Ba Gua Advanced (these also apply to ADVANCED level internal martial arts practitioners in general)
By Shrfu John Bracy
Critical Points for the Advanced IMA Student
1. Mind, “Intention” and Bio-mechanics are not distinct entities. They are interdependent and interactive. One’s “mind” and “intention” are not separated from physical aspects of the body.* This statement has real meaning and consequences for your training. “Talk” about a mystical energy that you can one day use against an opponent is not enough. In your training, you must see and feel specific things in your body to one day attain advanced and subtle skill, or you will never get it.
Your "internal power" and IMA true mastery is not going to just one day magically appear
Specific steps must be taken to develop your mind and body into one integrated, powerful system. If your teacher does not put you into positions where you feel powerful electromagnetic pulses, he or she may not have it — the teacher might talk about it, but there must be a feeling – a real sensory experience that accompanies the training.
You must transform your mind-body energy system
If your teacher doesn’t have the knowledge, then you must attain advanced subtle skill on your own. It is harder this way, but it can be done. (By the way, telling this to your teacher might not go over well, so consider keeping it to yourself – master your understanding on your own terms.
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2. Minimum Physical Effort. The advanced practitioner works toward relying on increasing less gross physical force in his / her self-defense practice. * The ultimate goal is to learn how the lightest physical touch can neutralize an attacker. At this level of achievement, Ba Gua and the other I.M.A. practitioner starts to become a true artist.
This skill requires that you learn to Physically & Mentally interrupt your opponent's strength and nervous system integrity
3. Sensing “internal energy” and energy fields
Most who are reading this have experienced the sensation of “energy” in and around the body. We’ve learned to identify and work with that buzzy electrical like feeling that we call Qi (ch’i), prana or “internal energy.” At the advanced practitioner and master level stages, you are ready for the fun part. Our practice becomes centered on learning to magnify those experiences and learn to use those sensations against an attacker in an real way.
* If you are not/ or haven’t been trained in what this means –– there is a good chance that there is a gap in your training. Ba Gua (and IMA in general) is more than only a series of movements that you memorize like a dance form. REGARDLESS OF PAST TRAINING OR AGE OR PHYSICAL CONDITION, IF YOU REALLY WANT THE MISSING KNOWLEDGE, WE WANT TO HELP YOU LEARN IT. Ba Gua Zhang is mind-body, it is alchemy, it is a highly effective close-combat art. SEE SUPPORTING POINTS/ DEMOS
These guidelines and training suggestions for the more advanced practitioner. However, the points offered apply to all schools of Ba Gua and the internal martial arts.
Generally speaking, an “advanced practitioner” is someone with more than a year of serious training in the art, but usually the time is much longer. Most advanced practitioners will have studied a decade or longer.
An advanced practitioner is also someone who has put in serious time with one or more teachers. Although some technical aspects of the training guidelines/ suggestions that follow apply to Cheng style Ba Gua and Yang style T’ai-Chi/ taijiquan practitioners, with minor changes the practitioner will be able to adapt them to any internal style.
The application of these principles to the internal style is emphasized because of distinct characteristics of the “internal martial arts.” [i]
[i] As described by Sun Lu-tang in his books published in the 1920s, “internal martial arts” are linked to Taoist yoga and alchemical practices. This approach is the only one that fully describes “power” and “energy” as being linked to Qi/ Ch’i / internal energy, the dan tian, meditation, and traditional Chinese medicine. More on these points later
An advanced practitioner has a good foundation in the art and can perform his or her ba gua sequences without much conscious effort (in other words, the movement sequences being seemingly being able to be performed) unconscious –– this is an important achievement since, when remembering the movement sequences is not an issue, the student is more free to focus on the effects of breathing, internal energy changes, and other details within the gua, “form,” or sequence. At this stage, mastery becomes a possibility.
NOTE: THE POINT THAT OUR PRACTICE INCORPORATES A SENSE OF “ENERGY” DOES NOT IMPLY THAT THERE IS A “MAGIC FORCE” THAT YOU WILL SUMMON TO USE AGAINST AN OPPONENT. However, it does mean that your nervous system can start to use/ work with/ apply those sensations in new and very exciting ways. This point will be returned to and explained in more detail later.