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BAGUA-ZHANG

 

Bagua Zhang is one of the three classical "inner" styles of Chinese Wushu. "Ba Gua" in translation means "eight trigrams". The 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 positions correspond to the eight trigrams, and that the transitions between them correspond to the inter-transformations of the trigrams described in the "Canon of Change. "Zhang" translates as "palms" and means that this style prefers to use palms rather than fists as in other martial arts styles.

 

Who, when, and where invented Bagua Zhang is unknown. The masses learned about it relatively recently, and it happened by accident in general. The legend links the declassification of this style with the name of Dong Haichuan (1796-1880) from Wenan county, Hebei province. It was in the 20s of the 19th c. He was a master of Erlangquan (Erlan's fist; Erlan was a giant from the ancient Chinese myths) and was considered to be a fairly good fighter. After traveling in search of martial arts masters who lived in remote places, he eventually reached the Juhuashan Mountain in Anhui Province. Lost in the forest, he accidentally stumbled upon a young Taoist, walking in circles around the pines. Dong Haichuan immediately saw that he was practicing martial arts, but did not understand why it was done in such a pretentious way, and laughed. The offended Taoist said that they should wrestle with each other. Dong Haichuan agreed, expecting to teach a good lesson. They entered the clearing and the fight began. However, no matter how powerful punches Dong Haichuan made, no matter how fast his fists and feet flew, he could not hit the little Taoist, who slipped behind him and toppled him to the ground. After the third fall, Dong Haichuan recognized himself defeated, and kneeling down, he asked to be a disciple. But then laughter was heard behind his back, and an elderly Taoist came out into the clearing. It was Bi Chengxia, the little Taoist's teacher, who had been watching the fight for a long time. He agreed to take Dong Haichuan as an apprentice, and for four years he taught him the art of turning his palms in a circle.

 

Later, Dong Haichuan 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 was constantly visited by various masters. One day, when the prince invited another master to demonstrate his art, a large crowd of spectators gathered and the servant with tea could not make his way to the prince through the crowd. To help the man out, Dong Haichuan took the tray of tea and ran to the prince along the wall over the heads. The prince had a trained eye and immediately asked if he was practicing any martial arts. Hiding further was no longer possible, and Dong Haichuan had to tell him everything. From then on, he began teaching baguan zhang in Beijing, from where it spread all over China.

 

Dong Haichuan had many students, and he taught each of them differently, according to his personal characteristics. Thus several branches of bagua zhang appeared which differed from each other. To date, they have survived three. The first comes from Yin Fu, who was a bodyguard of Empress Dowager Cixi, trained under Dun Haichuan for a very long time, and was considered one of the best fighters of his time. Yin Fu owned lohan-quan (the fist of arhats, one of the Shaolin styles of wushu), and therefore in his version bagua-chjan prefer to fight at a distance, the technique is more based on strikes, a step in a circle is used not to go behind the back of an opponent, and to leave the line of attack and approach from the side, when performing the complex clearly visible emissions of force. Yin Fu was a very rich man, it was his money was built a stele at the tomb of Dong Haichuan with the names of all the students.

 

Another famous disciple of Mr. Dong was Cheng Tinghua. He was from the village of Chengjiazhuang in Shen-hsien county, Hebei province. In his youth, he became famous as a great master of shuaijiao (Chinese wrestling). Then he went to work in Beijing and earned the nickname "spectacle Cheng" because he sold spectacles in a drugstore. His version of Bagua Zhang tries to get as close to his opponent as possible and go behind him as quickly as possible, his technique involves many throws, when performing complexes they try to achieve continuity and speed of movement. In 1900, when the combined armies of Britain, France, Russia and Germany took Beijing and began looting the city, Cheng Tinghua, armed with two daggers, and his younger brother Cheng Dianhua rushed out into the street, and Tinghua managed to cut off half of the German platoon before he was shot. Dianhua managed to break through the encirclement with his bare hands and fled to his home village, where he lived for the rest of his days teaching bagua zhang. All his art was fully adopted by the fourth son - Cheng Yusheng.

Cheng Yusheng was studied for many years by Sun Zhijun, who now works in the research department of the Beijing Gas Equipment Plant. He teaches bagua zhang four times a week in the East district of Beijing, and several years ago, at the request of Peking University, he starred in the educational film "Bagua zhang" from the "Chinese Wushu" series. This video is now available in Russia and is listed in the catalogs of several martial arts distribution companies.

 

The third branch of bagua zhang comes from Liang Zhenpu, who was one of the youngest disciples of Dong Haichuan. Li Ziming, a disciple of Liang Zhenpu, was considered the greatest master of bagua zhang and one of the best fighters in China until his death on December 31, 1993 at the age of about 90. His current successor is Sui Yunjiang (who had already become famous as a major meihua-chzhuang master before he met 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 Dai Chao, who taught Bagua Zhang, Meihua Zhuang and Cheng Tai Chi Chuan in Moscow since 1992. A characteristic feature of this branch of Bagua-Zhang is the large number of piercing and chopping blows.

