The Bagwa wooden-man routine is a very rare set that almost became extinct when Bagwa went 'modern' and 'Government' style for placement into Wushu tournaments. The wooden-man is purely to teach us about fighting using Baguazhang. The dimensions of the Wooden man are as follows: He has one body with soft rope tightly wrapped around his head for about 18 inches so that you have something softer to strike but not too soft. He has four arms and each Bagwa hand change is performed in each quadrant and on both sides so we end up with 8 times for each section. His body is made up of Australian Iron Bark wood which is one of the toughest woods ever, and his arms are made of Australian Red Cedar. When you have four people each working in a segment, it is quite and energy boost. Your hands in particular should be buzzing at the finish of this beautiful Baguazhang training exercise.
The Cost? If would be quite impossible to ship overseas as he is just so heavy at around 200 kilograms. However, for those in Australia our Wooden Man maker can produce them for around $AUST600.00.
6 feet 8 inches
So how does one train in these Bagwa deceptive hand methods? There are two ways. You can either have a training partner, which is always necessary for gaining a more realistic feel, and/or you could invest in the Mighty Bagwa Wooden Man. (See Photo). This method of training is a regular Baguazhang method of training the hands and feet in reflex attack and defence. It teaches us about body mechanics and how to move the body in order to get out of trouble and into the best possible position for re-attack. It also teaches us exactly how to use the whole body in attack. It does this by causing you much pain when you do the techniques incorrectly using only the arms as the source of power and not the whole body. When you use the whole body and strike this huge wooden thing that many of my students have commented as being like a huge penis, you learn how to control your attacks but still have them reflex actions. Once you are able to use the whole body in attack even this huge pole will begin to shudder when struck even lightly with absolutely no movement backward of your own body.
The Bagwa wooden man form itself is one of the most fluent and beautiful forms I have ever taught and practiced. It is performed in the same manner as the circular classical form is done in as much as it is in eight different parts flowing together. So you will begin with a typical Bagwa movement in defence against a two handed attack striking his right arm with your right 'hammer palm' while the left one is already taking over the attack. As the left palm also hammers the right arm, your right 'hammer palm' will almost simultaneously hammer his left arm. Now, you will step in with the peculiar Bagwa 'L' step and strike with both palms to his striking area which is representative of his face. This would be on a human being to the points called ST 3 just under the cheekbones causing knock out or death! You now hammer downwards onto both of his arms causing his head (if it were a person) to be jerked forward causing his brain stem to kink causing instant knock out! (Hence the name of "the art of overkill"). After this (as if he hasn't had enough already), you will grab his left arm with you right palm and taking a 'T' step, you turn to strike and break his left shoulder with your left upper arm or shoulder. Taking his left wrist, you now bend his wrist into a painful wrist lock as your left palm snakes up underneath to add more pressure to the lock and strike his temple (GB 3) with your left palm. You take a right arcing step with your right foot and as it is placed down, you do an internal turning method to strike again this time with your right palm to his left temple area.
The whole first palm change routine is now repeated on this second quadrant, then on the third and fourth. Then the whole thing is repeated in the opposite direction ready for the second palm change.
The Mighty Bagwa Wooden man is indeed mighty and they are not easy to come by. Mine was made for me by my students Rob and Mause Eaglen to exact measurements as laid out in the Baguazhang Essential Elements manual from Chiang Jiung-chiao and from my own memory of what it was like when I learned it way back then.