There are several branches of Yin-Style, or Yin Fu, Bagua (YSB). I am referring to the following lineage: Dong Haichuan> Yin Fu> Men Baozhen> Xie Peiqi. Anything I have written here is garnered from my
limited experience with this large system of martial, medical, and qi cultivation arts.
The best information I know of on YSB is available from The Association For Traditional Studies, a
non-profit organization which has worked to document the system, and sponsored the practitioners of this art in the United States, since 1993.
You can find them at www.traditionalstudies.org
Ba Gua Zhang means Eight Diagrams Palm. It was created by a martial
artist named Dong Haichuan (1804-1880), and is based on the philosophy presented in the Yi Jing, or Book of Changes. There are many stories about Dong and he has attained an almost legendary status in
China. He was a prodigy as a child, learning quickly and well, and went on to become respected as an individual and as a great fighter at an early age.
Not content with his knowledge, Dong set off for the mountains to seek out other teachers. He is said to have found two men, a Buddhist and a Taoist to study with, and spent several years with them.
When Dong returned from this training he made his way to Beijing to serve the Imperial Court, and began to teach a synthesis of all he had learned, which he called Ba Gua Zhang. It was during this time that
Dong exchanged information with the high level doctors of the court and combined what they taught him with his powerful qi cultivation methods to create the energy-bodywork healing system he practiced and passed down.
His first student, and the one he taught his complete system of martial, medical and qi cultivation arts to, was a man named Yin Fu. This is who this style of bagua is named for.
Yin Fu (1841-1909) spent twenty years with Dong Haichuan, many of them on the road, collecting taxes for the court. It is said that they practiced
continually, without distinction between day and night. Yin Fu also became well known and began to work as a bodyguard for the wealthy, as well as teaching martial arts in the Imperial Palace. Yin Fu was a conservative
man, and had few students, fewer still that were taught deeply. One of his later students, and the one to ultimately receive the full system was Men
Baozhen. Men spent many years with Yin Fu, and took care of him in his old age.
Men Baozhen (1873-1958) was an intelligent and cultured man, and spent a great deal of time learning the qi cultivation and healing practices of Yin-style bagua as well as the martial art. Later in life he took on Xie
Peiqi, a neighbor's son, as a student and ultimately passed on his entire system to Xie. As Men had with Yin Fu, Xie Peiqi spent many years with his teacher and stayed with him until he died.
Dr. Xie Peiqi (1920-2003 ) was the last person in the world to know the entire system of Yin-style bagua– including martial arts, qi
cultivation, health maintaining practices, and medicine. In the Yin-style tradition, Dr. Xie had many students but only taught one the entire system. That man died tragically two years later, leaving the
doctor without a successor. Though he had other students, it was too late to train someone else in the whole system and Dr. Xie feared the art would die with him.
After meeting and getting to know several western students who had sought out his teaching in China, the doctor began to see that there was interest in his work outside his home country. One of these
students, Andrew Nugent-Head, and his organization The Association For Traditional Studies (ATS), sponsored Dr. Xie on a workshop/lecture tour in the US and Europe in 1996. When he saw the interest and
efforts shown by students on the tour, Dr. Xie decided to break with his tradition and teach the entire system openly so that parts of it would continue in the hands of many practitioners.
Several years ago Dr. Xie turned the teaching of the martial arts over to his student He Jinbao, and
continued to document and teach the medicine and bodywork himself.
Xie Peiqi died on October 10th 2003 in Beijing. I am pleased to say he went with a happy heart- singing,
telling stories and carrying on to the end. He is missed by all who knew him.(Top)
I am aware of the following practices and training methods within this bagua system, there are probably more!
- Herbal medicine and acupuncture
- The Luohan Patting System
One of the hallmarks of Yin style bagua is the concept of "healing without medicines". This has led to the
development of a sophisticated and powerful system of hands on Energy-Bodywork medicine. As noted above, this method reached its peak when Dong Haichuan served in the Imperial Court and was able to
exchange knowledge with the high level doctors there.
