Training Tips for Yin Style Bagua Martial Arts

I received the following question via email this morning, and I felt it was best to make the answer available to all:

I’m just trying to get some training tips, I have all of your Animal DVDs, and it’s very daunting to try to learn all of the forms for each Animal. Is it recommended to memorize them all? Also, are those the original training sets from Yin Fu? Any Tips/Advise would be much appreciate, as I really want do do this the correct way.
PS – Do you have any other Martial DVDs in the works?

There are no set or static forms that are traditional in this line of Yin Style Bagua. Working with me to create a syllabus for the ATS seminars I was running at the time, the forms on the videos were created by He Jinbao in the mid-late 1990’s in order to highlight the full aspects of each attacking method of each strike. They are learning tools which should be learned from but not imprisoned within. If you are using those forms as your primary learning tool, then looking at any series of seven strikes within any form, you would want to start changing it up, practicing combining strike 1 with strike 5, strike 4 with strike 2… from there, you could mix up different attacking method ‘palms’ (a fist here, a hooking arm there, a chopping forearm here) into one patterned form so you break the thinking that you would only ever attack with Chopping strikes or Smashing Strikes or Removing Strikes. The moves in the forms are just to show you the possibilities and then the intelligence of moving one way from a move and not the other. You would do much better learning several forms deeply, focusing on taking apart each move in the form so that you can understand its application in three ways:

1. you are dominating, your weight and strength are pushing through the oopponent so they are unbalanced;
2. they are are stronger or have the momentum advantage, thus you have to dissolve or remove their force to successfully attack;
3. applying these two concepts when attacking on the left side of the opponent, the right side of the opponent, and through the opponent.

Memorizing is a path to success if you are interested in being able to tick off forms but a path to failure if you are interested in actually being able to use the moves in partnered training or an actual fighting situation. The hardest thing is to learn the common sense of strength, weight, momentum and positioning, then successfully using any given move you have learned via a form with these concepts. The forms are not Yin Style Bagua, they are simply memory devices for a large variety of moves, like a mnemonic poem to help you hold information in the brain. If you can break through this barrier and actually learn Yin Style Bagua, then you can pick a form or two from any animal and any strike method, and understand its use very quickly. To Understand Upon Seeing is the Chinese phrase for this skill. Yin Style Bagua is not what you do, but how you do it. So many people out there have spent years doing moves and practicing training drills taken from Yin Style Bagua and yet have never actually yet practiced Yin Style Bagua in a Yin Style Bagua way.

Finally, as to your question on DVDs: He Jinbao has been releasing DVDs via his website I released the 64 Attack Methods Applications on our youtube channel, though unfortunately the footage of the form and the live blade weapons was damaged and will need to be refilmed one day. I plan to return a good amount of my focus to the martial side of this art in 2015, so look for more releases from ATS then.

Andrew Nugent-Head
January 18, 2014