The Essence of Baguazhang - Translation of Ancient Secrets - Total Song of Baguazhang
By Grandmaster Shou-Yu Liang, Dr. Jwing-Ming Yang, and Master Wen-Ching Wu
Translation of Ancient Secrets - Total Song of Baguazhang
Baguazhang, walking is first, withdraw (and) immediately release, go (and) immediately return, change and vary the insubstantial and substantial in the stepping. Walk like the wind, stand as if nailed, the changes of techniques for arcing, swaying, boring and turning are dear. The waist is the (emperor's) banner, the Qi is the (general's) flag. The eyes look in the six directions, the hands and feet (move) first. Walk like a dragon, sit like a tiger, walk like a river, be still like a mountain. Yin and Yang hands, up and down turning, sink the shoulders and drop the elbows, Qi returns to the Dan (i.e., Lower Dan Tian). Embrace the six harmonies, do not be random and disordered, Qi and blood (circulate in) the entire body and gain its natural way (Dao).
In Baguazhang, walking is most important. You are always moving. When you withdraw, you immediately attack and when you advance, immediately return. The tricks of Baguazhang techniques are to keep changing while stepping. When you walk, you walk like wind and when you are still, you are rooted. The basic stepping, arcing, and swaying; basic hand techniques, boring, and turning, should be clear. In ancient times, the emperor's banner was the standard around which his troops would gather, and marked the center from which all commands originated. The waist directs your martial power and is therefore compared to a banner. During these ancient battles, generals would issue their orders by means of special flags. When a certain colored or shaped flag was raised, the soldiers would know to attack, withdraw, etc. The Qi is led by the mind, like soldier's being led by a general. When the intention is generated, the Qi moves first and the Jin follows. Therefore, Qi behaves like a flag. When you are in an alarming situation, the eyes pay attention to the six directions which include: front, rear, left, right, up, and down. Only when you can see clearly, are you able to step and move swiftly and quickly.
You must be firmly rooted both when you move and when you are still. Only with this rooted foundation can your hands turn and exchange easily from substantial to insubstantial and back again. When you move your hands, the shoulders and the elbows must be dropped and the Qi should be sunk to the Lower Dan Tian. The six harmonies include three internal harmonies and three external harmonies. The three internal harmonies are: Xin (emotional mind) and Yi (wisdom mind) harmonize, the Yi and the Qi harmonize, and the Qi and the Li (muscular power) harmonize. This implies that all of the Xin, Yi, Qi, and Li unify and coordinate with each other harmoniously The three external harmonies are: hands and feet harmonize, elbows and knees harmonize, and shoulders and hips harmonize. When these six important parts combine and coordinate with each other harmoniously, your mind will be firmed, Qi can be sunk, and the movements can be natural. Thus your entire body can act as one unit.
Arcing and swaying stepping, carefully coiled (i.e., rooted). Turning, changing, dvancing, and withdrawing are (controlled) by the waist. The feet strike seven and the hands strike three. The hands and feet advance together without delay. Thighs strike in walking, shoulders strike in bumping, lower the body, squeeze in near (the opponent) and elbow press (outward) clandestinely. High do not repress, low do not intercept, facing the wind to close (with the opponent) is the most important. Few words (describe) the important marvelous secret of the fist (i.e., Baguazhang). (If one) does not study intelligently, it will still be in vain.
Arcing and swaying stepping are the two major walking techniques in Baguazhang. When you walk, the legs must be rooted. Only then will you be able to use your waist to turn, change, advance, and withdraw skillfully. In Chinese martial arts, it is understood that the waist is like the steering wheel of a car, which not only controls the body's strategic movements but also directs the Jin manifested in the desired direction. In Baguazhang strategy, the legs comprise seven parts (70%) to the hands three (30%). When you execute your techniques at close range, you should use every part of the body to strike, such as the hips, shoulders, and elbows. When your opponent is standing high to charge with a high attack, do not repress; if he is low and strikes low, do not intercept. All of your efforts are to advance close to his body, which is the most advantageous position for the application of Baguazhang techniques.
Though there are only a few sentences in this poetry, the secret hidden within is marvellous. Only if you ponder humbly and intelligently, will you be able to grasp the keys of Baguazhang practice.