A STUDY OF BAGUA BOXING
by Sun Fuquan [Lutang]
[published April, 1917]
[translation by Paul Brennan, April, 2015]
Junior Field Officer for the Presidential Palace
Captain Sun Fuquan, Infantry, #7 of “Scholar Tiger” Section
The art is built upon principles.
– calligraphy by Yan Xiu
PREFACE [BY CHEN WEIMING]
I read Sun Lutang’s Study of Xingyi Boxing and found its theory to be profound, so I went to visit him. He received me with pleasure and we discussed how excellent Xingyi is, and then he taught me the basics of it. He explained how it “resets our energy back to its innate condition, as in the Zhong Yong’s ‘achieving centered harmoniousness’ and Mengzi’s comment [Mengzi, chapter 2a]: ‘By nurturing energy with integrity, it will not be corrupted.’
“The three internal boxing arts of Taiji, Bagua, and Xingyi each seemed to be doing their own thing, but after I had practiced them for thirty years, they merged and became the same thing. In internal boxing arts, one must seek to be centered. In Taiji, it is through emptiness that one is centered. In Bagua, it is through change that one is centered. In Xingyi, it is through directness that one is centered. Centered, you then stand in an undefeatable position. Off-center, you will be blown away by the breeze.
“Xingyi will attack an opponent where he is strong rather than where he is weak, Bagua will vigorously change in all directions, and Taiji will flow continuously, moving along with an attack by neither disconnecting nor resisting, responding by staying centered. [Thus the personalities of the three arts are: Xingyi crashes through, Bagua goes around, and Taiji just stays there.] Achieving extreme softness, I hold my arms out like those of an infant, then when I suddenly make use of them, even a large opponent is unable to do anything with his aggression, for even if he attacks with great force, I neutralize it and turn it into no force at all.
“Although we train in this way, we do not wish to use the art to defeat opponents. ‘A man of honor’ [quoting specifically from Lun Yu, 15.9 – one who ‘will not sacrifice honor for his life, but will sacrifice his life for honor’] ‘cultivates his noble energy’ [quoting again from Mengzi, 2a]. His goal is to make his strength sufficient for his tasks and that is all. This idea extends to the ancient sage rulers Yao, Shun, Yu, Tang, and down to King Wen and King Wu, all who were devoted to the impartial Way, and by not seeking to conquer the world, no one in the world was able to conquer them – the same principle. As Zhuangzi said [Zhuangzi, chapter 3]: ‘[What I adore is] the Way, and by way of it I have advanced to the point of skill.’”
Having heard Sun’s words, I am further convinced that the wisdom of the Way in the Zhong Yong cannot be improved upon. Sun is bold and direct with people, and whether they are people he has known for a long time or only just met, he is sure to hold back none of the knowledge he has accumulated. He said to me: “No matter how detailed and comprehensively I explain things, even if I am talking to those who seem capable of understanding, only one or two out of a hundred get it, and so I worry these arts will cease to be passed down.” [In other words, it’s a numbers game. The more people he shares with, the larger will be that population of the understanding few.] Sun has now produced this book – A Study of Bagua Boxing. Wu Xingu of Yangzhou [in Jiangsu] sent me a letter inviting me to write a preface for it because of what I have been learning from Sun. Above I have briefly described some of what he has taught me, but I am incapable of expressing one ten-thousandth of a percent of what he has learned.
– written by Chen Zengze [Weiming] of Qishui at the Purifying-Heart Pavilion in West Lake [in Hangzhou, Zhejiang]
PREFACE [BY WU XINGU]
Sun Lutang of Puyang [in Baoding, Hebei] previously wrote A Study of Xingyi Boxing. When I received it and read it through, I was deeply impressed by all his hard work. The art’s method of strength and energy is that of pure naturalness, conforming to the principles of the Zhong Yong, setting it at almost the highest pedestal among the internal schools.
But this summer he has shown me the manuscript for A Study of Bagua Boxing, rich with the purpose of promoting physical education and protecting the body. Its benefits to society are invaluable. Going in detail through the concepts in this book will change acquired effort back into innate energy. Soft in form yet hard in function, it transforms without end. Its method of switching between going along and going against is linked closely to the principle in the Book of Changes of fluctuating between fullness and emptiness. Through such skills, we approach the Way. The postures as they precede and follow each other all have “a single principle running through them” [Lun Yu, 15.3].
Sun truly does not only excel at boxing skill, he witnesses our lament at how our nation’s martial knowledge has long been lost. Since the section from the Historical Records on knights-errant [book 124, bios – part 64] is undetailed, he has devoted himself to redressing the balance. Although Li Tang made martial arts a vivid part of the culture for a while, it has become little more than comments in historical records. [Considering Li Tang was a famous landscape painter in the Song Dynasty, the words Li and Tang seem likely to have been flipped. The text was presumably meant to read as “although Li Bai in the Tang Dynasty”, the crazy poet swordsman fitting it much better.] In the overlap from the Ming Dynasty to the Qing, there were figures such as Zhang Sanfeng, Shan Sinan, and Wang Zhengnan, whose skills were peerless and have been praised from north to south, but those who have ended up writing down their learning had little real knowledge of it. These boxing arts are therefore in decline.
To bolster the weak and rouse the feeble, Sun has now taken it upon himself to put this information into books so as to pass it on to the whole world, without keeping secret any of his art. His is an abundantly helpful mentality, sincerely bringing rare things from the past to the present. Accordingly, I offer these few words to commemorate his book before it is published, and it will be up to him as to whether or not they convey any wisdom.
– written by his student, Wu Xingu, July, 1916
The usefulness of the Book of Changes is vast and profound. Its greater use is as a study for the inner way of sages and the outer way of kings, its lesser use is as a comprehensive means of divination, and it is furthermore an exquisitely detailed guide for self-cultivation and self-discipline. It says in the explanation for the Qian hexagram [hexagram 1]: “Just as Nature acts with vigor, a gentleman ceaselessly improves himself.” This “vigor” and “self-improvement” are not vacuous ideas that cannot be demonstrated.
I have studied boxing arts since my youth and have often wished to clarify the significance of the Book of Changes within each technique. After feeling this way for many years, I then came to Beijing to meet Cheng Tinghua. Discovering he possessed the Bagua [“eight trigrams”] boxing art, I went to him to learn it. The postures start from nonpolarity and finish with the eight trigrams, and in the middle there are the dual aspects [single palm change] and the four manifestations [double palm change]. The innate and acquired skills, the actions of shrinking in and flowing out, the alternating between direct action and adaptive response – these qualities all get trained. I then realized just how vast and profound is the usefulness of the Book of Changes. However, Cheng taught only by way of oral instruction, never writing anything into a special book. I worry that with the passage of time his teachings will be lost. Hence, despite my own ignorance, I have had photographs made and have included simple explanations for each posture. I would never dare to boast that this work is an achievement, nor do I present anything more than what Cheng taught me.
Although it is not known who it was that created Bagua Boxing, or even in which era,
it is said that Dong Haichuan, who was an expert in martial arts and loved to wander, once while crossing the Yangzte River in Anhui met a unique man who taught him this art. Dong later taught it to Cheng Tinghua, Li Cunyi, Yin Fu, Ma Weiqi, Wei Ji, Song Yongxiang, Song Changrong, Liu Fengchun, Liang Zhenpu, Zhang Zhankui, Shi Liu, Wang Lide. Thereafter, Yin Fu then taught it Ma Gui and others, while Li Cunyi taught it to Shang Yunxiang, Li Wenbao, Zhao Yunlong, Hao Enguang, Guo Yonglu, Huang Bonian, as well as Li Haiting and his brother Yaoting, and others. Zhang Zhankui also taught it to Wang Junchen and Han Jinyong, and others. I learned the art alongside Zhang Yukui, Han Qiying, Feng Junyi, Kan Lingfeng, Zhou Xiang, Li Hanzhang, Li Wenbiao, Qin Cheng, and others, each of us having learned personally from Cheng. I have listed all of these names so that the source of the instruction does not get forgotten.
– written by Sun Fuquan of Wan County, Hebei, Nov, 1916
GENERAL COMMENTS [Much of the text here is reused from Sun’s Xingyi manual.]
This book is for self-cultivation. Drawing from the mathematical concept and taking from the form of the trigrams, the name of this boxing art is “Swimming Body Eight-Trigrams Continuous Palming”. Within it are the “Eighteen Lohan Techniques”, as well as the “Seventy-Two Leg Checks” and “Seventy-Two Hidden Kicks”, acupoint striking, a sword set, as well as various other weapons, all contained within the boxing art. All of this material is intended as physical education – the strengthening of one’s body and the protecting of one’s health.
This book highlights Bagua Boxing’s method of generating change, focusing on essentials and taking you through them methodically. As for the sequence, the two postures beginning with the NONPOLARITY POSTURE [Chapter Six] and finishing with the GRAND POLARITY POSTURE [Chapter Seven] form the foundation of the Bagua Boxing set. From NONPOLARTY POSTURE [“The Name ‘Bagua Boxing’” – Chapter One] to “Magically Unpredictable Skills” [Chapter Twenty-Three] forms the complete text of the book. Each technique is described from the beginning in detail through all of transformations of advancing and retreating, extending and withdrawing. While practicing, let each movement and stillness be according to the established method so as to keep you from falling into disorder. Thus you will be on the cusp of obtaining all the magically subtle skills in this art and can become of great service to the world.
In this book, simple language makes the deeper theory of the art clear, and concise descriptions for the postures make the methods in the techniques understandable.
The techniques in boxing arts merely provide the basic principles for the rest of the material. Once you can become skillful at them, you will then link them in various ways, your whole body will function as a single unit, and it will not merely have been a practice of a bunch of postures. Zhu Xi said [from commentary to the Da Xue, quoting from the Cheng brothers]: “Among the minds of people, there is not one that does not have knowledge. Among the things in the world, there is not one that does not have its principle. But if these principles have not been fully explored, our knowledge will not be complete. Therefore in the beginning of instruction in” boxing arts, always have a whole-bodied presence in every technique and constantly practice the postures, “striving until reaching perfection. After working hard for a long time, it will someday suddenly all become clear.” Thus the essence of all things is caught by the eye and perceived by the mind, and there qualities can be imitated and made use of.
The Bagua boxing art does not go beyond the principles of the Book of Changes or of the double bagua diagram – the “square circle” and the “round circle”. In ancient times, there was Zhuge Liang’s “eight battle formations”, richly adaptable with subtleties invisible, though they were actually just a construction of huge rocks [the so-called Stone Sentinel Maze]. When the eight trigrams are arranged on top of each other, they make the sixty-four hexagrams. The boxing art’s profound subtleties and endless transformations have a magical unpredictability, which is just the changing of the postures as they link together in various ways. The basis of it all is the He River Diagram and the Luo River Document.
This book is intended as a guide for exercise. As such, it discusses only the genuine benefits of Bagua Boxing, and thus it explains them only in a common style of language that will be easy to understand rather than being pompously ornate, entirely free of the hindrances of literary affectation.
For the material in this book beyond the posture explanations, it all conforms to rationality. It is never a discussion of anything supernatural, and you must not look upon it as such.
This book reveals the qualities of this art especially for the purpose of cultivating vital energy, and so it cannot really be compared to books about the supernatural or sorcery. The eight trigrams techniques are presented here in their entirety in order for you to lucidly grasp everything about them.
There is such a variety of exercise to choose from, but Bagua Boxing is very easy to practice and is excellent in application, adhering to the principle of naturalness and utilizing the sincerity of energy. Everyone can practice it, regardless of man, woman, child, or older person. For one thing, it lacks the agonies of contorting the spine or legs. For another, it lacks arduous work that wears down skin and flesh. Nor is it necessary to fret over a lack of gear, for casual dress is all that is required. This is truly a martial art for scholars.
This boxing art is not only convenient for solo practice, but for group practice as well. A single circle can accommodate up to three or even five people. Dozens of people, even hundreds or more can practice together, divided up into many circles.
The Bagua boxing art has an effect on body and mind. It can prevent disease and prolong life, and is not only for training martial skill.
There is a photo for each posture so that the principles and qualities of the eight trigrams techniques may be fully realized and give you the means to attain the spirit, abilities, and skills for each. Once you understand each technique and posture, they are then linked together and combined into a single set that is coherent throughout.