This is a "Qi before strength" style, and utilizes 24 basic hand techniques such as pushing, grasping,
pressing, vibrating, combing, etc. A key difference between this and many other tui-na/an-mo styles is that YSB bodywork requires a high level of sensitivity and qi development in the practitioner. As I
mentioned above, palpable qi must be present before any physical force is applied. Most of the time the touch and manipulation is quite light, and yet generates noticeable sensation in the patient, and is capable
of remarkable results in the hands of a skilled practitioner. To develop this skill the therapist must practice qi development exercise (qigong) regularly to attain a strong and sensitive qi. Yin style bagua has several
sets of these exercises for strengthening and healing including one specifically for bodywork development. Combining this acquired skill (gongfu) with a deep knowledge of Chinese medicine gives an accomplished
practitioner like Dr. Xie the ability to treat many kinds of illness effectively with his hands alone.
Patting is one of the 24 bodywork methods and has also been developed into a healing system of it's own.
Techniques like patting came originally from instinctive behavior of humans and animals when injured or sick. As man became aware of the jingluo system of the body (the complex of acupuncture and blood,
and nerve vessels), he applied these theories to instinctive healing methods and increased their power and efficacy. (top)
The Twelve Guiding and Leading Sitting Meditations
The Eight Storing Qi and Developing Sensitivity Exercises
Five Daily Qi Meditations
Auxiliary Health Maintenance Exercises
These are the basic qi development exercises of Yin style bagua. I am working on short articles on each of these sets and will put them here as they become available.
In general, these are self regulating-strengthening-healing exercises. The Eight Healing Sounds combine movement, breath and sound/vibration to open and flow qi in the body's meridians and organs. The
Twelve Guiding and Leading set is perhaps the most esoteric and definitely the most demanding of the group. It requires a difficult aligned knee sitting posture and practices the three dantians, the three
(spinal) passes, and the five organs. The Eight Storing Qi is the energy-bodywork development set, and the Five Dailies is a condensed set to practice when time is short.
The auxilary exercises are various and sundry practices for maintaining the body, including the eyes, ears, nose, mouth and body cavities. (top)
Yin-style bagua (YSB) is a large art, comprised of eight animals, each a complete system with a distinct personality and different methods of fighting. The animals are: Lion, Phoenix, Bear, Dragon, Snake,
Rooster, Unicorn and Monkey.
Within the martial arts training are the following:
- Strengthening postures- 9 per animal, each animal's characteristic posture and its 8 attack methods.
- Turning and basic direction changes (palm changes).
- Basic Drilling Methods- These practice each animal's 24 basic strikes- 8 attack methods times 3 positions (high, medium and low).
- Stationary strike drilling method.
- One step (advancing) strike drilling method.
- Two step strike drilling method.
- Three step strike drilling method.
- Changes (combinations and forms)
The strike training methods increase in complexity through this series of drills, requiring coordination between the hands, waist and feet in progressively more difficult movement and stepping patterns.The
next step is combining strikes, beginning with the advancing step method.
Turning (the circle) is both a basic and highest level practice. It trains footwork, stability and balance, full
body outside strength, concentration, intrinsic strength and other things that can only be discovered through one's practice. Part of the obvious martial application in turning is a deep meditative skill. You
are training to be calm, centered and clear sighted in the midst of combat. Turning will provide these benefits in less confusing situations as well!
Each animal has 56 seven-movement forms (changes). Seven forms for each of the animal's eight
attacking methods. Those seven forms are each influenced by the "other" seven animals. Here's an example. One of the Phoenix's strikes is the dodging strike, so there are seven dodging forms. One of these
forms is dodging influenced by the lion's personality (linking), one is influenced by the bear (turning the back), one by the snake (moving with the force), and so on.
The circle that you turn in Yin style bagua is fairly small, about your own height in diameter. You begin the forms by turning in the animals characteristic posture. As you move into a series of strikes your feet
step on the four corners of a square within that circle. In other words, the four corners of the square are on the circumference of the circle you have been turning. You don't leave the circle but you are stepping
along a square pattern, combining the circle and square.
Each form consists of seven strikes and returns you to the circle, now moving in the opposite direction.
After turning a little you repeat the form in the other direction.
Beyond this training there are also-
- Application drills
- Weapons Training
- Other miscellaneous drills
This is not a complete view of this art, just what I know from my exposure to it.
Please see www.traditionalstudies.org
for more information, books, and video tapes. (Top of Page)