New Bagua and Tai Chi Book

by Bruce Frantzis on April 22, 2011

Hi Folks,

I have just released my Bagua and Tai Chi book online. You can check it out here.

Bagua and Tai Chi: Exploring the Potential of Chi, Martial Arts, Meditation and the I Ching

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Bagua Events

by Richard on February 16, 2011

There are two upcoming events for bagua zhang and hsing-i in Berkeley.

You can go to this link to find out about upcoming events:

Bagua Zhang Events

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Hsing-i Santi Part 2

by Jess OBrien on September 14, 2010

Hsing-I Chuan or Mind Form Boxing is said to be the oldest of the internal martial arts of China and also one of its most effective fighting methods.

Hsing-I fuses a relaxed, open body with a clear, focused mind  that is free of any gaps or breaks in one’s intent. This creates the ability to react to a situation with the appropriate response without ever losing control of one’s stability of mind.

The goal of Hsing-I as a fighting art is to create an aggressive focused power without relying on an emotional rush to create that power.

Instead of anger or fear Hsing-I tries to use the 16 part neigong principles to generate different types of power evenly in all directions.

When I was first learning, Bruce Frantzis used to say “There is no question of aggression in Hsing-I, it is pure aggression. But it is aggression without emotional content.”

The core of Hsing-I and the “secret” of many of China’s great martial artists is the standing practice of San Ti.

All of Bruce’s teachers practiced San Ti continuously well into their seventies. Bruce reported that all the masters he met that still had power in their old age did some form of San Ti practice.

The San Ti posture is a powerful method of body and qi development (neigong) based on the Five Element theory of Taoism.

San Ti is a great compliment to any form of internal or external martial art or qigong practice as it integrates the inside and outside of the body and awakens the sense of feeling inside. As awareness of internal sensation grows, one begins to release the bound energy in the body and allow the subtle power of the internal nei gong skills to arise.

Another key aspect of Hsing-I which begins in the San Ti practice is that of recognizing the different elements within the body and how these effect the internal organs, emotions, thoughts and health of the body.

For Instance: Pi Chuan and the posture of San Ti teaches the practitioner about how to strengthen the metal element within the body, including the lungs and the spine.

San Ti is extremely valuable to anyone who practices or wishes to practice Ba Gua Zhang as it develops many of the same internal and external components as Ba Gua’s circle walking but without the added strain and difficulty of turning and twisting the waist and legs to such a great degree.

When I was struggling with Ba Gua’s walking the advice I was given was to do Hsing-I San Ti for at least a year before returning to circle walking. I followed this advice and when I did I noticed I was able to maintain power in the walking better than many of the students who did not follow this advice.

For practitioners of Tai Ji the San Ti practice can be a good way of developing leg strength, good breathing and the natural spring of the body; all integral to quality Tai Ji practice.

San Ti can also be a good antidote to the “wet noodle” tendencies of some Tai Ji pushing hands players, allowing the body to gain flexibility by opening, connecting and twisting, rather than disconnecting and bending and wiggling. Wiggling may get you away from a push but it won’t stop a solid kick or prevent you from being thrown.

Train Hsing-I with Bruce Frantzis:

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Bagua Double Palm Change

by Jess OBrien on September 14, 2010

Introduction to Double Palm Change

The Double Palm Change is the second of Ba Gua’s eight mother palm changes and it contains the foundation of all the yin (soft) techniques of Ba Gua Zhang. The I Ching or book of change on which ba gua is based states that “the receptive (yin) completes the creative (yang)” and as such the Double Palm Change builds on and completes the Single Palm Change.

Where the Single Palm Change begins with the manifestation of yang energy, the Double Palm Change begins with the  manifestation of yin energy. Yin energy is vital for developing and activating the natural healing mechanisms of the body, it also balances the mind preventing excessive yang emotions.

In terms of the physical health of the body the Double Palm Change is similar to the method of Tai Ji Quan in that it emphasizes deep internal twisting and spiraling and a soft inward stretch rather than a yang expansion. This soft internal twisting massages and opens the body’s internal organs and soft tissues. Where Ba Gua’s yin techniques are slightly different than Tai Ji’s is that they emphasize dispersal of energy rather than absorption. This is primarily due to the fact that the feet are generally moving in Ba Gua and generally planted in Tai Ji.

For martial artists the techniques of the Double Palm Change begin to expand to multiple attackers. Ba Gua’s teaches one the ability to fight multiple opponents at the same time, which sets it apart from most other martial arts. Bruce Frantzis wrote about his teacher Bai Hua who had first hand experience using Ba Gua against multiple attackers during the Cultural Revolution.

