Taoist Martial Art

By Master Liu Xing Han

Taoist Master With Student

The internal styles of traditional Chinese kung fu, the netchia ch 'uan, are the more rare and mysterious of the martial arts and, when fully developed, extremely powerful and effective.2 These are the styles of Ba Gua (Pa Kua) Zhang, Xing Yi (hsing I) Quan, and t'ai chi ch'uan. In my youth, when I first began to study martial arts, I thought their purpose was only physical exercise and self-defense. My Ba Gua companions and I often played games to see who could remember more and we...

About Taiwan

The Nationalist Chinese withdrew to Taiwan in 1949 with the Communist Chinese army at their heels. Traditional internal masters were not high on the priority list of those who would be selected to go to the island, especially since they lacked wealth and political influence. In the Nationalists' hasty (and ostensibly temporary) move to Taiwan, priority was given to the politicians, the military officials, and influential persons from the mainland. High preference was not given to the older kung...

Ba Gua as Taoist Yogic Practice

Gua Century Martial Arts

The previous chapter examined the Taoist yogic roots of Ba Gua Zhang. This chapter looks at the application of Taoist yogic theory and practice to Ba Gua Zhang and the internal martial arts. to Western Author Liu (left) practicing Ba Gua with Master Wang Wen-Kuei, 1977. to Western Author Liu (left) practicing Ba Gua with Master Wang Wen-Kuei, 1977. One of the most important discoveries of the ancient Taoists was the direct manipulation of internal qi. Other than massage, there are two ways to...

Introduction

Liu Xing Hun Gua

As I look back I realize that for me interest in the internal began before my start in the martial arts in 1967. My Catholic upbringing, which ingrained the notion of the power in the unseen played a role. My father had an influence as well. I will never forget our walks to an empty church and his suggestion that I feel the quiet. From my earliest days in the martial arts I annoyed my teachers with my strange and wreird questions about internal energy and qi. Things would only begin to become a...

A Gua Two Man Application Drills

Gua Zhang Form Techniques Blocks

There are many texts that illustrate the various Ba Gua solo forms, but few that address the art's dual-person systems. The focus of the present chapter is the rarer training method that of two-man training routines. The two-man methods, called tiao da neutralizing a strike and dzwoma walking a horse are special methods to teach sensitivity, subtleness, and opponent control. The ultimate Ba gua, like any internal martial art, involves employing subtle pressures and leverages to subdue an...

The initial approach or slash

Gua Zhang Form Techniques Blocks

The defender should never keep his weight balanced evenly (commonly referred to in martial art terminology as 50-50.*) The defender keeps his weight back so that he can pivot, adjusting steps easily, until he is able to move in. In the scenario shown in the photo, the defender at right is completely surprised by the slashing attack. Being careful to stay calm, he observes the timing and positioning of the attacker, as the attacker moves toward him with short slashing movements. If possible, the...

Defense from rear push

Push Into Single Whip Qigong

Attack Right-hand push to right shoulder from rear. In this technique, the defender at left responds to unexpected force on his body. Instead of resisting or being thrown off balance, the Ba Gua stylist moves with the force, turning it back against the attacker. Move and adapt with the force of the push, however, the main lesson is adaptation, not how to defend from a rear push. Train to respond to any surprise force or pressure at any time. The defender at left steps forward and turns low,...

Chinese philosophy and Ba

Wang Bagua Swimming

The main objective of a Taoist yogi-intellectual-martial artist, as has been discussed, would be to unify with the primal forces yuan of the universe and restore the yuan qi, the primordial qi within his own body. To understand the thinking of a Taoist yogi at the turn of the century, one must first look at how he viewed the world. According to classic Chinese philosophers, we as human beings are the result of the marriage between heaven and earth. We are a microcosm, a universe in miniature,...

Taoist terms in the martial arts

Gua Zhang Movement Diagram

When the literati took it upon themselves to organize the internal martial arts, they spared no effort to reconcile universal principles with the physical arts and incorporated cosmological terms into their disciplines. There are numerous examples where Taoist and Confucian universal principles were applied to the martial arts. Below is a listing of key and repeated themes in internal martial art literature. According to ancient Chinese cosmology, creation began with Wuji, the void or chaos...

