surgeon being able to different fields of medicine. But brain surgeons spend so much time on the brain's intrecate details that a surgeon who is capable of multiple fields of medicine probably can't explain the brain as well.