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Cheng Style – Gao Branch Baguazhang 立 Li Shou Zhang Vertical Hand Palm with Bradford Tyrey
Below is a compilation of Cheng style ~ Gao branch baguazhang information that came from several of the students under Master Liu Feng-Tsai in Tianjin, China during the late 1980s. Liu was Gao Yi-Sheng’s last student alive in China who taught the traditional training sets. Some of Liu’s students often came to Beijing to study with Master Liu Xing-Han of the Cheng style ~ Liu Bin branch in which Sun Lu-Tang was also a student (under both masters Cheng and Liu Bin). Liu Feng-Tsai and Liu Xing-Han were friends who often served together as celebrated dignitaries at national martial arts events in Beijing. In Liu Xing-Han’s class it was not uncommon to see the practices of Sun Lu-Tang, Gao Yi-Sheng and Liu Bin being demonstrated and shared, all finding their common roots from Master Cheng Ting-Hua. Some of the notes and explanations shared in the classes of Liu Xing-Han and Liu Feng-Tsai are presented below as a reference of traditional Gao teachings. Bradford Tyrey Bradford’s Baguazhang books on Lulu.com
Traditional Gao Yi-Sheng Style Baguazhang’s Set:
Li Shou Zhang ~ Vertical Hand Palm
立(Vertical, Standing, to Erect) ~ Li Shou Zhang (Vertical Hand Palm).
This written character comes from two radicals [root characters]: big and man. Li translates as: to stand, to be vertical, or to be erect. This method opens up the adversary’s force then, breaks his position. Movement is performed as if encircling something. Its essence is like luring a turtle into a vase (leading an adversary into a trap).
Further explanation of 立: The original form of this written character is: big used for man over one denoting earth, to show that he is fixed in position; the character forms the radical of characters referring to position and posture. Li (立), according to definition from the early 1800s means: to stand erect, poised, set, established, fixed, upright; to rear, to found, to set up, to institute, to establish; to be settled in principles; to succeed, or to set one’s self upon the throne in place of the legitimate heir [to replace the position of the adversary with one’s self]. Additionally, the Chinese have the expression “A crane standing among chickens” (he li ji qun 鹤立鸡群) which means “to stand head and shoulders above others” [to be in a superior or more advantageous position].
Method: Ward-off, chop high as a strike or parry with a standing palm, encircle, chopping downward with a standing palm.
Skill: Separating the adversary’s force then, control and break his position.
Methods taught within the set: Cross body upholding or piercing for deflecting or dodging, outward leading pull for shielding and throwing, and upward striking or pushing palms.
• Solo standing training methods
• Solo set practice
• Two-person application
Skill taught: Upholding [to support the adversary’s balance and force him slightly upward, thereby giving me the advantage to attack from a stable position]. This method teaches a prominent method to uproot an adversary’s sunken balance while establishing li (立) within myself. Li, as its essence develops, must be merged with one’s zhong ding (central equilibrium), thereby forming the greater essence of li ding (vertical equilibrium) which roots and stands like a young tree that can sway without any breakage against the strongest of winds.
Fundamental Applications of 立 ‘Vertical’:
• Warding-off vertical block
• Chopping to the throat
• Sideward chopping to neck
• Chopping the leg
• Palms shoving the pelvis / hip
• Wrapping the neck into throw
• Inserting vertical palm into neck throw
• Inserting vertical palm into waist throw
• Vertical palm ankle grasp throw
立 Li: Vertical Hand Palm Set: Illustration from Taiwan – Gao branch.