So it's not just me…

I had a ‘spirited discussion’ recently with a friend who also studies bagua. He’s being trained by his shifu in what I suppose we may call the “traditional IMA” manner: keep practising your techniques, and the ability to apply the art in a fight will develop naturally.

I know and respect his shifu, who’s very widely known, and highly regarded – but I still can’t bring myself to believe this, not any more. I feel a bit conflicted, actually, precisely because this teacher is so well known, and I know that he can fight very effectively – and yet I know for a fact that many of his disciples can’t. At all. This is why I’m training more and more in yiquan. I love bagua, and I respect my teachers deeply. I will keep training in it. However, I want to train in an IMA that will give me practical training, and so far the yiquan schools are the only ones to do that.

Like I say, I’ve felt a bit guilty about this – but well, what else to do? Anyway, I’ve just read this article on Formosa Neijia about why he’s training in Brazilian Ju-Jitsu Judo – and I think he’s completely right. I wrote some time ago, I think, about an episode that happened just after I arrived in Beijing – I saw two men dragging a woman into a deserted side-street late at night and start beating her up. I felt I had to intervene. It ended well – but if it had turned nasty, I’m not confident that that all of my training in forms would have been of any practical use whatsoever. that was a turning point for me. I’m sorry if I’m being disrespectful, or non-traditional, but now my requirement is: show me that it works, and show me how to use it.


  1. Thanks for the mention. Actually, I train judo but then it’s all the same anyway. Learning chokes, choke escapes, pins, and submissions is vital for self-defense purposes — especially the chokes. They’ve saved my life and the lives of others. BGZ just isn’t going to cover it. Doesn’t mean it isn’t a good art.

    BTW, there is a BJJ school in Beijing. You may want to hook up with them to round out your training. I HIGHLY recommend doing a practical sport art that will let you practice sparring/rolling on a regular basis. It will improve everything that you do and give you more confidence that you can handle those kinds of situations. Good luck.


  2. While I do agree that if you want to learn ground submissions/chokes/etc. (i.e. “newaza”), your best bet is to go and learn judo or one of its derivatives (baguazhang does not cover this), what do you feel yiquan has that baguazhang does not?

    I think that yiquan’s most significant change (from its original art, xingyiquan) is simplification – basically, they took away the forms, weapons, and all that other fun stuff because it is, well, distracting! By doing so, people spent more time doing the jibengong (zhanzhuang), single technique exercises (shili), and two-person exercises (tuishou).

    Another good thing about yiquan is that it was fairly open compared to other styles; there are less secrets for that art (I think!).

    However, baguazhang has correlates for almost everything in yiquan, so you could also elect to just train those correlates for a similar effect, i.e.:

    Standing (zhangzhuang) and friction stepping (mocabu) -> Walking circles (“xingzhuang”)
    Testing (shili) -> Single techniques/training methods (slowly)
    Exerting (fali) -> Single techniques (hard and fast)
    Push hands (tuishou) -> Baguazhang two-person techniques
    …and so on. 🙂

    We can’t do everything, so we do have to pick and choose. We all have people we look up to – if we want to have someone’s skills, we can learn from them.


  3. @ – Dave Oops, sorry, didn’t refer back to the original article to check. I know about the BJJ school, the Black Tiger Academy, right? Still, can’t see myself learning that – unless sometime well in the future when I’ve mastered what I’m already doing!

    @ Stefan – Hehehe, that would be a first! Nah, I am gradually finding what I want here in Beijing!

    @Ed I agree that there are correlates, but yes, the great thing about yiquan is its simplicity and focus on the important principles. Everything is very clear. Even after a few lessons, I am clearer on full-body power than ever before; I’m learning how to “fan song” more than ever before; it’s making issues of body alignment clearer than ever before. Plus, it’s combining principle and practice: do the testing and standing, followed by trying out the application. Other styles, bagua included, *could* do this, but none of my teachers have ever covered /all/ of these.

    Like I said, I’m not giving up bagua; however, I do think that my bagua will be much better because of what I’m learning from yiquan. Maybe at the end of the day, it’s simply that the teaching style of yiquan really suits my learning style….


  4. I guess that makes sense – I think that yiquan, with its minimized curriculum, is often easier to understand (and the teachers have less reason to dance around – they may go straight to the principles more quickly) – on the other hand, I do think that baguazhang has many things to offer than yiquan does not (but you can always go back to that later, I guess).

    It did seem to me that your teacher in Singapore, Zhou Yuewen was quite good – good fighter, lots of good stuff to teach you…


  5. Emlyn,
    I understand. I also had to get to a certain point in my training before I could go back and pick up the grappling. Basically I had to get my fill of CIMAs like BGZ and taiji. At a certain point, it just started feeling like more of the same to me rather than what i needed to fill in the gaps. The judo filled in those gaps making me a more complete martial artist. But at one point I couldn’t see myself doing this either, yet here I am and loving it.

    Perhaps that will happen to you or maybe not. It doesn’t really matter. What matters is taking what is useful and following your personal road. Good luck.


  6. Judo vs. jujutsu – fewer techniques, better, “alive” training. Like you said, no reason, bgz training couldn’t be like that. The more dangerous can still be trained the same ways.


  7. i have never chased styles only knowledge.
    this is done by finding the right teacher,any art works in the right hands.
    some of the things you think are superfleous might be the most important things,only time will tell.
    things i thought were taking up time and going nowhere suddenly opened a door and all things after that came rapidly because of the time waster.
    you cant put an old head on young shoulders,that is why you need to find a good teacher in a good style and give him all your time and energy and above all be lucky.


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