Five Methods Eight Gates

Ba Gua Zhang has its own types of qi gong practice for health and martial purposes. This type of qi gong, among the last of the pure Taoist qi gong still practiced, uses Ba Gua circle-walking methods to facilitate this life-enhancing martial and energy training. In this chapter, details of a specific Ba Gua qi gong exercise that was handed down from Master Liu Bin to author Liu Xing-Han is presented. It is called the Five Methods, Eight Gates. WHY IS WALKING THE CIRCLE SO IMPORTANT IN BA GUA...

Transitional movement

First control, then close-range power is released into the opponent's ribs. Striking with close-range, rooted power while stepping. Arcing defense utilizes the entire forearm. A protective posture, the fingers of the left hand are slightly stretched, the arm ready to deliver a coiled strike. The defender begins to move beneath attacker's arm while checking the opponent's leg and hip position with his left hand. The shoulder and back are used as contact points to destabilize the attacker. While...

Chi Qi proper meridian and organ qi

Meridian Art Martial

Qi as used in this formula refers to meridian qi. It is the qi of daily life, of organ qi and blood. It is manipulated through postures and breathing and is the domain of traditional Chinese medicine. Taoist yogis developed multifarious approaches concerning the regulation, development, storage, and manifestation of the qi flow. This knowledge became the basis of traditional Chinese medicine. This qi is nurtured by correct, balanced exercise and retained by quiet reflection. Practice of die art...

The Tao ofBa

Ba Gua Zhang, designed to defend simultaneously against multiple opponents, is the only martial art specifically developed for bodyguards. After executing an evasive movement from one attacker, the artist-defender immediately circles, coils, and changes to respond to a second or third aggressor coming from the opposite direction he doesn't stop there, but immediately turns back and proceeds to counterattack against the original attacker. The Ba Gua practitioner, fluid and powerful when under...

Two Man Drill Number

Arm Swing Counter Force

This drill teaches the practitioner to turn and extend and thus open the power through the entire body to respond and counter an attack. Learning to deflect a forceful attack outward while stepping and connecting the entire body's unified strength. These photos show an attacker stepping in with a right-handed attack toward defender's mid-torso at right. The defender steps to the rear and places his right hand underneath attacker's right hand and prepares to move it outside to his right and away...

Sixth Gua Lion holds ball

Walking Posture

This posture can be held in multiple circumnavigation of the Ba Gua circle. Holding the ball of qi is a common move in the internal arts. When performed static it is called embrace post posture. Here it is performed while walking in a Ba Gua circle. The effects of this posture are very deep and may not be appreciated in the early stages of practice. Its value lies in the sensation of building and maintaining the concentration of internal energy through the...

Response to a Boxers Left

Outside Left Jab

The defender at left keeps his centerline protected against a strong left jab, Left elbow slightly inward to protect centerline. Narrow stance minimizes vulnerability. Outward deflection using subtle movement. Left elbow slightly inward to protect centerline. Narrow stance minimizes vulnerability. The defender, at left, closes the gap draws close advancing with the lead foot first, and slightly to the outside left back of the opponent. While doing this, the defender at the same time prepares a...

Types of internal martial art power

Metallurgy Taoism

Two types of power are used in Ba Gua and the other internal arts both methods are called internal. Fundamentally, internal power begins with physical mechanics or mingjing, which translates as obvious force. With correct training, students naturally progress from obvious force to anjing, hidden power J and ultimately, huajing, mysterious power.9 Mingjing, literally bright or observable power, is the term used for mingjing physical mechanics of the internal. Instead of throwing a punch in the...

Understanding Qi

Chi Gong Spear Break Incident

A wounded and dyingyoung martial artist returning from a bloody battle finds his way to his elderly master. The masterconcentrates his qi into the student and heals him. The master, having used up the last of his qi, having given it all to the student, dies within the hour. Fables like this are common in martial arts lore. They illustrate the link between healing qi and the martial arts. However, it can be difficult to attain a clear understanding of the terms qi and qi gong because of their...

Martial qi gong

Taoist Walking Qigong

The merging of martial arts with health exercise goes back into some of the earliest written records of martial arts in China. Ta Mo, briefly discussed in Chapter Two, came to China from India in the sixth century, is credited with writing a martial arts and health text and the founding of the Buddhist Shaolin temple. As discussed in Chapter Two and Three, starting during the period of the Boxer Rebellion at the turn of the century, the study of qi gong and Taoist alchemy was increasingly...

