The art of bagua circle walking dates back hundreds of years when Daoists would walk in circles to calm their mind as a form of meditation. The early Daoists repeated a mantra while walking the circle slowly with relaxed, comfortable and natural body movements.
What is a Bagua Circle?
Known as "walking the circle", practitioners walk the circumference of a circle, or circles, while meditating or practicing various movements of the martial art of Bagua Zhang. The exercise of walking the circle, also called bagua walking, is practiced for several different purposes including:
- Chi, also known as Qi, cultivation
- Training for physical, mental and spiritual strength for the practice of Bagua Zhang
There are many different styles, methods and postures of circle walking. Some practitioners walk the circle in a frontwards direction, others walk backwards and still others rotate direction at various times. Speeds vary from very slow to extremely rapid and postures range from a full upright position to a low body squat with thighs parallel to the ground. Walking circles can be on any surface such as dirt, bricks or sand and are often part of a feng shui garden landscape.
Meditative Circle Walking
Just as the early Taoists practiced the art of circle walking bringing harmony to their minds and bodies, many practitioners of today still follow this same method of meditation. When circle walking for the purpose of meditation, the practitioner walks at a slow to moderate pace with steps that are steady, fluid and even. Throughout the exercise breathing remains smooth and relaxed as the circle walker focuses on a pole or object placed in the circle's center. Using a mantra is up to the practitioner.
Walking the Circle for Chi Cultivation
When a practitioner walks a circle with the main purpose being the cultivation of chi, it is important to maintain a strong, calm sense of focus and concentration. Doing so allows the chi to gather in the dan tian which is an area inside the body several inches below the navel. This type of bagua walking requires the same mental focus and breathing as meditative circle walking. However, the pace is quicker with more complex steps, posturing and directional changes.
The Martial Art of Bagua Zhang
Although it is based on the ancient philosophy of the I Ching, Bagua Zhang is one of the newest forms of martial arts. The art of Bagua Zhang, together with the arts of Xingyiquzn and Taijiquan, are all part of the Nei Jia Quan school of martial arts, known as Internal Family Boxing. Each of these art forms have deep roots in Taoist meditative practices, practices that cultivate Chi and the meaning and philosophy of yin yang.
Credited with the creation of Bagua Zhang more then one hundred fifty years ago, Dong Haichin adopted the early Taoists practice of meditative circle walking as a fundamental aspect of Bagua Zhang. Becoming adept at bagua walking allows the practitioner to create a sense of mental calm and stillness while being physically involved in intense activity. Once mastered Bagua Zhang gives practitioners the ability to change energy patterns as described in the classic Book of Changes, also known as the I-Ching.
Bagua walking as an exercise for Bagua Zhang involves both meditative and chi cultivation practice. In addition, the practitioner learns complex footwork, body postures and arm movements.
The Benefits of Circle Walking
Although practitioners of Bagua Zhang circle walking do it for many different reasons, there are many overall benefits including:
- Aids in the development and cultivation of Chi throughout the entire body
- Unity of the mind and body
- Improved focus and concentration
- Improved physical stamina
- Improved respiratory stamina
- Improved coordination and balance
- Increased strength and agility
- Teaches the practitioner relaxation and stability while in constant motion
- Teaches the practitioner footwork that is highly evasive and necessary for tactical instances
- Teaches proper body alignment and posture
- Develops strong leg muscles
Deeply rooted in Taoist tradition, bagua circle walking has evolved into the basis of one of the most popular martial arts, Bagua Zhang.