Monday, September 30, 2013

Succeeding in the Competitive Economy by Implementing Strategic Power

A Golden Eagle Killing Wolves
(updated on 09.30.13, 19:19 hr)

"Nature, red in tooth and claw" - Tennyson.

Click here for an interesting set of photos on how an golden eagle attacks and kills a sika deer. 

"The eagle excels in its craft by awaiting events in the situation without making any movement. When he sees that he can be victorious, he will arise; if he sees that he cannot be victorious, he will desist. Thus it is said that he does not have any fear, he does not vacillate. Indecisiveness and doubt do not play a role in any of his actions.
"As a hunter, he does not lose an advantage when he perceives it or be doubtful when he meets the opportunity. The eagle follows the flow of time and does not lose an advantage; the skillful, he is decisive and have no doubts. He strikes like a sudden clap of thunder, which does not give time to cover ears; strike like a flash of lightning, which does not give time to close the eyes. ... Those who oppose him will be destroyed; those who come near will perish. Who can defend against such an attack?"   
Inspired by The Six Secret Teachings 

Sunzi's Approach to Pursuing an 
Opportunity and Timing an Attack  
"... If the army's attack is like a whetstone thrown against an egg, it is due to the vacous and substantial ... The strategic configuration of power is visible in the onrush of pent-up water tumbling stones along. The effect of constraints is visible in the onrush of a bird of prey breaking the bones of its target. Thus the strategic configuration of power of those focused, their constraints are precise. Their strategic configuration of power is like a fully drawn crossbow, their constraints like the release of the trigger.

Intermixed and turbulent, the fighting appears chaotic, but they cannot be made disordered. In turmoil and confusion, their deployment is circular, and they cannot be defeated.  ..."

- Art Of War 5

To attack an competitor, one must understand the following essential points that usually reigned over any competitive situation:
  • the strategic disposition of the competitive terrain;
  • the strategic disposition of each competitor within the competitive terrain;
  • the opportunity and the timing point of the competitive terrain;
  • the opportunity and the timing point of the competitors; and
  • the reality of the situation.
Comments From The Compass Desk
To properly utilize the concept of strategic power, the successful strategist always assesses the configuration of a situation by understanding the connectivity of the relevant components that operates within it.

Then the successful strategist positions himself and his team toward a strategic disposition that offers them a path of minimum cost and maximum efficiency. 

Then the influencing of the target begins by the implementation of his planned and prepared actions.

We will touch more on this unique topic in a future post.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Succeeding in the Info Economy by Assessing a Problem with the Phoenix Checklist

(updated 09/23/13 12:33 pm)

Do you think that you can succeed in our complex economy with a checklist without ever having to grind?

This "Phoenix Checklist" post originated from 

The Phoenix Checklist
Was looking through my notes recently and came across the Phoenix Checklist - a set of questions developed by the CIA to enable their agents and operatives to think about a problem thoroughly. It should come in handy for us planners and strategists.

The problem
  • Why is it necessary to solve the problem?
  • What benefits will you receive by solving the problem?
  • What is the unknown?
  • What is it you don't yet understand?
  • What is the information you have?
  • What isn't the problem?
  • Is the information sufficient? Or is it insufficient? Or redundant? Or contradictory?
  • Should you draw a diagram of the problem? A figure?
  • Where are the boundaries of the problem?
  • Can you separate the various parts of the problem? Can you write them down? What are the relationships of the parts of the problem? What are the constants of the problem?
  • Have you seen this problem before?
  • Have you seen this problem in a slightly different form? Do you know a related problem?
  • Try to think of a familiar problem having the same or a similar unknown
  • Suppose you find a problem related to yours that has already been solved. Can you use it? Can you use its method?
  • Can you restate your problem? How many different ways can you restate it? More general? More specific? Can the rules be changed?
  • What are the best, worst and most probable cases you can imagine?

