Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Gao Bagua Files: Water Section

As we move into the next section of movements, it's crucial to remember that the techniques themselves are only patterns of energy designed to illustrate how to disrupt the human body and psyche. They are keys that open possibilities, but they can not be forcefully or unnaturally applied. Think about it like downloading information into your body. When the program is ready, it will happen automatically. If you try to use it mid download, you are going to get server errors. Or you will get served because of your errors.

Just as in grappling, you can't do an arm bar anytime you feel like it, but must be skilled enough to place yourself into a position that the possibility more easily arises. After doing a technique 10,000 times, it becomes much easier to use it at the right time, but never underestimate the determination of the human spirit. These are not only the notes of my own personal research that I have gathered through sparring (heavy and light), security and even real combat, but also the notes of other masters and warriors that I have had the honor of working with, especially credited to my master Wu Guo Zheng. Still you don't need to get good at everything. Find your bread and butter and camouflage it with other techniques, set ups and footwork, footwork, footwork.

64 Palms ---- Water Section (9-16)

The Water Section is also called "The Way of the Hands" because it emphasizes various hand techniques used to deflect, absorb, intercept and manipulate oncoming attacks. The Water Section controls the space between the practitioner and the opponent as a rushing tide, overwhelming when it needs to be, or subtle if it's more suitable for the situation. It also uses splashing damage, which entails yanking the opponent into a strike to double the power. Because of the circular parries and light footwork in this section, it is ideal for both knife defense and knife fighting. As with all the sections, It's crucial to keep the shoulders pressed down, the elbows locked in behind the heart and the kua opened in order to effectively generate the needed effect of the Water Section.

Jie - Jie is the Intercepting Palm and the 9th of the 64 Palms. Utilizing the force of a step (forward, backward or stationary), a circular energy is transferred from the hips (dantian) into the fist in front of the body. By whipping the lead hand into a quick vortex motion that quickly straightens itself, the deflection invites the opponent even closer after his attack has been misdirected. The deflection is similar to the manner wheels of a speeding car can deflect rocks or even a bullet.  Once the opponent's guard has been opened, you can grab either the striking hand or the passive hand to yank him toward your next attack. By extending the weight forward, force is snapped into the opponents ribs with either a fist, shoulder or elbow attack. After the opponent stumbles from the impact, quickly capture the other hand while stepping forward to release a finishing blow.

               a. The Intercepting Palm is not only the counter to the Opening Palm, but the two movements can be used in sequence. Use kai and jie together to parry a combination fighter, allowing the back hand to counter effectively.

               b. Jie is great for creating a lock, but even better for snapping a quick attack with very little effort. You can even allow yourself to take a blow to better capture the attack and then snap the elbow with the forearm as the attack extends. The other hand acts as a lever while capturing the blow and you can hyperextend the elbow even accidentally. Cautious practicing.

               c. Jie works well while yielding weapons and is also one of the most effective methods to opening up a shoulder attack. If you are using a longer weapon and the opponent cuts off your space, use Jie to open his guard, then plant the shoulder on his center of gravity to create space. This places you in perfect range to finish him with the weapon.

Cang- Cang is the Hidden Palm and the 10th of the 64 palms. As the attack approaches, the lead hand grabs the attack using a circular motion, parrying with the back of the forearm and latching onto the back of the elbow. This assures that the opponent is unable to draw his hand back after its extension. Because the hand is outstretched in front of the opponent, the rear hand can follow the blindspot back to the opponent's ribs, hence the name "Hidden Palm." With a quick half-step, the palm can be launched into the blind spot under the opponents arm and as he stumbles, quickly use the striking hand to grab his limb from underneath and yank him into another attack with the lead hand.

             a. Cang's circular motion can deflect a straight attack from either side. If you grab the outside hand, your hidden palm can easily strike the heart, If you grab the inside hand, you can crush the ribs along side of the body.

              b. The yanking of this motion is just as important as the striking. The point is to hide the palm so that even a by stander couldn't identify what happened. Done correctly, this movement can calm an assailant amidst a crowd, without anyone being aware there was a fray. Because you are still holding on to his arm, you can yank him close after striking, and walk away with his arm around your shoulder as if he had a few too many beers.

             c. As with all locks that are done on the arm, they actually represent the head and neck. In extreme circumstances, research how each hand motion can be used as a neck snap or choke.

