Interlocking circles of bagua


So, what’s been happening since my last post? Briefly: lots and lots of work; not much progress with taijiquan; some progress with bagua; and quite a lot on the personal side.

The last few months have been non-stop, work-wise; as well as Beijing, I’ve been working in Shijiazhuang, Taiyuan, Zhenghzhou, Kaifeng and Lanzhou – where I finally dipped my toes in the fabled Yellow River. I’ve earned quite a lot of money, by my standards; enough to remove my financial worries for the short term.

I’m not the only one travelling; the Daoist monk who is teaching my Wudang taiji class is also on the road, doing something at Wudang mountain, so the classes are on hold until the autumn. I have a video of the form, so to some extent I’ve been working on the parts that we’ve done, in various hotel rooms. The moves are reasonably similar to the Yang-style variants that I’ve studied in the past, but I’m still finding it challenging.

To the extent that I’m doing martial arts training, though, it’s mostly been bagua. As I mentioned in my last post, I’ve decided for a number of reasons to put my training in yiquan on hold, and to focus on Liang-style bagua.

For most of the past two months, I’ve been working on the ding shi, or fixed-arm positions; these are the same arm positions as the Liang style taught by Tom Bisio, but the transitions are those of styles that I’ve studied in the past.

I’ve also been working on the single and double palm changes of the Liang style, as taught in the Eight Mother Palms DVD from Master Zhang Quan Liang.

There have been some very interesting consequences:

  • when I train solidly over a couple of hours, my internal temperature rises very significantly, to the point of being uncomfortable (this was before summer temperatures hit Beijing!);
  • I find myself drinking a lot of water – up to five litres per day when I’m training intensively in the evening. Despite this, my urine in the mornings is unusually strongy coloured and pungent – but only when I’ve trained the evening before.
  • I can clearly feel my internal organs being lifted, stretched, and massaged during the training. When I go for my regular massage, I found that after training my internal organs no longer felt inflamed and sensitive.
  •  The circle-walking is clearly stretching, strengthening, and re-balancing the whole are of the kua, from the pelvic creases at the front to the coccyx and lower back. Areas of stiffness and tension I hadn’t been aware of are being uncovered.

All of this suggests that the circle-walking is having an immediate, positive effect. That puts me in mind of this article, outlining scientific findings about bagua’s positive health effects.

Now, I did say “to the extent I’ve been training”, and after a good start my training has tapered off – though I’m still doing quite a bit. I’ve actually relaxed enough, and started allowing myself to have “me time” enough to start dating, and so there’s a new woman in my life. For the moment, that’s a better use of my time 🙂

Of course, that time is a good investment. My new partner – for the purposes of blogging, I’ll refer to her as “Ms. B.” – is also a practitioner of meditation, and we both attend Dalida Turkovic’s weekly mindfulness sessions. After hearing both Dalida and me talking about bagua she asked me to tell her more about it. Via WeChat, I sent her a YouTube video I’ve had favourited for some time, which I thought would be fairly accessible. Her immediate response was: “Oh, that’s Roni Edlund. She’s Swedish. I met her in Thailand!”. What a small world it can be sometimes…

Tom Bisio released the intermediate level of his online bagua course back in March. I had hoped to join then, thus getting the introductory price, but for various reasons that didn’t happen. So, I had to wait until I could transfer some funds from China to my UK bank account. This is actually relatively easy to do, but is quite bureaucratic, involving a visit in person to the local tax office to get proof of tax payments. This is a very, very simple process, taking less than 10 minutes once you reach the office (which is a bit out of the way) – but due to my work schedule I just wasn’t in town enough to get it done!

Eventually, though, I managed to transfer the money, and so last weekend I signed up. There’s a huge amount of material there, and it will take me a long time to work through it all. What I’ve seen, though, has been enough to persuade me to order a couple of Tom’s bagua DVDs from Amazon, so that I can compare them with the online material, and with that from Zhang Quan Liang, so that I can see moves from a few different perspectives. I am extremely excited about studying this course, and intend to sign up to the Foundational course as well, once I’ve moved more money back to the UK. I’ll try to write some more detailed first impressions soon.

Overall, I am very pleased to have returned to bagua after a break of many years, and have high hopes and expectations of my practice!

Image Credits: By Zhao Huiqian 趙撝謙 – Liushu benyi 六書本義, Public Domain,

1 Comment

  1. Congratulations on finding your groove again, Emlyn! Traveling as much as you do makes a lot of things more challenging, not just training and romance.

    I’ve found Tom Bisio’s materials excellent in the past. There is one set in particular that is worth exploring, if you have not tried it before: Tu Na Si Ba. This set of four exercises is something that came from Tom’s xingyiquan teacher, but the benefits are similar to what you’ve described from Dingshi and circle-walking. The set is demonstrated clearly in video (free) on Tom’s website. There is also a short book on the practice, which is worth having but not necessary to getting the gist of the set (Tom recommends learning the movements from the video first before getting into the book. Recognizing that there is a huge corpus of Liang bagua material, the Tu Na Si Ba is still a good investment of time. There are bagua influenced in this line of xingyi.


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