Demystifying Bagua Circle Walking

Demystifying Bagua Circle Walking

Bagua Circle Walking is probably the most iconic movement in the practice of bagua martial arts.  Its prominence often masks other footwork and practice of the art (topic for another blog).  So what is Bagua Circle Walking, and how to train for it?

Bagua Circle Walking came from old Daoist rituals called Zhuan Tian Zun (Walk Around the Immortals).  In this practice, the Daoist monks would walk around while chanting their scripts.  Overtime, the monks found out this practice had tremendous benefits to the body.  Lack of a better term, the practice was described as developing Qi or Neigong (internal power). 

How can we try to explain this with more modern and scientific terms?

#1: Circle Walking is a Nitric Oxide Exercise

You can look up the scientific details of nitric oxide exercise.  The short version is, Circle Walking through its body alignment and movement pushes blood flow to the tips of your limbs.  And in short, this continuous flow throughout your body overtime is good for your health.

Think of your body as a plumbing system.  Or, think of a toilet.  Compare a toilet that never flushes, to a toilet that flushes everyday…  Which would you prefer?

#2: Small Muscles for Functional Fighting

In the west, we focus a lot on the big muscles: pecs, glutes, core abs…etc.  Why?  Because they are the “best bang for the buck.”  By developing big muscles, you have a higher metabolism rate, you visually see more progress, and you are stronger in a relatively quick time frame.

Most traditional practices focus on small muscles, some call this Farmer’s Strength.  We all know farmers are really strong, though they don’t look the part. 

If you think about a large python squeezing a prey, the python does not have “chunks” of big muscle.  It has strong small muscles throughout its whole body.  When it squeezes a prey, it does not squeeze with parts of the body, it squeezes with the whole body.

The practice is to develop this whole body functional strength, instead of isolated muscle groups. 

An example of this in application is the various small muscle groups around your ankle are trained through circle walking.  With this strengthening overtime, it is easier to trip and uproot your opponents. 

#3: Core Muscles Connected

Instead of just doing sit-ups or planks, Circle Walking forces you to twist your core towards the center of the circle.  This activates muscle groups (whole core) that ordinary people do not use.  Overtime, it helps strengthen and create that Python strength. 

Demystifying Bagua Circle Walking
Cheng Style direct descendent, Cheng De Liang demonstrating
twisting the core with the movement: Holding a Moon

#4: Metabolism – Small Muscle is Still Muscle

Most people that work out know that more muscle mass helps you increase metabolism to lose weight faster.  The most obvious way is to train the large muscle groups.  However, small muscle groups are still muscle.  Training them also increases metabolism. 

Many people lose weight after 100 days of Circle Walking (alongside many other benefits). 

Have you ever seen an unfit farmer?  They may not win body building contests.  But they are all fit.  They are all strong. 

Let’s Train Circle Walking During Winter

Winter is a great time to circle walk because it is cold.  It instantly checks if you are doing it right.  If you are walking correctly, your blood flow should be flushing throughout your body, and your body should be hot.  There should be a very clear difference before vs. after training.  Comparing this difference in winter is more obvious.   

Traditionally, 3 months of training is what it takes to “get good” at one skill.  I will share that in another blog post: The Significance of 100 Days of Training

I invite you to Circle Walk for 100 Days over the next 4 winter months (this way you have slack, and have 20 days for sick days and lazy days). 

Next few blog posts I will talk about:

Leave a note if you have any questions! 


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