Unarmed and Deadly: Bagua Zhang 
By Erle Montaigue August 19th 1999

In order to use the internal martial system of Bagua Zhang for self-defence or fighting, (although it is very helpful) you do not need to study the whole system. We can use any internal system for fighting in two ways. The obvious way is to learn the whole system so that you also get the internal part and therefore are able to use more Qi power and also use Qi healing not only on yourself but on others who need help with their health. Or you can simply take the purely physical part of Bagua and learn it in a relatively shorter time purely for self-defence.

And this is what I tend to teach Law Enforcement Officers in brief workshops. Usually they have been taught by their training officers or by other workshop teachers the same old useless methods of self-defence like the old X block against knife which will get you killed, or to use locks and holds to try and control the attacker which will also get you killed, or they are told to grab the arm that is holding the knife, or they are told to use a sleeper hold, which is all going to get you killed!

Most teachers rely upon a small amount or even a lifetime of martial arts training which will also get you killed in a real situation where life is threatened. The reason being that you cannot use a martial art as a self-defence system unless it can be easily turned into one. And the only martial arts that can be turned into a self-defence system are those that make use of the body's natural movements such as Bagua Zhang and those that we would normally use reflexively. When you try to place on top of your mind unnatural movement and try to force the body to use these movements, you slow your whole system down leaving behind any semblance of reflex action. You stop the mind from doing what it wants to do naturally in a life-threatening situation. A bit like driving a car downhill and trying to put it into reverse!

You have to have trained in a martial system that is easily turned in to a reflex self-defence system and Bagua Zhang is one of those systems.

So when I teach people Bagua Zhang who need to defend themselves yesterday, I take the natural movements from Bagua Zhang self-defence (not the circular form or even the linear fighting form) and take them out of context teaching them as physical movements. In this way, the student has the best chance of learning about real self-defence as these movements can be made into reflex actions where the mind causes the body to react instantly and sub-consciously to any situation with a barrage of very deadly and continuous fighting methods.

Many of my "Sudden Violence" tapes concentrate upon these methods in fact.

The first thing that I have to show people is that we have to leave behind most of what we have learnt about self-defence, throw it out then begin at the beginning to try and teach the mind to do what comes naturally and not what the body has been forced to learn unnaturally.

For instance one of the first things that I teach is that you must never block an attack especially the oncoming peripheral of the attacker. You must simply, (using one of the Sudden Violence Methods) go for the body. In doing this you WILL actually block the attacker's arm of leg but you will not be concentrating upon this, you will simply be going for the throat or other vital points.

When you concentrate upon blocking something, that is a movement wasted when you can combine your defence with your attack and in doing so usually damage severely the attacker with your first movement! If you go out to block an attack, this is like saying "Ok I have blocked you, now it is your turn to hit me" and so on. So you must hit him when it is your turn to strike and also hit him when it is his turn to strike!

For instance, I will use a simply front straight attack to demonstrate two ways of doing this. I could block his attack as in Photo No. 1, then strike him with another kind of blow as in Photo No. 2. But in doing this, I am giving him the chance to attack me when I block his attack or to at least give him the chance to block my next attack because in blocking him I have indicated that it is now my turn to attack!

Bagua Zhang Photos One, Two, and Three.

If however, I simultaneously block his attack and strike him, I am now striking him when it is his turn to attack or block! So if I use for instance a Bagua move of 'Single Pounding Palm' against his attack, I simply thrust my palm out into his face which simultaneously blocks his attack over to my right and instantly strikes his head. Photo No. 3. I have not had to consciously block anything at all. From here I can continue with Sudden Violence methods to finish him off as Bagua Zhang is known as the 'art of overkill'. Photos No. 4, 5, 6 & 7. And this has taken all but one or at the most two seconds and it is over.

Bagua Zhang Photos Four, Five, Six and Seven.

So we have to train people in turning reflex defensive movements in to reflex offensive movements. First though we have to find out what are the student's defensive reflex movements. A reflex movement is that which you do naturally when attacked. For instance the classic reflexive move is when a man is attacked with a knee to the groin. He immediately pulls his body back and covers up with his other knee. This happens automatically. Or when something comes near one of our eyes, we naturally turn the head away instantly avoiding the object. Or when someone thrusts hands out into our face, we naturally left out hands in defence to cover out face. And it is this movement that I work upon first of all. This movement in particular can be turned into an offensive reflex movement.

An anecdote to emphasise this point. Years ago, one of my older sons was sneaking in early in the morning after a night out not wishing to disturb us in the house. The dogs did not bark as they knew him. However, I woke from a deep sleep knowing that something was amiss outside. So not knowing what it was, I got up and went to the door. Upon opening it I was surprised to see a face on the other side of the door. The face and body was back-lit so I could not see who it was. So automatically, both of my palms shot out with great force knocking my son to the ground with a bleeding nose! He got up and said "Oh Dad, why did you do that", thinking that because he could see me, I could see him! Had I not done the reflexive offence training, I would probably have just exclaimed and raised my hands to my face which, if it were a real intruder would have been too late.

There are only three weapons and three offensive reflex movements that I teach to Law Enforcement Officers in a one or two day session so that they can at least have a chance of defending themselves using empty hands. And this is important as one does not always have one's weapon drawn, things happen unexpectedly and very violently and you must be ready to react sub-consciously, after which you can take out your weapon.

You have to learn the "Bagua Zhang Twitch". This is a method of teaching the body to react reflexively against all attacks. You know when you are just about to fall off to sleep and you are in that 'alpha' state perhaps thinking about a fighting method and your arm just flies out with great power and speed without any help from you? I have had that happen on many occasions. In fact at one time in my early martial training years, I had to sleep in another bed to my wife as it was getting dangerous! You wake up and think, "wow if only I could do that while awake'! Well you can and it's loosely called the Bagua Zhang Twitch where the Qi is summoned purely from the sub-conscious survival brain (the reptile brain or brainstem) into the correct muscles and nerves to shoot your hand out automatically with no conscious thought. You cannot even remember that you used any muscle power! We can do this while awake however and all it takes is some specialist training. I will give only one of the exercises here as it will take up a whole book to explain this section, which I am writing by the way, called "Unarmed and Deadly". Stand holding your palms and arms as shown in Photo No. 8. Relax (sung) your whole body especially your abdomen and arms and palms. Now imagine that a huge pounding weight has dropped onto your whole body squeezing you flat. Just like as if you have jumped on a tube of toothpaste. Exactly at the same time, contract your abdomen violently and connecting that contraction with your palms and arms cause them to contract also violently ending up as in Photo No. 9. Your eyes will widen if you are doing this correctly and an expulsion of air will happen violently. This movement should take but a split second or even less. It is like a sneeze, it is pure fa-jing. Your weight will drop and your thighs will contact also but not because you are doing it, but because of what your sub-conscious mind has caused.

Photo No. 8 Photo No. 9 Next, you do the same with an outward thrust of both palms until you have this movement happening at any time sub-consciously. You can also use a punching back between your palms, but this tends to be more difficult as you are conscious of the object in front of you so I tend not to use any objects in the beginning when people are first learning about reflex offensive movements.

There are a whole bunch of these training methods from Bagua Zhang and combined with the "Sudden Violence" methods make for a most devastating purely physical method of self-defence. I am currently working on a video of the Bagua Zhang training methods.