andrea falk

Bagua & Xingyi seminars review June 18 & 19, 2016

The session began with the first of the 36 bagua chants. The 36 and 48 chants are attributed to Bagua’s founder Dong Hai-Chuan, and written down by his students. They can be viewed as the central teachings and basis for all styles of bagua.

Leave the chest empty, pull up the crown of the head, settle down the waist,
Cross over the stance, brace the knees, grab the ground firmly.
Settle the shoulders, weight down the elbows, extend the forward palm,
The eyes must look out through the tiger’s mouth.

Magui style circle walking in Bear and Dragon postures was then taught. The first half of the first chant describes the structure of the body and legs while the second half the structure of the shoulder and arm when in Dragon posture.
Magui style “toad walking” is slow and stable. It aims to knit the body together, strengthening ligaments, tendons and bones. Some pointers emphasized in the workshop include:
  • While the step is a short step, the knee should fully extend,
  • Extend into the base of the foot - just behind the ball if the foot. When riding a bicycle, this is the same part of the foot used to push down the pedal.
  • This same base of the foot is used to grab the ground — don’t curl the toes
  • Turn into the circle through the waist, not the shoulders or hips,
  • While the knees are kept close to each other, the action is to brace the knees outwards
The second and third chants were presented as part of the instruction for dragon posture circle walking:

The rear elbow first folds in so the elbow covers the heart,
Then the hand rolls over to settle and press its heel forward.
It presses toward the forward elbow with a closing, wrapping power,
The front and rear hands are united in spirit.

The stance is flexed and each foot extends straight as it reaches forward,
The structure is just like pushing a millstone.
Bend the knees, track through the hips, cross through the waist fully,
The eyes see in three directions with no wavering of the body.

In the afternoon, applications were covered using the chuan zhang (spearing palm). Inside triangle chuan zhang was practiced. This uses the jinbu (forward step) and the kuabu (side-step). Using full body power, the timing of the footwork and handwork stay together. Using the kuabu, the angle of the spearing action changes from one side to the other.
This was followed by straight line chuan zhang drills, using the genbu (follow in step).
Partner drills where then taught:
  • chuan zhang (spearing palm) inside triangle stepping
  • genbu (follow-in step) chuan zhang
  • straight line genbu chuan zhang
  • kuabu (side-step)
  • kuabu (side-step) followed by application
A video of these drills is posted privately on Vimeo: Students can contact me for the password.

Bagua Sabre
The Saturday morning was devoted to Cheng style bagua dadao. Emphasis was on correct koubu and baibu stepping and on connecting the sabre to the movements of the body.
The following pointers were given (numbers refer the Andrea’s translation of Sun Zi-Jun’s chapter on Cheng Bagua Dadao):

First Change
Preparation — stand on the circle line, left shoulder facing into the circle.
2. Row with the sabre — the sabre rows upwards close to the body with the blade facing up. Coming out of the drop stance, lift the sabre so that the handle is higher than the tip.

Second Change
8. Cover the Body — take a proper baibu with the pierce so the following koubu will take you around and forward. Stay settled into the shoulder so the gai (cover) happens naturally.
11. Draw in to exchange the shadow — after the kick, rotate the sabre rather than circling the blade to bring the sabre into a vertical position.

Third Change
19. White snake spits its tongue — keep the right arm extended as the blade travels in front of the face blade horizontal. Keep the body upright when placing the blade on the right shoulder.
20. Sparrow hawk enters the woods — roll through the shoulder so the blade moves forward as the body turns first in one direction then in the other.

Fourth Change
26. Slice up while walking — slice upwards, lining up the blade with the forearm.
28. Grinding Millstone — pay attention to proper stepping to bring the body around.

Fifth Change
32. Turn around and slice up — this cut is the same as in the Fourth Change.
34. Grinding brandish — as the blade passing in front, keep the right arm extended.
35. Tear banner in the wind — use the waist the swing the sabre. Use the cross step to stop the turn.

A copy of Andrea’s translation of Sun Zi-Jun’s Bagua Sabre chapter can be viewed and downloaded off the Stone Lantern secret blog. Students can contact me for the password.

Beginning students were taught piquan (chop) zuanquan (drill) and bengquan (drive). Here is a video of the five fundamental strikes. For returning students this session continued the review of the 12 animals:

Chicken Form
In Andrea’s translation of “Di Guoyong on Xingyiquan,” there is the following description of the Chicken:

The chicken is brave, it has the ability to stand on one leg, it can shake fiercely, it has a fighting spirit and it pecks very accurately… It conceals defensive moves in its attacks and attacking moves in its defence, so that it attacks and defends at the same time, continuing always to attack with high and low techniques.

Sparrowhawk Form
The Sparrowhawk form emphasizes a folding of the body and tucking into small openings. The name includes Goshawks, which are birds that famous for their ability to fly through dense forests. Here’s a video showing their agility:
The form’s first 2 moves, Sparrowhawk fold its wings, and Sparrowhawk enters the Woods trains striking through a small opening in an opponent’s defenses. While the turn around, Sparrowhawk wheels around trains folding of the body.

Swallow Form
The Swallow trains agility and alternating high and low techniques. Di Guoyong has the following poem about the Swallow:

Pierce the Sky and Scoop Water in one breath,
The groin strike is then not easy to fathom.
The body technique is to tuck in as you rise, lengthen as you land;
The power is smooth and the intent leads, so that the Qi naturally connects.

Finally, the partner routine, An Shen Pao was practiced. While beginning students learnt the opening moves to the sequence.

Andrea Falk’s next visit to Guelph will be near the end of January 2017.

Chinese Sabre Fundamentals - Seminar Summary

The session began with an explanation of the sabre’s shape, characteristics and usage. Compared with the sword (jian) the Sabre is heavier and edged only on one side. Because of the heavier construction, it is more capable of being used for blocks. It’s primarily a slicing and chopping weapon and while capable of being used for thrusts, it’s asymmetrical shape makes this technique less effective. The flat spine allows the left hand to be used to support the blade when slicing and blocking, and allows the weapon to wrap around the body and be held or swung overhead safely. 

The fundamental wrapping drill (chan tou guo nao) was taught. As a fundamental exercise it is practiced with the spine of the blade coming into contact with the body. As a practical technique, this allows you to know where the blade is without looking. The exercise also teaches coordination between the two hands and proper extension. 

The following techniques were shown and practiced:

  • Slice
  • Chop
  • Hook
  • Pierce 
  • Roll/Block
  • Full Flower - deflect and chop combined

For those familiar with the Chen Taiji Sabre routine, the form was practiced and each technique analyzed. Others used Xingyi Sabre techniques to practice use of the Sabre.