 

However, in spite of differences in style, the system of training in all schools of bagua zhang is the same. The first few years, the student trains in "walking in a circle" to develop the skill of constantly leaving a straight line and get used to controlling its center of gravity. Then the student studies "Dinshi bajan" complex, "Eight palms of the established forms" (names of complexes may slightly vary in different schools), which deals with eight different positions of the palms. It is followed by the study of "Bianshi bachzhan" ("Eight palms of changeable forms"), which is also called "Laobachzhan" ("Old eight palms") or "Badachzhan" ("Eight large palms"). After mastering these techniques, a student can study more complicated complexes ("24 forms", "8 forms 8 images", "Secret feet", etc.), paired techniques, weapons possession and special movement techniques. An interesting exercise is "the flying around of nine palaces" when nine two meters poles are stuck into the ground in the form of a square 3 by 3 meters and one has to walk around them in a certain order. This teaches the skills of fighting in a crowd.

 

All exercises have several levels of difficulty. For example, first you walk in a circle on nearly straight legs and gradually lower the body level, so that eventually to move with the hips parallel to the ground, "nine palaces" at first just go around, and later with each of the pillars during the circumambulation arrange a kind of "shadow combat. Simultaneously with all this, the trainee is engaged in strengthening the striking surfaces and anti-impact hardening of the body. Very many masters of bagua zhang are famous for their mastery of "iron palm" and "iron shirt".

 

Bagua zhang has never been an army art, it has always been the art of individual combat. Therefore, even standard weapons here have a specific form or specific application. For example, swords used in bagua zhang are about one and a half times longer than usual, and in training with a spear and a pole they work on "short use of long weapons". In addition to the usual spear, they also use the so-called "two-headed snake spear", which has tips on both ends. Dong Haichuan's favorite weapons were "cock's paw points" (this is a rare paired weapon of very complex shape, one such pair was brought to Moscow by Sui Yunjiang).

Originally, eight trigrams are eight symbolic signs. In the middle of the diagram-circle is an intertwining of male yang and female yin in the form of fish. In accordance with the eight directions: South, North, East, West, South-East, South-West, North-East, North-West, eight signs-trigrams with the names Qian, Kun, Zhen, Xun, Kan, Li, Gen, Dui are depicted at the same distance along the circle. These eight trigrams symbolize the eight natural phenomena respectively. 1) heaven, 2) earth, 3) thunder, 4) wind, 5) water, 6) fire, 7) mountains, 8) water space. Among them occupy a special place two trigrams: Qian - sky and Qun - earth, which are the original origins of all natural phenomena of human existence.

 

A simultaneous movement in a circle of the palm, changing its position, passes through the eight signs described above, and the high art of the master bagua in one way or another corresponds to the symbolic meaning of the trigrams. Each movement is followed by another, each change is followed by a new one. By the way it is said: "Softness and hardness mutually touch each other, the eight trigrams rock each other." This means that movement does not cease, and transformations are infinite. From these philosophical positions arose the name bagua zhang, i.e. palm of eight trigrams. The basic basis of bagua is ego eight basic positions of palms: dan-huang'-zhang, shuang-huang-zhang, shun-shi-zhang, bei-shen-zhang, fan-shen-zhang, mo-shen-zhang, sap-chuan-zhang ikhuei-sven-zhang. In different places, these forms were transmitted from generation to generation in different ways. They were mainly represented by eight "animal" schools: lion, deer, snake, crane, dragon, bear, phoenix and monkey. Each of the palms has eight positions, and the combination of two hands has, respectively, 64 positions.

 

In addition to solo training, there are paired exercises and free sparring, as well as the use of various weapons; saber, spear, sword, and halberd. Of great interest are such weapons as the axe of tender spouses, sharp chicken claws, the fiery wheel of the Phoenix, the pen of the judge in the afterlife, and other weapons almost unknown in other wushu schools.

 

Training in bagua is divided into three successive stages.

 

The initial stage is the training of basic postures, the ABCs of skill. Therefore, you should not be in a hurry here. Each gesture, each form should be performed slowly, follow the correct posture, move easily and smoothly.

 

At the second stage, the student develops their motor skills, or, in other words, masters the ways of moving. The main thing at this stage is coordination and coordination of movements. Using the base obtained in the first stage of training, it is necessary to bring to perfection rotational movements and changes of direction. When a student correctly mastered this stage, his movements are like a swimming dragon and the flying phoenix.

 

The third stage consists of practicing changes of position; all transitions are performed at will. Inner one; mind-will Yi leads the body shen. It is necessary to rotate easily, freely, the alternation of forms should be made at one's own discretion, but without restraining the rhythm of the taolu.