Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Review: Yin Style Bagua: Seizing And Grasping Attacks

Bagua Master He Jinbao

Unlocking the secrets within the Bagua circle-walking forms can be a daunting task.
The spinning, coiling and stepping patterns are beautiful to watch and perform, but beginning practitioners can have difficulty understanding how to use the system in self-defense.
In this video, "Yin Style Bagua: Seizing and Grasping Attacks" Bagua master He Jinbao covers a multitude of locks, controls and throws from the Yin system. The production quality is generally good, with the video shot in full sun outside on a clear day. Master He Jinbao is an imposing figure, tall and thickly built, perfect for the grappling methods of Yin Bagua. The DVD suggests that "the video is intended for practitioners already familiar with the fourteen seizing and grasping forms of the Qian trigram lion system". This may be the video's only shortcoming, which I will explain later.
The video covers:
*Very close grappling, pre-clinch to clinch
*Using strikes to bridge the gap
*Wrapping and trapping both arms
*Throwing - by using leverage against joints, by pulling the opponent off balence by crossing his arm or arms across his centerline, and by seizing the waist
*Manipulating the head and neck
*Pressure point strikes
-- What the video lacks:
While I have had classes in Yin and Sun style Bagua, I currently am practicing a version of the Cheng system. It would have been very helpful for the Master to have introduced more motion into the techniques. Many are shown from somewhat static postures, assuming the viewer has clear knowledge of the various Yin palms. It would be more easily understood by a wide variety of stylists if the techniques were introduced from the circle-walk or a more active attack-defend pattern. If anything, the video has too many techniques, rather than centering on a more complete presentation of fewer techniques. Despite these issues, I found a great deal of information and ideas to process that will directly translate into the stepping and coiling patterns I practice.
For Yin Style Bagua students, this video is a valuable training tool. For any internal arts stylist, this video will give ideas of locking and throwing that you may not have considered, and will add some unique techniques to your grappling toolbox.
Contact the producers of "Yin Style Bagua: Seizing and Grasping Attacks" at the Yin Style Baguazhang website Link Here.


JoseFreitas said...

Hi DR,

I think your review is quite frank and good. But it sort of rests on a misunderstanding which is not clearly spelled out in the description of the video. Let me backtrack, even though I'm not a student of this particular Yin style branch, I have some understanding of the structure of the curriculum, and trained for a number of workshops with the rep of the style in Europe (before he retired from public teaching).

The style has eight animals, each is its own complete curriculum, a specific path to "open the door of Bagua", each a separate martial style. Considerable work has gone to create a well-structured presentation of the material, in terms of forms, basic training and so on, in the 90's. Each style has its own specific three basic palm changes, as well as a set of 9 postures to train as standing post methods. Each animal has eight "strikes" or key works (methods or strategies is a better word than "strikes"). For example, Lion key words are Grasp, Seize, Shock, Block, Sweep, Hook, Smash and Chop. Each of these methods is "illustrated" by a series of basic strike drills (three per key word) and by a series of seven forms, one for each of the other animals; for example, you will have seven Grasping forms, one of Lion mixed with Unicorn, one Lion with Phoenix, etc... There is no Lion with Lion, that's the basic striking drills. So, each set of forms is a set of "expressions" of one specific type of strategies of Lion, done with a different flavor, one per each of the other Trigrams.

So.... the Lion videos were the first released, and are generally considered to be the most "foundational" (in this style of Yin Bagua everybody studies Lion before picking another animal). But the videos did not include apps for the basic strikes of the Lion methods. Only the apps for the Forms exist.

In a way, this tape supplies the missing training in terms of the forces of pure Lion, and enriches them with some additional flavor. Lions is considered best to start because it uses strength a lot, so beginners don't have to worry too much about the "not using strength" aspect of internal arts, and the Lion methods also build strength a lot.

This tape is NOT a tape about qinna techniques. It is about the expression of Grasping and seizing, two of the eight Lion fighting strategies. It has tons of techniques because you're supposed to look beyond them to the underlying ways of expressing power and strategies from the Lion aspect of Yin Bagua. It is not meant to be a study of Bagua Qinna. It's meant to be a supplement to some of the previous tapes and a complement to the study of how to express power in these two methods.

Having said this, I concur with you on some of your criticism. The fact that the basic entries are not shown makes it look like a more technical tape than it is meant to be.

Hope this helps! On a different vein, I would strongly recommend the tapes by Liu Shichang, a student of Xie Pei Qi (ie. same lineage as He Jinbao), because he presents the material in a totally different perspective. He takes Lion, Phoenix and Dragon methods, mixes them up to come up with a set of 24 Palm Changes (plus a lot of supplementary training) that are just wonderful to see. They also have a complete integration, such that every palm change has one basic string combo application, and on grappling/takedown application set. Just an amazing presentation, especially considering he is 78 years in the tape.


Dojo Rat said...


As always, thanks for your clear thoughts on the Yin system, Lion specifically. I'm glad you have seen the video also, as it is just out and I am not as familiar with this system.
Do you have a link to take a look at the other video you mentioned?
--Thanks so much for your additional information,

JoseFreitas said...

DR, the link to the store is all I have. I think there are no videos or excerpts available on Youtube or elsewhere, at least I've never seen any. The link for buying the DVDs is at the bottom of my first post. I HIGHLY recommend them because it's a way of presenting the material which is less extensive, less "artificial" or contrived than the official system, more organic and interesting.

Dojo Rat said...

Sorry, I must have missed the link the first time, I'll check it out!