The rapid changes of direction and vertical dropping and rising within the Double Palm can greatly expand on the martial techniques developed in the Single Palm Change and really develop strong healthy legs. The addition of low stances and multidirectional strikes vastly increases the martial arsenal of any fighter or push hands player.

For students interested purely in the meditative aspects of Ba Gua Zhang the Double Palm Change begins the process of working with the etheric or “chi” body which directly effects many of the “lower” emotions.

For students who have learned the Single Palm Change, learning the Double Palm Change will be extremely valuable in that it will expose whatever gaps may exist within the Single Palm and with practice begin to fill in those gaps. Only when the energies of yin and yang can smoothly mix and integrate can one begin to work on the manifestation of the other energies that exist within the remain six palm changes.

Train Double Palm Change with Bruce Frantzis:

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Hsing-i Santi Part 1

by Jess OBrien on September 14, 2010

In our last blog we talked about the importance of recognizing breaks in one’s awareness during practice and we mentioned that the San Ti practice of Xing Yi is a great way of achieving this goal. There are two basic components to San Ti practice-the physical part and the awareness part.

In terms of the physical structure San Ti’s focus is on developing a sense of “whole body” power where every part of the physical body feels as though it is directly connected to every other part of the body. The first stage of this is developing a sense of the “Six Harmonies,” key alignments that put the body into its most optimal state of balance and resilience. There are three internal and three external harmonies. The three external harmonies are hips aligned with shoulders, knees aligned with elbows and hands aligned with feet. The three internal harmonies (which isn’t part of this article) are the heart aligned with intent, intent aligned with chi, and chi aligned with spirit.

In basic San Ti stance the weight is on the back leg, either 100% which is the ideal way for getting the maximum chi flow and developing the ability to step very quickly, or 70% which is a slower posture but develops the ability to root and “hold your ground” faster than the 100/0 method. The foot of the leg faces 45 degrees and the front foot points straight ahead, facing the same direction as your nose and bellybutton.

The arms in San Ti are similar to but not the same as the basic circle walking posture in Ba Gua Zhang. The bottom hand, which is the same side as your weighted leg, is at the height of your lower belly, palm facing the floor and thumb pointing at the lower Tan Tien. Keep it at least a fists distance away from the body. There should be as much emphasis on the lower hand as the upper one and remember to keep the elbows facing down and the armpits open.

The upper hand should be at a height that you are looking straight out through your index finger, directly in line with the center line of your body. The fingers should be open, extended, and relaxed and the finger tips should face the ceiling. There are other methods of holding the hand either flat or at a 45 degree angle which are primarily used to develop internal power for fighting. The vertical method develops a stronger energetic connection with the central channel with less of a tendency to cause people to become overly “Yang.”

The head should be gently lifted off the spine and there is a constant sense of the back of the neck lifting. The more the head lifts the more the tailbone drops and has a sense of penetrating the legs into the floor. This stretches the spine and lengthens the whole body.

As the spine lifts and the chest drops, the shoulders sink and the midriff and back of the knee open. There should be an even bend in all your limbs. To get a sense of this stand in the San Ti posture and straighten all your limbs 100%. Then, as you sit into your kwa, bend all four limbs evenly so that there is a sense that each one has an equal connection to the spine.

Once the physical posture is stable San Ti becomes the shell for all of the 16-part Nei Gung components. Because the posture of San Ti comes from Pi Chuan, the metal element it first deals with the breath. The basic process is to inhale through your nose and follow the breath from your nose down your body into your belly and let it fill up the front, back, and sides of your lower abdomen. On the exhale you follow the same path and breathe out letting your intention extend forward, and your awareness expand around you. Like a sword maker folding the layers of a katana, the metal element within us must be worked and forged to develop the proper shape.

As you continue to follow the breath notice where there are “gaps” in either the physical breath or in the awareness of the breath. The breath should be smooth and even like the blade of a fine sword with no breaks. Eventually there should be a sense that the spine also fills up with the inhale and returns to neutral on the exhale. The first phase of San Ti trainin is to bring your full attention to these gaps in awareness.  So if you wish to pursue San Ti, a few minutes per day of this practice can prove quite beneficial.

In terms of two-person work, San Ti practice is about overcoming the fear and anxiety that arises when faced with an aggressive opponent. For example, if in a sparring session you feel that you are getting frustrated with or angry at your partner, take a break and stand in San Ti for a few minutes until you feel the sense of frustration or anger subside. Then return to the practice with the goal of quieting the mind and becoming more stable when things heat up rather than “losing it” and getting upset. This ability to regain stability under pressure is at the core of spiritual martial arts and is a key element in moving past one’s animal nature.

Next time we will continue with Part Two of our look at San Ti, happy practicing!

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