Kan- Kan is the Chopping Palm and the 11th of the 64 palms. Either to block a low attack or release a hand grab, Kan first sinks the weight (usually a cross step) to shove the elbow toward the weak part of the hold or atop the incoming attack. Once the hand has been deflected, the rear hand simultaneously grabs the attack before the opponent can escape, pulling his weight off balance towards the front. Because the legs are crossed, by uncrossing them(stepping forward), you step to the opponent's rear with enough force to close line him with either a back fist, elbow or shoulder attack, depending on range.

               a. The true secret of this movement lies on the "hand trade", meaning if someone grabs you, you've actually grabbed them. By learning to drop the weight quickly, shoving the elbow towards the weak part of the grasp, you place the opponent's hand into your grip in one fluid motion. This motion also cocks the body like a gun and allows an immediately release into the opponent's unprotected side.

               b. Kan is also very effective against a good side kick. As you sink, circle the elbow atop the incoming attack and as you unwind, your force will shove him off balance before his foot can reach the ground.

              c. As with all movements, this movement can be done both forwards, backwards and to every angle. Be sure to utilize this crossing step in all directions to fully understand the versatility of Kan in combat.

Xiao- Xiao is the Peeling Palm and the 12th of the 64 palms. It extends a spearhand while creating a wheel like motion in the legs, which allows the spearhand to be followed with a chopping motion of the rear hand. The spearhand first misdirects the oncoming attack, either upward or backward, allowing the following hand to smash the guard out of the way toward the ground. Once the opponent's force has been directed downward, the legs push forward as a sprinter and blasts him back with a single palm toward his centerline while the elbow acts as a shield for any surprises.

              a. Xiao is great for deflecting the guard, but if the opponent is too close, the rear hand is excellent as a strike to the face. Be sure to get comfortable using all the ranges to effectively utilize this tool. Also try practice converting the strikes into elbows for extra close encounters.

              b. Xiao also works as a great take down, by closing the gap with the spearhand and allowing the following hand to capture the head and yank him over the lead leg.

               c. Xiao is a safe move to use because it is very easily followed with an upward motion to either the groin or mid section. Sometimes you can miss deliberately to bait the opponent into charging into a finishing movement.

Er- Er is the Double Palm and the 13th of the 64 palms. The spearhand first misdirects the oncoming attack to the side, and while stepping a horizontal fist can be slammed into the opening under the arm at the kidney area. Once the opponent has been stunned from this shot, the hips rotate into another step, sending a twin hammer fist into the heart from the opposite direction. Done quickly this attack strikes the front and back sensitive targets almost simultaneously, diverting all attention away from the striking limb, which is either opened or snapped with a circling motion. By using a thrusting step the opponent is shoved in either the ribs or the temple to finish.

             a. The Double Palm is generated with a figure 8 motion that swirls from one hip to the other in rapid motion. However, this figure 8 motion is an infinite energy source and can be used to do a triple attack or even more. Of course successive striking is a flaw in any style without sufficient planning and timing. Still, if the opportunity is presented, quickly hammer fist from the front, to the back and to the front again (always targeting pressure points and knock out points), until the opponent loses consciousness, much like a boxer finishing off a dazed fighter.

             b. The Double Palm lends itself to paired weapons quite effectively because of the nature of its two-handed successive attack. Anything from double sticks, daggers to nunchucks can be used to intensify damage with this whipping energy.

             c. Though the transference of energy is generally emphasized from the waist into the hands, the energy can also be transferred into the legs, allowing for two successive sweeping attacks, attacking first the lead and then rear leg as it's lifted.

