八卦掌(Bagua/Ba gua chang/Pakua chang)は太極拳よりも歴史的には古い内家のエネルギー術です。健康と瞑想を主な目的として道教の修道院で四千年前に開発されました。
In the last several hundred years, bagua zhang has become known as a powerful internal martial art, but it is equally effective as a health and moving meditation practice. The Energy Arts program emcompasses all three applications of bagua zhang.
Bagua zhang techniques are based on the I Ching, a 5,000-year-old text considered the classic Taoist bible about the nature of change. Bagua is also a container for the 16 neigong or "internal energy components," which is the basis of all Energy Arts programs.
Change is at the heart of life. Bagua zhang practice is about learning to flow with change rather than against it. If you can Master the Art of Change, you will become capable of overcoming obstacles in your life and allow happiness and joy to emerge from within your being.
Bagua zhang and tai chi chuan are both rooted in Taoism, a Chinese philosophical and spiritual tradition, and are designed to help develop and balance your chi (qi) or life-force energy. They are expressions through the physical body of such Taoist concepts as yin-yang, balance and naturalness.
Although bagua zhang and tai chi chuan have important differences, they are wonderfully complementary brother and sister practices.
Both bagua zhang and tai chi chuan include each other's yin and yang strengths and special qualities with only slight areas of differentiation. They equally share the ability to access and develop important and innate potential human abilities. Bagua zhang and tai chi chuan can develop the art of movement to very sophisticated degrees, particularly through their methods for developing the chi of the body, mind and spirit.
Unlike tai chi chuan, bagua zhang is not normally done in slow motion. Bagua zhang is practiced in slow motion for short periods of time to develop physical coordination or balance. After the skill is grasped, you then go back to practicing at normal or fast speeds.
Bruce Frantzis's teacher, Grandmaster Liu Hung Chieh, was fortunate to study bagua with disciples of both the martial art tradition of Tung Hai Chuan (who popularized bagua zhang) and the Taoist monastic tradition. During his teens and twenties in Beijing, Liu studied with many of Tung’s students and grandstudents.
Liu teachings emphasized the monastic tradition emphasizes the Bagua Single Palm Change where mastering this one palm change is all that is necessary to explore the I Ching's eight triagram energies of change. Depending on the nature of the student and experience, learning bagua zhang in this tradition typically progresses in a series of five stages:
In traditional bagua schools, students would spend the first six months learning to walk in a line using bagua three-part, four-part and two-part stepping methods. Energy Arts teaches a highly detailed progression of this system called the Bagua Dynamic Stepping System,™ which includes heel-toe stepping and traditional Chinese mud walking.
It is important to spend a lot of time drilling the fundamentals of walking because it is the foundation from which all bagua movements are derived. In addition, Energy Arts teaches the Bagua Internal Warm-up Method,™ a progression of eight exercises that prepare the body for Bagua Circle Walking. These warm-ups enable you to jump start your practice and make the most out of your practice time.
In Stage 2, you take the Bagua Stepping Techniqes you learned in straight-line walking and put them into Circle Walking. Bagua's defining characteristic is its core training method of Circle Walking. This holds equally true for bagua's martial, energetic and meditation aspects. You learn precise footwork methods for walking in circles in opposite directions.
During Bagua Circle Walking practices, you walk around and around in a circle, regularly alternating direction between clockwise and counter-clockwise directions. More advanced practitioners use various kinds of regular and specialized steps while simultaneously executing spiraling arm and waist movements. This creates a vortex in the earth and into the practitioner's body.
Eventually, as you move into Stage 3 and Walk the Circle, you start to hold your hands in various bagua arm postures. These are are similar to, but not the same as, some of the postures used in tai chi chuan (taiji) and the standing postures in I Chuan. Holding postures while Walking the Circle is the basic method of power training in bagua zhang.
There are over 200 qigong postures that can accompany bagua zhang practice. Each posture channels and opens your body in specific ways. Traditionally, a master would work with each student individually, prescribing what they needed at any given moment in time to advance their bagua zhang practice.
Bruce has selected and designed a specific series of 12 postures called the Bagua Energy Posture Series.™ This series is designed to open up your body and its energy channels in a very systematic way to prepare you for the Bagua Single Palm Change. These are taught in the Energy Arts Bagua Mastery Program.
The next stage of learning bagua zhang is based on a meditation method that existed within Taoist monasteries thousands of years ago: the Bagua Single Palm Change, which represents the first trigram of the I Ching, known as "heaven" (or chien in Chinese). The Bagua Single Palm Change or Bagua Heaven Palm signifies the essence of yang energy as the prime chi-generation method of bagua.
Once you learn the Bagua Zhang Single Palm Change, you practice with the aim to open up your body over time so that it rotates more and more into the center of your circle. This inward rotation increases the effectiveness and power generated during bagua zhang practice.
However, this process of rotating your body to the center in bagua zhang is gradual and
takes time--it must be done slowly and with precise biomechanical alignments to
prevent strain and injury. In the monastic tradition, the entire Taoist meditation process can be realized through practice of the Bagua Single Palm Change.
Holding the upper body palm posture of the Bagua Single Palm Change while Walking the Circle focuses and develops the chi of the body, mind and spirit more than any other independant single technique in the world of Taoist arts of chi.
--Bruce Frantzis, Excerpt from the Bagua Mastery Program
The next palm change is the Bagua Double Palm Change, which represents the second triagram of the I Ching, known as "earth" (or kun in Chinese). It signifies the essence of yin energy as the prime yin or soft power generation method of bagua. It focuses on using the two palms together, coordinating them until they are as one, and moving and changing the quality of energy between them with fluidity and power.
Beyond the first two palm changes, you expand to the remaining Bagua Eight Mother Palms where each palm represents the energy, characteristics, strategies and subtle qualities of each of the eight triagrams of the I Ching.
In some bagua systems, rather than focusing on the energies of the I Ching itself, they focus on the qualities of the animals associated with each of the triagrams. There are also 64 techniques where each palm change attempts to represent the multitude of the qualities of the I Ching's 64 hexagrams.
Although many students like to learn lots of techniques or postures, developing the Single Palm Change to a high level often yields the deepest, most internal results.
The most advanced work of bagua zhang is taught by direct mind-to-mind transmissions. Although few modern-day teachers have the ability to teach in this way, the energetic and spiritual qualities of bagua zhang, tai chi and the higher esoteric traditions have always passed non-verbally between teachers and their students to the next generation.
The bagua zhang teacher—in what could be called telepathy—transmits what he knows from his own heart and being to the heart and being of the student. The purpose is to energetically and directly communicate the reality of what is being taught in bagua zhang (or other internal arts) in a totally non-verbal fashion rather than only hinting at it in words or showing the outer surface of physical movement.
Historically, the higher level chi arts were taught one-on-one or in small groups after disciples had trained and prepared sufficiently to absorb and embody the knowledge relatively seamlessly. This is partially because, at the advanced levels of learning, disciples and lineage holders teach these practices and impart their knowledge by direct transmission of energy.
A must read for those who are new to qigong, those who are already practitioners, and anyone interested in complementary medicine or self-help.