Photographic images are included so that you can begin practicing. By imitating these images and doing your best, after a long time the principles will be realized and extraordinary effects will manifest, and none of this will be just vague talk.
Chapter One: How the Structure of “Bagua Boxing” Gets its Name
Chapter Two: The Three Mistakes of Beginners
Chapter Three: The Nine Requirements at the Beginning of the Training
Chapter Four: Bagua Boxing’s Four Virtues, Eight Abilities, and Four Basic Situations
Chapter Five: The Distinction in Bagua Boxing of Left & Right Circle Walking and Left & Right Palm Threading
Chapter Six: Nonpolarity
Chapter Seven: Grand Polarity
Chapter Eight: The Dual Aspects [i.e. Single Palm Change]
Chapter Nine: The Four Manifestations [i.e. Double Palm Change]
Chapter Ten: The Qian Trigram Technique ☰ (or Lion Technique)
Chapter Eleven: The Kun Trigram Technique ☷ (or Unicorn Technique)
Chapter Twelve: The Kan Trigram Technique ☵ (or Snake Technique)
Chapter Thirteen: The Li Trigram Technique ☲ (or Hawk Technique)
Chapter Fourteen: The Zhen Trigram Technique ☳ (or Dragon Technique)
Chapter Fifteen: The Gen Trigram Technique ☶ (or Bear Technique)
Chapter Sixteen: The Xun Trigram Technique ☴ (or Phoenix Technique)
Chapter Seventeen: The Dui Trigram Technique ☱ (or Monkey Technique)
Chapter Eighteen: Explanation of Innate & Acquired Merged Into One in the Context of Bagua Boxing
Chapter Nineteen: Diagram of Innate & Acquired Versions of the Eight Trigrams Merged Into One
Chapter Twenty: Explanation of the Diagram
Chapter Twenty-One: The Attributes of Active Fire & Passive Compliance in Bagua Boxing
Chapter Twenty-Two: The Attributes of Refining Spirit & Returning to Emptiness in Bagua Boxing
Chapter Twenty-Three: On Time & Place in Bagua Boxing’s Training for Spiritual Transformation
CHAPTER ONE: HOW THE STRUCTURE OF “BAGUA BOXING” GETS ITS NAME
[From the Book of Changes, Great Treatise, part 2:] “In ancient times, Fu Xi ruled over the nation. He looked up and observed the patterns in the sky, looked down and observed the processes on the ground. He observed the behavior of animals and how they suited their environment. For what is near, he examined within himself. For what is distant, he observed all things. He thereupon made the eight trigrams to reveal divine virtue and to categorize the qualities of everything.” Hence the eight trigrams, in pattern and name, have been made into a boxing art.
“For what is near, he examined within himself.” ☰ Qian – head, ☷ Kun – abdomen, ☳ Zhen – foot, ☴ Xun – thigh, ☵ Kan – ear, ☲ Li – eye, ☶ Gen – hand, ☱ Dui – mouth. In terms of the boxing art: ☰ Qian – head, ☷ Kun – abdomen, ☵ Kan – kidneys, ☲ Li – heart, ☴ Xun – spine from the tailbone to the seventh vertebra, ☶ Gen – spine the rest of the way up to the headtop, ☳ Zhen – left side of the abdomen, ☱ Dui – right side of the abdomen. These are the correspondences of the eight trigrams with the body.
Working outward to the four limbs: the abdomen represents nonpolarity, the navel is the grand polarity, the kidneys are the dual aspects, and then the arms and legs are the four manifestations. The arms and legs each have two joints [i.e. elbow/knee, wrist/ankle], making eight [4×2=8]. There are twenty fingers and toes. The thumbs and big toes each have two joints, totaling eight [4×2=8]. The other sixteen fingers and toes each have three joints, totaling forty-eight [16×3=48]. Add the eight for the arms and legs, and the eight for the joints of the thumbs and big toes, totaling sixty-four [48+8+8=64], and this accords with the sixty-four hexagrams. As it is said [in the Book of Changes, Great Treatise, part 1]: “Nonpolarity generated the grand polarity, the grand polarity generated the dual aspects, the dual aspects generated the four manifestations, and the four manifestations generated the eight trigrams.” Eight by eight then makes the sixty-four hexagrams. These are the correspondences of the eight trigrams with the four limbs, an example of “examining within the self for what is near”.
“For what is distant, he observed all things.” ☰ Qian – horse, ☷ Kun – cow, ☳ Zhen – dragon, ☴ Xun – chicken, ☵ Kan – pig, ☲ Li – pheasant, ☶ Gen – dog, ☱ Dui – sheep. In terms of the boxing art: ☰ Qian – lion, ☷ Kun – unicorn, ☳ Zhen – dragon, ☴ Xun – phoenix, ☵ Kan – snake, ☲ Li – hawk, ☶ Gen – bear, ☱ Dui – monkey. These are an example of “observing among things for what is distant”.
In the body, the eight trigrams are internal and fundamental. In the limbs, the eight trigrams are external and functional. What is internal is innate. What is external is acquired. This is the same as Nature generating things, which all come from a source, innateness and acquiredness thereby forming a complete process.
According to traditional Chinese medicine, the human body is based in both the innate and acquired. [From Li Zhongzi’s Essential Readings from the Medical Tradition:] “The kidneys are the source of the innate quality. The spleen is the source of the acquired quality.” We could call this either “source” or “root”. The world has never had a river without a source or a tree without roots. With an abundant source, a river will flow long, and with well-watered roots, a tree will grow luxuriantly. This is the natural way.
Likewise, an expert doctor must treat illness at the source. He knows that the source of the innate quality is the kidneys, and that the kidneys correspond to the northern position of water. [Here is a compass of these associations:]
E center W
wood earth metal
Water is the main source in Nature. [Continuing from Medical Tradition:] “Before a baby is a baby, it is a fetus in a womb, and through that hollowness runs a stalk and what seems like lotus stamens, the ‘stalk’ meaning the umbilical cord, the ‘lotus stamens’ meaning its kidneys, and this is where its life resides.” The doctor knows that the source of the acquired quality is the spleen, and that the spleen corresponds to the central position of earth, which is the mother of all things. First the spleen is generated, then the rest of the five elements follow – water, fire, wood, metal – and their cycling produces the five solid organs [spleen, kidneys, heart, liver, lungs], then the six bag organs [stomach, bladder, small intestine, gallbladder, large intestine, “triple warmer”], the four limbs, the hundreds of bones, and the whole body is complete.
The innate and acquired qualities are both in the human body, neither departing from the structure of the eight trigrams. Once a doctor understands the source of the body’s structure, his diagnosis is based on the structuring of the trigrams and his treatment is based on the principles of the trigrams. Being entirely a matter of the principles of the trigrams, the treatment thus comes down to the structuring of the trigrams.
It is the same case for the boxing art. On the basis of the trigram symbols are taught the trigrams techniques. Being entirely a matter of the trigrams techniques, what is being practiced are the trigram symbols. From this can be seen that the body has the eight trigrams internally while the four limbs have the eight trigrams externally. Use the theory of the eight trigrams to make the substance of the eight trigrams, then use the substance to train the theory. This explains why the structure of the art of “Bagua Boxing” is so named.
CHAPTER TWO: THE THREE MISTAKES OF BEGINNERS
The three mistakes are: 1. excessive energy, 2. awkward effort, 3. sticking out your chest and lifting your belly.
Using “excessive energy” means that you are being too hard and making yourself brittle. You will easily generate a contrary energy which fills your chest, and your lungs will suffer and develop illness. By analogy, when a central ruler falls out of harmony, all his surrounding ministers become ineffective in their duties.
Using “awkward effort” means that throughout your body, your blood cannot circulate well, your energy channels cannot be comfortable, and passive fire will ascend, producing stagnation from awkward energy in your heart, a stagnation which will lead to illness. At a mild level, this will create spasming in the muscles. At a severe level, you will be stricken with pain. In even worse cases, it can lead to the forming of sores and infections.
To “stick out your chest and lift your belly” means that a contrary energy moves upward instead of returning to your elixir field. Your feet will be without root, floating upward as light as duckweed. Your boxing technique will not obtain a centered harmoniousness, and even with countless methods to compensate, you would be incapable of ever having a stable stance.
If these three mistakes are not understood, the training can be harmful to your body. But if they are understood, the training can lead you to wisdom. You must cleanse your mind to get the best results, ridding yourself of these mistakes thoroughly, and then you will have achieved the essentials of the beginning level of boxing studies. Thus it is said in the Book of Documents [document 29]: “When planting virtue, make it flourish. When trimming evil, cut it at the root.” While you practice, all of you, be very mindful.
CHAPTER THREE: THE NINE REQUIREMENTS AT THE BEGINNING OF THE TRAINING
The nine requirements are: 1. sinking, 2. hollowing, 3. lifting, 4. pressing, 5. wrapping, 6. loosening, 7. hanging, 8. shrinking, 9. clearly distinguishing between lifting, drilling, dropping, and overturning.
“Sinking” means your waist has an energy of sinking down, the principle of your tailbone lifting and activating your Du meridian.
“Hollowing” means opening your chest [inwardly] to smooth your energy, the principle of passive energy descending along your Ren meridian.
“Lifting” means to lift your rectum inward.
“Pressing” means your tongue touches your upper palate, your head presses up, and your hands press up.
“Wrapping” means your elbows have an energy of wrapping inward. If your hands are propping something up, palms facing upward, there has to be such an energy of wrapping inward.
“Loosening” means loosening your shoulders as when drawing a bow, keeping your elbows from poking outward.
“Hanging” means that when your hands twist outward, your elbows have a strong energy of hanging down.
“Shrinking” means your shoulders and hips have a strong energy of shrinking in.
As for “lifting, drilling, dropping, and overturning”: lifting is drilling and dropping is overturning. Lifting is horizontal and dropping is vertical. Lifting and drilling are threading. Dropping and overturning are striking. But when lifting is also striking, dropping is still striking. Strike with lifting and dropping, like the wheels of machinery spinning continuously.
When practicing these essentials, it is the same as in Xingyi Boxing. [See Sun’s Xingyi manual, Part One, General Principles, Section 5.] Take as an analogy the double diagram for the Book of Changes, the “square circle” and the “round circle”. [See the diagram in Chapter Nineteen.] The “square circle” begins with Qian in the northwest and finishes with Kan in the southeast. The trigrams of Qian and Kun [“Creative” and “Receptive”], and thus the hexagrams they form together, Pi and Tai [“Peace” and “Standstill” – hexagrams 11 and 12], dwell in the outer four corners. The trigrams of Zhen and Xun [“Arousing” and “Gentle”], and thus the hexagrams they form together, Heng and Yi [“Duration” and “Increase” – hexagrams 32 and 42], dwell in the inner four corners.
The active aspect from the northwest corner retreats toward the center, where energy is generated, then the passive aspect from the center flows toward the southeast corner, where the passive aspect lies in the outer circle. This generates the hexagrams of Heng, Yi, Pi, and Tai. This is akin to the first action in Xingyi Boxing [the three-substance posture], you start by advancing your left foot, rooting in your right foot, your torso squared to the corner. In this way, both Xingyi Boxing and the square circle correspond to the ground and the form of the ground. Therefore Xingyi Boxing finds its existence in the cross-sectioning of the two circles.
In the “round circle”, Qian is in the south, Kun is in the north, Li [“Clinging”] is in the east, and Kan [“Abysmal”] is in the west. The active aspect ascends along the left side of the circle and the passive aspect descends along the right side. Where passive meets active, it is an element of the passive that gives rise to the sky above. Where active meets passive, it is an element of the active that generates the ground below. Both active and passive are generated at the center of the diagram. The round circle corresponds to the sky and has a singleness of energy above and below [i.e. the line that pairs the Qian and Kun trigrams], active above and passive below, symbolizing the movement of passive and active intersecting. This is the “grand polarity”, or the “singleness of energy”.
During Bagua Boxing’s leftward circle walking and rightward circle walking, your hips seem like the cornerless inner edge of a ring. Your gaze is toward the tip of the forefinger of your front hand, which is aligned toward the center of the circle. The circle walking is as pauseless as the continuousness of the grand polarity. In this way, both Bagua Boxing and the round circle correspond to the sky and the form of the sky. Therefore Bagua Boxing seeks its deeper meaning at the empty center of the round circle.
