Looking back

Just remembered one thing that came up in conversation with taijibum last night…. We were talking about body rotation in the bagua dragon/millstone stance. He mentioned that traditionally, in Cheng style, your torso should be twisted around so that you can look down onto your back foot. In his view, this is hardly ever taught these days and, even when it is taught, it takes a long time to be able to do.

In fact, I was taught this by my first bagua teacher, Zhang Sheng Li. It didn’t take long for me to be able to do it, either – I know for sure that it was only a couple of months. He’s right, though, that no-one else has ever taught this; one of my teachers actively told me that I should not be doing it. Still, I remember how, when I was training with Zhang, I really felt power developing in the waist and dantian. I’ve never had that feeling since then.

Hmmm. Maybe I should try training with Zhang again. I forget whether I mentioned, but I ran into his senior student by chance in Ritan Park a couple of weeks ago. I was going to meet Dragoncache for a beer, and apparently Zhang was teaching someone in a private lesson. I went to find him, but he must have left by another way in the meantime.

Anyway, what do you think about this? Should we train bagua by twisting around until we can look down on the back foot?


  1. Yes, the ideal is that you should be able to face backwards when finishing a “single palm change;” on the other hand, you shouldn’t force your body to go as far as it can if it means sacrificing posture. (Slow and steady… 😉 )


  2. I agree with Ed.

    If doesn’t kills your technique, I don’t think it’s a problem. At least, that makes me more versatile (or so I get that impression).


  3. Agree with Ed with this caveat….

    Often you have to reduce range of motion to work on internal power and connection. Training in extended ranges of motion that are disconnected is useless. People waste so much time doing forms, palm changes, and nei gung poorly. They’d be better off doing a lot of standing and drilling the shit of a bunch of simple, basic internal strength exercise. Single palm change done slowly with as much relaxed yi and connectivity as you can muster….


  4. Beg your pardon for jumping in here belatedly. I have to agree with Matt on this. “Bu neng duan jin”–ironically this admonition came from a Chengshi (Liu Xing Han–Wang Wenkueie–Sun Jinbeo–Yang Guotai) teacher, yet the Chengshi practitioners, including teachers, that I’ve met rarely have shown the continuity of internal connection with any consistency. I’m surmising that they go for the external twisting appearance without taking the time to build the internal connection to support it–which takes time. Some Cheng teachers definitely show it (Sun Zhijun for example)–I can only wonder what they specifically did in their early years of training.

    Other schools (Li Baohua’s Ma Gui baguazhang, for example) spend a lot of their early training time in circlewalking with minimal twisting, to build the connective-tissue continuity and internal coordination, before moving into wider or more twisted body frames.


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