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Thread: Nine Palaces Stepping

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    Steel Tiger's Avatar
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    Nine Palaces Stepping

    I thought someone might be interested in an unusual, but I think essential, aspect of bagua - the Nine Palaces. The Nine Palaces is an arrangement of nine posts in a special pattern. It is used to develop stability and speed of stepping.

    Eight of the Nine Palaces are related to the Eight Trigrams. The Center Palace (Zhong Gong) is also called "Yin Yang Fish" (Yin Yang Yu), since from this center your strategy, movements or techniques can vary from Yin to Yang or vice-versa. To use the Nine Palaces, you walk swiftly around the posts, changing directions and striking the posts with various techniques. This practice is called "Nine Palaces Stepping" (Jiu Gong Bu), "Flying in Nine Palaces" (Fei Jiu Gong), or "Yin Bagua." - Liang Shou-Yu
    It is an important and valuable training exercise as it first teaches speed and surety of movement, especially with the direction changing which is so important to bagua. It can also be usueful for gaining an understanding of a multiple person situation.

    There are two ways of moving among the palaces. The basic pattern is called "The Sole Ultimate Technique of Walking the Nine Palaces" (Tai Yi Xing Jiu Gong Zhi Fa). The second pattern is simply the reverse of the first. So I guess the first isn't really sole or ultimate, but it sounds good.

    Two and four are shoulders, left is three and right is seven, carry nine and stand on one, five is the center. - Xu Yue
    This means if you follow the pattern of the Post-Heaven Bagua Trigram you start with Kan, then move to Kun, Zhen, Xun, Center, Qian, Dui, Gen, and finally Li to complete the cycle. This pattern is called "Following Through" (Shun Chuan). The reverse is called, oddly enough, "Reverse Through" (Ni Chuan).

    I find the whole thing quite compelling as I move through the palaces first one way then back. It can be a very good way to train if you have no one to train with (which I frequently do) even with something other than posts representing the nine palaces.
    "But how does one stop an octo-sac?" - King Cala of the Shark Men (Flash Gordon - Space Soldiers 1936)

    "Let a hundred flowers bloom. Let a hundred schools of thought contend." - Mao Zedong (how ironic)

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    Re: Nine Palaces Stepping

    Great post any chance you could post a clip or link to some video? I have done some plum Flower and some varations in different systems and always enjoyed the motions of Bagua.
    Thanks

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    Re: Nine Palaces Stepping

    Quote Originally Posted by Steel Tiger View Post
    It is an important and valuable training exercise as it first teaches speed and surety of movement, especially with the direction changing which is so important to bagua. It can also be usueful for gaining an understanding of a multiple person situation.
    Fascinating, S T. Thanks for sharing this. Since I've never been able to train in Bagua, have tried to work the eight directions into a fluid stance pattern to teach changing footwork/direction (found in kempo also--I call them the spokes of the wheel, just to have something to work with--and I'm sure I stole that from someone much smarter than I), and as you said, a way to train for confusing/confronting multiple opponents.

    I also refer to Shou-Yu Liang's Kung Fu Elements constantly. Thanks for sharing the insight.
    A man, as long as he teaches, learns. -- Seneca

    You students think you learn from me. I learn from you too. -- Jimmy H Woo, Kung Fu San Soo

    From my teachers I learned much; from my colleagues, more; from my students, most of all. -- The Ancient Rabbi


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    Re: Nine Palaces Stepping

    Very interesting.

    It appears that all the internal styles have there own take on directions and elements and the use of them; Taiji's eight gates, five steppings (aka 13 postures), xingyiquan wu xing, etc. They are not the same of course but they do have some similarities.
    .
    - If you train martial arts without training deep skill, you will arrive at old age with nothing - Di Guoyong
    - Nothing in this world is difficult, but thinking makes it seem so. Where there is true will, there is always a way. - W Chng'ēn
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    Re: Nine Palaces Stepping

    Quote Originally Posted by Xue Sheng View Post
    Very interesting.

