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FYI Page -
[ Below is
and re-editing of the article "Advanced Circle Walking:
Training to Fight" by
that originally appeared in the
PA KUA CHANG JOURNAL -
4, No. 6; Sep/Oct 1994. The Journal was published by
High View Publications
It is no longer being produced; however, all back issues
are currently available
- Training to Fight -
[ Part I of II ]
[Adapted and re-edited by
practiced Ba Gua Zhang has been given the lecture about the importance
of the Circle Walking practice.
Stories abound about the old master having been allowed to practice
basic circle walking methods for the first several years of his Ba Gua
training. While much has been written about the health benefits
the circle walking practice, many readers may still be wondering
how this footwork method is employed in a fighting situation.
|Basic Circle Walking practice is
a training exercise that the beginning and intermediate level
practices to build a strong Ba Gua Zhang foundation. The
advanced Ba Gua practitioner will also continue to practice the basic
walk to reach deeper levels of internal awareness. No matter
how long an individual practices the basic circle walk, there are
deeper levels to explore.
Master Bok-Nam Park was training with his teacher, Lu Shui-Tian, he was
required to practice the basic circle walking exercise every morning
one hour. At the end of one year, Master Park went to his teacher
and said, "After practicing for one hour everyday for the past year,
I now understand this circle walking practice." Lu Shui-Tian
shook his head and laughed. He simply responded, "Just keep
After another year of practice, Master Park went to his teacher again
said, "I know why you laughed at me last year when I told you that I
understood the circle walking practice. After practicing for
year, my knowledge is much deeper and I can say that I now really
this practice." Again, Lu Shui-Tian laughed, shook his head,
and told Master Park to just keep practicing. Master Park has
now practiced the basic circle walking exercise for nearly 35
(Editor's Note: Now for more than 42 years.) and he says
there is always something more to learn.
|Although there are always deeper
experience to gain from the basic circle walking practice, a skilled Ba
Gua practitioner engaged in a fight does not simply walk in complete
around his opponent. This is just not practical in a
situation against a seasoned fighter. If you are fighting a
opponent and take more than two or three steps in a direction, you have
set up a pattern that the opponent will immediately use against
It is completely naive to think that you will be able to stalk your
by walking in circles around him, waiting for an "opening." If
is your understanding of how Ba Gua circle walking is used in a real
you are going to be in for a rude awakening when you face a skilled
The key purpose in Ba Gua's
of footwork is to
try to outflank the opponent or open up
behind Ba Gua footwork is not to try to move in circles at arm's
around the opponent. Rather, it is to try to outflank the
or open up his center. In either case, as soon as you
you are closing with the opponent, not running around him. The
is to gain an advantageous angle of attack. Simply running
someone at arm's length is a big waste of time. A skilled
will "eat you alive" before you can take your third step, if you try
a thing. The only time this type of tactic might be used is if
are trying to bait the opponent to set him up for a counterattack..
|We can look at Ba Gua's employment
walking footwork from two perspectives:
1. when the opponent initiates the
2. when you want to initiate the
Preferably, you will initiate the attack
you will bait the opponent into attacking you where you want him to
so that you can set him up for a counterattack. The idea that
some have of Ba Gua Zhang as a purely "passive" and "defensive" martial
art is nonsense. If you are going to fight someone, you do not
"sit and wait" or "walk circles around him and wait" for him to
You move in without hesitation to destroy the opponent in the most
and effective way possible.
|When the Opponent
|If the opponent initiates the
initial purpose of the circle walking footwork is to move you out of
way of the opponent's attack. However, the goal is to not
"run away." The goal is to avoid the opponent's attack while
putting yourself in a good position for immediate counterattack.
Evasiveness in Ba Gua is not
away from the opponent.
It is about closing with the opponent
him as quickly as possible.
|The Ba Gua practitioner does not apply
against force. He does not want to engage directly.and wants to
a somewhat covert or "stealthy" in how he closes with the
The Ba Gua practitioner wants to use the opponent's own force against
And, he wants to use optimum angles of attack. All of this he
to accomplish with no wasted movement and no allowance of gaps that the
opponent can use. This means "moving around" the opponent's
and, at the same time, "moving towards" him to get inside his
A skilled opponent will immediately take advantage of any gap in time
distance that he is given to work with.
