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27 of 27 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very good basic introduction
Level: Beginner

This is a clearly written, basic overview of BaGua. Essentially, it's written like an introduction of the subject to the Western culture-- a useful book for those who know little about BaGuaZhang. In the first part, we are treated to a very wide overview of BaGua's history, with a number of stories-- many with mystical flavor still intact...
Published on December 15, 2007 by V. K. Lin

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars I want to love this book
I want to love this book. and there is probably a lot to like or love about it
but my biggest disappointment is the basic training. section. which essentially is stance training.
and stepping patterns

dont get me wrong stance training is very important. and perhaps their treatment of this important part of basic training should be commended. But...
Published 1 month ago by Diverse379


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27 of 27 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very good basic introduction, December 15, 2007
By 
V. K. Lin (Eugene, OR United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Whirling Circles of Ba Gua Zhang: The Art and Legends of the Eight Trigram Palm (Paperback)
Level: Beginner

This is a clearly written, basic overview of BaGua. Essentially, it's written like an introduction of the subject to the Western culture-- a useful book for those who know little about BaGuaZhang. In the first part, we are treated to a very wide overview of BaGua's history, with a number of stories-- many with mystical flavor still intact. Given that BaGua is a relatively new martial art, the authors can go into some detail in a fairly short space-- roughly 15% of this book is history. They also, I think, fairly, speculate that the reason for much of BaGua's obscurity is the relative youth of this art-- what few masters that developed subsequently saw their skills lost over generations in the many Chinese cultural revolutions that ensued.

This is followed by instruction on basic concepts-- circle walking, stances, palm training, VERY rudimentary energetics. I guess I was hoping for more. For much more on biomechanics, see the books by Park Bok Nam. That being said, the instruction in this book is clearly stated.

Later, we are introduced to the Old Eight Palms of Cheng Shi family BaGua as interpreted by Liu Jing Ru. Some photos of Liu doing his stuff are included. Unfortunately, most of the photos are of the authors, and unlike on the cover, in the photos inside they are wearing very loose "tradiitonal" kung fu outfits that make it very difficult to discern what they are truly doing-- even basic spinal alignment. Me, I love going to seminars where the masters come out in sweats and a T-shirt. George Xu, for example, is famous for letting you put your hands practically anywhere on his body to feel what he is doing. The text of this book, while clear, is very basic.

Similarly, a basic overview of weapons, and a presentation of the Deer Horns Set (which is very similar to the empty hands set entitled "Cascading Palms" form, aka "Flexible Chain Palms" depending on your source-- which is a more advanced form in the system. Again, my same comments about clothing and content apply.

Incidentally, Grandmaste Liu has his own VCDs/DVDs and books now (all but one book in Chinese--available via Internet-- I got mine in SF Chinatown), and one can see him in action. He is quite good, and gives a fairly "pure" BaGua flavor. It is sometimes hard to find this flavor-- George Xu himself, for example, will admit his forms are all blends at this stage-- and his BaGua is heavily influenced by Hsing-I and Lan Shou, among others.

There is an overview of applications that is basic concepts but not really applications. Despite being familiar with BaGua applications myself, I had a hard time discerning what was really happening in the photos-- usually one or two stills for each application, and an explanation that basically said: "Thunder techniques have the quality of a shockwave..." Basically, not very helpful outside a a philosophical understanding of intention, but not the mechanics.

Finally, there is a translation of the Songs of BaGua-- historically the classic means of transmitting the basic principles of BaGua from generation to generation. Again, the translation is basic-- that is, without a lot of more in-depth discussion exploring details and experiences that might help the intermediate-advanced student.

This book did blend in concepts of BK Frantzis' water meditation techniques into circle walking to a more advanced levels-- concepts that I did not get even from Frantzis' two books on the subject. That alone gave me something to work on, and made this books worth it to me.