Hu- Hu is the Tiger Palm and the 14th of the 64 palms. First step to the side using a T-step motion while gathering the force into both hands, lifting the fists in front of the face while twisting upward to parry the oncoming attack. After the movement has either been parried or dodged, drop your weight, palms facing outward using a clawing motion toward the side of the face of the opponent. Use a small half step to gather enough force for a second clawing strike that will finish off the opponent.

                a. Although this movement traditionally is a clawing attack, it works just as effective, if not more effective as a downward strike with the palms or elbows. Because the weight first lifts the opponent up with the block before dropping, his body is already falling, making a clawing attack to the face possibly a bit difficult to get off. Also clawing is gross. Who wants DNA stuck behind the fingernails?

                b. Because of the great force this movement develops, it's excellent to disarm a pole weapon. It can also be used as an attack with a staff weapon or anything held between two hands.

                c. As the hands rise up they twist and when they come down they twist into the claw attack. This twisting movement, in addition to bursting footwork is excellent for escaping various grabs on the wrist and upper body.

Duo- Duo is the Contending Palm and the 15th of the 64 palms. This movement is lead with a running spearhand that throws the opponent behind the practitioner in three short explosive steps. As the final step of the sprint is reached, the opponent is thrown behind, while the practitioner turns around in the opposite direction, using centripetal force to strike the lower spine with dual palms.

                   a. The hardest part of this movement is the footwork. Taking three steps while the opponent delivers a single strike is challenging, but even if you miss the grab, offensively you are placed in a better position for another attack. Also if the opponent throws a committed strike, you can throw him behind using only a single step.

                    b. If you master the three step burst, you don't need a spearhand or any movement to make contact. You can simple make him miss and be behind you if you utilize this step while he is in mid combination. When you reach his back, an attack to the spine is not the only option. Kick out the leg from the back of the knee or strike to the back of the neck. Be sure to stay close enough to the opponent that you can feel where he's going. Wherever he decides to move, move swiftly to his blind side and deliver a finishing blow.

                    c. Using a single step, this movement works beautifully against a one-two counter. Get adjusted as you parry the jab and step passed the second incoming punch. You will land in perfect position for a back elbow to the areas of preference.

Huan- Huan is the Enclosing Palm and the 16th of the 64 palms. The spearhand deflects the movement upward briefly as the following hand drops down in a circular motion with the elbow, trapping the arm in an arm bar. After snapping the arm, step forward and launch an attack to the exposed ribs. Then, yank the opponent toward you to drop him with an overtop elbow to the throat (Covering Palm) If he's still standing, follow up with the sweep on the leg, while throwing his corpse in the opposite direction.

                    a. This movement is actually a combination of 5 movements and any one of the movements is enough to end the fray. Use what is needed for the appropriate moment and let the nature of the battle lead you to what should happen next. Every movement is just a key for an opening and once you are in, the house is yours. That being said, the finishing sweep movement, is great for when people rush in at you.

                     b. The beginning arm bar/break, can be followed with any number of holds, strikes or escort movements. For complete control, following the arm bar, step forward and wrap the lead hand around the opponent's neck. This will place you in a great position to use the target as a human shield so you can perceive the environment or avoid extra aggressors.

                      c. All of the movements within Huan are generally seen as grabs and holds, but every movement can become anything. By converting the movements into strikes, you will find these circular techniques are great as a striking combination to get into a closer range while parrying multiple dangers.

Note: The Water Section is represented by Ayuko in my novel "Master Trey's Flawless Outlaws" Get it on amazon:


Sunday, September 25, 2016

Gao Bagua Files: Heaven Section

Sorry it's been a while since I've touched up on my blog, but different seasons come with different tasks and adaptation is necessary to keep any form of momentum. We must maintain every talent within us for the betterment of the world, yet it's foolishness to forcefully use a tool that we may favor over the tool that is needed.

Entering the middle of my new training, I see that many of my students, kung fu brothers and supporters  all over the world are in need of a map of the techniques. With over 2000 movements to instruct and illustrate, I will try to be concise, yet detailed while providing a few pointers on dealing with fighters of other styles as a guideline. Of course the effectiveness of every art is more related to the individual than the mechanics, but the right individual with skilled mechanics, can be a dominating force.