The Ba Gua practitioner executes
body movements, and hand methods such that the opponent has no time to
react nor space to move.
|While evading an opponent's attack and
delivering a fight stopping counterattack is the ideal, more times than
not, it is not reality. If the opponent is skilled, he will not
you get away with it. Murphy's law applies here - if something
go wrong, it will go wrong. This is where having the ability to
direction very quickly, while remaining stable, becomes vitally
the Ba Gua practitioner is launching the counterattack against his
initial attack, he is already "thinking" about what comes next and is
for anything. (This "thinking" is more of a :"body knowledge"
process than an actual thought process. In other words, the
Ba Gua fighter is prepared to continually attack, move, and adapt.)
The wise Ba Gua practitioner
that his first technique
is going to work.
are many martial artists who feel that they can hit so hard that one
is all it will take to defeat the opponent. There are others who
think that they have some special techniques that on one can
Both are horribly misguided. If an opponent is skilled, it will
very difficult if not impossible to land a first shot and it will be
more difficult to land a direct hit with full force. The Ba
practitioner trains to be prepared to continuously attack while
changing and adapting to the situation.
Master Park teaches that, when
to fight, you should always imagine that your opponent is much bigger,
stronger, faster, and
at a much higher skill level than you.
consider that what can go wrong, will go wrong. Your mind must
clear and one step ahead of your body at all times. You must
your "listening skill" to sense how the opponent is reacting to your
Then, you must immediately change and adapt to continue the attack.
|The art of Ba Gua Zhang is
principly rooted in change, and physically rooted in the footwork and
use of the palm.
The ability to change direction
with balance, stability, and power is what makes the skilled Ba Gua
practitioner so effective as a fighter.
|All of this is derived from the Ba Gua
walking methods and it is a focus of advanced Ba Gua Zhang fighting
|When You Initiate
instance where you inititate the attack, the same principles apply. Initiating
an attack is a three step process:
1. gain a reaction.......
2. bridge the gap.......
3. finish the opponent
step is to gain a reaction from the opponent. This can be
in any number of ways. It can be viewed as a "set up" or a "jab"
with one distinction - it is not simply a false ploy. It is
a realistic movement that will hurt the opponent if he does not respond
to it. Nevertheless, you should always assume that the opponent
a good fighter and that he will be able to successfully counter your
attack or movement.
step is the "brigde." The bridge is used to "open up" the
opponent to get inside where you can do serious damage. The
of bridge which is used will depend upon the opponent's reaction to
first move. If the bridge is successful, you can follow up
a finishing technique. If the opponent is skilled, you may
to employ several quick, repetitive bridging maneuvers before you can
inside or outflank him. Also, once inside, you may need to
a series of fast, powerful finishing techniques before the opponent is
Once the Ba Gua Zhang
inside of the opponent,
he stays inside until the "job" is
bouncing in, striking once, and then bouncing back out as in point
sparring. Once you are inside, you stay inside until the
is put out of commission. What keeps you inside is the Ba Gua
is not going to let you continue hitting him from a vulnerable
He is going to move. By using Ba Gua footwork, you stick to
opponent like glue. Where he goes, you go. And, you
don't let up until he is rendered harmless. Master Park calls
getting inside of the opponent "opening his door." He teaches
once the door is open, you do not let the door close until you have
Skillfully executed rapid
changes of direction,
inconjunction with the palm changes and the use whole body power,
many excellent opportunities to bridge the gap, "open up" the opponent,
and conclude any fight.
execute rapid changes of direction, in combination with stable stepping
and flanking movements, it will be very difficult for the opponent to
up with you. This is why "change of direction" training is so
in Ba Gua Zhang. In advanced circle walking practice, the
become smaller and smaller, and the changes of direction become more
In advanced circle walking
practitioner learns to
change direction rapidly, with changing
maintaining balance, stability, and full
concepts are usually introduced during the basic circle walking
they are not fully explored and developed until the advanced practice -
where, instead of just simply walking in a circle, the practiitoner
around the center while also moving towards the center. At this
the circles become very small and the walking patterns change into
eights" or spirals. Nevertheless, due to the difficulty of
in tight circles and changing direction rapidly with balance,
and coordination, all of the fundamentals and concepts that are
during the basic circle walking practice must be in place before the
can move on to advanced circle walking training.
[In Part II, in the
of the FYIPage, we will get into more specifics
of advanced circle walking
for fighting, including the use of pole training.]
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