Sunday, May 17, 2009

The Bagua Of T.Y. Pang

T.Y. Pang, Hawaii 1974

Last November I wrote about a visit with our local resident Tai Chi/Bagua Master, T.Y. Pang. For the most part, Mr. Pang is retired from teaching, but his wealth of knowledge is still available.
At the time, no video footage of Mr. Pang was available, but I just came across this remarkable example of his Bagua from 1974 while he was living and teaching in Hawaii.
Mr. Pang is a direct student of Sun Sikun, one generation removed from the famous Bagua master Cheng Ting-Hua.

Pang's teacher, Bagua Master Sun Sikun
Lineage: Bagua founder Dong Hai Chuan, to Cheng Ting Hua, to Cheng Yu Long, To Sun Sikun, to T.Y. Pang--
In the December 1991 issue of "The Pa Kua Journal", Seattle-based instructor Andrew Dale stated that "Pang's Pa Kua (Bagua) was the most intricate he has seen... Seeing Pang do Pa Kua was like watching a powerful snake coiling, attacking, twisting, darting, spinning and turning".
Pang's stepping patterns are definately the most "Yogic" in nature of all the Bagua patterns I have practiced. The kind of energy release from this movement stimulates the spine as well as every joint in the body. Now of course, my old western-type body cannot come close to replicating Pang's precision movement and supple flexibility, but I come as close as I can. As I mentioned above, I cannot overstate the kind of energy release these movements provide.
As far as application, Tim Cartmell has shown us that nearly all Bagua techniques are grappling-related, and while searching for application to imagine that you are in direct body contact with the opponent. With that in mind, you begin to see the siezing, sweeping, arm drags and other techniques. More importantly, the stepping patterns are archetypes of how to deliver power while snaking and coiling around an opponent.
I hope people will take the time to watch this spectacular example of a Bagua master in his prime, Pang's demonstration puts the "Art" in Martial Art.

You can take a look at Mr. Pang's website at THIS LINK.


Scott said...

Thanks so much for posting this video. He shows a unique and dynamic style of bagua I hadn't seen before. Very light, very soft. I'll have to pull his Tai Chi book off the shelf and have another look.
As for Tim Cartmel's assertion that nearly all of Bagua's techniques are grappling related I have to disagree strongly.
First Kumar Frantzis didn't need more than open hand arm contact to throw people. (but one could argue that he weighs over 300 pounds so something else is going on.)
Second, Luo Dexiu does tend to teach fajing and shuijiao applications for his bagua but I believe that is because he is very tournament focused. Many times I've seen him throw with just his arms using open hands.
Third, George Xu, at 160 pounds, can easily throw a 250 pound man with one arm using bagua single palm change.
If you've never felt this kind of power it's hard to believe.
The grappling shuijiao techniques are there too but they are secondary, for times when you are fighting a single opponent you don't want to hurt too much.

JoseFreitas said...

I second Scott's assertion. Time and again I have been told (and have seen on video other say) by Bagua teachers and amsters that Bagua is not "grappling" oriented. Of course, it can be, if you so want. But originally.... no. Takedown,s, yes. Fast throws, yes. Joint destructions, yes. But no "grappling". I saw Liu Shicheng on video saying "but for an authentic bagua application you should strike here or there [as opposed to some grappling or qinna application], but in training or competition you could grab here, throw, etc...". Liu Jingru made much the same comment as I proposed an application that involved grabbing and throwing, he jumped in and said: No, no, you strike, strike again, and then push/throw! This doesn't mean that you cannot explore qinna or grappling, that's fine, and makes for safer and more legally-sound skills. But originally, Bagua wasn't about grappling or controlling.

Remember, one of Dong Hai Chuan's Songs about Bagua Zhang starts with "Do not envy other their Qinna skills...".

Dojo Rat said...