Martial Arts Qi

Most Western governments did not recognize the communist government of Mainland China after the revolution and subsequent control of the mainland in 1949. Further isolation occurred during the Cultural Revolution, which lasted from 1967 to 1976. 2. The term Kung fu, also written Gong fu, originally referred to any great skill. Kung means work and time, and fu, penetrating heaven. The term has become popularized to mean the martial arts of China, correctly called ch'uan shu'Vboxing arts, or...

The nei tan tradition

The nei tan or inner alchemical school was concerned with the development of the nei qi, or inner qi. Although the roots of the inner tradition lie in the outer alchemical tradition, it is difficult to provide an exact date for the beginning of what was to be identified as the inner yogic tradition. One of the earliest and most important texts of both the outer and inner alchemical schools, The Nei Pien of the alchemist Ko Hung, treated both disciplines in 320 A.D. The classical Chinese...

Taoist yoga and the martial arts

The question of inner power in the martial arts is fascinating. To some, the mastery of this enigmatic force is considered to be the quintessence of martial arts evolution. Inner power skill, nei kung, involves the link of mind and body and results in enhancement of human potential. In the Taoist-based internal martial art tradition, manifestation of this force occurs in tandem with self-mastery. The Taoists that began the nei tan tradition were fascinated with the subject of the life force....

Sexual qi gong

In recent years there has been much interest in the West in Taoist sexual practices. One of the classic texts on the subject, the Chien Han Shu, describes the Taoist view on the arts best The arts of the bedchamber constitute the climax of human emotions and touch the very hem of the Tao itself. Therefore the sagekings regulated man's outer pleasure in order to restrain his inner passions, and set down in writing precepts for the union of the sexes _ If such joys are moderate and well-ordered,...

Internal martial arts are born

J ijs- The first written record of a distinctive internal style martial art (nei chia ch uari) nei chia ch'uan occurs in the 1600s where Huan Tsung-Hsi described a system of self-defense counter to Shaolin. His written commentary included notes on internal Texts on marrow washing and muscle and tendon changing attributed to Ta Mo. Texts on marrow washing and muscle and tendon changing attributed to Ta Mo. training and soft style strategy.24 Of particular interest is his principle of stillness...

Externalizing qi fa qi

One should be cautious about dismissing some amazing stories too quickly. Some feats that may be treated with skepticism by the uninitiated may have been kept secret through many generations and passed down from father to son. One of my teachers, by profession a college professor, is a well-liked, unassuming man who from time to time gives my students a real treat. He performs the amazing feat of concentrating his qi and projecting it through his finger, drawing a mark on his torso with his...

Fifth Gua Bear lifts roof

After making at least one circumnavigation of the circle, begin this part with a tight turn stepping pattern. The hands come close to the shoulders while the chest is stretched. While opening the back, this posture concentrates the power tight to the chest. Ideally, heat or pressure sensations are felt in the center of the palms. AWARENESS, BIOFEEDBACK AND INTERNAL ENERGY Maintaining awareness of the charged energy becomes a type of biofeedback signal which increases the depth and effectiveness...

Mountaindwelling Taoists

Of the well-known martial arts it is often said that only Ba Gua is purely of Taoist origin.47 Dong himself said that he learned his art from a mountain Taoist. Historical records show that there were mountain Taoists and that they practiced martial arts along with special energetic methods, meditation, and Taoist yogas in the search for physical immortality and union with the Tao. Aspirants left civilization behind to live in these remote locations where they were free to practice esoteric...

Defense from A Rear Leg Roundhouse Kick

Stepping in while neutralizing a leg attack and off balancing the opponent. The defender at right observes positioning, weight, and intent of attacker. Body positions of two different attackers are shown. Calmness of mind must be maintained so that the cues that suggest the nature of an impending attack can be noticed. Two styles of set up for the kick-attack are shown in the photos on this page, and some of the cues are exaggerated. A defender who finds himself in this situation has three...

The chingchishen model

Taoist Art

The quest to compound the mysterious elixir within their bodies became the impetus that led to unique and varied methods used by Taoist yogis in the search for immortality. Among the nei tan adepts who sought the answer to their quest within the microcosm of their own body, the ching-ch 'i-shen model was a fundamental means with which to understand yogic practice. This model, the classical Taoist internal alchemy formula, defines internal energy as a spectrum with three densities, ranging from...

