Links to all Back Issues of the FYI Page are
available on the Reference
They contain articles on many important topics that
are of particular interest to serious Qi Gong (Chi
Kung) and Ba Gua Zhang (Pa Kua Chang)
practitioners. So, don't forget to check them
New Qiang Shan Ba Gua Zhang
New resources for those
interested in learning more about the Traditional
Ba Gua Zhang of Lu Shui-Tian
as taught by Master Park
Bok-Nam. . - Qiang Shan Ba Gua Zhang
- Edition #39
DEEP LEARNING the TRADITIONAL WAY Francis
Why are you studying
the martial arts? What is your
purpose? To learn forms? To learn
fighting? To improve your health? I will
not be addressing “sport martial arts” or
“performance martial arts” here. The goals of
those activities are fame and / or fortune, which
are ego-based pursuits, and contrary to the
philosophy, purpose, and principles of traditional
martial arts practice, such as Qiang Shan
Traditional martial arts does
have forms. And, traditional martial arts does
have fighting. But, martial arts studied
properly, the traditional way, offers so much more
You can learn forms
anywhere. A form is a choreography, a
formalized sequence of movements. There are
literally thousands and thousands of forms. There may
even be hundreds of forms, in each martial art
style. Anyone can create a form. How many
forms is enough for one to know? Martial arts,
at least tradition martial arts, is not simply about
learning form, after form, after form.
Shifu Bok-Nam Park teaches the
Traditional Baguazhang Method known as Qiang Shan
Baguazhang - the full traditional
methodology that was passed down to him, as the
formal inheritor of his teacher, Shifu Lu
Anyone can copy every form that Lu
Shui-Tian taught, and that Shifu Park
teaches. There are people out there
teaching these forms. But, when you copy or
learn forms this way, you obtain only the basic
outline or framework of those forms. That is
all you get, and that is all you have. You
must understand that there is very little true value
in just knowing a form.
Shifu Park says,
“When you are always chasing ‘the new, the new,
the new’, the old forms you know, you just simply
‘forget, forget, forget’.” This is
nothing but a waste of your time and your
money. You know many forms; but, know nothing
well or deeply. You are just a collector of
forms. Is this all that you want? Is
this what you are spending your precious time and
money on? Just a collection of forms?
Shifu Park has
remarked that knowing a few forms that you
“understand deeply” is more valuable than knowing
many forms that you simply “just know”.
Shifu Park has been teaching traditional Bagua for
most of his adult life. He began teaching
Bagua in Korea in 1971, and has spread the Bagua of
Lu Shui-tian throughout the world. And, he has
noted that, throughout his life and his teaching,
the many people he has encountered don’t seem to
think very much about this.
In whatever martial art you
practice, or that you are considering, how would
you answer the following questions:
understand, or want to understand, the role
that forms practice plays in the traditional
know the two ways that any form is used?
you do a form, do you just think “right,
left, up, down, …” or “1, 2, 3, 4, …”, or do
you envision what the form represents?
form a “live” form or a “dead” form?
Do you know what the difference is?
Do you know
that there is more than one kind of internal
power? Do you know how to properly
generate and use each kind of power?
Do you think
that traditional forms practice has little or
no value in fighting? If so, what is
your basis for this view? Do you know
how forms should be used?
understand natural principles and how they
apply in a practical way to your martial
practice? If your understanding of
natural principles is only theoretical, how
does this benefit your actual practice?
understand natural rhythm and the fundamental
role that it plays in proper exercise
understand the critical role that your mind
plays in your practice?
understand how to adjust your practice based
on your body’s needs?
teacher follow tried and true natural
principles or his / her own thinking and
Do you follow
tried and true natural principles in your own
practice, or do you follow your own thinking
You need to think
seriously about this. If you can’t
answer these kinds of important questions, what kind
of understanding do you really have about your
practice, or any practice you are considering?
What value have you really obtained for your time,
money, and effort? You will not be able to
answer these kinds of questions unless, and until,
you acquire a deep understanding of your body and
With a deep
understanding of your body and your practice,
which can only be acquired through proper exercise
experience, you will possess the knowledge and
wisdom necessary to adjust your practice to
maximize the benefits and meet your body’s
changing needs throughout your entire lifetime.