In summary, a good book as a reference to sequence for these particular forms, and especially good as a basic basic introduction to the BaGua concept, but not a hard core martial artist's book.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Review by Coach Geoff Dixon,CST, July 3, 2007
By 
This review is from: The Whirling Circles of Ba Gua Zhang: The Art and Legends of the Eight Trigram Palm (Paperback)
I have been a student of the martial arts for over 27 years, and have been a Bagua enthusiast for the last 10 years. This new book by Master Frank Allen and Tina Zhang is simply AMAZING!! Most martial arts books that give an overview of a particular art, tend to fall short in every category and leave the reader feeling unsatisfied. Such is not the case with The Whirling Circles of Ba Gua Zhang!
This book goes in depth into the history of the art, including anecdotes of the early masters that are both inspiring and entertaining. The basic training methods of Ba Gua are introduced and unlike most Ba Gua books, the Whys as well as the Hows are given.The book then explains the forms of Ba Gua, giving both history and explanations for the multitude of forms. A complete form is then introduced to get the reader started. The rest of the chapters of the book delve into the weapons of the art, where a Deer Horn Knife form is taught in its entirety, a VERY practical translation of the Ba Gua Zhang Classics,and then the meditational and energetic aspects of the art with reference to its Daoist roots.
All throughout the book, the benefits of Ba Gua are explained from the martial,health, and spiritual points of view. I have had the pleasure of personally training with the authors, and what I was most impressed with was their ability to translate their unique and effective teaching style into written format. Reading this book was ALMOST as fun, entertaining,humorous, and informative, as a private session with these amazing instructors!
I highly recommend this book to all martial artists!
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Informative, instructive AND fun, June 26, 2007
By 
This review is from: The Whirling Circles of Ba Gua Zhang: The Art and Legends of the Eight Trigram Palm (Paperback)
Rather than just another impenetrable, desert-dry instruction manual, this useful and fun-to-read book combines a mix of patience and humor with an obviously deep connection to the internal arts. The photos that demonstrate positioning and posture may be small, but they're all crisp, and clearly explained in the text. The book moves logically, building on the fundamentals it lays out early on, after a fun opening segment detailing (in some depth!) the history and myths behind ba gua zhang; as a student of a different discipline, I nevertheless found it pretty simple to grasp and begin practicing stances and moves. Recommended!
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars captivating, October 18, 2007
This review is from: The Whirling Circles of Ba Gua Zhang: The Art and Legends of the Eight Trigram Palm (Paperback)
I have only practiced ba gua Zhang for the 2 years. In my research, I have read what few books are available on this martial arts. This is the only one that i have read more then once and each time i pick up something new i missed the first time. It goes deep into the roots of Ba gua zhang and gives a good history of the art and its master. It also does well in explaining the palm changes, philosophy, and weopns that keep your attention.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Internal Arts Classic, August 18, 2007
This review is from: The Whirling Circles of Ba Gua Zhang: The Art and Legends of the Eight Trigram Palm (Paperback)
The esoteric art of Ba Gua Zhang has been done a great service in Frank and Tina's enjoyable and engaging presentation. This book has it all: history, principles, foundations, how to practice, how to teach and form explanations. I have enjoyed practicing Ba Gua for over twenty years and find this book to be one of the best on the market. If you're a beginner to the art start here. If you're an advanced practitioner this is a must for your study. Frank's great storytelling is captivating and his knowledge is broad and deep. This is a classic!
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Passion and expertise in the internal arts., October 24, 2007
By 
This review is from: The Whirling Circles of Ba Gua Zhang: The Art and Legends of the Eight Trigram Palm (Paperback)
Most martial arts books are passionless. My library is full of books that have lots of interesting content but little real human interest to me. Until recently the only martial arts books I loved were T.T. Liang's books on Tai Chi. Somehow the energy, the slyness of character, his love of his art came through. You knew Tai Ji was worth doing because it meant something to Liang. That was it until Frank Allen and Tina Zhang started publishing their internal martial arts series. These books are full of the love and passion that they have for these arts. I've reviewed the Tai Ji book before and will talk about the Ba Gua book now. The thing both books have in common is the completeness of the discussion of the art. In the Ba Gua book we have a detailed history of the arts beginnings and its subsequent development to our time. Frank and Tina don't pass on or make up fantastic tales. Where Dong Hai Chuan got his art isn't known they tell us; describing the tales that have been told but making clear in the end that Dong himself never said how he found or developed the art. But the history since Dong has been well researched and carefully presented so that we clearly understand the development strands that have developed. The best thing about all of this is that the authors own interest in the material comes through and helps in riveting our attention and memory of it. Next the book describes the basic training of a Ba Gua student. This is often neglected in standard books which is a shame because students need this kind of reference when they are practicing and need to remember how to hold the hands or a particular stance. There is discussion and demonstration of basic circle walking a la the Cheng style. Next the Cheng style eight palm changes are shown and discussed and these discussions are an excellent reference for someone who has been through the basic training in the Cheng style. After this the authors discuss the applications of Ba Gua for fighting and then the weapons of Ba Gua are shown and discussed. The next 3 chapters are for me the most important part of the book. In here are discussions of how to train, the philosophic and spiritual content of Ba Gua, Ba Gua's relationship to Taoism and to the I Ching. All of these are important and they are discussed with much care but not in a way to confuse or in attempt to make the authors seem to be above the reader. These issues are important for the student because they help connect you to the reasons for why we do the internal arts - the joy that rises up in us as we learn to connect to the Tao. The translations of the Ba Gua Zhang classics are, like the translations in the Tai Ji book, very practical and down to earth - making clear the principals of the art of Ba Gua Zhang. This book should be on your shelf if you consider yourself a sincere student of the internal arts - no matter what your level. And you should be hoping that the authors are writing a third book to finish their explications of the internal arts - a book on Xing Yi. We owe Frank and Tina much thanks for their passion and devotion to their art.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Wonderful Overview (And In-depth view!) Of Baguazhang, June 24, 2009
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This review is from: The Whirling Circles of Ba Gua Zhang: The Art and Legends of the Eight Trigram Palm (Paperback)
The Whirling Circles of Baguazhang is a fantastic read for the novice and advanced martial artist.

