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This article has the following major sections. Click on a link to jump to that section.

  1. The Circle Walk Practice of Ba Gua Zhang
  2. Origins of the Circle Walk Practice in Ba Gua Zhang
  3. The Circle Walking Method
  4. Why Walk the Circle?
  5. Circle Walking Variations
  6. The Benefits of Circle Walking Practice
  7. Conclusion

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The Circle Walk Practice of Ba Gua Zhang

Conclusion

Ba Gua Zhang circle walking is not one exercise practiced for one specific purpose, but can be many exercises practiced to achieve a variety of physical, mental, and spiritual benefits. Variations on the theme are numerous. What we have presented in this article are only some of the most common circle walk methods. There are many other methods that we have not mentioned. Some schools walk the circle backwards, others walk the circle while facing outside of the circle instead of facing the center of the circle. Anything is possible as long as the practitioner adheres to the basic principles.

Aside from the fact that the circle walk practice will help improve concentration and focus, develop strong legs, aid in Qi development, and improve physical and respiratory stamina, this practice helps the practitioner develop the ability to remain relaxed, integrated, stable, and rooted while in constant motion and teaches the practitioner how to execute the highly evasive footwork required in tactical application. This ability is vital when applying Pa Kua Chang as a fighting art.

Holding static upper-body postures while walking enables the practitioner to develop his or her body and forge strong structural connections and alignments. Maintaining structural integrity and root while constantly walking is the first stage of learning how to apply powerful strikes to an opponent while remaining in constant motion. As discussed previously, this ability is characteristic of Ba Gua Zhang.

In his book, Liang Zhen Pu Eight Diagram Palm, Li Zi Ming states: "Footwork and circle walking in Eight Diagram Palm requires the ability to walk quickly and slowly, to walk lightly and freely, and also to be able to walk gently with strong force. Proper training of the footwork requires strict adherence to these guidelines. This demanding regimen of leg training enables one to embody gentleness within lightness and to appear gracefully soft externally while concealing firm strength in the interior. The skill derived from this training enables the practitioner's footwork to tread with stability, firmness, and nimbleness while maintaining flexibility and liveliness in the waist, arm and palm striking quickly and with agility. Only in this way is it possible to harmonize the three parts, that is, the upper, middle and lower and realize the goal of 'the body following the steps to turn, the palms following the body to change and the steps following the palm to turn.' This is the method to manifest the form of 'walking like a swimming dragon, changing gestures like an eagle and turning the body like a monkey.' "6

Footnotes
  1. Li Zi Ming, Liang Zhen Pu Eight Diagram Palm, translated by Huang Guo Qi, Compiled and Edited by Vincent Black, High View Publications, 1993, pg 43.
  2. Ibid, pg 7.
  3. Kang Ge Wu, "Studying the Origins of Pa Kua Chang," 1984.
  4. Li Zi Ming, pg. 14.
  5. Park Bok Nam and Dan Miller, The Fundamentals of Pa Kua Chang: The Method of Lu Shui-T'ien as taught by Park Bok Nam, High View Publications, 1993, pg. 96.
  6. Li Zi Ming, pg. 9.


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