The plan
  • Can you solve the whole problem? Part of the problem?
  • What would you like the resolution to be? Can you picture it?
  • How much of the unknown can you determine?
  • Can you derive something useful from the information you have?
  • Have you used all the information?
  • Have you taken into account all essential notions in the problem?
  • Can you separate the steps in the problem-solving process? Can you determine the correctness of each step?
  • What creative thinking techniques can you use to generate ideas? How many different techniques?
  • Can you see the result? How many different kinds of results can you see?
  • How many different ways have you tried to solve the problem?
  • What have others done?
  • Can you intuit the solution? Can you check the result?
  • What should be done? How should it be done?
  • Where should it be done?
  • When should it be done?
  • Who should do it?
  • What do you need to do at this time?
  • Who will be responsible for what?
  • Can you use this problem to solve some other problem?
  • What is the unique set of qualities that makes this problem what it is and none other?
  • What milestones can best mark your progress?
  • How will you know when you are successful?
Our Comments on the Checklist  
The conundrum of planning is that it requires some forethought. The complication occurs when one has no foresight of the opportunities or any experience in maximizing those circumstances. Sometimes the predictability of the settings and the experience of the strategist determined the quality of planning.

The list is long and dreary.  Why would anyone in their right mind use that list?  Would you assess your situation with that list?

The Gist of a Checklist
A basic checklist usually enables the implementers to be prepared to operate in a predictable setting. It also reduces some stress while allowing for a fewer surprises.

The Checklist vs. The Script

What are the differences between a "script" and a list?
  • The list sometimes produces the illusion of stability. 
  • The list is for people who believed that their settings are always static
  • The script is designed for competitive people who proactively operate with a purpose and are methodical by style.
  • The scripting process occurs after they have assessed the completeness of the Big Tangible Picture.
  • The script enables its implementer to operate in the settings of order and disorder.
I presumed that you know why the Checklist-based scheme does not always work!?  ...  

Why the Script Works 

The script only works when one's strategic operational team has comprehended the configuration of their Big Tangible Picture (BTP) and possessed a grand understanding of the various strategic and tactical principles.  By understanding the strategic efficiency of their Big Picture, the implementers recognized what adds up and when it multiples.
Then they decided whether to play the "risk game of pursuing the multiplier" or "to stay focused" on their objective, be efficient until the project is completed.

Amateurs compile lists of objectives or steps while professionals devise scripts.

The Process of a Script Verses An Assortment of Rules 
Having a large list of strategy principles and operational measures cannot always help the strategic implementer if he/she does not know how to script their operation in a concise way. (Some of the pseudo experts tell their followers to utilize a few of their interpreted principles for the purpose of resolving their problems regardless of their situation. It should idealistically work. The key word is "idealistically.")

Fwiw, the size of one's endeavor is proportional to the importance of having a well-devised script.

The Compass Script

The Compass Script is our macro approach that enables the implementers to organizes their assortment of lists of tactical plays for specific situations. It also enables them to adjust their process and their objectives for certain situations

Our approach is specifically designed for short-term, reward-based projects with long-range implications. These projects are usually aligned to unpredictable strategic situations where the macro variables could change.

We will discuss how a typical Compass Script works in a strategic terrain in a future post.

Question of the Day
Does your team operate from a script?

Organizing Data is the 1st step.

(Five staccato syllables to live by)
Organization leads to preparation
Preparation eliminates the unexpected. 
Be ready for everything. . . . 
Overlook nothing. ... 
"A team that is unable to discern good fortune and misfortune in the as-yet-uninformed does not understand preparations." 
- Military Methods, 22 (A minor revision on a concept from Sun Bin's Military Methods)

In any competitive strategy situation, the well-prepared and successful strategists are always focused on securing the last base camp before assaulting the summit.

In summary, preparation is the key. Knowing when and how to prepare for a planning and preparation situation is the first stage of preparation. ... Knowing what to plan for and how to plan is the next stage. ... It starts by assessing the situation and following your script to build the new situational script.

