How do you explain Baguazhang?

Just thought I would throw this out there hoping for some comments. I’ve been thinking about this a lot the last few years – how to explain Baguazhang to those with no background knowledge in martial arts.

I remember Nima came up with some composite explanation shortly before he left for med school. It was something like saying Bagua was sort of like a combination of yoga, taiji, wrestling, kickboxing, etc. Maybe he could chime in when he gets a chance between dissections or tests or whatnot.

Before I chime in, what are your thoughts?

About george

George Wood is the head instructor of Zong Wu Men Internal Fighting Arts, based in Northern Virginia. He teaches the martial arts of Baguazhang and Xingyiquan.
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8 Responses to How do you explain Baguazhang?

  1. jleeger says:

    My explanation varies depending on the audience. If the person seems truly interested, or I know they have a martial arts background, I’ll tell them that Bagua is like a mix of Aikido, Judo, and Thai Boxing. That sends them for a loop. Easier to demonstrate. Because you can’t explain the whole-body power concept that is inherent in every Bagua movement.

    For the non-martial-artist crowd, I just say “it’s like Tai Chi, but much more violent.” hahaha…

  2. JessOBrien says:

    One that Luo Laoshi often says around here is:

    “Ba Gua is the study of human relationship” or something like that, kinda. Emphasizing that you train to understand your own movement and the movements of others and how they interact most naturally.

    But there are so many different aspects! I think this could just be the nature of Chinese martial art in general. They have physical training, fight training, mind training, as well as social and religious contexts. There is just so much to draw on.

    Western sports really don’t have many of these aspects. I’ve been thinking that this broad field that CMA has is one of the reasons Westerners have found Kung Fu to be so interesting. It has philosophical and ethical elements, it has long history, it has apprentice/master relationships. We here in the west really don’t have anything like it. And we like it.

    Just a few thoughts.

    -Jess O

  3. jleeger says:

    I used to tell people stuff like that. But then they thought I was in some kind of therapy group…

    jk…I agree with you Jess. Bagua offers so much more than just kicking the snot out of people. But the physical is the easiest aspect to explain, for me…

  4. george says:

    Well, I guess its because Jess has just been living in San Francisco so long. He’s used to communicating on that level or something… 😉

    Seriously though, its easy to go into detail about the holistic nature of Bagua training. Of course, that’s one of its strengths and one of the reasons that those of us who get far enough into it to see some of this are so smitten with it.

    I’m just wondering if there is a way to get across to the uneducated a good approximation of what we are doing. Something along those lines like Nima or Josh have mentioned before: it’s like a mix of yoga, full body conditioning, judo, wrestling, kick boxing, etc.

    Its funny, some of those are great ways to get across the basic areas of what the art covers, but for some reason I would feel like a used car salesman saying that to someone. I’m not sure why…

  5. jleeger says:

    I know what you mean. I think it might be more effective to describe the process of Bagua, instead of the other things it resembles…like:

    Bagua is a martial art based on Circular movement that develops Straight-line power and expresses it in throwing, punching, kicking, and breaking movements. The most basic principle of Bagua is the use of your own body structure in motion against the structure of your opponent. As such, skills are developed to take advantage of weaknesses in the opponent’s structure, and to exploit the strengths of your own.

    or something like that…

    maybe?

  6. Nick says:

    I explained Bagua to someone before by saying, “Bagua is a life art. You practice it regularly to make it apart of you physically and spiritually. It’s a moving meditation in the sense that you have to cordinate your mind with your body movements. When you practice you concentrate on your body being in proper alignment. After awhile it becomes natural. Once your can move your body and mind as one unit, you can manipulate and control your opponent’s body using minimal strength.” Then I explained about how its a continuous flow and used an example with the figure 8. I did one move where you quickly smack/grab their wrist and use your hip to pull them into you while striking. It scared the hell out of them so I thought that was a good way to explain it hahaha. When you get yanked into someone and see that hand coming at your face, you realize how powerless you are and start to believe.

  7. njadi says:

    It’s hard to explain… that’s why I’m obsessed. On a side not, its tough not to sit through anatomy without applying everything to bagua body mechanics. Have I got a great place for shuai shou to land!

  8. george says:

    “you realize how powerless you are and start to believe”

    LOL at that line!

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