    It appears that all the internal styles have there own take on directions and elements and the use of them; Taiji's eight gates, five steppings (aka 13 postures), xingyiquan wu xing, etc. They are not the same of course but they do have some similarities.
    Yeah, kinda fascinating. Wish I could learn em all.
    A man, as long as he teaches, learns. -- Seneca

    You students think you learn from me. I learn from you too. -- Jimmy H Woo, Kung Fu San Soo

    From my teachers I learned much; from my colleagues, more; from my students, most of all. -- The Ancient Rabbi


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    Re: Nine Palaces Stepping

    Quote Originally Posted by kidswarrior View Post
    Yeah, kinda fascinating. Wish I could learn em all.
    You and me both but I have enough with depth in 1 right now
    .
    - If you train martial arts without training deep skill, you will arrive at old age with nothing - Di Guoyong
    - Nothing in this world is difficult, but thinking makes it seem so. Where there is true will, there is always a way. - W Chng'ēn
    - One of the original Four Heroic Cynical Curmudgeons

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    Re: Nine Palaces Stepping

    it is truly fascinating how each the three compliment training in the others, and how their fighting strategies provide options to the martial artist. for example, looking at the methods within the 3 as Tai Chi Chuan FOLLOWS the path of the circle, Ba Gua Zhang CHANGES the direction of the circle, and Xing Yi CUTS THROUGH the center of the circle, one can respond to specific attacks based on environment, target availabilty, and preference within that situation.

    Same holds true for tactical positioning and angles relative to your opponent. Tai Chi Chuan positions one as a circle (or sphere) with the opponent on the perimeter, while Ba Gua Zhange positions you on the perimeter and the opponent in the center. Xing Yi will explode outward from the center, or inward toward the center, depending on your relationship to your opponent.

    truly fascinating stuff to work with...

    pete
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    Re: Nine Palaces Stepping

    Quote Originally Posted by pete View Post
    it is truly fascinating how each the three compliment training in the others, and how their fighting strategies provide options to the martial artist. for example, looking at the methods within the 3 as Tai Chi Chuan FOLLOWS the path of the circle, Ba Gua Zhang CHANGES the direction of the circle, and Xing Yi CUTS THROUGH the center of the circle, one can respond to specific attacks based on environment, target availabilty, and preference within that situation.

    Same holds true for tactical positioning and angles relative to your opponent. Tai Chi Chuan positions one as a circle (or sphere) with the opponent on the perimeter, while Ba Gua Zhange positions you on the perimeter and the opponent in the center. Xing Yi will explode outward from the center, or inward toward the center, depending on your relationship to your opponent.

    truly fascinating stuff to work with...

    pete
    Interesting. I think this could be adapted to other arts too. Examaple, Kempo's concept: The line defeats the circle, and the circle overcomes the line.
    A man, as long as he teaches, learns. -- Seneca

    You students think you learn from me. I learn from you too. -- Jimmy H Woo, Kung Fu San Soo

    From my teachers I learned much; from my colleagues, more; from my students, most of all. -- The Ancient Rabbi


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    Re: Nine Palaces Stepping

    Quote Originally Posted by kidswarrior View Post
    Fascinating, S T. Thanks for sharing this. Since I've never been able to train in Bagua, have tried to work the eight directions into a fluid stance pattern to teach changing footwork/direction (found in kempo also--I call them the spokes of the wheel, just to have something to work with--and I'm sure I stole that from someone much smarter than I), and as you said, a way to train for confusing/confronting multiple opponents.

    I also refer to Shou-Yu Liang's Kung Fu Elements constantly. Thanks for sharing the insight.
    Its not an easy thing to do is it? I am very thankful that some smart guys long ago worked this out and created bagua's patterns and principles so I don't have to do all that leg work.

    While the Nine Palaces are a specific training tool for bagua, I don't see any reason why the method cannot be adapted to other arts. When it comes down to it, the Nine Palaces are a method for learning to move effectively from one opponent to the next.

    I am in the process of buying Kung Fu Elements at the moment. I have been wanting a copy for a while now.



    Quote Originally Posted by Xue Sheng View Post
    Very interesting.

    It appears that all the internal styles have there own take on directions and elements and the use of them; Taiji's eight gates, five steppings (aka 13 postures), xingyiquan wu xing, etc. They are not the same of course but they do have some similarities.
    While I expect all, or at least most, arts give some consideration to the full 360 degrees, it is in the internal arts that this seems to be emphasised. At times it seems like the creators of these arts envisioned situations in which they would need to be effective against a lot of opposition. Just something that occured to me recently.