For another analogy, there is also the unique method of “flying around the Nine Palaces”, the principle being to go from one to nine [and to return from nine to one], corresponding to both the round circle and the sky, and conforming to the principles of Bagua Boxing. Although the Book of Changes has the double image of the square circle and round circle, its theory is simply the movement of going along within going against and the function of going against within going along, restoring your active aspect to its innate condition. As for the unique method of the Nine Palaces in both versions [going from one to nine and returning from nine to one], its theory is simply the marvel of going against while appearing to be going along and the marvel of going along while appearing to be going against, resetting your energy to its primal state.
Although the arts of Xingyi and Bagua are divided into associations with the square circle and round circle, their theory is simply to restrain your power while moving, causing your energy to consolidate and return to your elixir field. Great sages by such means possessed discipline and sincerity, both of which are closely linked to the way of boxing arts. Great heroes trained both wisdom and courage. You likewise must begin by understanding the mathematical concept [of the trigrams]. Great artists broadened their understanding by deeply studying things. You likewise must begin by understanding the function of intention, energy, and power.
Even though the postures of both arts are different, their principles are the same. While practicing these arts, understand these principles. Use your elixir field as the basis, take intention, energy, and power to be the function, and let the nine requirements be the standard. If you practice according to these principles, then even if you do not achieve mastery, you will nevertheless not be far from it.
CHAPTER FOUR: BAGUA BOXING’S FOUR VIRTUES, EIGHT ABILITIES, AND FOUR BASIC SITUATIONS
The four virtues are: going along, going against, harmoniousness, and transformation. These four are the principles of appropriateness within the boxing art.
Going along: your hands and feet extend forward naturally.
Going against: your strength at the same time holds back.
Harmoniousness: your strength is balanced and without any unevenness.
Transformation: your acquired strength is transformed and returns to your elixir field, restoring you to an authentic active state.
The eight abilities are: parrying, blocking, checking, covering, pushing, propping, leading, and guiding. These eight are the situations within the boxing art.
Parrying: parry the opponent’s hand, foot, shoulder, or hip.
Blocking: block the opponent’s hand or foot as though scraping with your elbow.
Checking: interrupt the opponent’s hand, foot, arm, or leg.
Covering: press the opponent’s hands against his chest or lower abdomen.
Pushing: push the opponent’s hands against his body. There is both single-hand pushing and double-hand pushing (double-hand pushing being also called “double rushing palms”).
Propping: prop up the opponent’s hands. There is propping until level and propping that hoists high.
Leading: if the opponent grabs my hand, I either pull it back forcefully or I draw his hand upward.
Guiding: guide the opponent’s body or hands to the left or right, upward or downward, to make him incapable of focusing his power.
Contained within the eight abilities are sixty-four situations, conforming to the sixty-four hexagrams. The eight correspond to the main hexagrams, in which the trigram is simply doubled on top of itself, for instance when the Qian trigram is both above and below, forming the Qian hexagram [hexagram 1]. To get sixty-four requires making changes to the hexagrams, for instance when the Qian trigram is above and the Kun trigram is below, forming the Pi hexagram [hexagram 12], or vice versa, forming the Tai hexagram [hexagram 11].
There are thus eight variations of parrying, eight variations of covering, eight variations of each of the eight abilities, amounting to sixty-four, and these are the situations within the boxing art. Going along, going against, harmoniousness, and transformation are the virtues of the sixty-four hexagrams. Within these four that are contained within the sixty-four, there lies virtue. When you exercise them in your body, you are embodying the Way. When you apply them outwardly, you produce the situations.
The four basic situations are lifting, drilling, dropping, and overturning.
When applying the eight abilities, you may do so with obvious energy or hidden energy. You may use them to disrupt an opponent’s posture or to neutralize his techniques. You may use them to advance with either hardness or softness. You may use them in advancing, retreating, or luring. You may use them to feint upward and attack downward, or to feint downward and attack upward, or to feint to the left and attack to the right, or to feint to the front and attack to the rear, or to feint to this area and attack to that area. You may use them when he is hard and you are soft, or when he is soft and you are hard, or when he is lower and you are higher, [or when he is higher and you are lower,] or when he is moving and you are still, or when he is still and you are moving. You may use them when taking note of the environment, assessing how you can move in it – extending and withdrawing, moving back and forth. [From Art of War, chapter 1:] “The terrain may be [high or low,] distant or neighboring, rugged or smooth, spacious or confining, safe or deadly.”
When you are about to move but have not yet moved, your whole body must function as a single unit, and have the same purpose inside and out. Then observe the opponent’s posture, estimating his areas of emptiness and fullness, gauge whether his energy is feeble or potent, and determine which of his actions are feints or real. With all these in your mind, you can take action in a considered way at your leisure and be able to act with precision. Although there are countless techniques within the boxing art, regardless of how you move or transform, always use the four situations as the template. When the four situations are applied correctly, then you will be able to merge the situations and virtues into a single method.
CHAPTER FIVE: THE DISTINCTION IN BAGUA BOXING OF LEFT & RIGHT CIRCLE WALKING AND LEFT & RIGHT PALM THREADING
When initiating circle walking, in whatever posture, if you walk out from north to east, it is leftward circle walking, and if you walk out from north to west, it is rightward circle walking. When threading to the left or right during a palm change, regardless of the direction you are facing with the changing palm or the turning of your body, if your left arm threads out, it is a left threading hand, and if your right arm threads out, it is a right threading hand. This makes clear the distinction between leftward and rightward in the circle walking and between left and right palm threading. [There is a further implicit distinction here between walking and threading. In circle walking it is only the direction that matters, not the posture, while in palm threading it is only the posture that matters, not the direction.]
CHAPTER SIX: NONPOLARITY
Nonpolarity is the state you are in before commencing practice. There is in the mind a lack of differentiation, a continuousness everywhere between movements, yet which comes from naturalness, a turning without consideration of degree, no division between lifting and dropping, outwardly forgetting all notions of cultivation, inwardly forgetting all notions of nurturing. Understanding how to flow along with but not understanding reversal, you get to the point that the body becomes weakened. When the active reaches its peak, it must give rise to the passive. When the passive reaches its peak, it will result in death, from which there is no coming back.
This is the art of keeping fit. Focus on seeking a state of being without corners. When it is right, there can be abundance. Only a wise man knows the mechanics of reversal, the foundation of cultivating the body, the method of returning to the original condition. It is nothing more than the principles of the boxing arts of Xingyi, Taiji, and Bagua, the method of continuously extending and shrinking, the work of perfecting and returning to the beginning, seeking to be established at that peak of perfection, to return to the innate original energy, balanced and not drifting, neutral and not leaning. It can be a practice for later generations and a fulfillment for everyone. This is called “nonpolarity generating the grand polarity”.
Li Dongyuan said: “A person from a state of emptiness generates spirit. Accumulation of spirit generates energy. Accumulation of energy generates essence. This is going from nothing to something. Refine the essence and transform it into energy. Refine the energy and transform it into spirit. Refine the spirit and transform it into emptiness. This is going from something to nothing.” In boxing arts methods, the principle of generating transformation is this idea.
Begin by facing squarely, your body upright, hands hanging down, feet making a ninety-degree angle, as in the photo. Your toes do not hook inward and your heels do not twist outward. Your feet seem to stand in a condition of emptiness. You should have no awareness of movement or stillness. Stillness is nonpolarity’s form. Movement is nonpolarity’s function. What is meant by “stillness” is that there is emptiness within the mind, the intention is without thought, and the spirit in your eyes stays there, inside nothing seen, outside nothing to see. What is meant by “movement” is that you are only following what is natural and turning in accordance with it, and there is no idea of control over extending and shrinking, or coming and going. Although within the mind there is the principle of emptiness and no thought, there is however within the belly a true basis of emptiness which can give rise to an energy of nonpolarity. This energy is like a fog, a smoke in which black and white are indistinguishable. The posture is like a rapid current of water, all churned up, no distinction between clear and murky. Due to this posture’s vagueness, it is called the NONPOLARITY POSTURE. Although the principle of it is minor, it can nevertheless facilitate realization. Once you have practiced sufficiently, you will be able to understand why this is so.
CHAPTER SEVEN: GRAND POLARITY
The GRAND POLARITY POSTURE arises from nonpolarity, then gives rise to the passive and active aspects. Leftward circle walking is active. Rightward circle walking is passive. In either case, it is a continuous flow. The grand polarity is continuousness. Continuousness is the grand polarity. In terms of form, we say “grand polarity”. In terms of function, we say “continuousness”. When it is time to be active, then active. When it is time to be passive, then passive. When it is time to go upward, then upward. When it is time to go downward, then downward. Active, then passive. Passive, then active. With continuous liveliness, somethingness and nothingness are not fixed, and opening and closing are natural, all comprised within an idea of function.
The idea is that within this boxing art there is a central axis around which leftward circle walking and rightward circle walking, opening and closing, movement and stillness, passive and active alternate with each other. This central axis is the source of mankind’s existence. The energy in the elixir field is the basis of Bagua Boxing. This energy at the foundation of the universe, the source of the passive and active aspects, is the grand polarity. It is from this that the dual aspects will be generated.
GRAND POLARITY POSTURE
To begin, first your waist sinks, then your right foot steps straight forward, so that your feet make a diagonal rectangle, as in the photo. The distance between your front foot and rear foot depends on your height, and is ideal if it does not cause the succeeding step of your left foot to require extra energy. The bend in your legs should have a rounded fullness, and must not be a dead bend. Your heels both have an energy of twisting outward, and your legs are as if in a horse-riding posture, having an intention of closing inward, but must not noticeably do so. In the beginning of the training, your body must not go too low and should probably even be rather high. Being too low is very strenuous. When over time your skill becomes pure, then you can do it at whatever height you please. The posture of your legs, before you turn and walk, has your left hip and left foot aligned with each other. Then when you turn and walk, the tip of your right hip twists until it is aligned with the roundness of the forefinger of your front hand. The posture of your right knee and heel is that they are in line with each other above and below.
Then your right hand goes along with your right heel to make an acutely angled posture, continuously drawing a lifting arc, lifting until the tiger’s mouth is at eye level. Your shoulders should loosen. Your elbows both have an energy of wrapping inward, wrapping until the tips of your elbows point downward. Your hands are spread and the fingers must not gather together. Your wrists put all their energy into twisting outward, twisting until the forefingers stand straight, the thumbs, forefingers, and tiger’s mouths propped open to make semicircle shapes. The ring finger and little finger both have an intention of hooking. Your palms must not stick out. Your hands seem to be grabbing spheres. Your wrists put their energy into propping upward. Your tiger’s mouths put their energy into pushing forward, and for it to be correct, they should push out and stop together. Your gaze goes to the tip of the forefinger of your front hand, or to the tiger’s mouth, either way will suit the energy. Your rear arm is close to your body and puts its energy into arcing upward to make a semicircle, the tiger’s mouth by the elbow of your front arm. Your shoulders have an energy of drawing in. (This is “seeking to be going against while going along”, an intention of the trigrams being in a position of going along with while in a process of going against.) Your elbows put their energy into dropping down as your hands put their energy into pushing forward. Your palms go along with your shoulders, which put their energy into shrinking in. Your waist follows your wrists as they twist outward, turning as far as it can like a rope being twisted, twisting until your forward forefinger and your gaze are pointed to the center of the circle, as in the photo.
This posture is called walking along a horizontal line while striking along a vertical line.
Your hips have a strong energy of drawing in until they are rounded like the inner edge of a ring. This is the idea of the “deeper meaning at the empty center of the round circle” between the trigrams of Qian and Kun. Your head should have an energy of pressing up. Your mouth seems to be flat but not flat, pursed but not pursed. Your tongue should touch your upper palate. Your breathing should be through your nose. After a long time of working with this breathing principle, it will happen naturally. Your rectum should lift up. Your neck should have an energy of straightening. Your mind should not use effort. The hollowing of your chest must not be a noticeable hollowing inward, only an energy of your shoulders shrinking in together, then there will naturally be a condition of opening inwardly and closing outwardly, and this is what is meant by “hollowing the chest”. After working at it a long time, your chest will naturally have a posture of being rounded and contained.