I found it incredible for several reasons:

A great history -- the legends alone make me want to go out and practice!
An Inclusion of the "Thirty-Six Songs and the Forty-Eight Methods" which were an oral tradition of teachings to pass onto the students.
The Inclusion of the Daoist roots and some delving into the esoteric Iching.

The pictures and explanations are great, and it's overall just a very well-done book.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Whirling Circles, October 24, 2007
This review is from: The Whirling Circles of Ba Gua Zhang: The Art and Legends of the Eight Trigram Palm (Paperback)
Fantastic work by Frank and Tina. Many years of research and practice has made Frank Allen one of America's foremost authorities on the art of Ba Gua Zhang. He has put together a great manual for practitioners to draw inspiration from. The form details will show any Ba Gua students some of the classical Cheng style movements, and will help all Ba Gua practitioners compare and contrast the moves they have in common. The weapons form is great too, giving much needed information on the notorious Deerhorn Knives. My favorite part is the work on Taoist meditation and I Ching internal alchemy. Great stuff and very thought provoking. Thanks you guys!

Sincerely,

Jess O'Brien
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars On The Whirling Circles of BaGuaZhang: Excellence !, August 1, 2007
This review is from: The Whirling Circles of Ba Gua Zhang: The Art and Legends of the Eight Trigram Palm (Paperback)
Frank Allen is not only a master of this book's subject, but also a master of the English language. Never has there been such a thorough and clearly written treatment of the enigmatic art known as Eight Trigrams Palm; and "Whirling Circles" is destined to be considered a martial arts classic, as well as a necesary addition to any serious student's library.

Sincerely,

Michael A. Wieck
aka Mike Strong

Thirty year student of Chinese Internal Martial Arts
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars bagua classic, October 18, 2007
By 
Shane Johnson (baltimore md usa) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Whirling Circles of Ba Gua Zhang: The Art and Legends of the Eight Trigram Palm (Paperback)
"The Whirling Circles of Baguazhang" is one of the best books on the subject of bagua zhang ever written in the english language. Masters Frank Allen, and Tina Zhang have written an incredibley well rounded and detailed book that is sure to become a classic. It is obvious upon reading that the authors have a great love, respect, and understanding of the art that only comes from many years of dedication, and mastery.
"Whirling Circles" gives an amusing history of the art as well as a detailed description along with pictures of two forms, one empty handed on weapon form. Applications and fighting techniques are also given. The last two chapters of the book are the most detailed and clearly written description of the Taoist esoteric practices of Baguzhang that this reader has ever seen. Not to mention the hidden treasure of the "songs" wich are the bagua version of the tai chi classics. these were written by the creater of the art ( Dong Hai Chuan), and translated
by the authors into english. this is the first time that this has ever been done. I highly recommend this book. No matter what your level, or what your interest is in baguzhang you will find it in "The Whirling Circles of Baguazhang"
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The Whirling Circles of Ba Gua Zhang: The Art and Legends of the Eight Trigram Palm
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