Cate Blanchett, a famous Aussie actress, enjoys making lists and crossing items off as she accomplishes them.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Competing Politically and Profiting in the Social Media Economy

(updated on  09.23.13)

Someone in the Blue Party started the cyber game of slapping one of their opponents. Eight years later, the Red Party returned the favor by launching this web site

In the political game of high risk and high rewards, the memories are long.   Some of the extreme competitors occasionally remembered their "high rewards" losses more than their myriad of wins.

Most vendettas remain for at least one to two generations.   Because it is politics, this situation is not going to be like The War of The Roses or  The Hatfields and the McCoys  or Japanese Karate vs. Korean's Karate.    

Profiting in One's Own SettingsIt is important to understand the following points: 
  • the way of the competition (The Pestle Concept); 
  • the configuration of the terrain; 
  • the situations within it; and 
  • the chief decision makers  who are operating the campaigns.
When studying the configuration, one focuses on the relevant components, the tactical coverage, the cyclical influence behind it and the connectivity between them.

Minor Jottings
In our information economy of minimal innovation, competition among the non-innovative could become intense especially when the slice of the money pie could become quite thin. ... 

It is rare that anyone have ever benefited from any direct conflict.  Compete by out-strategizing the competition begins by comprehending the connectivity of one's Big Tangible Picture is the usual approach of successful strategists.  To ensure a long term impact, the chief decision makers must focus either an advantageous move or a progression of strategic moves.  ... 

Speaking of  The War of The Roses, have you seen The White Queen?   It is about a conflict between two families that has stretched a span of 30 years.    ...  Click here for the abridged notes on this interesting show.

While most amateurs embraced the thrill of the battle, the professionals preferred to focus on the war. Why? Most amateurs almost always have the proclivity  to live for the moment where t
he professionals are just focused on the projected rewards from the larger picture. 

Conclusively, certain aspects of the human nature remained constant in most high-emotional conflicts.

A Larger Arena of Competition
One of the most interesting economic competitions is battle between the classic resources companies (oil and natural gas) vs. the alternative energy companies (solar, wind, etc.). 

Until the cost benefits of the alternative energy sources are lower, the oil companies and the natural gas companies are politically and economically ahead of their competition. 

Q: Who has the business advantage?
A: In our consumer-driven marketplace, the companies who currently possess the most workable resources, get the customers, with the greatest ease.

Q: How would their competitor prevail?
A: It greatly depends on the longevity of their current competition influence.  ... If the current configuration of their setting does not present a realistic solution, the chief decision makers must traverse beyond their competitive terrain for a new approach.

Comments From the Compass Desk 
Regardless of what niche of the information economy  that one is competing in,  you must understand the Dao of the Pestle.  

Economics is the weapon.  But the politics is the trigger.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Profiting in the Information Economy by Knowing How to Build A "Complete" Strategy

(updated on 09.21.13  03:33 am)

Regardless of your competitive realm, are you able to build a strategic plan that possessed no major weak points/potential failures?

Do you know what elements are in this type of plan?  ...  For this post,we are introducing the concept of strategic completeness.

The Complete Strategy Concept

The completeness of a plan must have the following four strategic factors:
  • The Seasonal Cycle of One's terrain factor - Possessing the cyclical advantage of utilizing the configuration of the terrain to capitalize on relevant opportunities;
  • The First Move Advantage Factor - Pursuing a target and/or defending from opposing offenses with organizational order;
  • The Maneuver to Advantage Factor - Advancing to the target and/or retreating from the opposing offense with direction and simplicity; and 
  • The Executing with Direction Factor- Deploying unique tactical moves that integrate the quality of directness and indirectness.
Understanding the Luck Factor in Strategy 
Discovering, deciding and executing the advantageous move that immediately leads to a total complete win, is the favorite modus of most amateur strategists.  Historically, it rarely works.  ...  For every two successes, there are 98 failures.   That is not a winning percentage.  Waiting for luck to appear, is not always a good approach.  

It is like waiting for a quarterback to throw a long touchdown pass from his 10 yard line with 2 seconds left. 

Anticipating for a certain opportunity through assessing, positioning and influencing is one of the many tangible keys to a grand victory. It begins by scripting the grand plan in terms of the what's and the hows of assessing, positioning and influencing. 

