Dan Harden wrote:
I don't know anything about Bagua,.except that I met and trained with one of the big guns in it and his local guys and Iiked it. Saw some push/pull contradictions and winding movements openly taught both for training and in use.
The "expression" of these things is individualized in both "style" and in each man. So it is difficult to either dismiss or applaud style. The one thing we can look at is the goal, what does the master teacher do as a style and do you want to play, and then look at his students. Has he made any men who can do what he does.
I agree about the individual teacher and what is being transmitted to the students as being more important than a particular style label. I haven't had the opportunity yet to train with the bagua big gun you're referring to, but did work with a couple of different bagua teachers in Canada who demonstrated "push/pull" feeling both standing and while moving. Baguazhang is definitely not aikido, but it's interesting to explore possible commonalities to the ways they train internal connection and skill with respect to specific issues like opening of the joints. There is one godan in the U.S. who's trained baguazhang and speaks of opening of the joints as a common feature in both "ki extension" and in bagua practice. In his case you can actually feel what he means by open and closed hands-on. My own personal challenge right now is with opening my shoulders while still keeping them down.