By Di Zhaolong
Wudang Magazine June 2001, #130
The training in Shi Style Baguazhang is divided into three phases.
The first phase is called “Fixed Frame”. It teaches strengthening the basic skills. The forms of the basic skills are the following: Open the Bow, Shoot the Arrow Posture (1), Double Yang Palm posture (2), Single Yang Palm posture (3), Flicking Palm posture (4-1, 4-2), Hooking Palm posture (5-1, 5-2), Searching Palm posture (6), Yang Palm Spread Open posture (7), Embrace the Ball posture (8-1, 8-2, 8-3, 8-4), Parry Block and Punch posture (9-1, 9-2, 9-3, 9-4) Backfist posture (10-1, 10-2). Each of these postures must be trained on both the left and right sides. From the 1st Big Palm to the 3rd Big Palm there are 24 palms. These all begin and end with the Open the Bow and Shoot the Arrow posture. In the 4th Big Palm, the first palm begins and ends with the Double Yang Palm posture. The second palm begins and ends with the Single Yang Palm posture. The third palm begins and ends with the Parry Block and Punch posture. The fifth through seventh palms begin and end with the Double Yang Palm posture. The eighth palm begins and ends with the Single Yang Palm posture. The 5th Big Palm begins and ends with the Open the Bow and Shoot the Arrow posture. The 6th Big Palm opens with the Flicking Palm posture and closes with the Hooking Palm posture. The 7th Big Palm opens and closes with the Searching Palm posture. In the 8th Big Palm, palms 1 through 7 open and close with the Searching Palm posture. The eighth palm opens and closes with the Yang Palm posture. The 64 Palms are linked toegether using the Embracing the Ball posture. It can link any form in the 64 Palms.
When studying the actions, not only must the imitating nature be strong, but the strength must be quick. Still more the vitality must permeate and flow out according to each situation, . The attitude is full. The eyes retrained and the spirit bold. Then the posture flows and the turning movements appear like cotton thread. The actions must be coordinated and unified. The hands, eyes, body, waist and stepping must be done with meticulous care and flawless artistry. Form a coherent whole. Each movement is without a doubt movement. First get the shape of the form, then get the shape of the spirit.
The second phase is called “Lively Frame.” After the basics of the first phase are down pat, practice the actions in a lively mobile fashion, quick bold and fierce. Issue like dodging lightning, contract like rolling a mat. Attack and defend without delay, appropriately and with facility. Adapt strength and the amount of times you hit the target will be high.
The third phase is called “Changing Frame.” When the basics have been solidified, and you can also do agile and mobile movements, in this phase of Baguazhang, practice changing. Changing is practicing adapting a mobile objective. Having loosed the arrow, you become subordinate to the needs of real fighting.
When training, the frames can be practiced at three different heights: High Frame, Middle Frame, and Low Frame, which are also called the “Three Basins” When practicing the Low Frame, bend the knees and crouch the body. The buttocks drop down to knee level. In high frame the knees are only slightly bent. It is for training those with weak bodies or elderly people. The degree of the Middle Frame falls somewhere between the Low Frame and the High Frame. The lower the frame, the larger the movements get.
Training requirements: The head pushes up. The chin hooks in. The neck is straight. Sink the shoulders, drop the elbows and pull back the index finger. One arm pushes straight and one arm is bent and pulls. Like pulling a bow. Walk using the mud treading step as you move around the circle. The wei lu should be centered and erect so that the spirit permeates to the top. Depress the waist, fill the belly. The qi sinks to the dantian. Use the mind to lead the qi around the micro-cosmic orbit. After crossing the threshhold, to go further requires oral transmission. Work hard without ceasing and you will naturally progress.