The successful strategist preferred to implement an incremental sequence of moves that achieves strategic milestones while being mindful of the possible opportunity to deploy the advantageous move. 

Whenever a strategic move is achieved, the successful strategist becomes one step closer to the finish line. That approach is more realistic and successful than the choice of executing a "Hail Mary,  Long Bomb" tactic.

When an opportunity of completing the target in one move arises, he seizes it with a level of caution.

Understanding the Big Tangible Picture

The Compass Chart
Copyright © 2007- 2013 All Rights Reserved

Through the understanding of the Big Tangible Picture of their settings, one could achieve the many unique objectives by finding the path of least resistance through the mountains and valleys of information data.

It begins by building the "complete" strategy. Securing sound and solid information is the starting step and the most difficult objective to achieve. We recommended that you read Chapter 13 of The Art of War. It should assist you in understanding our intended point, after a few times.    (Our presumption is that you have some strategic experience and some strategic awareness skills.)

The next step is the scripting and the implementing of certain tactics to test the quality of the information. Whatever is left after the test, is usually the truth. 

By utilizing the "Complete Strategy" approach, the successful strategist would always have alternative options to either gain a greater strategic balance or to secure a grand opportunity while the competition is left with minimum options. All he has to do is to stay centered and focused on the objective at hand while being mindful of his terrain and beyond.

There will be more on the "Complete Strategy" topic of and the matter of what happens when the chief decision maker is operating under a tight timeline while possessing with incomplete information and is forced to decide on a difficult situation, at a later post.

In our case, we have used the Compass Chart to identify the configuration within the competitor's plan and the momentum-driven direction of the terrain. 

Zhang Liang, The Consummate Strategist

Some historians have claimed that Zhang Liang,(a famous Han Dynasty's strategist) utilized the "complete" strategy" approach. This unique skill set has enabled him to make an array of good strategic decisions for his employer (the First Emperor of Han Dynasty) and assisted him to leave his employer with his head intact. 

Some of Zhang Liang's exploits can be found in Dr. Ralph Sawyer's Tao of Deception.   

Triva-wise, Zhang Liang was an ardent reader of Jiang Tai Gong's Six Secret Teachings and a possible follower of the ideas from the Huang Shek Gong's Three Strategies book.

The Question of the Day

Do you know what strategic games directly or indirectly emphasize those four attributes of completeness?

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Illegal Profiting Through Deception on the Web

"Things are not as they appear to be, nor are they otherwise."  
- Surangama Sutra

When surfing online,  one needs to be careful where he/she is pointing and clicking   

Here are two NYT articles on malware that could put a dent in your pocketbook - news item #1 and news item #2

Click here and here for other web frauds.

Stay centered on your grand objective when surfing the web. Assess your settings for a quick moment before clicking.  One should not take things for granted. Do not be distracted while pointing and clicking.

Remember that there is always a penalty for having a lack of concentration. Time is an expensive commodity.

Final Thought
Remember that "the desk is a dangerous place from which to view the world.  .." 

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Baguazhang: An Internal Martial Art Application of Sunzi's Art of War Principles

Baguazhang is an internal martial martial art system whose approach is conceptually similar to the strategic and tactical principles from the Art  of War.  An unabridged version of this article will be found in our future book on strategies.

This original article was published in Jade Dragon.  It was written by one of our associates and was recently updated by another associate.

Eight-Diagram Palm (Shadow Boxing)

"The power of the eight diagram palms knows no bounds 
-- the palms seem to strike even before the hands move.
When the hand threads upward, it's like a hundred birds
paying tribute to the phoenix; when it threads forward,
it's like a tiger swooping downhill. Walking round and
round, he is like a stray wild goose that has drifted from
the flock; but when the palms are thrust forward, they can
move a mountain. Now dodging, now ducking, his body
slithers in and out; using the opponent's force he delivers
a counter, blow, with as little effort as pushing a boat      
down the stream."                                                                   
- Dong Haichuan, Founder of Baguazhang.

