When someone Comes I Dissolve, & then hit back is called the Mutual Advance Method; When someone Comes I Connect, & Simultaneously strike back is called the Stopping & Intercepting Method; When someone Comes I Escape, Change, & there is a strike within the change is called the Escaping Body Changing Shadow Method. Among these Three Methods, a single Method can defeat a single method, but there is an order among the three types that is most profound, you need to train your Kung Fu until the ‘stove has turned bright green,’ that’s the prescription for properly applying this Method.
One of the features that Baguazhang is less well known for is its sophisticated Strategy. The approach to combat developed by Dong Haichuan & his Students covers all three ranges, utilizes all four categories of technique for attack, & has defensive capabilities useful for both armed & unarmed encounters. It is complete in a way that few Styles have achieved, past or present.
One of the hallmarks of any advanced expression of a discipline is the near holographic condensation of multiple levels of meaning into a small symbolic space. Everything, from the Exercise Patterns to the Theoretical Documents, takes on an entirely new set of meanings & implications as one’s practice deepens. You, the practitioner, & the very Art itself are enriched the deeper your Kung Fu becomes.
Baguazhang is loaded with this type of knowledge matrix. It’s incredible. Today’s example is a short document on Three types of Fighting Methods & the interrelationships between them. Let’s get down to business, my Kung Fu nieces & nephews.
When someone Comes I Dissolve, & then hit back is called the Mutual Advance Method;
The most basic, & possibly most common, Strategy is a simple 2 Beat response. The opponent initiates an attack against me; I respond to the attack by performing any Defensive action I choose that fits the circumstance of this attack. It is fighting at it’s most basic: one party launches an attack, & the other party defends against the initial attack. And since this is a situation where people are taking it in turn to use dedicated Defenses to negate dedicated Attacks, this is referred to as the Mutual Advance Method.
When someone Comes I Connect, & Simultaneously strike back is called the Stopping & Intercepting Method;
At the turn of the 19th Century to the 20th Century, this was a relatively widespread strategy in Northern Chinese Martial Arts. Compared to the previous Method, it seems to be simpler. This is a 1 Beat response, in that Defense & Attack are literally one & the same. Now, this doesn’t mean that you ignore one in favor of the other. Far from it. The name of this strategy is the Stopping & Intercepting Method. The focus is on using parrying, intercepting, & other such “softer” Defensive techniques. This is in contrast with the harder blocking, checking, & obstructing Defensive techniques employed in the first Method.
When someone Comes I Escape, Change, & there is a strike within the change, is called the Escaping Body Changing Shadow Method.
This is it: the pinnacle of unarmed combat strategy & the embodiment of everything Baguazhang emphasizes regarding self-defense. Those of you who are already familiar with Bagua will recognize the name of this strategy, as it is a phrase that’s quite common in most sub-Styles: the Escaping Body, Changing Shadow Method. The Chinese name is a bit awkward, I’ll admit. Which is why we’re lucky to have a similar concept in Western Boxing, though on a more limited scale, due to the differences in preferred techniques between Bagua & Boxing. Western Boxing’s version of this is a Counter-Punch delivered during a slipping or dodging motion of the body. The nature of Boxing’s footwork limits the relative position you could take in relation to the opponents body, line or force, & level of psychological “commitment” to making their attack work. It sounds easy, doesn’t it?
As fascinating as these Methods are, they aren’t the key point of this text. The real point of it all is contained here:
Among these Three Methods, a single Method can defeat a single method, but there is an order among the three types that is most profound…
Yes, someone like me, with my 20+ years of training & experience, could easily use the “weakest” of these Strategies to beat a goofball who struggles with a more complex set of ideas. But that undermines the point of even learning an Advanced Style of Martial Arts. As Xingyiquan would point out, “The Strong Hand beats the Weak Hand”, regardless of the Strategies used by the combatants. This is in reference to the “Order” among the Three Methods. Obviously, the Methods are listed in ascending order of Technical sophistication & difficulty. They also progress from a hard, clashing, concussive type of Defense, through a softer, deflecting-&-leading-focused, more finesse oriented defense, to the final, ultimate expression of Baguazhang’s Strategy: not defending, not blocking, & not even paying attention to the opponent, really.