Perhaps the definition of "grappling" is in question. Of course, there are palm and pressure-point strikes inserted everywhere, but for the large body motions it is siezing, breaking, sweeping and throwing.
Now, the Yin (and Gao)system does appear to have more strikes, but the sub-sets of Cheng-style such as Sun Lu Tang and Pang's version clearly have throwing/takedown application. In Pang's demonstration above, there are piercing palm strikes, but much more large, grand body movements that do not appear to have striking applications that I can precieve.
By grappling, I certainly do not mean ground wrestling. I mean Chin na and throwing, many of which have been taught to us by Tim Cartmell.

Scott said...

D.R. what I specifically object to is the idea that an application requires body to body contact. For a small person that's too much of a risk, even if your body-art is better.
For Bagua to work it must have a "my body knows your body, your body doesn't know my body" situation.
The applications are simple, think clear and strike, or clear and sweep, or avoid and pounce. If you have to step in, control, uproot then turn, it's too complex for a 100 lb woman to use against a 200 lb wrestler.
The art is not easy, but it is simple.
Xingyi too. You already know all the applications, you just don't believe they will work. Bagua uses a lot of side power. If your side power type movements have no power, naturally you will try to find ways to apply these movements which don't require power, like body to body contact, but this is a mistake.

JoseFreitas said...

I have to agree with Scott (again). But I would add that Bagua has both sides, the techniques for a heavier fighter to handle lighter ones, and the one for smaller fighters to handle heavier ones. The acme of the art is to adapt to your opponent, to what he is and what he gives you. But that's why we have the Eight Palm Changes, right? They represent eight main "strategies" or "energies" that you use, and choose from, when confronted with those situations where they may be applied. Back in the days, teachers would say that there were two styles of Bagua, one for bigger fighters, one for smaller ones. That is a simplification although it represents an "acceptable" generalization (see for example Smith's book "Pa Kua: Chinese Boxing for Fitness and Self-Defense").

For example, in the orthodox Cheng style I am currently studying (which is a lot more explicit than the Jiang style I had done before) the eight palms are grouped into four pairs, where each pair shows two examples of "opposite" solutions, always one more yang than the other, and one more adequate for dealing with a stronger opponent, one more adequate for a weaker one (note that these concepts of stronger or weaker are a continuum, and in this context "stronger" may simply mean "achieved a better position, managed to break our structure" or whatever).

For example, Single Change means you totally commit your power to one decisive strike, whereas Double Change requires you to keep some reserve and be prepared to change to a more defensive position if you meet stronger resistance, so that your attacks will come in one after the other always keeping power reserved to change back to a defensive. One could say therefore that a stronger attacker would probably use Single Change, hoping to end the fight decisively, whereas the weaker one attacks continuously, wearing the opponent down and always ready to defend and evade, using Double Change.

The 3rd and 4th Palms are good examples too. In the 3rd Palm, Following Body, when you meet an unexpectedly stronger force, you simply yield completely and allow the opponents force to redirect you so that your response uses his force and comes from an unexpected angle. In the Third Palm Change, this means spinning on yourself while your arm travels around you and comes back up from behind your skull to slam your opponents nose and forehead from a very difficult to anticipate angle ("Picking a Helmet from Behind the Head"), but in the "series" of "third palm changes" in the 64 Palm Changes there are other examples and variations. One the other hand, the Fourth Palm Change, Opposing Body, is used when you meet your opponent's force and feel it is weaker, you simply "crash" through his defenses and slam him. There is a "twisting and spiraling" force that you put into this "crashing through" which makes your force act like a wedge that pushes your opponent's force away, but this is as close as it comes to "force meeting force" in Bagua. If your opponent is weaker, why simply not overpower him? This is allowed, why not? Especially if you've cultivated the power to do it.

The 5th and 6th Palm Changes are also examples of this: in the 5th you suddenly "take the side" and circle around the opponent raining blows down on him in a sideways ange, whereas in 6th Palm, you're stronger or more powerful, you simply spin on yourself, in place, and your opponent is thrown away, as if you were a top spinning and pushing out things that come in contact with you. And so on.

I really loved the way Scott put it: the art is not easy, but it is simple. And I agree with him that it requires "cultivating the power" otherwise, we remain in the realms of a clever but external art. I think....

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Nathalie Uy said...

Good vibes. Everyday, all day. God Bless :)