To most westerners, Taijiquan (TJQ) is the only Chinese exercise that teaches one how to integrate the mind, body and spirit into one unit. This is totally incorrect. There is another marital art system that not only shares the same principles and philosophy as Taijiquan, but it is outwardly simpler yet relies more on one's focus and concentration. This exercise is called Baguazhang (also referred to as Bagua or BGZ and pronounced as bah gwah jang. It is also written as Pa kua chang or PKC).

Baguazhang (BGZ) 八卦掌 is one of the more famous of the traditional Chinese martial arts that possesses many distinctive practice skill methods and its palm method changes unfathomably. It also has a good balanced reputation in the martial arts community. From the time of Qing Chengfeng (1851-1862), when Mr. Dong Haichuan (of Wen'an County in Hebei Province) introduced it until today, it has been practiced daily and enjoyed by martial artists in China and overseas.

Baguazhang is an exceptionally beautiful martial art emphasizing the use of spiral movements and a sophisticated use of footwork and fighting angles. It makes the body extremely flexible and able to move with tremendous grace, speed and power. Bagua practice is vigorous and aerobic. Many have considered Bagua to be the most advanced of the Chinese Martial Arts. The foundation of the system is a meditative circle walking practice and the "Single Change Palm" which was developed in Daoist monasteries over 400 years ago. As a meditation practice, Bagua allows one to produce a stillness of the mind in the midst of intense physical activity. This esoteric system at its highest levels becomes a method of manifesting the energetic patterns of change described in the Yi-Jing (I-Ching) or The Classic Book of Changes.

Technically, the correct performance of this exercise increases the practitioner's energy through simultaneous circle walking, forms practice, and breath control.

The practice of Baguazhang is very Zen-like in its approach to calming and focusing the mind, the body and the spirit. The basics are a series of movements done while walking in a circle. The goal of this exercise is for the individual to understand and maintain proper body alignment while staying centered and relaxed. Once this practice is consistent, the practitioners of this unique approach would move faster and more intricate with turning and twisting, moving the body in all possible angles and directions for fitness, centering and agility. Baguazhang emphasizes on the usage of quick footwork and turns as part of as its self-defense strategy.

Baguazhang is literally translated as Eight-Diagrams Palm. This style is one of the three primary Nei Jia Quan or internal styles of China. The other two styles are Xingyiquan and Taijiquan. As with Xingyi and Taiji, the practice of Bagua generates Qi (internal energy) for both health and combat purposes. Baguazhang primarily uses palm techniques, and this is reflected in the name, Eight Diagram Palm. This makes Baguazhang distinct from XingyiQuan and TaijiQuan styles, both of which incorporate fist techniques. (FYI - Taijiquan technically uses more palm maneuvers than fists.)

Its movements are based on the mobility of position and agility of body, this system proves itself to be a formidable style for the many players.   ... 

Instead of directly attacking an oncoming force, BGZ 'melts' around the attack; either simultaneously redirecting the attack while closing the position, or by evading it and re-positioning one's self to an advantageous 'doorway,' for finishing the opponent instantly.

There are some advanced Baguazhang players who are able to thaw the plans of their opponents by following their intent.

Historical Abstract
This style of Chinese boxing was very popular during the time of Qing Dynasty's Emperor Dao Guang who reigned from 1820 to 1850. The story goes that Dong Hai Chuan of Wen'an County in Hebei Province came to Beijing in 1852 when Emperor Guang Xu ascended the throne and worked in Prince Su's mansion. There he began to teach his Baguazhang, which soon became very popular in Beijing, Tianjin and the surrounding areas, and he was acknowledged as the respected founder of Baguazhang.

Dong Haichuan had a large number of followers and he taught each of them in accordance with their aptitude, adapting movements to suit their ability and talent

The Various Styles of Baguazhan
A hundred years later, Dong's Baguazhang has now branched out into various forms with some differences between them, each having its own distinctiveness.

