Sunday, May 14, 2017

The Cheng School Gao Style Baguazhang Manual - Book Review

The Cheng School Gao Style Baguazhang Manual: Gao Yisheng's Bagua Twisting-Body Connected Palm Paperback by Gao Yisheng  (Author), Liu Fengcai (Editor), John Groschwitz (Translator)

The Chinese internal martial art of Bagua Zhang, the eight change of the palm, is an art with similarities to Tai Chi Chuan. The author of the book, Gao Yi Sheng, was a student of one the all-time greats of Bagua Zhang, Ching Ting Hua. Gao’s innovation to and standardization of the Cheng Bagua curriculum, as well as his well know fighting ability, earned him a branch of the Cheng school.

The recounting of Gao’s life is almost worth the price of the book. These types of martial histories, while not always accurate, give us insight into the developmental process Gao went through and how he innovated on what he learned. They may not be a way to explore motive but expand our thinking about the influences he was exposed to in the creation of the straight line sets. Also included is the life history of his nephew and student Liu Feng Cai and many of the students in his lineage.

This book is not a teaching book, it was written as a resource for the “in door” students and never meant to be published. If you had access to the book you were a long term, in door student who was already familiar with the basics postures, stances, and movements. This is why the book is heavy on theory, basic rules of the system, etc., and not a posture by posture teaching book. 

Also, you cannot learn a martial art as complex as Bagua Zhang (or Taiji Quan or Xingyi Quan for that matter) from a book. It is not possible unless you have years of experience with basic stancing, body mechanics, had position, application, etc. Learning these arts is time consuming and arduous. Even with a good, open teacher and a willing student it is difficult to learn and will take years of dedication and training.

This book is the official standard for the curriculum of the Gao lineage. Its contents are a must for all practitioner of Bagua Zhang in the Gao system or the Cheng Bagua school. 

I am a 20 year practitioner and teacher of Xingyi Quan, Gao Bagua Zhang and Tai Chi Quan

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