A Gua Two Man Application Drills

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 opponent. It is far easier to use obvious or brute force to beat an opponent, but it is difficult to subdue him with subtlety. What is meant by subtlety? It is the art of using the slightest touch, redirecting and turning it back against the opponent who originated the force. Sometimes neutralizing, sometimes leading aside, it involves matching the fine variations of pressures of the opponent with near imperceptible neutralization and redirection. However, subtlety can be mastered by only the most dedicated and persistent students of the art. It involves refined skills of becoming sensitive, staying calm under pressure, and directing the situation by the power of one's will. Thus, the highest level requires study of the mind and the nervous system. It involves thorough knowledge of subtle commands sent through the medium of the nervous system and musculature, an awareness greatly increased compared to the average person. This is the superior man's way to know and ultimately defeat an opponent.

dzwo ma Yang Yong-Li dzwo ma Yang Yong-Li

Shown here are two senior Ba Gua uncles Yang Yong-Li and Cheng Guo-Hua practicing Ba Gua two-man drills at Temple of Heaven Park, Beijing.

In the exercises that follow, Ba Gua dual-person training matter are illustrated. This body of knowledge incorporates a method that will seem immediately familiar to students of t'ai chi ch 'uan. The material incorporates Ba Gua concepts, notably the use of sensitivity training to manipulate the opponent with subtle pressure. In mastering this material, one learns to feel the opponent's weight and intent; they are the keys to instantly knowing what the opponent is about to do next, even before a movement is initiated. As in t'ai chi ch 'uan, the goal is to employ this knowledge against the attacker. Also as in t'ai chi ch'uan, overt and crude force is thought to be of lesser value in the pursuit of ultimate principles and is discouraged.

In this chapter three different drills will be shown. Drill 1 is practiced from a relatively static position; demonstrated with two opponents facing off in a nar-point of this exercise is to develop sensitivity and cone hands and forearms while retaining balance and control


The right training partner makes a world of difference. Ideally you want to train with a partner that gives you the appropriate resistance and challenge for your level, or a senior advanced enough to know your level and work from the right mindset without the interference of ego.

Overcompetitiveness, especially in the early years of training, is a negative since it will limit the student's development. When the student is overly concerned about winning, the goal becomes beating the other person rather than improving. Say for example that during simulated combat practice a student comes at me with a strong attack that takes me to the floor. I am strong and experienced and can probably beat most attacks by less-experienced students without too much trouble. However, I have found that if I allow myself to get into a precarious situation and become severely disadvantaged (which enables the junior to successfully work his best technique) it challenges me far greater. Though I may have to give up more often, I learn a great deal more. I believe that this approach to combat art is superior to a "domination model" (the toughest guy walks out alive) approach. Not only does a cooperative approach benefit the junior student but the senior is able to look at his mind and emotion in the midst of the mock combat. I learn more by not using what would have been an easy way out. Being in the right state of mind while being pinned and choked on the ground (especially by a nonenemy) is a great learning environment.

In training, learn to watch your mind and emotions as well as physical skill. Thus, partner routines that can be repeated back and forth endlessly (such as those in this chapter) foster development of a mental laboratory to not think about the material so much, and instead concentrate on his or her inner universe.

Gua Zhang Form Techniques Blocks
American Ba Gua enthusiast Chris Gulbrandson studies two-person drills and applications with Ba Gua cousins in Beijing, 1994.

much of the exercise is row stance. The main trol using the back of th from a narrow base. Drill 2 uses movements that expand the chest and arms, which develop intercostal total body power while extending power and maintaining a high degree of leg maneuverability and control while turning. Drill 3 teaches the student to turn with the force of attack while maintaining close control with one's back and shoulders.

Continue reading here: Two Man Drill Number I

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