Some of the modern branches of Baguazhang are the Cheng style (after Cheng Tinghua), the Yin style (after Yin Fu), the Jiang style (after Jiang Rong Qiao), the Liu style (after Liu Fengchun),  Liang style (Liang Zhenpu), Fu style (Fu Zhensong)  Sun style (Sun Lu Tang) and Gao style (Gao Yisheng).

While each of those Baguazhang systems is based on the individual's whose background and previous martial training. Each style has its own specific forms and techniques. In essence, all of the different styles adhere to the basic principles of Baguazhang while retaining an individual flavor of their own. Most of the styles in existence today can trace their roots to either the Yin Fu, Cheng TingHua, or Liang Zhenpu variations.

The distinctive trademarks of the Yin Fu style are the large number of percussive techniques, multiple quick-strikes combinations, explosive movements and very quick and evasive footwork. (Yin Fu was said to "fight like a tiger," advancing forward and knocking his opponent to the ground swiftly like a tiger pouncing on its prey.) Their approach also utilizes long range threading strike maneuvers.

Cheng Tinghua styles of Baguazhang features movements that are executed in a smooth flowing and continuous manner, with a subtle display of power. 

Popular variations of this style include the Dragon Style Baguazhang system, the Gao Yi Sheng system,  the "Swimming Body" Baguazhang, the Nine Palace System, Jiang Rong Qiao's style (probably the most common form practiced today), and the Sun Lutang style.

Liang Zhenpu's system is viewed as a combination of the Yin Fu and Cheng Tinghua styles. Liang's student, Li Ziming, popularized this style. 

All Baguazhang systems possessed a variation of a form known as the Single Change Palm (SCP). The Single Change Palm is the most basic form and is the core of the "eight change" palm exercise found in this  martial art system. Besides the Single Change Palm, the other forms include the Double Change Palm (DCP) and the Eight Changes Palm (also known variously as the Eight Mother Palms or the Old Eight Palms).

These forms are the foundation of Baguazhang. Baguazhang movements have a characteristic circular nature with a great deal of body spinning, turning, and rapid changes in direction. Beside the Single, Double and Eight Change Palms, most but not all styles of Ba Gua Zhang include some variation of the Sixty-Four Palms.
Sun Lu Tang performing the Lion Embraces the Ball posture

"Circle Walking" Training
"Baguazhang is a walk with benefits." - Anonymous

The first stage of the Baguazhang training is walking the circle. Research has shown that there are medical benefits that are derived from this exercise. Benefits include the prevention of contracting premature osteoporosis to the avoidance of acquired deformity and chronic diseases in nervous cardiovascular, respiratory and digestive systems. 
Abstract on The Single Change Palm (SCP) 
and The Double Change Palm (DCP)
“Change is non-linear and can go backwards, 
forwards and sideways”  -Alvin Toffler, The Third Wave

After circle walking is taught, the first palm movement most Baguazhang players learn is the Single Change Palm (SCP). This movement is the outgoing hand posture that is focused on striking at the body of the opposition.
Once that movement is mastered, the Double Change Palm (DCP) exercise is taught next. This movement is a continuation of the Single Change Palm, executing two or three consecutive strikes. There are six other palm movements that is the basis of Baguazhang(BGZ).

It has been said that 80-90% of Baguazhang fundamentals can be found in the Single Change Palm exercise (SCP)  the Double Change Palm (DCP) exercise and the Following Posture Palm. If one cannot perform those three exercises correctly, he or she would not be able to master the five other palms movements.
Theories of Baguazhang Combat
Who knows the limit? Does not the straightforward exist?   ... The straighforward changes again into the crafty, and the good changes again into the monstrous.   ... Indeed, it is long since the people were perplexed.    -Dao De Jing , 58 (D.C. Lau translation)
In combat, Baguazhang is similar to the other Chinese Internal Arts where it does not directly attack an oncoming force. The proficient BGZ players would dissolve around the attack; either simultaneously redirecting the attack while closing the position or by utilizing that same offensive move against the attacker. The technical distinction is the re-positioning of one's self to an advantageous 'doorway,' for finishing the opponent instantly.
Thus when someone excels in attacking, the enemy does not know where to mount his defense; when someone excels at defense, the enemy does not know where to attack. So subtle it approaches the formless, so spiritual it attains the soundless. Thus he can act as the enemy's Master of Fate.  - Art of War 6

Those same expert Baguazhang players are noted for employing its unpredictable changing movements, feints and dexterous moves, which are combined to misdirect and wear down the opponent. 

