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BAGUA-ZHANG

 Bagua-Zhang is one of the three classic “internal” styles of Chinese Wushu.  “Ba Gua” in translation means “eight trigrams”.  This term refers to the eight basic principles described in the ancient "Canon of Change."  In this case, its use means that the style is a physical reflection of these eight principles, that its basic provisions correspond to eight trigrams, and the transitions between them - to the interconversions of trigrams described in the “Canon of Changes”.  "Zhang" is translated as "palms" and means that in this style they prefer to use palms rather than fists, as in other styles of martial arts.

 Who, when and where came up with Bagua Zhang is unknown.  The masses learned about him relatively recently, and this happened in general by accident.  Tradition connects the declassification of this style with the name of Dong Haichuan (1796-1880) from Wenan County, Hebei Province.  It was in the 20s.  XIX century  He owned Erlantsuan (Erlan's fist; Erlan - a hero from ancient Chinese myths) and was considered a good fighter.  Going on a journey in search of martial arts masters living in remote places, he eventually reached Mount Jiuhuashan, located in Anhui Province.  Lost in the forest, he accidentally stumbled upon a young Taoist walking in circles around pines.  Dong Haichuan immediately saw that he was engaged in the training of martial art, but did not understand why this was being done in such an elaborate way, and laughed.  The offended Taoist declared that they should measure their strength.  Dong haichuan agreed, hoping to teach a good lesson.  They entered the clearing and the battle began.  However, no matter how powerful blows Dong Haichuan inflicted, no matter how fast his fists and legs flew, he could not get into a small Taoist, which slipped behind him and knocked him to the ground.  After the third fall, Dong haichuan pleaded defeated, and kneeling down asked for disciples.  However, laughter rang out behind him, and an elderly Taoist entered the clearing.  It was Bi Chengxia, the teacher of little Taoist, who had long been watching the battle.  He agreed to take Dong Haichuan as a student, and for four years taught him the art of turning his hands in a circle.

 Later, Dong Hai Chuan moved to Beijing, where he became a servant of Prince Su, who was a relative of the imperial family.  The prince was a great lover of Wushu, and he constantly had various masters.  Once, when the prince invited the next master to demonstrate his art, a large crowd of spectators gathered and a servant with tea could not make his way to the prince through the crowd.  To help the man out, Dong Hai Chuan took a tray of tea and ran to the prince on the wall over his heads.  The prince had a trained eye, and he immediately asked if he was engaged in any kind of martial art.  It was impossible to hide further, and Dong Haichuan had to tell everything.  Since then, he began teaching Baguan Zhang teaching in Beijing, from where it spread throughout China.

Dong Haichuan had many students, and he taught each of them differently, in accordance with his personal characteristics.  Thus, branches of bagua-zhang, slightly different among themselves, appeared.  To date, there are three of them.  The first comes from Yin Fu, who was the bodyguard of the Dowager Empress Cixi, practiced with Dong Haichuan for a very long time and was considered one of the best fighters of his time.  Yin Fu owned Lohan Quan (Arhat fist, one of the Shaolin Wushu styles), and therefore, in his version, Bagua Zhang prefer to fight long-distance, the technique is more based on strikes, the circle step is used not to go behind the enemy, but  to leave the line of attack and approach from the side, during the execution of the complex, surges of force are clearly visible.  Yin Fu was a very rich man, it was with his money that a stele was built on the grave of Dong Hai Chuan with the names of all the students.

 Mr. Dong's other famous student was Cheng Tinghua.  He was originally from the village of Chengjiazhuang, Shen-xian county, Hebei province, in his youth he became famous as a major master of shuijiao (Chinese wrestling).  Then he went to Beijing to earn money and got the nickname "Spectacular Cheng" because he was selling glasses at a pharmacy.  In his version, Bagua Zhang try to get as close as possible to the enemy and go behind him, in the technique there are a lot of throws, while performing complexes they try to achieve continuity and speed of movements.  In 1900, when the combined forces of England, France, Russia and Germany took Beijing and began to rob a city, Cheng Tinghua, armed with two daggers, and his younger brother Cheng Dianhua jumped out into the street, and Tinhua managed to cut half of the German platoon before being shot.  Dianhua managed to break through his surroundings with his bare hands and fled to his native village, where he lived until the end of his days, teaching Bagua Zhang.  All his art was completely adopted by his fourth son - Cheng Yusheng.

 Sun Zhijun, who currently works in the research department of the Beijing Gas Equipment Factory, studied with Cheng Yusheng for many years.  He teaches Bagua Zhang four times a week in the Eastern District of Beijing, and a few years ago, at the request of Peking University, he starred in the educational film Bagua Zhang from the TV series Chinese Wushu.  This video is currently available in Russia, it is in the catalogs of several companies involved in the distribution of materials on the martial arts.

 The third branch of bagua-zhang comes from Liang Zhenpu, who was one of the youngest students of Dong Haichuan.  Li Ziming - a student of Liang Zhenpu - until his death on December 31, 1993, at the age of about 90, was considered the largest Bagua-Zhang master and one of the best fighters in China.  Currently, his successor is Sui Yunjiang (who had already become famous as a major master of meihua-chuang before meeting with Li Ziming), who taught in Moscow from 1992 to 1994 and left a number of students in Russia.  A well-known student of Li Ziming and Sui Yunjiang is a teacher from Bagua Zhang, Meihua Zhuang and Chen Tai Chi Chuan Dai Chao since 1992 in Moscow.  A characteristic feature of this branch of bagua-zhang is the presence of a large number of piercing and chopping blows.