64 Palms --- Heaven Section (1-8)

The Heaven Section is also called the "Way of Striking" because it emphasizes hitting and not being hit from all 8 possible trajectories. Any style can hit, but in Bagua every hit is a step. These basic motions teach the connection between foot, waist and hand that allow you to impact your opponent with the force of the ground. Just as a sprinter gains all of their force from the ground before launching into a sprint, the Heaven Section gives structured basics to allow you to put the power of your sprint into the form of a palm, fist, elbow, shoulder, knee, foot or head strike. Through timing and footwork practice, continual strikes can be done easily to overwhelm your opponent or fend of multiple attackers.

1. Kai- Kai is the Opening Palm and the very 1st technique of the 64 palms. In its most basic form it opens the attack with the forearm - connected to the waist - in a circular motion, exposing the ribs, chin or throat of the opponent. Using short bursting power, the attacker can be disabled or off balanced in order to land a more effective follow up attack.

              a. Kai is excellent for escorting or wrist, elbow, shoulder locks and breaks. By adjusting the size of the circling motion, damage can be aimed to the desired weak point.

              b. Kai is effective at dealing with any form of attack with well timed footwork. Be sure to utilize combinations after parries to ensure reaction fluency and adjust for positions on the inside and outside of the opponent, long short range, etc.

              c. Kai is the first of the 64 palms and often seen as the most crucial palm because all the palms grow from within it.

2. Peng- Peng is the Extorting Palm and the 2nd of the 64 palms. This movement uses angular stepping to put force against an opponent from the side. By using a T-step, you are assured to be a step ahead as the opponent attempts to adjust to the awkward angle. As you step to the side, a spearhand is thrust toward the opponent's eyes to hide your footwork. When he flinches or covers his eyes, it's easier to take a fluid step to behind him by turning the waist and pulling on the back of his elbow for an attack.

                a. Peng is a great counter to change positions with your opponent, but it works best against the attacker's second or third strike in succession. It can be done against a jab, yet the timing is so precise that it's hard to classify as the best movement against a quick strike. This is best for committed techniques.

                b. Peng is excellent for knife and sword fighting. By placing any sharp or pole weapon in your hand, it becomes obvious how the subtle footwork allows you to make effective slices and stabs while staying out of the way of danger.

                c. Peng is traditionally defensive, but even better as an offensive attack. Initiate a strike while stepping in an evasive angle and it will put you in a better position for a follow up.

3. Dun - Dun is the Dropping Palm and the 3rd technique of the 64 palms. This movement also uses evasive stepping (angular or T-stepping), but pulls the weight of the opponent through the ground. Use a T-step to the side, while doing an upward spearhand. The upward force will put the opponent slightly on his toes. Then, yank down, keeping the elbows close together while pulling on the back of the elbow joint. As he kneels, shove his center line that would be positioned at the temple, neck or side of the body.

 a. Dun is an excellent defense to teach to women to prevent purse snatches. By dropping their weight, a would-be-thief, can  be knocked down by the surprise of the force alone.

                b. Dun is also an excellent hammer fist if the opponent is too quick to grab. Strike down on the pressure points of the forearm and elbow or slam down on the side of the neck.

                c. Substitute the vertical spearhand for a vertical elbow to parry the attack from underneath or crash into the chin with an undercutting elbow.Then follow up with a downward elbow of the opposing hand, to create jarring throughout the equilibrium.

4 Tan- Tan is the Searching Palm and the 4th technique of the 64 palms. This movement forces the opponent to defend by asserting a spearhand toward the nose, throat or eyes. As the guard is raised, yank the opponent toward you while simultaneously striking the face with the other hand to off-set the neck. As the opponent is disoriented, use a forward step while sinking the weight in the back to strike the heart.
                 a. Tan is one of the fastest attacks of the 64 palms and is extremely effective at disabling speedy opponents.

                 b. The leg switch is tricky at first, but crucial at creating space to release more power. It's much like winding up a pitch without the need of additional space.

                 c. Tan can be repeated and is great for tangling and trapping chain punchers.