In order to cause the enemy to come of their own volition, extend some apparent profit. In order to prevent the enemy from coming forth, show them the potential harm.  
- Art of War 6

Experts of this open-hand system are occasionally utilized a counter-offensive approach. They often do not strike first, rather, they remain composed in the face of determined adversaries, conserving their energy and looking for positional openings that would allow a launch of an attack. While the force of the Eight Diagrams Palms action is sometimes indescribable, it can be found in other internal martial art systems.

From another combat perspective, it was also designed for combat with multiple opponents. This action can be accomplished by its footwork and changing motion motions, which ease the rapid change of direction.  Some people have claimed that it was designed to defend against opponents from eight directions.
In conclusion, the combat strategy of Baguazhang is based on the implementation of quick and continuous changes to avoid directly opposing force. Depending on the combat experience of the teachers, the BGZ student is supposed to be trained in the elements of positional mobility and physical agility. From our perspective, there are some Baguazhang teachers that do instruct with the principles, the exercises of Baguazhang and these unique micro details in mind.

Historical Trivia
During the Qing Dynasty, some of the Imperial bodyguards in Beijing were trained in Baguazhang at a time when large mobs of armed criminals roamed the streets.
Those same Imperial bodyguards were required to protect important government bureaucrats while also attending lavish parties and functions, all the while wearing formal robes. This special group of bodyguards therefore took a practical outlook and utilized thin and light weapons that were small and easily concealed in the long sleeves of their cloaks (changpao). Some of the weapons include the conical brass knuckles, Deer Horn sabers, (lujiaodao), iron fan (shanzi), iron pens, metal yo-yos, and Rooster Head blades.
In addition to these stealthy items, Baguazhang players trained and use some of the largest martial arts weapons ever seen. The list includes ridiculously long broadswords, 9 to 12 ft spears, and the "fierce-looking" Wind and Fire Wheels (Popular with the Liang ZhanPu system). More normal-sized weapons such as the eye-brows level staff, the eye-level double-headed spear, the "General Kwan" Halbred (Guan Dao), and the straight double-edged sword (jian) are actively practiced as well.  

Historically,  Baguazhang players are just known for being able to use any object as a weapon by using the principles of their art.

It has been rumored that many of the earlier generation of Baguazhang players practiced their art while reciting the principles of BGZ (36 Songs and 48 Methods). Depending on the particular BGZ system, some of those combat principles (48 methods) possessed a similar content that could be found in the famous "36 stratagems" essay.
Side note: It reminds us of a rumor that there are people who would recite a set of specific Art of War principles that corresponds to their "assessment" of a strategic situation.

Miscellaneous Trivia
"Most students don't study Xingyi boxing because it is too difficult and they are afraid of failure. Most instructors don't teach Baguazhang because it is too difficult and they are afraid of failure." - Peter Ralston
One day, when a group of pupils of Master Dong asked him about Baguazhang, he replied with the following quote, "Grandmaster said: 'My way uses turning palms to make the root, it uses the fist tools to make the function, study and practice. Skill is created to its utmost. You will have no enemy under heaven. By itself it is good for the body." The above quote were translated and edited by Sifu Joseph Crandall from "Guang Xia" writing on the Records of Selected Dialogues between Dong Hai Chuan and his disciples.