On the other hand, if questions such as these are
not of interest to you, then proper traditional
martial arts practice is not for you. But,
this is your choice to make.
Iwill not and
cannot give you the answers to these questions
here, except to point out that a
traditional form, and traditional practice, was
not created for show, or sport, or entertainment.
It was created for two important purposes.
First, to develop and improve the health of the
body. And, second, as a live encyclopedia of
self-defense. Proper traditional practice is
not like many current, modern, popular western
exercise practices where you perform a physical
exercise and your mind is somewhere else. You
may be listening to music or audiobooks on your
headphones, or watching videos on videoscreens; but,
your mind is not particularly involved in your
practice or your exercise. In this regard, you
are separating your mind and your body in your
exercise, and fundamentally curtailing the benefits
that you can achieve from that exercise.
It is beyond the
scope of this brief article to even begin to
answer the questions I am asking you to think
about here. That is a journey of
discovery that you must make under the watchful
guidance and teaching of a qualified, experienced
instructor. For those interested in pursuing
this further, you can contact Shifu Park’s Bagua
Association and certified instructors, which and who
are provided at http://www.pa-kua.com
Do you want true and
lasting value in your practice, for the time,
money, and effort that you are spending? Or,
are you just satisfied with “knowing” many forms,
and / or “knowing” many fighting
techniques? It depends on what you
want. This is a personal decision you will
have to make. In either case, I wish you well
in your practice.
Page - Edition #39
BAGUAZHANG CIRCLE WALKING
and the NATURAL WAY
One of the most prominent and recognizable
aspects of Baguazhang (八卦掌, bāguàzhǎng)
practice is Circle Walking. It forms a
fundamental part of Bagua methodology and
training. Why does Bagua have Circle
Walking? Why do Bagua practitioners do
this? Do we do it because it looks good?
Do we do it because our teacher says we have to,
because “that is what Bagua is”? Do we do it
because we’re crazy? Some people, who don’t
understand Bagua, may think so.
Why a circle?
First, it is important to understand that the “circle
principle” comes from nature. It is not an
invention of man. It is a universal and
fundamental principle of the natural world, and has
become recognized as such in such famous ancient
Chinese texts as the YIJING, (易經, Yìjīng) -
The Book of Changes. All nature, and all life,
is based on change - circular and cyclical
change. All motion incorporates circular or
curvi-linear movement. All joints operate on
circular or rotational action. And, to turn the
body or change direction, one must perform circular /
On a large scale, the
Earth spins on its axis. The Moon revolves
around the Earth. The Earth and the planets
revolve around the Sun. And, so on.
This is the basis for all
life, for all of nature, for the universe, and all of
The rule of nature is
that everything changes; nothing remains the same.
Change can be fast or slow, large or small. In
any case, change is natural and inevitable, and is a
continuous and on-going process. Nevertheless,
change is not haphazard. There are patterns of
change inherent in nature, and in human life.
The Gua (卦, guà) - the Trigrams that comprise the
symbol for Baguazhang recognize and codify these
naturally occurring processes in a systematic way.
bāguàzhǎng) incorporates circle thinking, circle
moving, and circle fighting as the basis of its
methodology. Taijiquan (太極拳, tàijíquán)
the oldest of the major internal systems, emphasizes
the principle of Yin (陰, yīn) and Yang (陽, yáng).
Xingyiquan (形意拳, xíngyìquán), the second major
internal system, emphasizes the principle of the
Wuxing (五行, wǔxíng) - the Five Elements.
Baguazhang (八卦掌, bāguàzhǎng), the youngest of the
major internal systems, incorporates the principles of
Yin (陰, yīn) and Yang (陽, yáng), Wuxing (五行, wǔxíng),
and emphasizes the principle of continuous, circular
change (八卦, bāguà) (圈法, quānfǎ). Practiced the
traditional way, Bagua is unique in this regard.
Traditional Baguazhang views these three fundamental
natural principles as a complete trinity combination.
Yin and Yang, throughout its methodology.
