Friday, 8 August 2008

A Second Meeting with Master Kwok Wan Ping

I had to return to Hong Kong to apply for a new visa for China. So I took the opportunityto meet with master Kwok Wan Ping again. However, this time my focus was on the Taoist martial art Ba Gua Zhang, of which Kwok Sifu is a respected master.
After warming up with some Wing Chun Chi Sau with his son, I told Sifu that I have become more interested in the internal arts, particularly Ba Gua, but that I hadn't found anyone in Qingdao who taught it. Ba Gua Zhang translates as 8 trigram palms, which refers to the 8 trigrams in Taoist metaphysics. The 8 trigrams are fire, earth, lake, heaven, water, mountain, thunder and wind. Each one represents a change in the flow of the cosmos and is named after its personality. For example, mountain doesnt literally mean a mountain, rather it represents the characteristics of a mountain: immovability, stillness. Each trigram is made up of 3 lines, which can be broken or unbroken (broken representing Yin, passive, soft and unbroken representing Yang, active, hard). Im not really qualified to go into detail about taoist cosmology, so for more detailed and accurate information look Ba Gua up on Wikipedia.
So Ba Gua Zhang is a system of internal martial arts based on these 8 changes in the universal flux. Sifu taught me the foundation of Ba Gua which is circle walking. You have a central object and you walk in a circle around it, always keeping your guard facing this centre. In application you would use just 1 or 2 of these circular steps to avoid an attack and at the same time move closer to your opponent. He also taught me a basic Jiben Gong excercise where you stand in Ma Bu and put a ball orobject in your hand and keeping your palm facing the sky, move it around your body. This strengthens your legs and especially your back and side muscles.
From this experience I learnt that internal doesnt neccesarily mean weak or soft, as Ba Guais very dynamic and intense and gave me a very good workout. Master Kwok explained that Wing Chun is very easy to learn and that is why it is so effective. But if you can dedicate enough time to Ba Gua, it is immensly powerful and is a very deep and rich martial art. He likened it to a very advanced version of Tai Ji Quan. I feel Wing Chuns main weakness is that it is very limited in that it doesnt give you a full range of movements and is not very dynamic. It needs to be supplemented with fitness programs, whereas more classical arts give you an intense workout.

1 comment:

The Natural Blogger said...

Linked! interesting posts - really enjoy them. I always get a good chuckle when I hear the experience of every chinese master laughs at wing chun as girl-kung fu. I'm sure the MMA guys laugh at those master too. Just one big ego trip for everyone...Anyway, i'll be visiting here regularly. - Grasshopper 2.0