    Quote Originally Posted by pete View Post
    it is truly fascinating how each the three compliment training in the others, and how their fighting strategies provide options to the martial artist. for example, looking at the methods within the 3 as Tai Chi Chuan FOLLOWS the path of the circle, Ba Gua Zhang CHANGES the direction of the circle, and Xing Yi CUTS THROUGH the center of the circle, one can respond to specific attacks based on environment, target availabilty, and preference within that situation.

    Same holds true for tactical positioning and angles relative to your opponent. Tai Chi Chuan positions one as a circle (or sphere) with the opponent on the perimeter, while Ba Gua Zhange positions you on the perimeter and the opponent in the center. Xing Yi will explode outward from the center, or inward toward the center, depending on your relationship to your opponent.

    truly fascinating stuff to work with...

    pete
    It is interesting that you say that, about the different approaches of these three arts, that is. We practice a Liu style bagua form, which means it is linear and not practiced on the circle. My teacher's teacher, however, translated it so that it could be practiced on the circle. The interesting thing is that some techniques stay on the circle, static or in motion as required, but some cross the circle, invading that centre space.


    What I think the Nine Palaces is really good for is giving you a perception of space, encouraging you to consider what is around you, not just what is in front of you.
    "But how does one stop an octo-sac?" - King Cala of the Shark Men (Flash Gordon - Space Soldiers 1936)

    "Let a hundred flowers bloom. Let a hundred schools of thought contend." - Mao Zedong (how ironic)

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    Re: Nine Palaces Stepping

    Quote Originally Posted by Steel Tiger View Post
    While I expect all, or at least most, arts give some consideration to the full 360 degrees, it is in the internal arts that this seems to be emphasised. At times it seems like the creators of these arts envisioned situations in which they would need to be effective against a lot of opposition. Just something that occured to me recently.
    Likely true and there are applications within Yang style that are very much considering how to deal with greater than one person. And with only the 13 postures (fully understood) you can be a fairly effective martial artist.
    .
    - If you train martial arts without training deep skill, you will arrive at old age with nothing - Di Guoyong
    - Nothing in this world is difficult, but thinking makes it seem so. Where there is true will, there is always a way. - W Chng'ēn
    - One of the original Four Heroic Cynical Curmudgeons

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    Re: Nine Palaces Stepping

    Quote Originally Posted by kidswarrior
    Interesting. I think this could be adapted to other arts too.
    well, that was the original method of teaching Ba Gua Zhang by its founder Dong Hai Chuan. He basically taught only accomplished martial artists, using his Ba Gua to add a new level to their existing style. For example, Yin Fu had a background in Shaolin styles, so he was taught to emphasize striking. Cheng Ting Hua was a Shuai Chiao champion and was taught to emphasize stand up grappling and throws. Ba Gua styles in their lineages continue to emphasize these characteristics.

    Quote Originally Posted by Steel Tiger
    We practice a Liu style bagua form, which means it is linear and not practiced on the circle. My teacher's teacher, however, translated it so that it could be practiced on the circle. The interesting thing is that some techniques stay on the circle, static or in motion as required, but some cross the circle, invading that centre space.
    Liu De Quan, as I recall, taught Ba Gua Zhang to the Chinese Military. In teaching these very large groups, the circle became cumbersome to say the least~ so, he developed line drills to keep the masses, well, in line!

    pete
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    Re: Nine Palaces Stepping

    Quote Originally Posted by pete View Post
    Liu De Quan, as I recall, taught Ba Gua Zhang to the Chinese Military. In teaching these very large groups, the circle became cumbersome to say the least~ so, he developed line drills to keep the masses, well, in line!

    pete
    That seems quite reasonable to me.

    An interesting side to the linear form (Ba Zhen She Zhang) we do is that if you map it out it looks like some very old Daoist magical symbols. Its funny because we don't have anything to do with the magical /alchemical side of Daoism.
    "But how does one stop an octo-sac?" - King Cala of the Shark Men (Flash Gordon - Space Soldiers 1936)

    "Let a hundred flowers bloom. Let a hundred schools of thought contend." - Mao Zedong (how ironic)

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