Applying the Sunzi Strategic Principles into the Practice of Baguazhang

To walk a thousand circles without becoming fatigued, traverse unoccupied terrain. To ensure taking the objective in an attack, strike positions that are undefended. To be certain of an impregnable defense, secure positions that the enemy will not attack.  - Paraphrased from Art of War 6 
That paraphrased Art of War quote represents the how one utilizes Baguazhang in a worst case scenario.
" ... Thus the approach of the Baguazhang player is established by deceit, moves for advantage, and changes through segmenting and reuniting. Thus its speed is like the wind, its slowness like the forest; its invasion and plundering like a fire; unmoving, it is like the mountains. It is as difficult to know as the darkness; in movement it is like thunder.  ..."  -  Art of War 7 (Paraphased from Sawyer's translation)
The Compass Chart
Copyright © 2007- 2013 All Rights Reserved
The key to applying the Art of War principles with one's own practice of Baguazhang is knowing how to assess a strategic situation in terms of the eight macro categories of changes and determine the five critical strategic factors with that change. 
Identifying the changes and knowing when to adjust to it is about filtering the reality from illusion. This is considered to be one of the advanced objectives behind the practice of Baguazhang.
Through the practice of Baguazhang,  one learns to thaw the opponent's plans by reading the Big Tangible Picture of their situation in terms of the mentioned points.  This skill would be helpful to have in a worst case scenario that is loaded with some complexity.  ... When in doubt, maneuver and retreat.

Based on your current setting, are you able to assess a complex strategic situation and be able to find the path of least resistance in a New York minute (better yet, a Shanghai minute),  without breaking a sweat?
The Compass Script to Learning Baguazhang
There are different ways to practice Baguazhang.  Each particular system have their own unique appeals.  ...  To build the metaphysical feeling  for this exercise, diligent performance is required.  It is not for those who demand immediate gratification. 
Following is the basic script to learning Baguazhang:
  1. Learn how to walk the circle while centering oneself.
  2. Learn how to perform the Single Change Palm. 
  3. Learn how to perform the Double Change Palm.
Baguazhang is an exceptionally beautiful martial art emphasizing the use of spiral movements and a sophisticated use of footwork and fighting angles. It makes the body extremely flexible and able to move with tremendous grace, speed and power. Bagua practice is vigorous and aerobic. Some have considered Baguazhang to be the most advanced of the Chinese Martial Arts. The foundation of the system is a meditative circle walking practice and the "Single Change Palm" exercise that was developed in Taoist monasteries over a thousand years ago. As a meditation practice, Baguazhang allows one to produce a stillness of mind in the midst of intense physical activity. This esoteric system at its highest levels becomes a method of manifesting the energetic patterns of change described in the Yi Jing (I-Ching) aka. The Classic Book of Changes.
What has been written here is just a minuscule of the foundation behind the Baguazhang system. Interested readers can find and purchase materials (books and videos) on the subject of Baguazhang and other internal martial art systems can be found at these following web sites:
Pa Kua Chang  markets a digital set of 38 previously published magazines. This package is highly recommended to serious Baguazhang players.  We have purchased it and believed that it Is quite worth the time and the effort to read this compilation of material.
C.S. Tang's web site on Chinese Martial Arts  and Wing Lam Enterprises (WLE) are great sources for martial arts DvD's and books (mainly Chinese text). WLE  is a good resource for martial arts weapons, Instructional videos, books (Chinese and English text), etc.
Smiling Tiger Martial Arts  is a great translator of "Chinese to English" Internal Martial Arts books.  Click here for Baguazhang books and here for Xingyquan books..
Jarek Szymanski's Chinese martial arts web site on Chinese Internal Martial Arts is a  great source for internal martial arts information, martial arts VCD's, DvDs and books (mainly Chinese)
Traditional Studies is a great source for Yin Fu style of Baguazhang videos and books.
Andrew Dale's Chinese and Japanese martial arts web site is another great source for internal martial arts information.
Plum Publishing  is another good source for English books on internal martial arts and other Asian-related Culture topics (mainly English text)
Andrea Falk of The WuShu Centre is another great translator of  "Chinese to English" Internal Martial Arts books.
The other favorite martial arts sites of our associates are:,  rumsoakedfist and cookdingkitchen,com
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