When turning to walk, your body should not hurry. The intention, energy, and strength, with your hands, feet, shoulders, hips, waist, and elbows, the internal and external aspects, must all operate in unison. Within your body, you must not be disorganized anywhere. If there is disorder anywhere, the energies within your body will not be unified, and your waist, hips, shoulders, elbows, and the “four ends” will be at a loss because of it. The four ends are: the teeth are the end of the bones, the tongue is the end of the muscle, the fingers and toes are the end of the sinews, and the body hair is the end of the blood. Strive to get your mind and energy to sink back to your elixir field. Your body’s height should stay uniform. When turning to walk, your body must not have a shape of tilting to the left or right, which would destabilize the energy within. When walking, it is always like a bird flapping its wings in flight. [The wings are not perceived as much as the bird as a whole.] Or it is like a water current carrying an object. The flow is hardly perceived and only the object is noticed. Have an appearance of being stable and natural. These two similes give the sense of this boxing posture.
CHAPTER EIGHT: THE DUAL ASPECTS [i.e. SINGLE PALM CHANGE]
The dual aspects are the expanding and contracting of the singleness of energy. Leftward circle walking goes with the active aspect, rightward circle walking goes with the passive aspect, and thus it is the GRAND POLARITY POSTURE in a state of continuous walking. Leftward circle walking is the active aspect of the taiji circle, the expanding of energy. [i.e. You are stepping along the eight trigrams in order.]
When practicing, the size of the circle and the number of circuits you make of it depend on your environment. If you can do it large, do it large, and if you can only do it small, do it small, whatever is the most convenient way of practicing. Never be insistent upon a specific length and width of space. An acre would not be too large and a hermit’s lodging would not be too confined. Truly once your skill has deepened, you can walk a circle of several miles without pause, or you can turn your body round and round while standing on a sitting mat and yet have room to spare. Ancient thinkers said about the expanding and contracting movements of the Way [from Guanzi, chapter 36 / then from Zhong Yong]: “It is so big it has no outside, so small it has no inside.” / “Sending out, it goes beyond the ends of the universe. Rolling in, it stores away tightly.” This also rings true for this boxing art.
When switching directions (meaning the single palm change), regardless of the size of the circle or the number of circuits you walk around it, which depends on your own capacity, you can switch postures after only half a circle or after dozens of circuits. If you make too many circuits, everything around you will appear to be constantly spinning, and so switching directions would have to be done with that much more precision. As soon as you switch postures, your skill will probably not be adequate and you will be affected by dizziness and unrooted feet. Thus it is said that the active aspect at its peak gives rise to the passive aspect and the passive aspect at its peak gives rise to the active aspect.
By analogy, look at the circle of the eight trigrams. The active aspect ascends on the left in the form of the sun [i.e. day] and the passive aspect descends on the right in the form of the moon [i.e. night]. [Holding up a bagua diagram in front of you is therefore the same as facing south in the northern hemisphere]. The sun comes up, and so the moon goes down. The moon goes down, and so the sun comes up. As the sun and moon urge each other on [i.e. as time passes], the four seasons are produced.
Switch to rightward circle walking, as in the photo. It is the passive aspect of the taiji circle, the contracting of energy. [i.e. You are stepping along the eight trigrams in reverse order.] A sage once said: “The special power of ghosts and spirits, and the ascending and descending of sun and moon – they are both among the natural changes of the universe.” Within the boxing art, rightward circle walking alternates with leftward. But how can the singleness of energy go back and forth, expanding and contracting? Once the dual aspects arise, the four manifestations will then emerge…
第一節 兩儀學 靑龍轉身
1. BLUE DRAGON TURNS ITS BODY
To begin, if you are walking a leftward circle and you want to switch to walking a rightward circle, you will perform the single palm change. Begin by coming down with your right foot…
第二節 兩儀學 靑龍縮尾
2. BLUE DRAGON DRAWS IN ITS TAIL
Then your left foot steps forward, toes hooking in as far as they can, coming down so the toes of both feet are pointing toward each other about two or three inches apart, as in the photo. The heels of both feet are twisted outward. Your knees have an intention of being close but not close to each other. Your hips have an energy of drawing inward and simultaneously an energy of spreading outward. This posture has an intention of inwardly opening and outwardly closing. Your waist should have an energy of sinking. Your hands maintain an energy of being closed in and have not moved from their position. Your shoulders seem to have an intention of shrinking inward, thereby containing your chest. Slightly steady yourself.
第三節 兩儀學 靑龍返首
3. BLUE DRAGON TURNS ITS HEAD
Then your right palm extends, putting its energy into twisting outward until the thumb is pointing downward and the little finger is pointing upward. Your right foot at the same time steps outward, coming down so the hand and foot are in line with each other above and below. The distance between your feet depends on your height and is ideal if does not cause the succeeding step of your left foot to require extra energy. Your body at the same time very slightly has an intention of shrinking away downward. Your left hand is close to your body below your [right] armpit, the palm still facing outward, and has an energy of pushing forward.
第四節 兩儀學 黑虎出洞
4. BLACK TIGER LEAVES ITS CAVE
Then your left foot steps forward so the toes of both feet are again pointing toward each other about two or three inches apart, the heels of both feet are again twisted outward, and your hips again have an energy of drawing in. Your hands are wrapping inward as far as they can so the palms are facing upward. Your shoulders at the same time have a strong energy of drawing in, but also have an energy of hanging down. When the posture seems to stop but not yet stop, your waist turns to the right as far as it can, as though it is a rope being twisted. With your left palm facing upward, the elbow hangs down as far as it can and does not leave its location. Your left hand goes along with the twisting of your waist to go slowly to the outside of your right arm, making a T shape with your left arm, threading out forward and diagonally upward. Your left shoulder seems to have an intention of threading under your right armpit. Your headtop has an energy of pressing upward while your waist twists outward. Your gaze is toward your left hand as it threads through to its limit. The principle of this posture’s energy is similar to winding up a watch until it can click no further. Externally energy seems to be closing while internally energy seems to be opening as though with an intention of emptying. If it is not done in this way, the squeezing within your chest will risk putting too much pressure on your heart.
第五節 兩儀學亦為右式第一 右式靑龍轉身
5. BLUE DRAGON TURNS ITS BODY (SINGLE PALM CHANGE SWITCHING TO RIGHTWARD CIRCLE WALKING)
Then walk a rightward circle, first stepping out with your left foot, coming down at a distance which depends on your height and should not produce extra effort when your right foot then steps. Your left hand goes along with the step of your left foot by threading then extending then twisting outward, your right hand twisting outward at the same time. As your feet walk, your wrists twist outward as far as they can so that your left forefinger is standing upright, which should be in line with the center of the circle, the finger at eyebrow level. Your right hand, staying close to your body, puts its energy into continuously pushing toward your left elbow, the forefinger pointing upward, and your hands stabilize in that position. Your waist follows your left hand by turning to the right [left] like a rope being twisted. Your gaze goes toward the tip of the forefinger of your front hand. As your wrists twist, the forearms bend in to point upward, elbows still pointing downward, and the twisting of your wrists must not be so comfortable that you feel they have not twisted all the way into place. Your wrists prop up your tiger’s mouths and have an intention of pushing forward, but must not visibly do so. Your shoulders have a strong energy of drawing in. Your hands get twisted into position after about three to five steps, and may stay in that position for as many circuits around the circle as you please.
While walking or switching postures, you should always have coordination between your upper body and lower, and cooperation inside and out of the six unions. The six unions are: mind united with intention, intention united with energy, and energy united with power – the three internal unions – as well as the shoulders united with the hips, elbows united with the knees, and hands united with the feet – the three external unions. Internal and external merged together make the six unions. If you do not grasp the ideas within this concept, seek out a knowledgeable teacher to give you guidance. If you do your best, deeply contemplate, and work at it for a long time, you will naturally be able to understand it. The single palm change then switches you to walking the other way around the circle, the principles of the technique staying the same as before. Continue switching until you have become remarkably skillful at the single palm change. Although the technique is performed on each side, the hand movements, footwork, and energies are all the same on both sides.
CHAPTER NINE: THE FOUR MANIFESTATIONS [i.e. DOUBLE PALM CHANGE]
The four manifestations are born from the dual aspects, which were generated by the grand polarity. Forming the solid lines and broken lines in the eight trigrams [active being represented by a single solid line, passive being represented by a single broken line], the dual aspects then have another solid line or broken line added on top of them. The result is the four manifestations: the greater passive [broken line added on top of a broken line], greater active [solid line on top of a solid line], lesser passive [broken line on top of a solid line], lesser active [solid line on top of a broken line]. Thus the four manifestations are the basic solid and broken lines with further lines of passiveness and activeness added on top of them. These four are each assigned associations: being associated to the elements of metal, wood, water, and fire, associated in the body to the organs of heart, liver, lungs, and kidneys, and associated in the boxing art to the directions of forward, back, left, and right. [The four manifestations as a boxing technique] are commonly known as the “double palm change”.
The four manifestations do not include the element of earth. The grand polarity corresponds to earth. Within the boxing art, [the four manifestations make the actions of] lifting, drilling, dropping, and overturning. To act and not yet issue is to be in a flattened-out condition of activity, like the earth. The earth generates things endlessly because it is in continuous use, like the grand polarity. The grand polarity and the earth are in the place of the One, thus earth is not included among the four, for it lies between them all.
As the four manifestations include the passive and active aspects, the eight trigrams interact with each other, shifting places with each other and getting placed on top of each other. The eight trigrams stacked in this way can further amount to sixty-four hexagrams. As per the Book of Changes, each hexagram is composed of six lines. The three lower lines represent the sky, ground, and mankind – the three substances. The upper three lines are piled on top of them and represent the passive and active qualities of the three substances. Understand that within the boxing art there are leftward circle walking and rightward circle walking, which each have a passive [rightward] and active [leftward] quality. Therefore leftward circle walking is associated with the lower trigram [whose influence rises up into the upper trigram], your head, hands, and feet representing the sky, ground, and mankind – the three substances. Rightward circle walking is associated with the upper trigram [whose influence percolates down into the lower trigram], the three substances each having a [corresponding additional] passive or active line.
The eight trigrams are made from the passive and active aspects of the four manifestations, and then the sixty-four hexagrams are produced from the passive-active pairings [of the trigrams]. When the eight trigrams are arranged in such a way that they are stacked on top of each other, the resulting interaction between the passive and active aspects will generate things endlessly, and so why stop with the sixty-fourth hexagram? Because even if there were thousands [For instance, if we multiplied sixty-four by sixty-four, we would get four thousand and ninety-six dodecagrams.], they would never go beyond the basic sixty-four hexagrams anyway [and so to have thousands would be mostly redundant as well as spectacularly overcomplicated]. Furthermore, the sixty-four hexagrams would always be composed of the eight trigrams, the eight trigrams would always be made from the four manifestations, the four manifestations would always be made from the dual aspects, and the dual aspects would always be the result of the movement of the grand polarity.
It says in Zhang Ziyang’s “On Reading the Three in Agreement”: “From nothingness came somethingness. The dual aspects then arose from the One. The four manifestations emerged from the two. The eight trigrams are the descendants of the four.” The sixty-four hexagrams then followed, as did the transformations of all phenomena. Approach these words sincerely, for they are mirrored in this art.
第一節 四象學 右式靑龍轉身
1. BLUE DRAGON TURNS ITS BODY (RIGHTWARD CIRCLE WALKING)
After beginning with the single palm change, whether circle walking to the left or right, you can switch to the double palm change. Start with going from the rightward circle walking, left hand in front, right hand behind, walking the circle from north to west.
第二節 四象學 靑龍縮尾
2. BLUE DRAGON DRAWS IN ITS TAIL
When switching palms, do it when your left foot is forward. Your right foot then steps forward, the toes hooking in as far as they can, coming down so the toes of both feet are pointing toward each other about two or three inches apart. The heels of both feet are equally twisted outward as far as they can be. Your waist has an energy of sinking. Your hips have an energy of drawing in. The posture seems to stop yet not stop.