The validity of qi as a subject of study in the West

The respectability of qi as a subject of study began with the opening of China proper to the West. The younger generation in the United States today does not realize that from 1.949 to 1973 the United States and most of the Western world pretended that the Chinese government, representing a billion Chinese on the mainland, did not exist. They gave recognition and political association for all the Chinese people to the exiled national government on the island of Taiwan, at that time often...

The notion of secrecy

Medieval Taoist Texts

Sometimes the particular way that the Asian martial arts connected mind and body together resulted in legendary powers in the practitioner. In the desire to safeguard this knowledge from the unapproved or unscrupulous, it became customary to protect this information. This gave rise to a tradition of secrecy that surrounded the martial arts of the Far East. Serving a valuable function at one time, secrecy limited access to information by rival groups and individuals. However, secrecy is no...

Traditional Chinese theories merge with martial arts

In the same way that the recluse Taoist swordsmen demonstrated attunement to the natural order, so did select Chinese intellectuals in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries seek to organize the internal martial systems in ways that would be congruent with the hidden workings of the universe. When these intellectuals became involved in the martial arts they sought to organize the martial systems in ways that would be congruent with what they perceived to be secret natural principles....

Righteous qi the development of inner and outer balance

Chinese yoga and internal martial arts are holistic. Lacking the concept of mind-body dichotomy that has become the cornerstone of Western scientific development, the Taoist philosophers of ancient times intuited that mind influences thought which influences the body and, likewise, that the body influences the mind. Although the language and underlying philosophy differs, Western medical science is now beginning to agree with this philosophy. The ancient Taoists Liu Men-Gen teaches American...

Qi Martial Arts Mystery

Ba Gua and other internal arts became legendary not because of their flowing movements, moving meditation aspects, flowing silk uniforms, or sagely appearance but their realistic and sublime fighting skills. It is widely known that the great legends of the art like Dong Hai-Chuan, Cheng Ting-Hwa, and Sun Lu-Tang displayed uncanny abilities rarely seen today. Dong could move effortlessly through and around a group of attackers without being touched. Cheng was famous for his ability to neutralize...

Yin Yang in internal power

Just described is the principle of the yin and yang in motion. In internal martial arts this is the unity of calm and action. (Calm + action internal power). Yin is the calm aspect of movement yang is the active aspect. According to ancient philosophical views of the law of the universe, nothing can be outside the law of yin and yang. Although perennially tending toward opposition, when yin and yang are unified, there is power. Consider the example of an electrical motor, its power formed...

Bibliography

Becker, Robert O., M.D. and Shelden, Gary. The Body Electric Electromagnet-ism and the Foundation of Life. New York Quill William Morrow, 1985. Blofeld, John. The Secret andSublime Taoist Mysteries and Magic. New York, NY E. P. Dutton amp Co., 1973. Bracy, John. Ba Gua Mechanics Pa Kua Chang Journal, vol. 6 no. 6, Pacific Grove, Calif. High View Publications, Sept Oct 1996. Bracy, John Internal Boxing and Taoist Alchemy Pa Kua Chang Journal, vol. 3, No. 6, Pacific Grove, Calif. Highview...

Evaluating Qi Checking for Unconscious Participation

Deciding that qi exists as a real and worthwhile pursuit is only part of the problem. Then the student has the difficult task of determining what is indeed a genuine qi event. Some guidelines to use when searching for a teacher or for help in developing your own model to explain and examine qi may be useful. When evaluating qi phenomena, consider the unconscious participation in the activity by others. In 1988 while in Beijing, qi master Shi Ming attempted to recruit me as a personal student.42...

Ba Gua Zhang and the I Ching

No discussion of Ba Gua Zhang could be complete without some treatment of the art's relationship to the I Ching. Dating from the earliest records of the Chinese written language, the Ching or Book of Changes has been revered as holding keys to the universe. Although this treatise is used for philosophical reflection and or divination, it also is considered by many Ba Gua experts, especially during the turn of the century, as holding secrets of deeper and mysterious roots of Ba Gua Zhang...

Athletic qi gongphysical skill

Physical skills such as control of muscles shown in the previous photographs from 1900 Beijing represent physical skills and, although bearing the same name, qi gong, these skills are not necessarily the same as medical qi or psychic spiritual qi just described. Physical powers are trained as any athlete would train and sometimes, as in the cases of many qi gong shows, a certain amount of slight of hand is required. Due to its popularity, a special note on...