Fundamentally, Traditional Bagua, such as the
traditional method of Lu Shui-Tian as taught by Shifu
Park Bok-Nam, recognizes and trains both
the Yin Way (陰法, yīnfǎ)
- the Health or Qigong (氣功,
and, the Yang Way (陽法,
yángfǎ) - Fighting
Each way is different; but, they are
both related, and depend on each other. Both
ways are necessary to achieve complete, natural
balance in the body.
The body is composed of
approximately 360 joints and 650 muscles in the
body. These 360 joints control the body’s 650
muscles. Each joint and muscle needs to be
properly exercised through its full range of motion to
achieve balance in the body, and obtain optimal
health. Traditional Bagua uses Circle
Walking to exercise the body completely, through
many different circle ways, and angle ways, to
address the needs of all of the body’s joints and
This is very different
than popular exercises like swimming, or walking, or
running, which are unchanging and highly repetitive
linear activities that utilize only a small subset
of the body’s joints and muscles. Few, if any,
of the body’s joints and muscles are exercised
through their full range of motion in these types of
linear exercises. Traditional Bagua, on the
other hand, uses many different circles,
and various circle
patterns. Each Circle Walking way and
pattern has its own special attributes and
purpose. The specifics of what, when, how, and
why we use and do each way are beyond the scope of a
short introductory article such as this.
However, it can be stated that each circle way
develops the body differently, exercises the body’s
knees and other joints differently, and produces
different muscle, ligament, and tendon development.
proper posture, rhythm, breathing, etc., Circle
Walking produces continuous Power Circulation of Xue
(血, xuè) - “Blood” and Qi (氣, qì) throughout
the entire body, both the upper body and the lower
body. Ancient Chinese internal and health
practitioners have recognized that the key to
optimal health lies in the circulation.
Health = Good QI (氣, qì)
Circulation + Good Xue (血,
xuè) / “Blood” Circulation
This all comes from the continuous Power Circulation
that results from proper Circle Walking practice.
/ Self-defense Way
Circle Walking uses
different circles, different angles, different
directions to train the Bagua practitioner how to
keep moving. Through Circle Walking,
practitioners develop the ability to evade,
maneuver, and confuse their opponent(s).
Opponent(s) never know when or how a Bagua fighter
will move or change direction, what targets will be
attacked, what direction an attack will come from,
or what techniques will be used to defend or
attack. It also serves as a jab to get an
opponent to react or commit, thereby opening his/her
“door” for the Bagua fighter to step in, strike, and
end the fight.
And, the continuous
Power Circulation created through Circle Walking
practice prepares the Bagua fighter so that when
he/she is ready to strike, his/her Qi will be
ready to come out in that strike, to
devastating effect on the opponent.
When you look at how
animals fight in nature, you see few predators that
attack straight on. Many use surprise and
maneuver to gain the advantage, to maximize their
attack and prevent any harm to themselves.
Foxes, for example, circle their prey before
pouncing from the side or from the rear. Lions
almost never attack straight on. They normally
move alongside their prey and turn into the prey
very sharply to attack, with a deadly strike.
Baguazhang is not a sport. It is a serious
self-defense art. Every vulnerable point
on the body is a valid target. There are no
illegal targets in Traditional Bagua.
This is the way of
Bagua fighting. Traditional Baguazhang
provides the Bagua fighter with the ability to
evade, maneuver, and attack in an unpredictable
manner, and to employ Internal Power, at any time,
and in any direction. This all comes from proper
Circle Walking practice. Traditional
Baguazhang is unique in this regard. It is a
comprehensive martial art based on natural
principles, that when practiced and used properly,
produces a very efficient, effective, and
devastating fight method.
This kind of skill
does not come overnight. It requires
time, dedication, serious commitment, discipline,
and patience. And, it requires the guidance of
a properly trained and experienced instructor, who
can provide the student with the detail and depth of
understanding that is needed to excel in this
comprehensive martial art. For those
interested in exploring this art further, you can
contact Shifu Park’s Qiang Shan Baguazhang
Association, and certified instructors, at http://www.pa-kua.com
It comes down to
what you are looking for in any health practice,
exercise practice, or martial practice that you
are involved in, or are considering.
This is a personal decision that only you can
make. Traditional Baguazhang has many
unrivaled benefits to offer. Whatever your
decision, I wish you well in your life and in your