5. Li- Li is the Twisting Palm and the 5th of the 64 palms. This attack steps (T-step) against and toward an outward strike, meeting it with great force, but twisting the attack at the joint instead of deflecting it. Once the force has been stopped, the following hand circles around to snap the joint and then shove the opponent out of position.

                   a. This movement is excellent to defend against any side attack with a weapon by stepping in toward the source of the attack, to cut of the power at the root.

                   b. It's unrealistic to use this against a boxing attack with an extended arm because of the shortness of the boxer's hook. Utilizing  the same motions, the elbow can be used to deflect instead and then use the following elbow in circular motion to snap the arm out of joint. It takes more skill, but using the elbow for locks while connecting to the waist, is far more realistic and effective in a close quarter's clinch.

                   c. Li is a great counter, but even better on offense done with an outside knife hand, hammer fist combination, or elbow combination. Learn all the ranges to understand the nature of the attack.

6. Tiao- Tiao is the Picking Palm and the 6th of the 64 palms. This movement extends a spearhand that rolls under the opponent's force with a step, raising under the armpit and placing him on his toes. Once the arm has been raised, the constitution of the ribs has lessened and they can be easily broken with a stepping palm strike. After striking the ribs, grab the loose hand and yank the opponent toward you to deliver another strike to the already shattered ribs.

                     a. The most crucial part of the picking palm is raising the opponent up onto his toes. This is done by raising the hips and shoving the opponent of his center of gravity upward, using his armpit as leverage. If the opponent is too much taller than you, you will not be able to knock him off balance upward, so more forward motion is necessary, which may cause differentiation in the following finish.

                     b. The grab, strike, grab, strike pattern is a glimpse into the Water Section (9-16). Fluency of being able to roll an attack into a grab will be greatly rewarded as you can even prevent your opponent from falling to the ground before you are done with him.

                     c. The Picking Palm can be performed more subtly, just raising your opponent's aim high enough to make him feel like he barely missed. By glancing off your forearm, a small pocket leading to the ribs can be made and the momentum of the opponent will give you twice the force in your attack. It's best to meet that amount of force with either the elbow or shoulder.

7. Gai- Gai is the Covering Palm and the 7th of the 64 palms. The hands make a frontward whirling motion while stepping forward, placing any attack into the vortex of energy that leads to a grab. Once the attack has been captured, use the hips and legs to yank the opponent toward you while running through him from over head with the elbow landing on the throat.

                      a. Gai appears as a palm attack, but the elbow is the emphasis unless the opponent is much larger than you or is slightly out of range.

                      b. Gai can also be a hold when the elbow is trapped against the throat. By bending him over the knee with the elbow on the throat while holding a low stance he will be pinched in an off-balance position while gasping for air. This may prove effective for interrogation, but isn't effective for escorting as the opponent's only next step is to the floor.

                      c. The initial yanking of the first motion is more than enough to send an opponent flying into a nearby object. Position yourself properly for a good yank and you can skip the second movement altogether.

8. Chan- Chan is the Wrapping Palm and the 8th of the 64 palms. The weight sinks down as a knife-hand blocking downward on an incoming low attack. Once grazing against the attack, circle the hand from out to in with the palm facing outward. By clenching tightly and keeping the posture low, the opponent's hand will be trapped by your body weight allowing for an unblockable counter. Step through with a full step for a knock out strike with the fist, elbow or shoulder or a neck snap depending on the angle of the off-balanced opponent.

                         a. Practicing fluency of Chan is necessary before it can be effective in any terms. Yet once it's been mastered, it's excellent for disarms and controlling an attack with a knife.

                         b. This movement works almost automatically with mid and low kicks once the footwork and sinking have become second nature.

                         c. By yielding a small knife while doing this motion, you ensure a clean cut or stab against your opponent with minimal chance of counter.

Read my novel "Master Trey's Flawless Outlaws" to see this style in action by my representative Celia. She uses all the movements in real combat scenarios against impossible odds. Get it on amazon: