Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Gao Bagua Files: Mountain Section

Each of the eight sections of Bagua are named after elements that follow certain characteristics both for the purpose of documenting information and making it easier for practitioners of the future to comprehend. In a word Heaven is direct, Water flows, the Mountain is immovable, Thunder is startling, Wind is un-containable, Fire is consuming, Earth is deceptive and Lake is depth. Each of the 8 elements consist of 8 techniques, totaling to 64 concepts to deal with possible dangers, be they physical or health related. However these movements are just a framework of what the technique actually means: a physical riddle, designed to teach freedom of movement outside of these patterns. Yet to obtain freedom, without mastering restriction, is to obtain chaos without purpose or control. A baby with the strength of a man would only cause damage to itself and loved ones, especially when having a tantrum. The strength of baby is naturally restricted for reasons of safety and responsibility, as it is with Bagua learners who are still learning the patterns.

64 Palms---Mountain Section (17-24)

The Mountain Section is also called the "Way of Countering" for its numerous methods of diverting energy and placing the practitioner in the ideal range to land an attack in a neglected or forced opening. It also specializes in trapping and jamming motions, utilizing a a technique called, "Distant water is unable to quench nearby fire." The mountain is immovable, but this term can be deceptive as many of the techniques move rapidly, fluidly and dexterously to all angles around the opponent. Yet as the body moves, it is completely in one piece, rooted with the ground. Even when the practitioner is bumped between motions, it should be the opponent who stumbles. The part that is unmovable is referring to the core or swivel piece within the center, like the gear of a clock. Whatever pushes against it, immediately receives double the force. Practice of the Mountain section, establishes a clear sensation of this piece that automatically sends a response to the oncoming attack. It is a physical mathematical equation that meets the force with the needed answer to dissolve it.

*The Mountain Section is one step passed the Water Section because instead of only flowing within one's self, it allows you to steal the flow of your opponent. It is also key to understanding the following Thunder Section, which weaponizes every part of the body.

Chuan- Chuan is called the Piercing Palm and is the 17th of the 64 palms. It begins by first recoiling as the hand draws near the body to slow the momentum of the oncoming attack with a circular motion from either top or bottom. After the energy has been diverted, the opponent's arm is raised as the practitioner steps forward with a spearhand that traces under the lead hand. This hides the following grab. As the step is completed, a circling motion in the hips swings the hand into a circle to grab the opponents attacking arm behind the elbow. Like the hidden palm, a half step inserts the palm into the rib and as the opponent falls back, he is again grabbed with the attacking hand. A long stance finishes the opponent with either a back fast, forearm, shoulder, elbow or headbutt.

a. The first movement of Chuan is very adaptive to almost any oncoming or even retreating attack. By circling while stepping, the practitioner is able to use the movement to block, parry, guide, stick, evade, dodge or intercept any movement. Master this step, and you can easily stick to the opponent and capitalize on his weakness.

b. Chuan is the perfect counter when using hook weapons because of it's forward to backward mobility. Use the first movement to hook an attack (even with a long weapon) and as you step in, replace the grab with a hook around the arm or behind the neck to finish.

c. By changing the range of this motion from spearhand to elbowsstrikes, you find the versatility of this energy allows for a new doorway into completely new combat concepts. Using the same movements, keep the elbows close to the body as they become your new offense and defense. It appears almost as a cat cleaning its fur as you step from one trajectory to the other. Also notice the new defensive possibilities that occur when doing the movement backwards.

Ban- Ban is the "Moving Palm" and the 18th of the 64 palms. This movement begins by either escaping a grab or blocking a mid to low attack by dropping the elbow and entering a cross-step, much like the beginning of Kan (Chopping Palm). After the elbow frees the grasp or parries the attack, the rear hand grasps the opponent's hand. Then, the weight of the opponent is knocked back with a long stance toward his back whil twisting the hips to bring an elbow attack from above onto the opponents chest or throat. Next, step back and yank with both hands onto the nearest limb of the opponent to off balance him forward. This whiplash motion can do jarring damage to the internal bones and organs. The yank pulls him into an oncoming fist, elbow or shoulder to the midsection to finish him off.

a. Ban utilizes a countering forward circle motion that redirects the opponent's force straight toward the ground. This attack is ideal against opponents with longer limbs or a long range weapon to take advantage of their distance.

b. Ban is perfect for the saber as the circling motion uses the back of the blade to parry and then comes down atop the opponent with an unblockable counter.

c. The first part of Ban is a coil that avoids danger while gathering power. The following long step can be changed to a kou bu or bai bu (outward inward stepping) to surround the opponent instead of over power the opponent. Try different footwork options to fully understand this handy technique.

Jie- Jie is the Catching Palm and the 19th of the 64 palms. Jie begins by extending into a long stance while the hands make a circle forward to deflect the incoming attack (face or body level). As the attack is circled, the hands grab or catch the opponent before he can retract his attack,and then yanks them down into a deep cat-like posture. Once the opponent stumbles, the practitioner again extends into a long stance still holding the opponent's wrist, and then knocks him back with a palm to the mid section. Before the opponent is knocked out of range, the practitioner takes a full step while the striking hand lifts the opponent's already broken guard to deliver a second, more devastating palm to the mid section to finish.

a. The circling yank at the beginning of this movement is the signature of Jie. By catching him and throwing his guard toward the floor, you expose your opponent to many different attacks. However if the practitioner catches the head and uses the same yanking attack, this becomes a devastating throw. Caution: If the circle is done quickly, the throw becomes a neck snap.

b. The third part of Jie is a full stepping palm attack. By raising the opponent's guard, you clear a pathway to target the heart. An opponent with fast footwork, may move out of range automatically, which is why this movement begins with the catch. However, with good footwork practice, you can out run a fleeing opponent and the footwork can be repeated, making Jie a charging offensive attack. Continue to raise the opponents arm with your elbows, to create a shield for possible surprises and be sure not to exceed 2 or three times. If you haven't gotten him by the third attack, he's about to get you.

c. Jie is generally done by stepping forward then back or just stepping back when the attack comes in. The circling hand deflection is key to covering the preferred footwork. After a good deflection, try stepping toward the opponent's back with a turning or through step. This will combine the yank with centripetal force, which is great for throwing someone through a window.

 Lan- Lan is the Blocking or Barring Palm and is the 20th of the 64 palms. Lan first extends a forward block, much like a slightly slanting, horizontal spearhand that meets the oncoming attack. It is follow by a lower block of the same manner, but sinks the weight downward and inside the opponent's guard. After the movement has been parried and before the opponent is able to retract, the following hand slides inside the lead hand on the inside of the opponent's forearm. using the elbow, turn the waist and open the opponent's guard to the side. This gives you an open shot at an unprotected heart. Then fire double palms into the exposed area, utilizing the force of a half step.

a. This movement is excellent against both fast and powerful attackers. The key is learning to block an attack and sneak the elbow in with the hip. By mastering the elbow hip connection, you can easily sling your opponent to the left or right at will. For the best results, wait for a committed attack, as it makes it almost impossible to block the counter if the opponent's weight is on you.

b. Believe or not, attacking the heart is a friendly version of this attack. Learn to fire this movement to the throat, chin and eyes for more immediately paralyzing results.

c. This movement is taught with a small step forward, but it's great when you're in a standing grapple to use a small step backward. Convert the blocks from forearm range to elbow range and this movement can be used to guide the head of a charging opponent. Be sure to practice sinking your weight as you guide the head to make sure you aren't lifted in the air. Yet, it's best to use evasive stepping to avoid getting inside the opponent's completed circle. A circle whether it be a bagua strike or a grappler's squeeze, can be impossible to break out of because a circle in itself is perfect. Lan is a natural energy that discourages the completion of the opponent's circle, but if you fail to do so, get ready for a little nap.

Ting- Ting is the Stopping Palm and the 21st of the 64 palms. Ting begins by reaching forward into a long stance and retracting back quickly, yanking the opponent off balance. As he is yanked back, the practitioner accelerates forwarded, using energy from both the yank and explosive stepping to stand where the opponent was just standing. Trading places violently causes the opponent to be disoriented while the practitioner has a clear shot at the spine, back of the neck or anywhere else that floats your boat. Finish with a double palm to the back  and then use a through step while latching on to the opponent from the rear, pivot and slam him on his neck.

a. This move, initially is hard to master, but that's because it's teleportation. You can either emphasize the yank or the explosive step and the movement will be effective. If you have a good yank, it's easy enough to step behind him at the same time. If you have a good step, make him miss and step behind him, you won't need a yank. If you don't have a good yank or a good step, don't attempt this move. You will only get beat up and make us all look bad.

b. This movement is ideal when fighting with multiple opponents. Not only does it confuse the attacker, it also confuses the people standing around. Have a circle of friends attack you in succession as you keep using this movement. It will help you orientate yourself and see the results against different attackers, sizes and timings. You'll have to do this movement at least 1000 times, before it's even "pretty good."

c. Mastering this movement with dual knives is an assassin's wet dream. Replace the yanking and strikes with slashes to the wrist while stepping behind the opponent and finishing with stabs to the spine. The takedown then becomes a downward thrusting knife attack that crashes the opponent to the floor.

d. I know most Bagua practitioners don't utilize nunchucks, but I sure like to. The yank can be done with the chain of the nunchucks or you can use a circle parry to the inside as you bash the back of the knuckles or leg. With a good explosive step, you will be able to strike his temple or base of the head while he's still rubbing his throbbing hand.