However, despite the stylistic differences, the training system in all Bagua Zhang schools is unified.  The first few years, the student trains in "walking in a circle" to develop the ability to constantly leave a straight line and get used to controlling his center of gravity.  Then he studies the “Dinshi baczhan” complex - “Eight palms of established forms” (the names of the complexes may vary somewhat in different schools), in which eight different positions of the palms are studied.  After it, the complex “Banshi baczhan” (“Eight palms of variable shapes”), which is also called “Laobachzhan” (“Old eight palms”) or “Badachzhan” (“Eight large palms”), is studied.  After mastering these techniques, the student can learn more complex complexes (“24 forms”, “8 forms of 8 images”, “Secret legs”, etc.), the technique of working in pairs, possession of weapons and special techniques of movement.  An interesting exercise is “flying around nine palaces”, in which 9 two-meter poles are inserted into the ground in the form of a square 3 by 3 meters, which must be continuously circled in a certain order.  This accustoms to crowd fighting skills.

 All exercises have several difficulty levels.  So, in a circle, they first walk on almost straight legs and gradually lower the level of the body, so that as a result they move with their hips parallel to the ground;  “Nine palaces” at first simply go around, and subsequently with each of the pillars during the tour they arrange something like a “shadow fight”.  At the same time, the trainee is engaged in strengthening the shock surfaces and shockproof hardening of the body.  A lot of Bagua-Zhang masters became famous for their mastery of the “iron palm” and the “iron shirt”.

 Bagua Zhang has never been an army art; it has always been the art of individual combat.  Therefore, even standard types of weapons have a specific form or specific application.  So, the swords used in Bagua Chzhang are about one and a half times longer than usual, and during training with a spear and a pole they work out “short use of long weapons”.  In addition to the usual spears, they also use the so-called “two-headed snake spear”, which has tips at both ends.  Dong Haichuan’s favorite weapon was the “point of the cock's paw” (this is a rare pair of weapons of very complex shape, one such pair was brought to Moscow by Sui Yunjiang).

 Initially, eight trigrams are eight symbolic signs.  In the middle of the circle diagram is the interweaving of the male principle of yang and female yin in the form of fish.  In accordance with eight directions: to the South, North, East, West, Southeast, Southwest, North-East, North-West at the same distance in a circle are eight trigram signs with the names Qian, Kun, Zhen, Xun  , can, whether, gen, blow.  These eight trigrams symbolize eight natural phenomena respectively.  1) sky, 2) earth, 3) thunder, 4) wind, 5) water, 6) fire, 7) mountains, 8) body of water.  Two trigrams occupy a special place among them: qian - heaven and kun - earth, which are the original sources of all natural phenomena of human existence.

By simultaneously moving in a circle, the palm, changing its position, passes through the eight signs described above, and the high art of the Bagua master to one degree or another corresponds to the symbolic meaning of trigrams.  Each movement is followed by something else, each change is followed by a new one.  By the way, it is said: "Softness and hardness are mutually touching, eight trigrams swing each other."  This means that the movement does not stop, and the transformations are endless.  Based on these philosophical provisions, the name bagua-zhang arose, i.e.  palm of eight trigrams.  The basic basis of the bagua is the ego of the eight basic positions of the palms: tribute-huan'-chan, shuan-huan-chjan, shun-shi-zhang, bei-shen-chang, fan-sheng-zhan, mo-shen-zhan, sap-chuan  -zhang ihui-svn-zhang.  In different places, these forms were transmitted from generation to generation in different ways.  They were mainly represented by eight "animal" schools: a lion, a deer, a snake, a crane, a dragon, a bear, a phoenix and a monkey.  Each of the palms has eight positions, and the combination of two hands has, respectively, 64 positions.

 In addition to solo training, in Bagua there are paired exercises and free sparring, as well as the use of various weapons;  sabers, spears, swords, halberds.  Of great interest are weapons such as the ax of tender spouses, sharp chicken claws, the Phoenix wheel of fire, the feather of a judge in the underworld, and other weapons that are almost unknown in other Wushu schools.


 Bagua training is divided into three successive stages.


 The initial stage is the training of basic postures, the ABC of mastery.  Therefore, do not rush here.  Each gesture, each form must be performed leisurely, follow the correct posture, move easily and smoothly.

 In the second stage, the student develops his motor skills, or, in other words, masters the methods of movement.  The main thing at this stage is coordination and coordination of movements.  Using the base obtained at the first stage of training, it is necessary to perfect rotational movements and changes in direction.  When the student has mastered this stage correctly, his movements are likened to a floating dragon and a flying phoenix.

 The third stage is to train changes in positions, all transitions are performed at will.  Inner one;  mind-will And governs the body of shen.  You need to rotate easily, freely, alternating forms should be done at your own discretion, but without restraining the rhythm of taolu.