第三節 四象學 靑龍返首
3. BLUE DRAGON TURNS ITS HEAD
Your left hand extends, twisting outward until the thumb is pointing downward, the little finger is pointing upward, and the palm is facing outward. Your left foot at the same time lifts and comes down with its toes swung outward. Your left heel is in line with your right toes and the feet are making a ninety degree angle, as in the photo. The distance between your feet depends on your height. Although the foot comes down swung outward, your hips have an energy of drawing inward, with an intention of being like the inner curve of a ring. Your waist goes along with the outward twisting of your left hand. The forward section of your shoulders also has an energy of shrinking in, with an intention of containing your chest. Your right hand is still close to your body, palm facing outward below your left armpit, and has an energy of pushing, the elbow dropped down and staying where it is. Although your body’s posture comes to a halt, your intention does not stop.
第四節 四象學 右式黑虎出洞
4. BLACK TIGER LEAVES ITS CAVE (OPPOSITE SIDE FROM BEFORE)
Then your hands wrap inward until the palms are facing upward, your right palm threading out under your left armpit. Your right foot at the same time steps forward so the toes of both feet are pointing toward each other about two or three inches apart. Your right shoulder has a strong desire to thread through under your left armpit. Your heels are again twisted outward, your hips again have an energy of drawing inward, and your waist still has an energy of sinking. The posture must not pause long. Compare it to a lengthy sentence in a book. There may be a tiny pause with each comma, but there is a continuous flow of thought that does not get interrupted by such pauses. (This posture is like photo 4 of single palm change, but performed on the other side.)
第五節 四象學 鷂子鑽天
5. HAWK DRILLS INTO THE SKY
Then your right arm goes close to your right ear, the hand threading upward, wrapped inward as far as it can be so the palm is facing inward, your body going along with your right hand by extending upward. At the same time, your left hand, palm facing inward, goes downward along your right shoulder until at your ribs, fingers pointing downward, and with the back of the hand moving along your body, threads downward toward your right hip. Your hands spread apart in unison above and below to their limit. Your left foot at the same time quickly lifts, with the toes putting their energy into flexing upward, and goes close to the inside of your right ankle. Your body at this time has an energy of shrinking downward [despite stretching upward] and your waist continues to be sinking. Your right hand may thread upward as far as it can while your left hand threads downward as far as it can. Your gaze is upward toward your right hand. Your body should be stable.
第六節 四象學 白蛇伏草
6. WHITE SNAKE HIDES IN THE GRASS
Then your right hand puts its energy into covering in front of your left shoulder and lowering until over your left arm, your body going along with the covering of your right hand by shrinking downward. Your hands then spread apart forward and back, as though they are each a pendulum. Your wrists having an energy of bracing outward, the tiger’s mouths are facing each other front and back, and both arms are making semicircles. Your left foot steps forward in unison with your left hand and should be pointing diagonally when it comes down, as in the photo. Your waist has an energy of sinking while your body is pouncing forward. Your lower abdomen should settle onto your hips. Your gaze follows your right hand downward, then goes forward toward your left hand. Your shoulders and hips shrink in as much as they can. The inside of your body should now feel like the emptiness within a circle. If done in this way, you will then be able to obtain the subtleties within this boxing art.
第七節 四象學 右式黑虎出洞
7. BLACK TIGER LEAVES ITS CAVE (SAME DIRECTION AS IN POSTURE 4)
Then your hands wrap inward as far as they can so the palms are facing upward, your right hand moving close to your body and threading out under your left armpit to its limit, making a T shape with your left arm. Your right foot at the same time steps up, coming down so the toes of both feet are again pointing toward each other about two or three inches apart. Your heels are again twisted outward and your hips again have an energy of drawing inward. Your waist has an energy of sinking as it follows your right hand to the left, again turning as though it is a rope being twisted. The energy of your body is again like winding up a watch to its full extent. However, there should always be an intention of emptying inside. This is achieved by the shoulders and hips shrinking in, naturally producing a sense of emptying within the chest and also preventing strain from being able to manifest in the body. (See photo 4 of single palm change, but performed on the other side.)
第八節 四象學 靑龍轉身
8. BLUE DRAGON TURNS ITS BODY
Then walk a leftward circle, first stepping out with your left foot, coming down at a distance which depends on your height. Always, regardless of the footwork, be it advancing or retreating, it will be most effective if it is performed with naturalness. Your right hand goes along with the step of your right foot by threading then extending then twisting outward, your left hand twisting outward at the same time. As your feet walk, your wrists twist outward as far as they can so that your right forefinger is standing upright, which should be in line with the center of the circle, the finger at eyebrow level. Your left hand, staying close to your body, puts its energy into continuously pushing toward your left [right] elbow, the forefinger pointing upward, and your hands stabilize in that position. Your waist follows your right hand by turning to the [left] right like a rope being twisted. Your gaze goes toward the tip of the forefinger of your front hand. As your wrists twist, the forearms bend in to point upward, elbows still pointing downward, and the twisting of your wrists must not be so comfortable that you feel they have not twisted all the way into place. Your wrists prop up your tiger’s mouths and have an intention of pushing forward, but must not visibly do so. Your shoulders have a strong energy of drawing in. Your hands get twisted into position after about three to five steps, and may stay in that position for as many circuits around the circle as you please.
As in the walking and switching postures of the single palm change, have coordination between your upper body and lower, and cooperation between inside and out, same as before. There is in the double palm change an intention of dividing it into four stages – begin [postures 1 & 2], develop [3 & 4], express [5 & 6], and finish [7 & 8] – though in practice it is actually one continuous action. You have to be aware of this.
CHAPTER TEN: THE QIAN TRIGRAM TECHNIQUE ☰ (OR LION TECHNIQUE)
The Qian trigram is associated with sky. The posture in this technique is “lion palms”. The Qian [“Creative”] trigram invigorates. It is active in nature, being made of solid lines. In terms of form, it is sky. In terms of temperament, it is Qian. Its animal is the lion, the severest of animals with the fiercest of temperaments, having the ability to kill tigers or leopards, and the intimidating display of shaking its fur.
As for the contents of the technique, it has the posture of “golden dragon closes its mouth”, the shape of LION OPENS ITS MOUTH, and the method of “white ape drags a saber”. The energy within is able to initiate all things. As for the appearance of the technique, it is the lion palms, which can be the beginning of all movements. In this technique, the hands put their energy into extending, the inside and outside, upper body and lower, all acting in unison. It has the form of the trigram’s three unbroken lines, as well as a posture of “beginning with three points”, and so it fits with the Qian trigram.
If it is practiced smoothly, then your whole body’s blood circulation will be unobstructed and your strength will be boosted. If it is practiced with excessiveness, the Qian trigram will be added on top of the Zhen trigram, and the martial technique will be rendered ineffective by Wu Wang [“Innocence” – the resulting hexagram 25], or the Qian trigram will be added on top of the Kun trigram [producing “Stagnation” – hexagram 12], and your thinking will not be clear. You should give extra attention to this.
第一節 乾掛學 靑龍轉身
1. BLUE DRAGON TURNS ITS BODY
Begin as in the single palm change from the leftward circle walking, walking forward by first stepping out with your right foot.
2. BLUE DRAGON DRAWS IN ITS TAIL
Then your left foot steps forward, toes hooking inward, coming down so the toes of both feet are pointing toward each other about two or three inches apart. The heels of both feet are twisted outward. Your hips have an energy of drawing in. Your waist has an energy of sinking. (See photo 2 of single palm change.)
3. BLUE DRAGON TURNS ITS HEAD
Then your right hand extends, twisting outward until the palm is facing outward. Your right foot at the same time swings outward, and the toes should be pointing straight. Your right hand and foot are in line with each other above and below. Your shoulders have a slight intention of shrinking inward. (See photo 3 of single palm change.)
4. BLACK TIGER LEAVES ITS CAVE
Then your left foot steps forward, your wrists wrapping inward until the palms are facing upward, your left hand again moving along your right ribs. Your left foot comes down so the toes of both feet are pointing toward each other, heels twisted outward. The sinking of your waist, and the drawing in of your hips and shoulders are as before. The distance between your feet is as before. (See photo 4 of single palm change.)
5. LION OPENS ITS MOUTH
Then walk, first stepping with your left foot, your left hand at the same time threading out horizontally under your right arm so your arms are making a T shape. Your right hand threads straight upward, the palm remaining wrapped inward, to be about two or three inches in front of your face. As your feet walk you along, your left hand, palm facing upward, draws an arc outward until the forefinger is pointing to the empty center of the circle. Your right hand at the same time twists outward as far as it can so the palm is facing upward, the arm close to your ear. It is as though you are raising an object with one hand. The tiger’s mouths are facing each other above and below, your hands as though propping up a long pole. Your shoulders have an energy of hanging down as well as an energy of spreading outward. As your feet walk, your left hand arcs outward, and your right hand props upward, your waist going along with your left hand by twisting outward. Your gaze remains forward toward the tip of the forefinger of your front hand.
6. LION OPENS ITS MOUTH
Then switch to performing the technique on the other side, the footwork and energies all the same as before. You should be able to grasp this on your own. From this point on, each technique begins from the single palm change coming out of leftward circle walking. It could begin on either side, but since beginners would not yet be accustomed to the theory, there has to be a fixed standard to work with. Once you understand the techniques, you can link them together, in any order, into a continuous practice. It is important to understand this. (See the photo above, but with the direction reversed.)
CHAPTER ELEVEN: THE KUN TRIGRAM TECHNIQUE ☷ (OR UNICORN TECHNIQUE)
The Kun trigram is associated with ground. The posture in this technique is “turning-body palms”. The Kun [“Receptive”] trigram accommodates. It is passive in nature, being made of broken lines. In terms of form, it is earth. In terms of temperament, it is Kun. Its animal is the unicorn, the most compassionate of beasts, having the skills of flying and of changing unpredictably.
As for the contents of the technique, there is the posture of UNICORN VOMITS A BOOK, the method of RUKH SPREADS A WING, the ability of “white crane stands on one leg”, and the nimbleness of going along with the situation by turning and spinning. As for the appearance of the technique, it is the turning-body palms. This technique keeps the hands in place while the body spins. Inside and outside, upper body and lower, are in accordance with each other. It has the quality of the hexagram’s six broken [and thus receptive] lines, and so it fits with the Kun trigram.
If it is practiced smoothly, your body will become light and quick, spinning like a whirlwind. If it is practiced with excessiveness, your body will incapable of emptiness inside and nimbleness outside. By mindfully studying this, skillfulness and subtlety will emerge.
第一節 坤卦學 靑龍轉身
1. BLUE DRAGON TURNS ITS BODY
Begin as in the single palm change, starting with your right foot coming down forward. Your hips have an energy of drawing in. Your waist has an energy of sinking. Your head has an energy of pressing up. Your body seems to have an intention of shrinking in. (See photo 1 of single palm change.)
2. UNICORN TURNS ITS HEAD
Then your right foot swings to the right, your right hand at the same time wrapping inward until the palm is facing upward. Your left hand remains close to your body below your right arm. Your hips again have an energy of drawing in.
3. UNICORN TURNS ITS BODY
Your left foot then quickly steps forward so the toes of both feet are pointing toward each other about two or three inches apart. Your hips have an energy of drawing in and your shoulders have an energy of shrinking in, same as before. Your body comes to a slight halt.
4. RUKH SPREADS A WING
Then your right foot swings outward, your right arm staying extended and moving along with the turning of your body. Your left foot then quickly steps to your right foot to be close to your right ankle, but must not come down. Your thighs put their energy into squeezing together, your waist sinking, as your right hand goes across outward.
5. UNICORN VOMITS A BOOK
Your left foot then quickly comes down so the toes of both feet are pointing toward each other, the distance between them again the same as before. Your right arm at the same time withdraws, palm facing downward, arm making a semicircle, as your left hand urges behind your right elbow and threads through. Slightly pause.
6. UNICORN VOMITS A BOOK (OTHER SIDE)
Then your right elbow wraps inward so the palm is facing upward, and you again walk from the posture of BLUE DRAGON TURNS ITS BODY. Then switch to the other side, the actions of the hands and feet, and the energies, all the same as before. (Perform as in the photo above [but on the other side].)
CHAPTER TWELVE: THE KAN TRIGRAM TECHNIQUE ☵ (OR SNAKE TECHNIQUE)
The Kan trigram is associated with water. The posture in this technique is “opportunistic palms”. The Kan [“Abysmal”] trigram submerges. It receives its active middle line from the Qian trigram, the active aspect submerged between passive lines, which enters between them and produces surging tides, giving the trigram its fullness. Therefore it is placed to the north [in the “square circle” of the bagua diagram (Chapter Nineteen)] where the element of water flourishes. Its animal is the snake, the most venomous of animals, having the cleverest personality, the liveliest behavior, and the ability to slither through the grass.
As for the contents of the technique, there is the method of WHITE SNAKE FLICKS ITS TONGUE and the skill of TWO-HEADED SNAKE COILS ITS BODY. As for the appearance of the technique, it is the opportunistic palms. This technique is externally soft and supple [the middle line of the trigram being solid], internally hard and firm [the outer lines of the trigram being broken]. It has the form of sufficient energy within the elixir field. Inside and outside are like water, flowing around every curve, entering into every gap, and so it fits with the Kan trigram.
If it is practiced smoothly, then the energy in your elixir field will be sufficient. When the energy in your elixir field is sufficient, then your Daoist mind will be born. Once your Daoist mind is born, passive fire in your heart will be dispelled, and you will be without dizziness and blurry vision. If it is practiced with excessiveness, your kidney water will weaken, your heart fire will be unable to descend, and you will unavoidably become dizzy and have clouded vision.
(This technique contains the method of striking acupoints. Within the postures is the skill of single-finger point striking, in this case specifically striking to the acupoints at the armpits. The intention of this striking method is as though you are poking the pit under the wing of a captured bird. A moment of two-fingered pressure can cause sudden death. This method can be understood but must not be deliberately used. The first of all behaviors should be to behave with virtue. One who acts from virtue may know methods of cruelty but does not apply them, finding it unbearable to bring misfortune to others.
There are many acupoint areas in addition to this one that can cause death and should all be manipulated with equal caution, such as: solar plexus, lower abdomen, navel, behind the ear, base of the skull, throat, spine, kidney area of the lower back, anus area, wrist pulse, and so on. The acupoints can be attacked with double-finger striking, single-finger striking, elbow striking, knee striking, foot striking, palm-edge striking, or chopping strikes. Regardless of which method of striking, a light strike can cause injury and a heavy strike can cause death. All those who know this skill must not apply it rashly.
My teacher Cheng Tinghua told me: “One must not deliberately apply the skill of striking acupoints. One who does that will become prone to committing evil deeds.” A proverb goes: “If you are not cruel to others, they will not be cruel to you.” In other words, things balance out. The point is that our actions rebound on us [evil being punished and good being rewarded]. Furthermore, if this skill is not taught through personal instruction and trained to a high level, it would not applicable anyway.
I have only given the general idea in this discussion of acupoints. To tally up the paralysis points and death points, there are thirty-six and seventy-two respectively, totaling a hundred and eight. They have already been described in detail in Secrets of the Shaolin Boxing Art [published 1915] and I do not need to repeat them here. I made this book in order to clear the mind, cleanse the emotions, strengthen the body, and improve the intellect. The aim is to achieve the quality of centered harmoniousness. If you ever apply this skill against another person, let it be close to never, only at a moment when you have no choice.)
第一節 坎卦學 靑龍轉身
1. BLUE DRAGON TURNS ITS BODY
Begin as in the single palm change from leftward circle walking, your right foot first coming down forward. (See photo 1 of single palm change.)
2. WHITE SNAKE FLICKS ITS TONGUE
Then your left toes swing outward to make a ninety degree angle with your right foot, as in the photo.
3. WHITE SNAKE COILS ITS BODY
Then your right foot steps forward, hooking inward as far as it can so that the toes of both feet are pointing toward each other about two or three inches apart. Your right arm at the same time bends to make a semicircle, the elbow pointing outward, the hand lowering from your head until at your left shoulder. Your left hip has an energy of drawing in, your waist at the same time turning like a rope being twisted. Your left hand remains close to your body below your right shoulder. Your right arm is now above, left arm below, the arms slightly pausing like that. The external posture seems to be one of closing inward. Inside your body there is a slight intention of emptying so that there cannot be anything left within.
4. WHITE SNAKE HIDES IN THE GRASS
Then quickly your hands spread apart forward and back, the same as the spreading hands in Posture 6 of the double palm change, your left foot at the same time stepping forward, coming down with an intention of the toes hooking slightly inward. Your waist has an energy of sinking, your lower abdomen settling onto the top of your left hip. Your shoulders have an energy of drawing in and your hips have an energy of shrinking in, as before.
5. BLACK TIGER LEAVES ITS CAVE
Then your hands in unison wrap inward until the palms are facing upward, [your right hand] moving along your body to thread out under your left armpit. Your right foot at the same time steps forward so the toes of both feet are pointing toward each other. The distance between your toes and the drawing in of your shoulders and hips are as before. (See photo 4 of single palm change, but performed on the other side.)
6. BLUE DRAGON TURNS ITS BODY
Then walk forward, again in the posture of BLUE DRAGON TURNS ITS BODY. (See photo 1 of single palm change.)
CHAPTER THIRTEEN: THE LI TRIGRAM TECHNIQUE ☲ (OR HAWK TECHNIQUE)
The Li trigram is associated with fire. The posture in this technique is “crouching palms”. The Li [“Clinging”] trigram beautifies. It receives its middle passive line from the Kun trigram, passive beauty between active lines, which draws from the active aspect to produce radiance, therefore it is placed to the south [in the square circle bagua diagram] where the element of fire flourishes. Its animal is the hawk, which has the speed of entering the forest and the skill of turning its body.
As for the contents of the technique, there is the method of striking acupoints with chopping actions, the posture of PYTHON TURNS ITS BODY, and the ability of “entering the cave”. As for the appearance of the technique, it is the crouching palms. This technique is externally hard and firm [the outer lines of the trigram being solid], internally soft and supple [the middle line of the trigram being broken]. There is an idea within of emptiness, and so it fits with the Li trigram.
If it is practiced smoothly, your mind becomes enlivened and your emotions are transformed, giving rise to deeper wisdom. If it is practiced with excessiveness, your mind will become stupid and muddled, and the practice will be incapable of transforming spirit. Working hard to study this deeply and improve your intellect will clear away the sluggishness in your mind, and you will thereby obtain the correct method of transforming spirit.
第一節 離卦學 靑龍轉身
1. BLUE DRAGON TURNS ITS BODY
Begin as in the single palm change from leftward circle walking, your right foot forward. (See photo 1 of single palm change.)
2. BLUE DRAGON DRAWS IN ITS TAIL
Then your left foot steps forward so the toes of both feet are pointing toward each other about two or three inches apart. (See photo 2 of single palm change.)
3. BLUE DRAGON TURNS ITS HEAD
Then your right foot swings outward, your right hand at the same time twisting outward until the palm is facing outward.
4. PYTHON TURNS ITS BODY
Your left foot then steps forward, coming down so the toes of both feet are again pointing toward each other. Your left hand at the same time threads out to its limit under your right elbow, palm facing upward, as your right wrist twists outward and the hand goes over your head, the arm bent yet having an intention of straightening. Your [right] leg lifts as high as it can, the foot flexed downward, as your right arm then extends, the hand wrapping inward until the palm is facing upward, the wrist seeming to have an intention of shaking, while your left wrist twists outward as far as it can so the palm is facing outward, and the hands should be working in unison. As your left hand threads through, your body should have an intention of shrinking downward. The posture or your body’s right side resembles a bow bending. Although the posture is bent, there is an intention throughout of being centered and empty. The height of your posture depends on your level of skill. Your body’s posture seems to stop yet not stop.
5. BLUE DRAGON TURNS ITS HEAD
Then your right foot comes down swung outward, your right hand at the same time twisting outward until the palm is facing outward your left palm drawing back in until at your left ribs, the palm facing upward. (See photo 3 of single palm change.)
6. BLACK TIGER LEAVES ITS CAVE
Then thread through with your left hand while stepping forward with your left foot. (See photo 4 of single palm change.)
7. BLUE DRAGON TURNS ITS BODY
Then step forward and perform rightward circle walking as in the single palm change. (See photo 1  of single palm change.)
8. [SWITCH SIDES]
Then switch to performing the technique on the other side, the body postures, footwork, and energies all the same as before.
CHAPTER FOURTEEN: THE ZHEN TRIGRAM TECHNIQUE ☳ (OR DRAGON TECHNIQUE)
The Zhen trigram is associated with thunder. The posture in this technique is “level-propping palms”. The Zhen [“Arousing”] trigram rouses. Receiving its initial active line from the Qian trigram, this line governing growth, it is therefore placed to the east [in the square circle bagua diagram] where the element of wood flourishes. Its animal is the dragon, the king of scaly animals, having the ability to gather in its bones, the skill of transforming unpredictably, and the appearance of flying upward.
As for the contents of the technique, there is the method of “black dragon coils around the pillar” and the ability of “blue dragon plays with the pearl”. As for the appearance of the technique, it is the level-propping palms. This technique has stillness outside and movement inside. It says in the Elixir Book: “It is the appearance of seeking movement within stillness.” It is also the intention of the active aspect beginning to move, and so it fits with the Zhen trigram.
If it is practiced smoothly, your liver energy will be comfortable and harmonious. If it is practiced with excessiveness, your liver will be overworking and your energy will be overly struggling, and your body will be unable to attain the centered harmoniousness of the trigram’s solid [broken] second line (representing the balanced energy within the technique). Mindfully seek harmoniousness in this technique so that your liver energy does not have a harmful effect upon your eyes [the eyes in traditional medicine being associated with the liver].
第一節 震卦學 靑龍轉身
1. BLUE DRAGON TURNS ITS BODY
Begin as in the single palm change from leftward circle walking, your right foot forward. (See photo 1 of single palm change.)
2. BLUE DRAGON DRAWS IN ITS TAIL
Then your left foot steps forward, toes hooking inward as far as they can, coming down so the toes of both feet are pointing toward each other, the distance between them the same as before. (See photo 2 of single palm change.)
3. BLUE DRAGON TURNS ITS HEAD
Then your right hand twists outward until the palm is facing outward, your right toes at the same time swinging outward, the hand and foot in line with each other above and below. (See photo 4 of single palm change.)
4. BLACK TIGER LEAVES ITS CAVE
Your left foot then steps forward so the toes of both feet are again pointing toward each other, the distance between your feet the same as before. Your shoulders and hips have an energy of drawing in. Your waist has an energy of sinking. Your hands are wrapping inward in unison until the palms are facing upward, your left hand moving along your body as it threads through horizontally to make a T shape with your right arm. (See photo 3 of single palm change.)
5. BLUE DRAGON FLIES UPWARD
Then your left foot steps out and you walk. As you walk, your hands extend horizontally, palms facing upward, spreading apart to both sides as though drawing semicircles, left hand spreading to the left, right hand spreading to the right, spreading until the arms seem to be making a straight line, palms still facing upward, as though propping up two bowls of water. Your left forefinger is again pointing to the center of the circle, your eyes again looking toward the tip of the forefinger. Your shoulders have an energy of hanging down, as well as an energy of spreading outward. Your hips have an energy of drawing in and your head has an energy of pressing up. Your waist has an energy of twisting, following your left hand. While walking, your whole body should function as a single unit and the energy of all parts should be uniform. You must not make the errors of either overdoing or underdoing. The height of your posture is determined by your skill level. You must not strain yourself as you practice. If done in this way, it can make your heart energy mild and your liver energy at ease. Your body will move like water flowing along an even surface.
6. [SWITCH SIDES]
Then switch sides, performing the technique the same way on the other side.
CHAPTER FIFTEEN: GEN TRIGRAM TECHNIQUE ☶ (OR BEAR TECHNIQUE)
The Gen trigram is associated with mountain. The posture in this technique is “turning-away palms”. The Gen [“Keeping Still”] trigram holds its ground. Receiving its final active line from the Kun trigram, this line governing stillness, it is therefore placed to the northeast [in the square circle bagua diagram] where the active energy is weakest. Its animal is the bear, the stupidest and yet the most dignified of animals, its strength in its upright neck.
As for the contents of the technique, it has the courage of closing in with the body the ability of yanking out the roots of a tree, and the trembling method. As for the appearance of the technique, is the turning-away palms. This technique is hard and firm in the upper body [the upper line of the trigram being solid], soft and supple in the middle and lower body [the middle and lower lines of the trigram being broken]. The posture is that of stillness, and so it fits with the Gen trigram.
If it is practiced smoothly, then it will have the intention of energy from your heart expressing in your face, filling your back, and being sent to your limbs. If it is practiced with excessiveness, then the active energy in your elixir field will not be able to ascend up your spine, your chest will not be able to hollow, and your heart fire will not be able to descend. You should understand this.
第一節 艮卦學 靑龍轉身
1. BLUE DRAGON TURNS ITS BODY
Begin as in the single palm change from leftward circle walking, your right foot forward. (See photo 1 of single palm change.)
2. BLUE DRAGON DRAWS IN ITS TAIL
Then your left foot steps forward so the toes of both feet are pointing toward each other
about two or three inches apart. (See photo 2 of single palm change.)
3. BLUE DRAGON TURNS ITS HEAD
Then your right hand twists outward until the palm is facing outward, your right foot at the same time swinging outward. (See photo 3 of single palm change.)
4. BLACK BEAR TURNS ITS BACK
Then your left hand, palm facing upward, threads out over your right elbow, your left foot at the same time stepping forward so that the toes of both feet are pointing toward each other. Once your left hand threads out as far as it can, it then twists outward as far as it can so the palm faces outward, your right hand at the same time wrapping inward until the palm faces inward, then threading out from very close to your mouth, the middle finger and ring finger seeming to come out from your mouth.
5. BLACK BEAR EXTENDS A PAW
Your right leg waits for your hand to arrive at your mouth, then they lift in unison, the toes flexing upward [downward] as far as they can. Your right elbow and right knee are near each other. Your shoulders have an energy of drawing in and your hips have a strong energy of shrinking in. Your left hand is twisted outward so that the palm is facing outward. Your head has an energy of pressing upward. Your chest opens inwardly. Energy sinks to your elixir field. This posture seems to stop yet not stop.
6. BLUE DRAGON TURNS ITS HEAD
Then your right wrist twists outward until the palm is facing outward, your right foot at the same time coming down swung outward, your left hand drawing back in, the palm facing upward. (See photo 3 of single palm change.)
7. [BLACK TIGER LEAVES ITS CAVE]
Then thread through with your left hand, stepping forward as your hands wrap inward, the same as in photo 4 of the single palm change.
8. [BLUE DRAGON TURNS ITS BODY]
Again walk, in the manner of BLUE DRAGON TURNS ITS BODY, performing rightward circle walking.
CHAPTER SIXTEEN: THE XUN TRIGRAM TECHNIQUE ☴ (OR PHOENIX TECHNIQUE)
The Xun trigram is associated with wind. The posture in this technique is “pinwheel palms”. The Xun [“Gentle”] trigram penetrates. Receiving its initial passive line from the Kun trigram, this line governing hidden progress, it is therefore placed to the southeast [in the square circle bagua diagram] where the active energy flourishes. Its animal is the phoenix, the king of all winged animals, which has the skill of spreading its wings.
As for the contents of the technique, there is the posture of “nodding its head”, the methods of embracing the opponent, as well as the posture of LION ROLLS THE BALL. As for the appearance of the technique, it is the pinwheel palms. This technique is hard and firm in the upper [and middle] body [the upper and middle lines of the trigram being solid], soft and supple in the lower body [the lower line of the trigram being broken]. The posture is like a pinwheel, and so it fits with the Xun trigram.
If it is practiced smoothly, then genuine internal energy is spread to every part of your body, reaching even the smallest place. The body’s movement is like a pinwheel continuously spinning. If it is practiced with excessiveness, then primal energy will not be able to spread throughout your whole body. Like a round wheel trying to move on a square axle, the movement of energy would be awkward, your body’s posture would not move with any flow, and innate and acquired energy would not be able to merge into one. Therefore you should practice this technique that much more conscientiously.
第一節 巽卦學 靑龍轉身
1. BLUE DRAGON TURNS ITS BODY
Begin as in the single palm change from leftward circle walking. (See photo 1 of single palm change.)
2. BLUE DRAGON DRAWS IN ITS TAIL
Your right foot is forward. Then your left foot steps forward, coming down so the toes of both feet are pointing toward each other. (See photo 2 of single palm change.)
3. LION HOLDS THE BALL
Then both your hands thread into place, the posture and its energies the same as in LION OPENS ITS MOUTH. However, in this case the palms are facing each other as though holding a large ball, the forefingers in line with the empty center of the circle, as in the photo.
4. LION ROLLS THE BALL
To switch to the other side, first hook your right foot in so the toes of both feet are pointing toward each other, then swing your left foot outward. Your hands are united in seeming to hold a ball, but your left hand is going along with the outward swing of your left foot, lowering as though tracing its curve.
5. LION TURNS ITS BODY
Then your left hand lifts up from below, drawing a curve, as your right foot again steps forward so the toes of both feet are pointing toward each other. Your right hand goes along with your right foot’s step, lowering in tandem with the movement of your left hand, and is lined up with your right foot. Your left hand is lifted to headtop level.
6. LION LIES DOWN ON THE GROUND
Then your left foot again steps outward, your left hand lowering, palm facing inward, as though drawing a curve, your right hand at the same time coming up from below, also drawing a curve. The posture of the hands is somewhat similar to WHITE SNAKE HIDES IN THE GRASS, except that the palms are in that case facing outward and are in this case facing each other, therefore the two postures are only vaguely similar.
7. LION HOLDS THE BALL
Then walk, your hands again in the posture of LION OPENS ITS MOUTH, except with your right hand coming up from below as though drawing a curve and your left hand still correspondingly holding the other side of the ball. As your feet walk, your hands arc as though with an intention of threading, until the forefingers are in line with the empty center of the circle, as in the photo. (It may be asked how the hands drawing curves and the intention of threading could be similar. Imagine holding a large ball while practicing the double palm change. The threading, switching, and spreading of the hands would then make the technique seem very different, and yet this “pinwheel palms” technique is indeed the double palm change, the hand movements, footwork, and energy all being the same. It is only because the hands in the double palm change are close to the body as they thread and switch, whereas the hands in this technique are extended as though holding a large ball and rotate like a pinwheel, that the two techniques are different and distinction is made between them.) Then switch sides, performing the hand movements, footwork, and body movements the same as on the other side.
CHAPTER SEVENTEEN: THE DUI TRIGRAM TECHNIQUE ☱ (OR MONKEY TECHNIQUE)
The Dui trigram is associated with marsh. The posture in this technique is “embracing palms”. The Dui [“Joyous”] trigram persuades. Receiving its final passive line from the Kun trigram, this line governing absorption, it is therefore placed to the west [in the square circle bagua diagram] where the element of metal flourishes. Its animal is the monkey, the cleverest of animals. It has the method of shrinking in and the nimbleness of bounding up hillsides.
As for the contents of the technique, it has the posture of WHITE APE PRESENTS FRUIT, the method of “monkey nibbles at a peach”, and the manner of dragons and tigers crouching. As for the appearance of the technique, it is the embracing palms. This technique is soft and supple in the upper body [the upper line of the trigram being broken], hard and firm in the middle and lower body [the middle and lower lines of the trigram being solid]. The posture is shrunken inward and shortened, and so it fits with the Dui trigram.
If it is practiced smoothly, your lung energy will be clear and smooth. If it is practiced with excessiveness, your lung energy will not be harmonious, resulting in unavoidable afflictions of panting and coughing. Ponder this deeply and strive for your lung energy to be clear and smooth.
第一節 兌卦學 靑龍轉身
1. BLUE DRAGON TURNS ITS BODY
Begin as in the single palm change from leftward circle walking, your right foot forward. (See photo 1 of single palm change.)
2. BLUE DRAGON DRAWS IN ITS TAIL
Then your left foot steps forward, coming down so both feet are pointing toward each other. (See photo 2 of single palm change.)
3. BLUE DRAGON TURNS ITS HEAD
Then your right toes swing outward, your right hand at the same time twisting outward until the palm is facing outward. (See photo 3 of single palm change.)
4. BLACK TIGER LEAVES ITS CAVE
Then your left foot steps forward so the toes of both feet are again pointing toward each other. Your shoulders and hips have an energy of shrinking in. Your waist has an energy of sinking. Your hands are wrapping inward as far as they can so that your palms are facing upward, your left hand moving along your body as it threads through to its limit from under your right forearm. (See photo 4 of single palm change.)
5. WHITE APE PRESENTS FRUIT
Then step forward with your left foot, your hands putting their energy into spreading outward while your elbows embrace inward so much that they meet. Your elbows are close to your body and your hands are forward at chest level. Your hands seem to be propping something up. Your shoulders have a strong energy of shrinking in. Your hands in unison have an energy of pushing forward what they are holding. While your feet are walking and your hands are holding, your waist twists to the left as far as it can. Your gaze goes toward the tip of your left forefinger.
6. WHITE APE PRESENTS FRUIT (OTHER SIDE)
Then switch to performing the technique the same on the other side.
CHAPTER EIGHTEEN: EXPLANATION OF INNATE & ACQUIRED MERGED INTO ONE IN THE CONTEXT OF BAGUA BOXING
It says in [Liu Yiming’s] What the Book of Changes Really Says [preface section]:
“The ‘innate’ eight trigrams cycle continuously, as does Nature itself, flowing forth from the grand polarity, thus a condition in which the ‘true body’ does not get ruined. (This “true body” is the primal energy by which the elixir field produces substance, and is also the crossing technique in Xingyi.) The ‘acquired’ eight trigrams separate passive and active into judgments of good and bad. (In the boxing art, “good” means when your energy is smooth and “bad” means when your energy is coarse.) It is the change within Nature’s act of creating, thus a condition in which the true body gets diminished.
“The true body is not yet ruined when it is not yet born. (The equivalent of this in the boxing art is when lifting, drilling, dropping, and overturning have not yet been expressed.) It has to be in a state of not doing anything (i.e. nothing “bad” going on with your energy). The subtlety of doing nothing lies in the movement of going along within going against. Going against stores your innate active aspect and going along transforms your acquired passive aspect, returning you to your pre-birth condition. (In the boxing art, this is the state of the passive and active aspects not yet moving, as in the first posture.) Do not let your passive energy cause harm to your true body.
“The true body is harmed once it is born. (The equivalent of this in the boxing art is when lifting, drilling, dropping, and overturning have been expressed but are off-target.) It has to be in a state of doing something (i.e. both “good” and “bad” things are going on with your energy). The reality of doing something lies in the function of going against within going along. Going along reins back your acquired passive aspect and going against restores your innate active aspect, returning you to your post-birth condition. (In the boxing art, this is the energy in the moment between movement and stillness, between expressing but not yet expressing.) Get your active energy to renew your true body. (This is the centered harmoniousness of your energy when it is not yet expressing.) …
“As for the innate movement of going along within going against, going against stores the innate dual aspects and five elements, returning you to the singleness of energy you had as a fetus. (This is the same kind of singleness of energy as in the crossing technique before it begins.) Having transformed the acquired passive aspect, then preserve this singleness of energy. (The equivalent of this idea is to prevent any deficiency in the crossing technique.) …
“As for the acquired function of going against within going along, going along resets to the passive aspect not yet being expressed, returning you to the state of innocence you had as a newborn. Having restored the innate active aspect, be reset to your condition at birth. The active aspect is potent and the passive aspect is compliant. These are their basic qualities. The innate and acquired states are merged into a single condition, from which is derived the Qian and Kun trigrams. In the furnace of elixir is then carried out the innate method of: the movement of going along within going against. Through repeated alternations of the states, the elixir is thereby replenished.
“The movement of the innate diagram [inner eight trigrams circle] inside the acquired diagram [outer circle] helps us understand that before the true body gets ruined, the natural way of doing nothing will keep it complete. The movement of going along within going against transforms the acquired passive aspect. And once the true body has been diminished, the way of doing something in order to fix it will skillfully extend life. The function of going against within going along restores the innate active aspect. Innate and acquired are merged into one. Doing nothing and doing something are both used. By repeatedly alternating the two states, you will recover the condition of full awareness and the ‘golden elixir’ methods will then be understood.” He then breaks down “golden elixir” as: “‘Golden’ means a quality of solidity and durability. ‘Elixir’ means (the energy of the whole body) being complete without gaps.”
These words express the oneness of energy within the boxing art, above and below, inside and out. This is the work of “changing the sinews”. Let us make use of Wu Yuanzi’s [this name meaning “the one who realized the primal state”, honorific name for Liu Yiming] diagram of “Innate & Acquired Merged into One” in order to understand in the boxing art how awkward energy is to be restored to authentic power.
CHAPTER NINETEEN: DIAGRAM OF INNATE & ACQUIRED VERSIONS OF THE EIGHT TRIGRAMS MERGED INTO ONE
[Inner circle (“innate” or “round circle” bagua diagram):]
DUI QIAN XUN
兌 乾 巽
LI 離 ☲ ☵ 坎 KAN
震 坤 艮
ZHEN KUN GEN
[Outer circle (“acquired” or “square circle” bagua diagram):]
XUN LI KUN
巽 離 坤
ZHEN 震 ☳ ☱ 兌 DUI
艮 坎 乾
GEN KAN QIAN
CHAPTER TWENTY: EXPLANATION OF THE DIAGRAM
When you start the training, practice in accordance with what has already been presented. However, first have an understanding of the theory of the innate and acquired conditions merging into one, and the way the inner and outer sets of trigrams marry up with each other. Though the two are distinct, you can make the innate into the form of the acquired and the acquired into the function for the innate. Without the innate, there is no foundation for the acquired. Without the acquired, there is no fulfillment of the innate.
In this theory, although the innate is the foundation, it has no external form, so it can only be made use of in the natural way of doing nothing and is unable to be practiced as a whole embodiment. To complete the innate, you must make use of acquired postures and practice the way of doing something in order to cause change, then you will be able to fully resupply your innate energy.
However, before the boxing art has been practiced to the point of familiarity, there seems to be a distinction between going along by extending and going against by withdrawing, a notion of discriminating between the two. The innate and acquired versions of energy are indeed incompatible, and thus there is the principle of keeping them distinct. And yet in the boxing theory, though we divide them into “innate” and “acquired” when speaking of them as distinctions, we deem them a complete “singleness of energy” when speaking of them as something merged.
The “innate” is the formless power within the boxing art, the natural state in which the eight trigrams are an unformed presence in the body. The “acquired” has to do with the passive and active aspects, opening and closing, extending and withdrawing of the postures. The four manifestations are generated, each having their passive and active situations in the actions of the hands, feet, body, and circle walking, producing the formed eight trigrams (i.e. the eight techniques).
This differentiating between innate and acquired is called “spreading them apart”. When “merging them together”, the human mind and the principles of Nature are one. The mind expresses intentions, which in turn direct the body and limbs. Thus the energy within the art is that of your body, hands, and feet obeying the directing of your intention. By practicing gradually and in the right sequence of training, there will be no awkwardness of energy throughout, and you will be able to fulfill your nature. Fulfilling your nature thus, you will be able to return to your original state in which you are expressing no intention.
However, in the beginning of the training, the actions of your limbs will not be able to fully unite with your power, your power will not be able to fully unite with your energy, and your energy will not be able to fully unite with your intention. It will seem that the actions of extending and withdrawing are two entirely different postures within the art, and once you understand why, it is time to practice the principle of innate and acquired merging into one.
As long as you avoid committing the three mistakes and abide unfalteringly to the nine requirements, then your limbs and body will comply with your intention. By performing the techniques with the appropriate degree of strength, the movements of your hands and feet can after a long time follow such commands, and you will be able to have your upper body and lower coordinated with each other, hands and feet aligned with each other, inside and outside functioning as one, adhering completely to the principles of Nature, and the innate and acquired versions of the eight trigrams will then be merged into a single embodiment.
CHAPTER TWENTY-ONE: THE ATTRIBUTES OF ACTIVE FIRE & PASSIVE COMPLIANCE IN BAGUA BOXING
The principles of active fire and passive compliance (i.e. the “obvious energy” and “hidden energy” within boxing arts) [quoting again from Liu Yiming’s What the Book of Changes Really Says, preface section:] “are the two major parts of skill, advancing with active fire (obvious energy) and adjusting with passive compliance (hidden energy).
“Advancing with active fire, there is return to the active from within the passive, advancing with the virtues of hardness and firmness in order to restore your innate condition. Adjusting with passive compliance, there is use of the passive within the active, moving with the virtues of softness and suppleness in order to nurture your innate condition.
“In advancing with active fire, you must live up to all six active lines [of the Qian hexagram – six solid lines] to achieve hardness and firmness, and you will then have fulfilled the skill of active fire (achieving the centeredness of obvious energy). In adjusting with passive compliance, you must live up to all six passive lines [of the Kun hexagram – six broken lines] to achieve softness and suppleness, and you will then have fulfilled the skill of passive compliance (achieving the harmoniousness of hidden energy).
“Once active fire and passive compliance have both been trained, hardness and softness will balance each other, and firmness and suppleness will complete each other. Within active, there is passive, and within passive, there is active. Passive and active in unison is the whole theory of Nature. You will be rounded smooth (meaning energy without gaps), shining brightly (spirit in abundance), completely purified (energy without confusion), and with a vibrant complexion (energy without restriction). You will have achieved a divine rebirth.
“This concept is a pill of golden elixir, a precious pearl suspended in the Void. [From Book of Changes, Great Treatise, part 1:] ‘Through silence and stillness, there is sensing and understanding.’ And then through sensing and understanding, there is silence and stillness. Through constant responsiveness, there is constant stillness, and through constant stillness, there is constant responsiveness. This quality of ‘intuitive knowledge’ and ‘intuitive ability’ [Mengzi, chapter 7a] restores you to your innate condition.
“Once I swallow down this elixir pill, I will then know that my destiny is no longer in the hands of Fate. (The words above from the Book of Changes are included because they are conformed to by the principles of boxing arts.) With increased practice, I refine spirit and return to emptiness, breaking through the veil of illusion and freeing my true self, eternally unsullied. Thus it is said [Mengzi, 7b:] ‘When a wise man is beyond comprehension, he is called “divine”.’ Progressing until both body and spirit have achieved such subtlety, you merge with the Way in a state of authenticity.”
My colleague Shang Yunxiang is an example of someone who in recent times has deeply grasped this theory.
CHAPTER TWENTY-TWO: THE ATTRIBUTES OF REFINING SPIRIT & RETURNING TO EMPTINESS IN BAGUA BOXING
In the methods of boxing arts, there are principles of function and principles of spirituality. The chapter above on active fire and passive compliance has to do with function. This chapter on refining spirit and returning to emptiness has to do with functioning on a subtler lever.
The method of training this subtler functioning continues to be the practice of the Bagua Boxing postures, in their opening and closing, movement and stillness, lifting and dropping, advancing and retreating, the transformations of the postures generating and overcoming each other, resulting in subtleties which are endless and yet never departing from the theory of the eight trigrams. The eight trigrams never depart from the four manifestations, which never depart from the dual aspects, which never depart from the singleness of energy, which comes from intangible nothingness.
Thus the means of refining spirit and returning to emptiness is no different from the posture practice method you started with. However, your hands, feet, and body should be putting forth no external effort, only moving by way of intention. Your body does not actually use no effort at all, but its energy is withdrawn, intent upon storing up spirit. With your body, hands, and feet getting driven by intention over a long period, your body’s strength will be transformed to feel as though it is nothing, an idea of solidity seeming like emptiness.
Whenever there is movement within stillness, your body moves unconsciously, and thus you become unconscious even of the notion of self. Whenever you compete with others, you will be reaching and withdrawing, moving back and forth, flying around and transforming as though there is no one there. Your body’s strength will be such that you feel as though you are not moving. Unconscious of your own movement, you will be in a state of stillness, and thus you will become unconscious even of the notion of opponent.
In this way, you will be able to not see and yet perceive, not be moving and yet be adapting, doing nothing and yet succeeding. Once “the boxing is without boxing and the intention is without intention”, you are in a state of being formless and imageless, of being without a sense of an “I” or a “he”, and you have refined spirit and returned to emptiness, you have then obtained the subtle method of spirit imperceptibly transforming.
My colleague Zhang Yukui can attain perfect harmony in the method of refining spirit and returning to emptiness. I look around the world and wonder if there is anyone who can carry Zhang’s ability forward. I hope someday there will be.
CHAPTER TWENTY-THREE: ON TIME & PLACE IN BAGUA BOXING’S TRAINING FOR SPIRITUAL TRANSFORMATION
My teacher Cheng Tinghua said:
“Obtaining the clearness of the sky, you have essence (i.e. emptiness). Obtaining the firmness of the ground, you have soulfulness (i.e. solidity). [There is likely some mistake in the text here, for it would make more sense as: ‘Obtaining the firmness of the ground, you have essence (i.e. solidity). Obtaining the clearness of the sky, you have soulfulness (i.e. emptiness).’] Obtaining both, you have then achieved spiritual transformation. If you are practicing with such a goal in mind, you must pay attention to the time and place, the weather and direction.
“As for the timing, within a year there are the two energies – dark and bright [meaning the six months of shorter days and the six months of longer days] – then the four seasons, eight sections [start of spring, vernal equinox, start of summer, summer solstice, start of autumn, autumnal equinox, start of winter, winter solstice], twenty-four periods [start of spring, first rains, “waking hibernators”, vernal equinox, “fresh and shining”, rain for crops, start of summer, “small fullness” (referring to crop growth), “bearded crop” (i.e. rich yield), summer solstice, small heat, big heat, start of autumn, lingering heat, fresh dew, autumnal equinox, cold dew, frost arrives, start of winter, small snow, big snow, winter solstice, small cold, big cold], and then each period is divided into three, totaling the “seventy-two events” [regular plant and animal phenomena in an approximately five-day rhythm]. When practicing on sunny days, begin with leftward circle walking. When practicing on cloudy days, begin with rightward circle walking. Generally speaking, adjust with each day, though there may be specific circumstances that cause adjustment with each hour. This is attention to the right time. The best environment to practice in is either a lush mountain forest, a solemn temple, or simply a clean room. This is attention to the right place.
“With these principles of practice, you receive the divine energy of sky and ground, the illumination of sun and moon, the elegance of the five elements, and can become one with the universe. This training is at the highest level of spiritual transformation. The effects of it will be thus: your spirit will be cleansed, your essence will be sturdied, your appearance will be pure, smooth, and graceful, your body will move with ease, your mind will be quick-witted, and your techniques will be magical. Its theory is as deep as an abyss, deep beyond measuring. Its energy is as vast as the sky, vast beyond measuring. Practicing in this way, this boxing art is a subtle and profound means of spiritual transformation.
“If you do not understand how to choose the right environment or work with the weather, you will only be training in terms of physical strength, and no matter how skilled and adaptable you may become after a long time, it will only be a physical achievement. With no awareness of weather or environment, your mind will be unable to grasp the beauty of Nature. All of the beautiful things in Nature are influenced by the sky and ground, nurtured by the sun and moon, and are thus able to be perfected [within their own niche]. This is in all ways true for boxing arts as well.
“Compare this to the great sages, who cherished countless ideas in their minds, embraced countless phenomena in their bodies, and were one with the universe. With each thought, let your mind flow through Nature and express to the farthest reaches of existence, and discover that within every thing, there is everything. Then when your mind becomes still, its energy can withdraw so there is the stillness of a quiet and empty room, and you can become one with the universe.
“Someone may say: ‘A sage is still just a human being. How can he be given equal place among the sky and ground?’ It is because the sage receives the vital energy of sky and ground and uses it to cultivate himself until he has become like the nine-layered heavens. He is the same inside and out, filled with exquisiteness, no chaos of energies intruding upon him. Every thought in his mind aligns with the principles of Nature and every movement of his body expresses the Way, and thus he is able to achieve balance and understanding without struggle in mind or body, embodying the Way with ease. Boxing arts theory also conforms to the Way of the sages. That being the case, why would one not put effort into such a practice?”