Fan- Fan is the Turning Over Palm or Flipping Palm and is the 22nd of the 64 palms. The term fan in Chinese actually refers to flipping through pages just as a book. In terms of attack, you are flipping from the bottom to the top of the opponent. As the attack comes in, it is met with a spearhand that immediately slides into a downward grab. While the opponent's arm is still extended, a lower forearm strike attacks the center line in a downward motion. This can be a blow to the midsection or nuts, or it can also be an arm break. After the lower attack is completed, the grabbed hand is yanked and changes positions with the attacking hand in a circular motion. This generates the attacking hand into another strike to the jaw or throat. It should be over by now, but if it's not, circle the lead hand to grasp the elbow and then follow with a hidden palm and finish.

a. Because of the circle motion of Fan, it is much like the chain punch of Wing chun and many practitioners will emphasize its speed and probably miss out on the power. The true key to this movement as in all Bagua movement's is in the legs. Generate all the force from the legs, through the kua and into the arms to crush both the downstairs and upstairs successively. Slow your pony. If your opponent is broken, you don't need to be that fast.

b. The weapon applications are so awesome and should be obvious by now. Stab downstairs, stab upstairs, slice the back of the elbow and grab. Stab the ribs and finish at the throat.

c. Try not to think of things in terms of striking, grabbing, kicking or weapon strikes, but as energy. Then this movement easily becomes the counter to many grabs. As a fighter gets close, use the back of his neck to represent the incoming attack. Then whip your elbow or forearm from his rib cage to his throat, utilizing the same circling motion of Fan. This motion can also be used to counter the clutch and kneeing attacks of a muay thai fighter while creating enough room for your own attack.

Zou- Zou is the Walking Palm and the 23rd of the 64 palms. The Walking Palm begins by sinking the weight in the back while making a small circle in the hips to guide or redirect the opponent's attack slightly to the outside. The attack is then subtly moved out of the way while stepping and the following hand strikes the opening.

This palm strike is actually a style within itself in our lineage that emphasizes closing the gap. We teach it in a form of 25 different steps to teach practitioners to master the space between the fray. The 25 steps all emphasize nullifying the opponent's effective range while landing heavy attacks, breaks and takedowns. I will eventually write out a whole descriptive page on this style, but in the mean time you can get some details from my Martial Arts Novel, "Master Trey's Flawless Outlaws" available on amazon.

In the novel, the style is called the "25 Evasive Steps" practiced by Simon Sayz. I put a lot of combat details and all of the characters are based on styles in our lineage.

Zhuan- Zhuan is the Revolving Palm and the 24th of the 64 palms. The Revolving Palm begins by extending a slanting spearhand to the side to intercept the oncoming attack. As the attack is deflected, plant a kou bu or pivoting step to slide the attack off the practitioner's back while spinning and sticking to the retracting attack. As the opponent's attack return's it is accompanied by the force generated from the practitioner's spin in the form of a turning palm to the ribs. Once the opponent takes the initial jolt of the first attack, his guard is raised in the air by the lead hand as the rear hand extends through the target a second time to finish.

a.  A lot of people think of spinning attacks as dangerous and for good reason because of the dangers involved. However with good footwork and understanding of space, it shouldn't feel like you are spinning, but you are using the weapons in both the front and back of the body. Literally half of the weapons of Bagua are launched from the back so if you aren't turning, you are only doing half of Bagua. Still this takes a rather good understanding of kou bu so I will try to give some details:
When your weight is sunken, Kou and Bai Bu allow you to move fluently to either side, turning the foot outward or inward from the waist not the leg. When an attack comes in at the practitioner, it should be easy to absorb, move with, and stay with the attack as it retracts. With a low and balanced stance, it's easy enough to just ram into the opponent while his attack is still extended. The problem being, if your weight isn't centered properly, you will fall over instead of your opponent...and he will more than likely put it on youtube.

                   i. my suggestion is to practice in half turns at first to get comfortable with the idea of turning. It should feel like the opponent is pushing you into a turn, not a turn on its on might. As you turn, keep the legs tight together at the thigh, so that you can feel the different areas of your body bump into the target. First turn and strike with the back or butt, then with the shoulder, then with the elbow to forearm, to palm and so on. Never take your eyes off your opponent and never stop in mid motion.

b. The turning motion can lead you to the outside or inside of the opponent depending on which limb you counter. Your leg will determine where you land so if you don't aim it to the outside or inside with your step, you will crash into your opponent. If you step to the side, your attack can go through the opponent, which is ideal.

c. Once the turn is mastered, use the fake turn. You can begin a turn and suddenly change direction to make your opponent miss. Or you can just look over your shoulder to lure him into a powerful attack.

The Mountain Section is represented by Amanda in my novel, "Master Trey's Flawless Outlaws." Get the book on amazon to see the motions in action: