The blog of Paul Cavel, Founder of The Tai Chi Space London
Category Archives: Bagua & Circle Walking
Paul Cavel is a senior bagua teacher of lineage holder Bruce Frantzis. He offers how-to articles and videos on the monastic and bagua zhang traditions for power development, health, healing and meditation.
From gross to subtle and big to small, transitions link form and content into cotinuous, fluid motion. Most practitioners focus on the broad strokes of the forms they practice and pay little attention to the seemingly less significant transitions that link them together. However, transitions are precisely what carries forward any momentum and qi development, making possible more profound levels of practice and supercharging power and health benefits.
On the other hand, when not executed properly, transitions can sever the momentum you build and thereby diminish and limit training results. Therefore, the wise and dedicated student hones in on the all-important linking components as a means of generating efficiency from move to move and advancing their practice.
Tai Chi + Bagua Master Bruce Franztis with Senior Instructor Paul Cavel
Although both tai chi and bagua develop softness and strength, each individual student is typically drawn to one side. Most people are either more yin or more yang in their personalities and approach to life. In the West, we naturally gravitate towards our strengths, which means we tend to develop that which is dominant in us and leave behind anything that is lacking or weak. This can create further imbalance—the opposite of what tai chi and bagua practice aims to achieve. Training tai chi helps you develop softness inside bagua, while training bagua helps create more flexibility in tai chi. In turn, greater flexibility from bagua further allows you to access a softer operation of tai chi, while a softer execution of tai chi allows you to generate more strength in bagua. This positive feedback loop continues on many levels throughout your practice over years and decades as you refine and hone your skills on ever-deeper layers.
Taoism encompasses a wide range of practices from martial and healing arts, to yoga and meditation, to poetry, painting, calligraphy and geomancy, as well as methods for working with the Five Elements. All of them are ultimately contained within the teachings of the I Ching (Book of Changes). Although throughout the ages some Taoists have studied all aspects of Taoism, most certainly do not. Instead, each individual attunes to their path to what is relevant to their personal and spiritual development. That said there are core techniques which all Taoists train. They can be classified in three categories: the 16 nei gong, Five Element practices and I Ching arts.
To elaborate on yesterday’s post on the Bagua Circle Walking methodology, I’ve got more on how to really get your blood (along with lymph, interstitial, synovial and cerebrospinal fluids) to circulate strongly. Since the fluids are responsible for delivering nutrients to and removing waste byproducts from the body, boosting their circulation is one of the key ways that the Tao energy arts like bagua, tai chi and hsing-i foster incredible health from the inside out.
Bagua is first and foremost about the feet and legs, so any good training starts with learning and developing Circle Walking stepping techniques. In the monastic bagua tradition that I teach (for health, fitness, stress relief and meditation), there are two kinds of stepping:
Traditional mud walking
Regardless of which type you choose, you don’t want to bob up and down like you’re on a boat at sea.