Transitional Palm or what we refer to as the “Mother Palm” is also known as the Single Palm Change in the Baguazhang fighting system. Baguazhang (based on its name “Bagua” 8 trigram; “Zhang” fist/palm/body) is the alleged “mysterious” 8 trigram palm, a fighting style supposedly based off the I-Ching. The question is, “is it really based off the I-Ching?” or could it be more plausible that because of its fundamental “naturalness” that the I-Ching can be applied to it? Many have searched and wondered, “What is the origin of this peculiar fighting style?” I don’t really know the answer (nor does anyone!!) but if you examine history carefully enough you will see that the “Mother Palm” itself may not have originated in Baguazhang or maybe even in China or India. If you look closely at temple walls in Egypt you will see what looks like the Mother Palm being practiced over 4,000 years ago in the African Nile Valley. Interestingly, the Mother Palm starts with the left foot and left hand forward which in Ancient Egypt symbolism represented the feminine or “mother” principal. The feminine principal didn’t mean worshiping femininity over masculinity but actually it represented the balance between the male and female energies. (Maat)
Many martial systems in and out of Asia utilize palm techniques but Baguazhang, which was originally called “Turning Palm”, was unique in that it incorporated the palm technique with Taoist internal alchemy/ circular walking methods. In our system, we call the Transitional Palm “Mother Palm” not only because it represents the feminine principal but also because it is the first of the various palm types and subsequently gives “birth” to all other named palms in the Baguazhang system. According to our system of Baguazhang all other palm types are just different variations of the Mother Palm (Dragon Palm shape). Palm strikes are extremely powerful and they are known in the internal martial arts to cause extreme damage to the internal organs or the energetically developed palm can be used to heal in an unparalleled manner. The whole body is the palm and the palm is the whole body.
The Transitional palm or Mother Palm is truly mysterious. It is manifold in its nature and it is a martial manifestation of the continuous change that occurs in nature. It is both offensive and defensive in its application. In the true spirit of Taoism the “Mother Palm” energetically represents and expresses the “Yang” or active outgoing ”up” energy (Conversely the “Father Palm” represents the “Yin” or “feminine” incoming ”down” energy). The Transitional Palm develops the mind’s intent and focuses one’s will like a laser beam as one looks through the tiger’s mouth, relaxes and breathes deeply. The mechanics of Transitional Palm may look simple but that simplicity is actually very deceptive.
People may see the Transitional Palm and may not be too impressed because it looks so plain. Some people see it done and think they can do it automatically without knowing the laws and principals of standing. The question remains, how many people can do the Transitional Palm correctly? Not many!! A Body Energetics practitioner must know that in order to do it properly and with power you must have all the proper alignments, presses, internal wraps, and breathing harmonized into one unified whole. What people may see on the outside gives them no clue to what is happening on the inside and that is true “hidden” power. When the practitioner decides to unwrap and strike it is like thunder, wind, and lightning all at once because they are releasing a tremendous amount of stored potential spiraling life force.
Each hand change of the Transitional Palm develops a different hemisphere of the brain (left hand/right hemisphere; right hand/left hemisphere), revitalizes the nervous system, endocrine system and the organs all while cooking Chi in order to store it in the Dantien (ocean of Chi; energy storage battery). This process of cooking Chi is an integral process of Taoist internal alchemy where Jing (sexual energy) is transformed into Chi (life force) and the Chi is transformed into Shen (Spirit; Soul; Mind) for the path of Taoist Transmutation. Likewise Shen is transformed into Chi which is then transformed into Jing for the Taoist path of Generation. If this is done long enough a person will store enough of the proper quality and quantity of life force necessary to create what is known as the “Golden Embryo” or “Immortal Fetus” by their Dantien(energetic womb). This is what we can call being “born again” in “alchemical” or “mystic” Taoism while someone is still on the earth plan of existence. Strangely (or is it!!), this concept of being “born again” and the “eternal body” is also found in Christianity and there are many parallels between the teachings of the Christ, Buddha, and Lao Tzu (Hmmm?!). The subject of the golden embryo and alchemical process is beyond the scope of this article and any questions concerning these topics should be directed to Sifu Roosevelt Gainey.
Baguazhang was originally called “Turning Palm” for a very good reason. There is tremendous power in the turning. The whole body turns and expresses the spiral energy (toroidal vortex) from the center and expresses it outwards or inwards (expansion; contraction) to manipulate energy. I could write volumes on the power of turning but that will be saved for later discussion. It is enough to know that from the inner stillness we turn from our center and manifest the power of the universe; this is the great secret of our art. We in Body Energetics urge you to stop the internal and external dialogues and do the work in silence in order to know the science. Hotep(Supreme Peace)