The Dragon in Bagua Zhang

One of Plum’s longtime favorite and recommended books is Tom Bisio’s “Essentials of Bagua Zhang.” Below is an excerpt dealing with his view of the Dragon’s influence on one of China’s greatest masterworks in the world of martial arts. You get an actual ‘two-for-the-price-of-one’ in the passage below, in that Bisio himself quotes Francois Jullien on The Dragon. Please read…

“Therefore Ba Gua emphasizes continuous movement, countering and re-countering, and dynamic states of change and transformation. These ideas are often described by using the juxtaposition of opposites: “stillness within motion”; “stand like a nail and move like the wind”;and “firmness and gentleness in mutual assistance.” Another image used by Ba Gua practitioners is that one should “walk like a dragon, turn like a money and change like an eagle,” varying the shape, spirit and dynamics of one’s movements. Francois Julien’s description of the dragon motif in Chinese culture is a beautiful metaphor for this idea of constant change and could easily serve as a description of Ba Gua Zhang in action. *

“The body of the dragon concentrates energy in its sinuous curves and coils and uncoils to move along more quickly. It is a symbol with all the potential with which form can be charged, a potential that never ceases to be actualized. The dragon now lurks in watery depths, now streaks aloft to the heavens, and its very gait is a continuous undulation. It presents an image of energy constantly recharged through occillation from one pole to the other.” **

Essentials of Bagua Zhang


* “The Essentials of Ba Gua Zhang,” Gao Ji Wu and Tom Bisio
A mature, solid book on the art of Ba Gua Zhang with a number of ares of focus such as the 36 and 48 Methods offering the blood and bones of the art, individual animal postures, applications and standing postures.

** “The Propensity of Things: Toward History of Efficacy in China,” Francois Jullien, New York, Zone Books, 1999, p. 151

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